Symposiums on Gender in Media

Global Symposiums 2016 Mumbai Bios

Geena Davis

Founder and Chair

Academy Award winner Geena Davis is one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, appearing in several roles that became cultural landmarks. Earning the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama, Davis broke ground in her portrayal of the first female President of the United States in ABC’s hit show Commander in Chief.

In 1989, Davis received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the offbeat dog trainer Muriel Pritchett in Lawrence Kasdan’s The Accidental Tourist.  She was again nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe for her performance in Ridley Scott’s Thelma & Louise, in which she co-starred with Susan Sarandon.  Davis went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of baseball phenomenon Dottie Hinson in A League of Their Own.

Malini Agarwal

Founder & Blogger-in-Chief, MissMalini Media

Malini Agarwal is the Founder of MissMalini Media, a leading new media network that creates high-value, multi-platform content geared towards India’s Internet Generation. Malini pioneered Indian lifestyle blogging with MissMalini.com, today’s go-to digital destination for all things Bollywood, Fashion and Lifestyle. With a rapidly expanding organic readership and a social media reach of over 6 million direct followers, she is considered one of India’s leading digital influencers and a leading authority on digital brand building. Named as India’s most famous blogger by the The Huffington Post and Forbes, Malini has been featured in various international titles including BBC World (UK), Reuters, CNN (USA), DW (Germany), TV5(France) and The Globe & Mail (Canada). She is also a regular feature in local publications such as Vogue India, Elle India, Grazia India, Hello! India, India Today and NDTV Profit among many others. Expanding their media network, MissMalini made its foray into television in 2014, introducing the reality entertainment TV series, MissMalini’s World on TLC, and just introduced another celebrity show, Kya Seen Hai @MissMalini on ZOOM, one of India’s leading Bollywood & Entertainment TV channels. With over 15 years of experience in the media sector, Malini Agarwal has previously played the roles of professional backup dancer, emcee, RJ (radio jockey), head of digital content at MTV and Channel [v], and founder and Chief Instigator of Friday Club.

Mahesh Bhatt

Veteran Film Maker

Mahesh Bhatt,veteran film maker, began his career as a director with Manzilen Aur Bhi Hai.He has always been known as a film maker who writes and re-writes the rules of Indian cinema. Unconventional to the point of being rebellious,he has shattered several myths surrounding movie making with his conviction and belief. He began his career in 1973. After a spate of films, he gained critical and commercial acclaim for his groundbreaking film Arth (’82) that presented infidelity and marriage in a raw and realistic perspective. He followed Arth with Saraansh (’84), Naam, Daddy (’91), Tamanna (’97) and finally the National award winning Zakhm (’99)… all of them born from his own unique experiences. Unconventional, creative, fiercely individualistic, enigmatic and several other epithets have been bestowed on him in an attempt to slot him but his free spirit refuses to follow rules and thereby refuses to be bound. He is the chairman of Vishesh Entertainment that makes 3 to 4 films in a year and is also the creative backbone for Fisheye Network. Some of the films he has produced and written are: Raaz (2002), Jism (2003), Murder (2004), Zeher, Kalyug (2005), Gangster (2006), Raaz 2 (2009), Murder 2 (2011), Jism 2 (2012), Aashiqui 2 (2013), Citi Lights (2014). His forthcoming films include Khamoshiyan, Mr. X , Hamari Adhuri Kahani. Mahesh Bhatt has not limited himself to being merely a filmmaker. After having directed over 50 feature films, this acclaimed director has now moved on to writing books, screenplays, being involved with documentaries and standing up for causes he strongly believes in. A writer of great repute, he has written four books called U.G. Krishnamurthy – A Life, A Little Book of Questions and his latest A Taste of Life, All that could have been.

Rahul Bose

Actor, Director, Screenwriter, and Social Activist

Rahul Bose is an Indian film actor, director, screenwriter, social activist, and rugby player. He is also notable for his social activism: he participated in the relief efforts that followed the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami and is also the founder of the anti-discrimination NGO, The Foundation. Bose assisted in the relief efforts in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. As a result of this work, Bose launched the Andaman and Nicobar Scholarship Initiative through his NGO, The Foundation. The scholarship program provides for the education of underprivileged children from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Bose is associated with several charitable organizations such as Teach for India, Akshara Centre, Breakthrough, Citizens for Justice and Peace and the Spastics Society of India. He is closely associated with the Teach For India and became the first Indian Oxfam global ambassador in 2007. He is the founder and chairman of The Group of Groups, an umbrella organisation for 51 Mumbai charitable organisations and NGOs. He is also an ambassador for the American India Foundation, the World Youth Peace Movement and Planet Alert.

