Created through sponsorships from The Auntie Network, Tasveer, One Minute Saree, URL Media, The Partnership Inc., Sway with Pray, Indie Meme, and Lailit Vadlamani & Shubha Iyengar, the first-ever South Asian House (SAH) kicked off at Fourth & Co in downtown Austin during the first weekend of the 37th annual SXSW®.
Featured speakers at the two-day, cultural pop-up included industry professionals from business, tech, film, TV, theater, music, and fashion. SAH also hosted a networking event with happy hour each day, as well as live music and a DJ set each night. Local Bollywood dance company Sway With Pray organized flash mobs around the city, and to conclude the weekend, Tasveer presented a Red Carpet Awards Ceremony and a live Oscar Viewing Party on Sunday, March 12. Several South Asian nominees and celebrities were cheered on by the House during the Academy Awards.
The inaugural event opened with welcome remarks from the co-founders of the South Asian House and from SXSW’s Director of Sales, Neil Minocha, followed by a fireside chai & chat moderated by Ms. Media CEO and SAH co-founder Monika Samtani and featured movie producer Rishi Rajani (CEO, Hillman Grad Productions), actor Reema Sampat (Orange is the New Black), and journalist/entrepreneur Snigdha Sur (Founder & CEO, The Juggernaut). The fireside was sponsored by Catalyst Media and Lalit Vadlamani & Shubha Iyengar. SAH’s programming also included two noteworthy panels on film and television Saturday. Warm SriLankan Chai was provided by Kola Goodies.
The first, “Creating South Asian Content for a Global Audience,” was an hour-long discussion with actor Rizwan Manji (“Schitt’s Creek,” “Peacemaker”), Executive Producer of VICE TV, Falguni Adams, and Apoorva Bakshi, Emmy award-winning producer of the hit TV series “Delhi Crime,” moderated by CEO of Jingo Media and co-founder of SAH, Jitin Hingorani.
The second panel, “Investing in the Future of Our South Asian Stories,” was an important conversation that included CEO and Co-founder of URL Media S. Mitra Kalita, actor Kausar Mohammed (“4400,” “The Flash”), and Atit Shah, CEO of Create Entertainment, moderated by co-founder of Box Office Guru Media Gitesh Pandya.
Women in Film and Television, Austin presented the Pilot reading hour of Rehana Lew Mirza’s script ‘Don’t Hate’ with a full slate of talent cast by Ashley Guaragna Casting with this pilot to be produced by SAH co-founder Rohi Mirza Pandya under the sisters joint production company banner. EarlierThe Leadership Program took a deep dive into the successful leadership mindset followed by one-on-one mentorship sessions with industry leaders Pooja Kumar (Actress/Producer & former Miss India USA), Milan Chakraborty (Head of Film at Marginal MediaWorks), Sid Shah (Founder of Trackmind), and James A. Mathew (CEO of The Outer Voice Company). The Leadership Program was facilitated by SAH co-founders, Rohi Mirza Pandya and Monika Samtani, as well as their production company Catalyst Media+ sponsors Lalit Vadlamani & Shubha Iyengar.
South Asian House attendees enjoyed Happy Hours hosted by our partners Brown Girl Magazine and Austin’s very own Indie Meme Film Festival.
The Auntie Network, a Texas dating and marriage website for South Asian singles, presented The StoryLounge Variety Show, hosted by Vick Krishna and Samrat Chakrabarti, and included comics Proma Khosla, Tanveer Arora, and Aizzah Fatima, with musical guest on the table, Mayookh Bhaumik. The evening’s entertainment concluded with live music by Chloe Choudhury with SUNNN, Meetu Chilana, Aditya Rao, and DJ Anupi. The world renowned percussionist Drums Sivamani surprised all guests with an impromptu performance.
Fashion brand One Minute Saree presented Sunday’s Desi Drag Brunch, featuring New York drag queen Tara Ryst and local drag queens Darshan and Jayan, who draped the sarees on stage during their live Bollywood performances. The event was supported by Austin’s South Asian LBGTQ+ organization, Khush Texas.
The afternoon included a series of shorts content, curated by Jitin Hingorani, Founder and Festival Director of DFW South Asian Film Festival, which culminated with the launch of the title track music video from an upcoming Austin based AAPI project WHERE THE STARS ARE, a Banskota Productions feature film co-directed by Kirtana Banskota and Andy Yang. Oscar Sunday evening kicked off with a red carpet and the Uniquely South Asian awards ceremony presented by Tasveer’s Founder Rita Meher. Awardees included all the afore-mentioned panelists and other thought leaders who are uplifting the Diaspora through their unique contributions to the community at large. The Oscar Watch Party was followed by live sets from Kiss Nuka Live (Mumbai & Goa) and Austin’s DJ Anup USA.
“And that’s a wrap!” exclaimed producers Mirza Pandya, Hingorani, Samtani, and Banskota. “We are just thrilled at the reception we’ve received from the South Asian community at SXSW, and we can’t wait to come back bigger and stronger next year. A huge shoutout to all our volunteers without whom this event would not be possible.”
About South Asian House: An initiative that aims to connect a thriving community of thought leaders from various sectors in the business, tech, film, television, fashion, music, ad theater idustries from seven different South Asian countries including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. The initiative was created by veteran producers, curators, and programmers Rohi Mirza Pandya (Box Office Guru Media), Jitin Hingorani (Jingo Media), Monika Samtani (Ms. Media), and Kirtana Banskota (Banskota Productions). For more information on SXSW’s first ever South Asian House please visit HERE.