Pioneers

Kunal Shah

CRED’s Kunal Shah

Kunal Shah: Read this blog about Kunal Shah the founder and CEO of CRED. This credit card payment company is one of the fastest growing unicorn start-ups of India.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and her Last Queen

In her latest work, Chitra Divakaruni has lifted Maharani Jindan, an Indian freedom fighter from relative obscurity to international fame.

Divakaruni – an author, poet and a professor of writing at the University of Houston – has won many accolades, including an American Book Award. Among Divakaruni’s book-to-screen adaptations have been “Sister of My Heart” and the 2005 movie, “The Mistress Of Spices,” co-scripted by director Gurinder Chadha and starring Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott.

Chitra Divakaruni’s latest novel, “The Last Queen,” published by William Morrow/HarperCollins, will be out in the US, May 10. There have been talks of a movie script as the book went on to win some early awards: the Best Fiction 2022 Award from the Times of India AUTHER Awards, and Best Book 2022 Award from the International Association of Working Women. It is long-listed for the Dublin Literary Award and the Publishing Next Fiction Award.

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Amudha on raising her star daughter, Samsara

As Samsara Yett’s character greets Kristen Bell’s for the first time in the satirical production, “The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window,” she puts on a big, beautiful, disarming smile, one that effectively camouflages her real intentions. As the story continues, she plays the sweet little girl next door until she finally reveals herself in the last episode to be the who in the whodunnit. And then comes a fight scene. It’s impressive when you learn that Samsara is all of 9, playing a double role and then a cold-blooded killer of grown adults.

“The Woman…” is a satire that mocks the often formulaic and clichéd tropes in several popular bestselling crime thrillers, so it’s not immediately funny unless one has seen others with the tropes it includes — not really children’s reading. Yet, Samsara’s delivery was spot on, and her acting prowess drew praise from costars and crew alike.

But Samsara’s largely unfazed by it. 

“When you’re a kid actor, you don’t know what you’re doing, and you don’t always understand the story,” she says. “When I act, I try to be natural. I act like I’m just talking, and pretend there are no cameras around. My job is to do what the character would do. Someday, I’ll watch the shows and get it.”

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Mamma Mia, Preity Zinta Goodenough!

It was a hot summer afternoon and the Zinta family was on a hike up the tallest peak near Aurangabad in India. Barely in her teens, the young daughter considered abandoning the ascent due to the difficult terrain. She dropped her bottle of water to indicate she was giving up. Her father, a military man, commanded her to pick up the bottle, fix her gear, walk up and finish the climb. Once she made it on top he told her “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You should learn to fight and stand firm for your reasons.”
Seeking new summits to conquer comes naturally to Preity Zinta.

It is, in fact, in her Rajput blood, something which was instilled by her father, with whom she spent very little time in her life. She held on to every lesson he taught her for much longer; she held on to it much tighter because of the memories of him. An Indian army officer, her tragically died when she was just 14.

Preity Zinta has been scaling some lofty heights ever since and sets her target higher once she has triumphed over one. 

While studying English and criminal psychology in Shimla – a hill station in northern India, Zinta had no idea that she would end up in Mumbai and be one of the most successful actors of her time. She spoke to SEEMA from her home in LA, while she had some respite from changing diapers and sanitizing feeding bottles, of her 4 month old twins. 

She relives the circumstances which took her from the hill station to Mumbai, where her professional journey to stardom began. 

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Seema Azharuddin is Going Against the Flow

Seema Azharuddin deftly dons many hats. An actor, producer, journalist, philanthropist and soon to be an author, she is also president of the Jaldhaara Foundation, which provides safe drinking water to school children and local communities in Telangana and across India. 

Active in politics since her university days in India, she has kept those skills alive, her connections spanning administrations both in the US and India. Azharuddin was the spokesperson for the Indian diaspora for the presidency of Joe Biden. She has had an interesting journey and she shared it with SEEMA from her home in Maryland about her journey which started in a small town in Bihar, India.

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Advantage Sania

“‘Game, set, match,’ the chair umpire called. The match was over. They have won but that is not all…She saw her partner Martina Hingis running towards her to congratulate the new number one women’s doubles player in the world. Martina was smiling radiantly with her right forefinger up showing the No. 1 sign. Martina came and hugged her.

“Her entire tennis career flashed before her. She struggled to come to terms with the momentous reality. Injuries and surgeries; autorickshaw rides in the early mornings to reach the court…thrill of winning, disappointment of losing…all swam before her eyes. As if she was seeing her own movie in the court.”

(Courtesy: Ace Against Odds by Imran Mirza, Sania Mirza and Shivani Gupta).

She went on to become the most successful woman tennis player in India. The inspiring story of Sania Mirza could encourage generations of aspiring tennis players in cricket-obsessed India.

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THE TALES OF SAMIRA AHMED AND HER REVOLUTIONARY GIRLS

Reading Samira Ahmed, you would expect her to be someone who’s always been a published writer, as if she’d tumbled out of the womb creating historic and phenomenal characters and storylines. But it turns out, she published her first book at 46, after a long and rewarding career involving teaching high school English, working for non-profits and even fighting for equitable funding in NY’s public schools as a lobbyist. “Love, Hate, & Other Filters” was an instant bestseller.

Ahmed is the first South Asian Muslim woman to voice Kamala Khan, Marvel’s first Muslim superheroine. Like Ms. Marvel, her signature characters have always been revolutionary girls. Her “revolutionary girls,” as she calls them, represent an archetype of strength, insight and compassion, are usually Muslim and often Indian American.

Revolutionary girls don’t necessarily take up arms…sometimes the revolutionary girl is just taking control when others are falling down. And sometimes it means standing up for yourself when others want to muffle you.

Samira Ahmed

Ahmed ‘s latest young adult novel, “Hollow Fires” (on sale May 10, 2022; ages 12+), taps into the current and timely conversation about racism and its dangers and the terrible costs of misinformation. A topic so delicate and polarizing blooms fully through an innovative storyline and lyrical prose.

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