Abhijit Das, PhD

Director, The Centre for Health and Social Justice

Abhijit is a doctor with training in obstetrics, pediatrics and public health and has over twenty years experience in grassroots work, training, research and policy advocacy. He is founder member of the alliance on men and gender equality MASVAW, and the reproductive health and rights network Healthwatch Forum. He is also Clinical Assistant Professor of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Nandita Das

Actress/Director, Playwright / Theatre Director

Nandita Das wears many hats and her fiery passion to make a difference is evident in the choices she has made, both professionally and personally. She has acted in over 40 feature films in 10 Indian languages, and in three professional plays. She directed her debut feature, Firaaq, in 2008 that won her much appreciation and accolades in India and abroad. After her Masters in Social Work, she continues to advocate issues of social justice and human rights. Between the Lines marks her debut as a playwright and theatre director. She writes a monthly column called the Last Word, for a national weekly. She was the Chairperson of the Children’s Film Society, India, where she made many big and small changes to revamp the organization. She was on the jury of Cannes Film Festival twice (2005 and 2013). The French Government conferred her with the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres), their prestigious civilian award. In 2011 Nandita Das was the first Indian to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Women’s Forum. Nandita was a Yale World Fellow 2014, among 16 other emerging global leaders who were chosen from close to 4000 applicants. The mission of the fellowship is to cultivate and empower a network of globally engaged leaders committed to positive change through dialogue and action.

Madeline Di Nonno

CEO, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

Madeline Di Nonno is the Chief Executive Officer of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the only research based non-profit working with the entertainment and media community to improve unconscious gender bias in media and entertainment through evidence-based research, education and advocacy. Madeline leads the Institute’s strategic direction, financial and operational activities. Madeline brings over thirty years of executive leadership experience in the entertainment, non-profit, digital media and consumer packaged goods industries.

Previously, Madeline served as President and CEO of On The Scene Productions, and drove the company’s new business development and content distribution platforms for the entertainment, healthcare, and consumer products clients such as Nike, Gatorade, Iconix, and PepsiCo.

Prior to On The Scene, Di Nonno served in executive marketing positions for Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz Media and Echo Bridge Home Entertainment where she led global brand marketing, for home entertainment and limited theatrical releases in North America, United Kingdom and Australia. As Executive Vice President and GM for Nielsen EDI, Madeline drove innovations in product development, new business development and client management.

Previously, Di Nonno served as Senior Vice President, Marketing Alliances and Digital media at the Hallmark Channel, and nearly eight years at Universal Studios Home Video as Vice President, Strategic Marketing. Madeline began her career at ABC Television Network in corporate publicity. Madeline holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University.

Madeline serves on the Board of Directors for the Television Academy Foundation; Board of Advisors for the LA Press Club; Co-Chair, Digital Hollywood’s “Hollywood for Social Change”: Board Advisor GameChanger Films and Rutgers University Institute for Women’s Leadership.

Amruta Ranade Fadnavis

Deputy Vice President, Transaction Banking-Corporate, Axis Bank

Amruta Ranade Fadnavis is Deputy Vice President, Transaction Banking-Corporate, Axis Bank, Mumbai and the wife of Shri Devendra Fadnavis, the chief minister of Maharashtra. The couple has a 6-year-old daughter, Divija.Born to doctor parents, Ms Fadnavis graduated from GS College of Commerce in Nagpur and did her MBA from Symboisis College in Pune. As a student, she was always among the top three in her class and excelled in sports too; she was a State level U-16 Tennis player. A trained classical singer and an active supporter of women’s causes, she recently sung a song against female foeticide and made her debut as a playback singer in Sangharshyatra, a marathi film on late Shri Gopinath Munde. She is perhaps the first CM’s wife to hold a job, unwilling as she is to merely bask in her husband’s glory. Her determination to continue her corporate career even as she juggles her duties as the first lady of Varsha certainly makes her a role model for millions of young women in Maharashtra.

Locsi Ferra

Project Director for Thematic Campaigns & Innovative Partnerships, Independent Television Service (ITVS)

Locsi Ferra is a network builder dedicated to gender equality, diversity, and international development. She currently serves as Project Director for Thematic Campaigns & Innovative Partnerships at Independent Television Service (ITVS), where she has produced several national engagement campaigns for Half the Sky, A Path Appears, and other important documentary films. For the past 4 years, Locsi has built multi-platform media campaigns with ITVS using documentary film as a tool for social change. She recently completed a successful 4 year initiative, Women and Girls Lead, which reached over 59 millions viewers in the United States, and continues to mobilize civil society and audiences to advance gender equity through Women and Girls Lead Global. In addition to producing high-level campaigns and partnerships, she is an established engagement professional and social impact entrepreneur with a successful track record for large-scale advocacy campaigns with Amnesty International USA and community-based initiatives with La Casa de las Madres, American Red Cross, UNPFA Nepal, and Spanish NGO, Paz Y Desarollo in Vietnam. With a Masters Degree in Gender and Development from the University of Sussex, Locsi has dedicated herself to advancing women’s development around the world.

Deepa Gahlot

Journalist, Columnist, Critic, Author,
Head of Theatre and Film Department

Deepa Gahlot is a journalist, critic, columnist, editor, and author. She writes extensively on cinema, theatre, books, the arts, women’s issues for several publications and websites. She has won the National Award for Best Film Criticism, edited several cinema journals. Her work has appeared in anthologies on women’s studies and cinema: Bollywood Popular Indian Cinema, Behind the Scenes of Hindi Cinema A Visual Journey through the Heart of Bollywood, Jananiand Bollywood’s Top 20: Superstars of Indian Cinema. Her books, The Prithviwallahs (co-authored with Shashi Kapoor), and biographies of Shah Rukh Khan and Shammi Kapoor have been published. Two new books, Take 2: 50 Films that Deserve a New Audienceand Sheroes: 25 Daring Women of Bollywood have been published this year.She now heads the Theatre and Film department of the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai.

Tanaya Guha

Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, IIT Kanpur

Tanaya Guha is currently an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at IIT Kanpur. Prior to joining IITK, she was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab (SAIL), University of Southern California, Los Angeles from 2013-2015. She has received her PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada in 2013. She has received several awards for her leadership and academic excellence including Woodhams memorial scholarship from Mensa Canada, and Google Anita Borg scholarship. Her most recent research interests are computational social science, multimedia analytics and human behavior analysis.

Archana Garodia Gupta

National President, FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO)

Archana Garodia Gupta is the President of the FICCI Ladies Organisation. One of India’s leading quizzers, she was declared Champion of Champions by BBC Mastermind in 2001. Archana owns and runs a successful gems and jewellery business, Touchstone, which is a pioneer in Indian costume jewellery that caters to the middle class. An MBA from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, multi-talented Archana is a successful entrepreneur in silver-based jewellery, knows seven languages, has learnt classical music under legendary singer Shubha Mudgal and has now won the prestigious BBC quiz. In her personal life, Archana always did what she wanted to do and was never afraid to take risks. She could have landed a cushy job after graduating from IIM but preferred to slog it out in her father’s business. She then established her firm ‘Touchstone’, which deals in silver-based jewellery and made a mark in this profession. Creating a niche in one’s chosen path is never an easy task and Archana believes the credit for this goes to her parents who allowed her to pursue a career of her liking. She remarked, ”If you ask me, I feel a young person should pursue various hobbies and interests because if you put your entire life in one basket, it is a waste.” She said: ”If you want to do something, go ahead and do it and do not get bothered over failures as this might deter you from doing many things in life.”

Caroline Heldman

Associate Professor, Occidental College, Los Angeles

Dr. Heldman is an Associate Professor of Politics at Occidental College in Los Angeles and the research director for the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media. Her research specializes in media, the presidency, and systems of power (race, class, gender). Dr. Heldman co-edited Rethinking Madame President: Are We Ready for a Woman in the White House? (Lynne Rienner, 2007) and authored Protest Politics in the Marketplace: Consumer Activism in the Corporate Age (Cornell University Press, 2017), Women, Power, and Politics: The Fight for Gender Equality in the United States (Oxford University Press, 2017), The New Campus Anti-Rape Movement (Lexington, 2018), and Gender and Resistence in the 2016 Presidential Election (Praeger, 2018).

Dr. Heldman has been active in “real world” politics as a professional pollster, campaign manager, and commentator for CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, and CNBC. She has also been featured in popular documentaries, including Missrepresentation, The Mask You Live In, The Hunting Ground, Informant, Equal Means Equal, and Liberated. Dr. Heldman was one of many women who went public with allegations of gender discrimination against Bill O’Reilly that led to his firing from Fox News. She splits her time between Los Angeles and New Orleans where she co-founded the New Orleans Women’s Shelter and the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum. Dr. Heldman also co-founded End Rape on Campus (EROC), Faculty Against Rape (FAR), and End Rape Statute of Limitations (ERSOL).

Nishtha Jain

Mumbai-based Filmmaker

Nishtha Jain, a Mumbai-based filmmaker is best known for her films Gulabi Gang (2012), Lakshmi and Me (2007) and City of Photos (2005).  Her films have diverse themes ranging from politics of image-making and self-representation; complexities of social hierarchies and questioning of class, caste, gender privileges. The distinctive themes in her work are unified by her self-reflexive and intersectional approach. Her films have been shown extensively in international film festivals and art-house cinemas. They have won several prestigious international and national awards, been broadcast on international TV networks and are regularly shown in schools and colleges in India and abroad. She’s a graduate of Jamia Mass Communication Research Centre, New Delhi and Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. She has worked as editor for video news-magazines Newstrack and Eyewitness; as Vice President programming for Zee Chakra, Zee Telefilms Network.

K.P. Jayasankar, PhD

Professor and Dean, School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Dr. K.P. Jayasankar is Professor and Dean at the School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. His films, jointly directed with Prof. Anjali Monteiro, have won thirty-two national and international awards, the most recent being the Basil Wright Award for Like Here Like There at the 13th RAI International Ethnographic Film Festival, Edinburgh 2013. They have had 4 retrospectives of their films, in India and overseas. An adaptation of their film Saacha (The Loom) was a part of the exhibition Project Space: Word. Sound. Power. at the Tate Modern, London, between July and November 2013. They have been mentors and commissioning editors for a number of documentary projects by young filmmakers.  Dr. Jayasankar is an award winning cameraperson and editor. He has received several prestigious international fellowships, including the DAAD scholarship at the University of Heidelberg, the Howard Thomas Memorial Fellowship in Media Studies, at Goldsmith’s College, London, the Erasmus Mundus fellowship at Lund University, Sweden and the Key Technology Partner Fellowship at the University of Technology Sydney. He has also served as jury to various film festivals. His areas of research interest include critical theory, hermeneutics, documentary film and censorship. He participates in campaigns against censorship and for freedom of expression.

Sminu Jindal

Managing Director, Jindal SAW Ltd.

Ms. Sminu Jindal is the first lady entrant in the country to do her gender proud by breaking the glass ceiling in the Steel, Oil & Gas sector in India. The young and dynamic Managing Director of Jindal SAW Ltd., a total pipes solutions company and a key player in global energy & water infrastructure, manages the daily operations of Jindal SAW with crisp business acumen and foresight. Ingrained in Ms. Jindal’s corporate DNA is an unstinting commitment for making a difference in the lives of people especially elderly & disabled. A wheelchair user due to an accident at a tender age of 11, she understands the negativity that comes with these situations and feels the only way to overcome this is by providing equal opportunities & independence through accessible infrastructure & transportation systems. Through her initiative ‘Svayam’ she works very closely almost hand-in-hand with policy makers, govt. agencies, civic bodies to nurture a complete inclusive ecosystem which understands, develops and maintains accessible built environment for all sections of the society. She is actively involved in Prime Minister’s Accessible India Campaign to make India an inclusive & accessible country for all.

Kireet Khurana

Film Maker & Director Liberty

Kireet is a Film-Maker and Director at Climb Media. A High-Honours graduate from Sheridan College, Canada, Kireet has won six President’s National awards for his works besides others. He has made 20+ short films for UNICEF International, National Film Board of Canada, Childline, Save the Children India, USAid, John Hopkins, NACO, etc. on various public service causes like child marriage, AIDS, corporal punishment, child labour, child rights, cruelty against animals and others. His film, Komal, on child sexual abuse won the National award (2015) and made compulsory viewing in schools across India by the HRD Ministry.

Rashmi Lamba

Festival Director, FLO Film Festival

Rashmi is currently spearheading the first edition of the FLO Film Festival, themed on women empowerment and gender sensitivity. Rashmi has worked at the International Film Festivals in Toronto, Dubai, Abu Dhabi in varied capacities as the Industry Manager, Festival Producer and Jury Manager. In India, Rashmi initiated and managed the MAMI – Mumbai Film Mart to promote Indian films in non-traditional territories, and the MIFF HUB at Films Division – MIFF as a B2B platform for documentaries, shorts and animation films. A graduate in Social Communications Media, Rashmi has produced and directed documentaries, television programs, commercials and corporate films for several multi-national companies, international production houses, global television networks and leading advertising agencies in Mumbai, Dubai and Toronto.

Prerana Langa

CEO, YES Foundation

Ms. Langa is the CEO of YES Foundation, the social development/CSR arm of YES Bank. YES! i am the CHANGE is India’s largest social film movement with over 1900 films and participation of over 50,000 youth across 1,000 cities and towns pan-India. This year, over half a million youth are expected to participate. Ms. Langa also set up ICICI Foundation to empower low-income Indians to participate in and benefit from India’s growth process. Prior to this, she worked on a wide range of social programmes, community engagements and communications for ICICI Bank, McDonald’s India, Monster India, Hindustan Lever Limited, and Emirates Airlines.

Neeta Lulla

Fashion & Costume Designer Indian Fashion

An esteemed couturier and a critically acclaimed fashion and costume designer, Neeta Lulla, is hailed as the Czarina of Indian Fashion. She is today a force to reckon within the glamour and fashion industry. Her aesthetics and colour sensibilities were recognized and described as, “She plays with colours as effortlessly as the rainbow plays with sunlight on a rainy day.” She began as a fashion choreographer and stylist and went on to Bollywood, and once in the industry there was no looking back. She has since gone on to design costumes in over 350 Bollywood films, 375 styling campaigns and numerous Indian and International musicals. She is a reputed bridal and couture designer and is part of elite company as one of the top 5 designers for bridal and trousseau wear in India. Through her critically appraised career, the designerhas received innumerable accolades and awards in less than 30 years. Her standing within the industry can be gauged by her becoming the only designer to receive four National awards from the President of India for her contribution to the design and fashion industry. In nearly three decades of styling and designing, Neeta Lulla has seen multifarious changes in the industry and she has inspired young, aspiring fashion designers by teaching for two decades, providing them with the enviable opportunity to learn from her experiences and expertise. Her contribution in the form of teaching fashion spans across two decades in a number of various reputed fashion and design institutes across the country. She is also the founder of the Whistling Woods Neeta Lulla School of Design in Mumbai, India, founded in 2006. Neeta Lulla has been instrumental in spreading the glory of Indian fashion with her several international shows and retail presence in countries such as the US, Europe, UK, Canada and the Middle East. Her foray into the Indian fashion scenario created new landmarks and aspirations be it bridal, couture or Bollywood.

Milan Luthria

Director, The Dirty Picture, Once Upon a Time in Mumbai

Milan Luthria is one of India’s most respected film directors, having directed several films and worked in the Indian film industry for almost 20 years. His schooling was completed at the Greenlawns High School, followed by a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the Sydenham College, Mumbai. But his interest in film making was nurtured through his work as an Assistant Director on films made by his uncle Mahesh Bhatt. What stared as a summer job became a lifelong passion, and Milan made his directorial debut in 1999 with the critically acclaimed action-thriller film starring Ajay Devgan and Saif Ali Khan, Kachche Dhaage. Milan then directed Chori Chori, Deewar, Taxi No: 9211 and Hattrick before beginning his gangster film, which became one of the biggest hits of 2010, Once Upon a Time in Mumbai. The film was set in the 1970s, and besides being a commercial hit, also drew attention to Milan as being one of the rare filmmakers who is able to recreate an era and tell a story inspired by real life characters with finesse. He followed this up with The Dirty Picture, another biographical story. Many considered this an unusual choice of film – (being heroine led, with no huge male stars) – for a director with a commercial success as large as Once Upon a Time was. Of course the fact that The Dirty Picture became one of the most talked about critical successes of it’s time, winning three National Awards, now has everyone commending the director on his foresight! His next film was a sequel to Once Upon a Time in Mumbai – starring Akshay Kumar.Currently he is working on Baadshaho, starring Ajay Devgn, besides producing films directed by debutant filmmakers. On a personal note, Milan got married to long time girlfriend Liane and they have a beautiful baby daughter. He is an avid equestrian, with ribbons in competitive sports like tent pegging. He loves horse racing, reading and travelling.

Anjali Monteiro, PhD

Professor, School of Media and Cultural Studies Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

Dr. Anjali Monteiro is  Professor at the School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a Masters degree in Economics and a Ph.D. in Sociology. She is involved in documentary production, media teaching and research. Jointly with Prof. K.P. Jayasankar, she has made over 40 documentaries, many of which have won awards. She has been a visiting professor and fellow at several Universities, including University of Technology Sydney, University of Western Sydney, Lund University, Sweden and University of California, Berkeley and has lectured at several universities in Australia, USA, UK, Asia and Europe. Her doctoral work involved an ethnographic study of television audience reception in a working class neighbourhood in Goa, in the late 1980s. She currently writes in the broad area of media and cultural studies, with focus on documentary film, censorship, critical theory and issues of media representation.She has a book entitled A Fly in the Curry, co-authored with Prof. K.P. Jayasankar, forthcoming from Sage in November 2015. She is active in campaigns against censorship and for freedom of expression.

Manish Mundra

Founder/Film Maker Drishyam Films

Manish Mundra forayed into the world of Indian cinema in 2014 as a producer, when a tweet by Rajat Kapoor seeking investors for his film Ankhon Dekhi, caught his attention. Cinema being his one of his oldest passions, Manish offered to help and Ankhon Dekhi directed by Rajat Kapoor, found an investor-producer. Ankhon Dekhi not only garnered acclaim but also won three Filmfare Awards and three Screen Awards. The journey, thus started, only led to more films, film festivals and awards. Having achieved tremendous success in the corporate world, Manish felt it was about time he started nurturing his passion projects and so he founded Drishyam Films to foster the growth of Indian cinema.

Falguni Padode

Chairperson, Mumbai Chapter FICCI

Falguni Padode, is the Chairperson of the Mumbai Chapter of the Women’s Wing of FICCI, the largest and oldest women’s association in South-East Asia, with over 4,000 members across 13 chapters pan-India. Also known as FLO (FICCI Ladies Organisation), the organisation works towards women empowerment at the senior as well as grassroot level towards this purpose. She conceptualised and actualised a women’s film festival to give the work of FLO both, a platform and a voice to lobby for women empowerment. Professionally, she is the Group Managing Editor of ASAPP Info Global, a multinational B2B media house dedicated to providing cutting-edge and unbiased information on the construction, infrastructure, and industry sectors. She was awarded the “Best Journalist” award at the CIDC Vishwakarma Awards, in 2011, and in 2015 received the International Women Entrepreneurs Award (IWEC) amongst awardees from countries across the globe. She lives in Mumbai with her publisher husband Pratap, and has 2 children, Priyanka (25) and Tanveer (21).

Meghna Ghai-Puri

Educationist, Change Catalyst Mumbai

She possesses a BSc. Honours in Business Management from Kings College, London and a Post Graduate Diploma in Communications, Advertising & Marketing from the CAM Foundation, London. Meghna returned to India after a brief work stint at CDguru.com in the UK. Her mission – to fulfil her father, filmmaker Subhash Ghai’s vision to build the best film school in the world. She was involved in every aspect of the setup & operations of Whistling Woods International since its inception. Meghna also spearheaded Marketing & International Distribution activities at Mukta Arts Ltd. in 2003. ‘Taal’, ‘Pardes’ & ‘Yaadein’ are a few of the prominent projects that she led. Thus her industry connect commenced. In the short span of less than 8 years, she has spearheaded the launched of seven schools within Whistling Woods. These schools run degree & diploma courses in Film & TV, Acting, Animation, Fashion and a MBA in Media and Entertainment & a BBA in Media & Communication. The Hollywood Reporter rates Whistling Woods as one of the Ten Best Film Schools in the world. Almost every establishment scouting for talent in the Media and Entertainment Industry in India turns to Whistling Woods for answers. Over time, Meghna realised the need to expand the indigenously-crafted education model followed by WWI to other verticals and geographies. Out of this emerged additional campuses of WWI in the UK, Nigeria and Pune. Recently, Meghna was awarded with the prestigious Honorary Fellowship by UK’s largest College – Bradford College for her contribution to Media Education. Shaping students’ careers, structuring the Media & Entertainment industry and mentoring the workforce at Whistling Woods International (WWI) are top priority for President, Meghna Ghai Puri. Meghna remains determined to make Whistling Woods International the thought leader for film & media education in the world.

Aruna Raje

Editor, Writer, Director, Producer A New Paradigm

A critically acclaimed award-winning filmmaker, Arunaraje is a writer, editor, director and producer. She passed out of the Film Institute of India with a gold medal and was the first trained girl technician to come out of the Institute. She has done advertising films, documentaries, television serials and features which include Shaque, Gehrayee, Situm, Rihaee, Bhairavi, Keh Do Na and Tum. Many of her films have strong women themes and she has been a voice for women. She has represented women in many forums and has been passionate about empowering women. She has been a Trustee of Stree Bal Shakti, an NGO and also has worked with commercial sex workers in the red light area, writing about their life in verse form as Redlight Verses. Actively involved in film education, she has been part of decision making bodies and teaching in many film schools. She has been Vice President of FTII Society, Pune and Vice Chairman, Governing Council too. She designed the curriculum, syllabus and also brought in faculty and trained them for the Whistling Woods International Film school, heading the Academics as well as the Direction department. She has served on many juries and has been a strong voice for documentaries. She has made over 50 documentaries and headed the Indian Documentary Producers association as President, twice in the past. She has won National awards for her documentaries, Mallika Sarabhai, A New Paradigm and Behind the Glass Wall. She has also been a Landmark Forum Leader and has led ! transformational programs for more than 10,000 people.

Harish Sadani

Founder & Chief Functionary Men Against Violence and Abuse

Harish Sadani has been passionately running multi-sector developmental programs on gender and health, for over 26 years. He is a founder-member and Chief Functionary of Men Against Violence and Abuse (MAVA), India’s first organization of sensitive and concerned men working since 1993 to stop and prevent gender-based violence on women. Harish, who has done his Masters in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, has been engaging and mentoring thousands of adolescent boys and young men across Maharashtra state to communicate with peers on healthy relationships, masculinity and sexuality-related matters, using out-of-the-box methods. Currently, he is also a Consultant and Trainer to Corporates, Universities and NGOs on anti-sexual harassment at workplace and other gender matters. In recognition of his pioneering and significant work in India on gender and masculinity, Harish has been awarded with the Ashoka Changemakers’ Award, Maharashtra Foundation Award, Civil Society Karmaveer Puraskar and the Muktaa Sanman  Award by IBN Lokmat newschannel. He has been invited by national and international bodies like UN Women and UNFPA to share insights and build capacities of various stakeholders on addressing issues of gender-based violence against women.

A L Sharada, PhD

Director, Population First

Dr. A.L. Sharada has done her Doctorate in Sociology from the Central University of Hyderabad in the field of Sociology of Occupations and Professions. She has been active in the Development Sector for the last 26 (28 yrs in 2015) years. She started her career as a faculty member in the Central University of Hyderabad.  She was also on the faculty of Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR) at Jaipur. She carried out many short-term consultancy assignments for UNICEF and UNFPA in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. She has also conducted several programmes for NGOs in U.P. and Rajasthan on various issues such as rehabilitation of the mentally handicapped persons, mobile crèches for migrant construction workers, adolescent, non-formal and innovative education initiatives, empowerment of women, child labour and women’s health.  Dr Sharada had conducted various training programmes for personnel of international agencies, NGOs and Government departments on gender and RCH as well as on Communication Planning. She was invited by the US government Under International Visitors Leadership Programme on “Role of NGOs in addressing Global Gender Issues” in June 2009 She is also a Member of the Committee for drafting Child Rights Policy of Maharashtra Government, and on the committees constituted by Government of Maharashtra to suggest amendments to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and to develop communication strategy for the effective implementation of the PCPNDT (Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prevention of Misuse) Act) . She is on board of many colleges Sexual Harassment Team. Some of them are Whistling Woods International, K.J.Somaiya, Elphinstone College, She has recently come on board of Campaign India Magazine as Gender Expert. She reviews the ads that come every fortnight and gives them Gender Scores. Dr. Sharada is active in the developmental sector for the last 26 years as a researcher, trainer and programme manager. She is the Director of Population First for the last 10 years. She had the opportunity to work with international agencies like UNICEF, UNFPA and other Non-government organizations as a consultant. She was on the faculty of the Central University of Hyderabad and Indian Institute of Health Management Research. She was also associated with SIFPSA in UP and Administrative Staff College in Hyderabad. She was invited by the State Department of US to represent India under the International Visitors Leadership Programme (IVLP) on Role of NGOs in Global Gender Issues. She is special invitee to State Supervisory Board on PCPNDT Act, and the Committee constituted by the Government of Maharashtra on IEC policy. She was a member of the Committee constituted to suggest amendments to MTP Act under the Chairpersonship of Dr. Oak, Dean KEM College, Mumbai. She is one of the members of Sexual Harassment Committee and also on the Board of Studies of Colleges.

Mayank Shekhar

Broadcaster, Journalist, and Author

Mayank Shekhar is a broadcaster, journalist, and author. His just released book, Name Place Animal Thing, a take on India and popular culture, is currently climbing the Amazon bestseller list. Shekhar has been a columnist and film critic for much over a decade, starting with Mid Day; Mumbai Mirror, a paper he helped set up under The Times Group; and Hindustan Times, where he served as the national cultural editor. Mayank read economics at Delhi’s St Stephen’s College. He runs TheW14.com.

Abhishek Srivastava

Country Engagement Coordinator, India, ITVS

Abhishek Srivastava is a journalist and media professional specializing in social issue reporting and campaign strategy development. Starting out as a copy editor with India Times, Abhishek went on to produce an award-winning talk-show “Devil’s Advocate” while working with the Indian affiliate of CNN. He has also trained journalists from Afghanistan’s leading news agency through a USAID project, and worked as a media consultant for UNICEF and Greenpeace.

Kailash Surendranath

Director, Owner Kailash Picture Company

Kailash Surendranath has to his credit a series of inspiring national integration films such as The Freedom Torch – Mile Sur Mera Tumhara, Raag Desh, Jhansi Ki Rani, and Phir Mile Sur. These films on national integration have made a lasting impact in the minds of Indian people and have helped in their own way to initiate unity and peace in this vast nation of such diversity. These films directed and produced by Kailash have gone on to attain a cult status and an anthem status in India. These have been widely viewed on television channels and have gone viral on the Internet. Besides this noteworthy contribution to India’s efforts for national integration, Kailash is an institution and has over the years also made a path breaking contributions to the advertising industry. Kailash has started his film making career at the age of 17 and his work in the field of cinema and TV commercials has always been new and trend setting and his contribution to Indian advertising is definitely notable and historical. He has built brands over the years with films in all kinds of genres, ranging from food to kids to humor, emotion, to life style, fashion, musicals and hard sell. Some of the most notable work are his ads for the launch of Liril soap which took the audience by storm as it was the first time they saw a young lady in a bikini bathing in a waterfall Britannia glucose biscuits, a pathbreaking commercial featuring India’s most dreaded Bollywood villain Gabber Singh, washing powder Nirma, all the Nirma soap brands that gave the ruling multi national brands a run for their money the Amul tv commercials, emami, vimal fabrics etc. etc. the list is endless! Kailash commands the distinction of producing and directing the maximum number of commercials in the country and probably the world. Having directed over 3,500 commercials (and still counting…) in a span of over four decades. He has shot in various countries the world over and has commercials on TV in Africa,America, The middle east and the entire sub continental. Under the direction of Mr. Kailash, he and his company Kailash Picture Company have also undertaken several prestigious Hollywood projects and commercials that have been shot in India. Including A Mighty Heart: Starring Angelina Jolie and directed by Micheal Winterbottom. Produced by Paramount Vantage and Plan B. And some more… Currently involved in producing and creating content for television and the Internet. Kailash being a mentor and on the Jury for various film making competitions including “Yes I am the change” for the yes bank foundation.

Sooni Taraporevala

Film Maker, Screenwriter, and Photographer

Sooni Taraporevala is a photographer, screenwriter & filmmaker who studied and worked in America before moving back to Mumbai, where she lives with her family. Her produced screenplay credits include the films Salaam Bombay! Mississippi Masala, My Own Country, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Such A Long Journey, the Namesake and Girl Rising. She made her directorial debut with the film she wrote Little Zizou which won many awards, played at many festivals, had a 12-week theatrical run and won the National award for Best Film on Family Values. She was awarded the Lillian Gish Award for excellence in Film for Salaam Bombay!, the Osella award from the Venice Film Festival for Mississippi Masala, was nominated for a genie award for Such A Long Journey.

Rebecca Reichmann Tavares, EdD

UN Women Representative, Office for India, Bhutan, Maldives & Sri Lanka

Rebecca Reichmann Tavares is the Representative of UN Women’s Multicountry Office for India, Bhutan, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Previously Dr. Reichmann Tavares was Representative for Brazil and Regional Programme Director of UN Women’s Brazil & Southern Cone Office (2009-2013). A native of Southern California, Dr. Reichmann Tavares graduated from Yale University and holds a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has published several books, monographs and articles on race relations in Brazil, women’s rights, and microfinance in Latin America.

Leena Yadav

Writer, Director

Leena Yadav started her journey as an editor for commercials. With a solid grounding in editing, Leena has directed a host of fiction and non-fiction shows for television, which include the first reality show of India. She has directed more than 200 hours of Television programming between 1995- 2002. Her journey in film started with SHABD (2005) starring Aishwarya Rai, Sanjay Dutt and Zayed Khan. She wrote, directed and edited the film, which bravely explores the psychology of love, marriage, creativity and freedom. Teen Patti (2010) is Leena’s second film as a director & writer. Set in India and England, and starring two of the greatest living acting legends of our times – czar of the Indian film industry, Amitabh Bachchan and Academy Award Winner Sir Ben Kingsley – Teen Patti is an emotionally riveting and razor sharp thriller about greed, deception and achievements. Parched (2015) has been Written, Directed and Produced by Leena and is her third film. Parched explores gender politics in a misogynistic society and is set in rural India. Parched premiered at TIFF and got standing ovations in it’s screenings. Leena won the prestigious IMPACT Award at the Stockholm International Film Festival that “support[s] headstrong filmmakers who are not afraid to bring up burning topics in contemporary society.”
The film was declared ‘Best of the Fest’ at the Palm Springs international Film Fest.

Debra Zimmerman

Executive Director Women Make Movies

Debra Zimmerman has been the Executive Director of Women Make Movies, a non-profit NY based film organization that supports women filmmakers, since 1983. During her tenure it has grown into the largest distributor of films by and about women in the world. WMM’s internationally recognized Production Assistance Program has helped hundreds of women get their films made. Films from WMM programs have been nominated or won Academy Awards for the last eight years. She is in great demand around the world as a speaker on independent film distribution, marketing and financing as well as on women’s film. She has moderated panels and given master classes at the Sundance Film Festival, MIPDOC and Reel Screen as well as film festivals in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America. Zimmerman has been closely affiliated with the International Documentary Film Festival (IDFA) as the co-host of the Talk of the Day and as a tutor for their Summer Film Academy. She has been on the juries of festivals around the world including the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, the Cartagena Film Festival (FICCI), and the Leipzig International Documentary Film Festival, among others. In addition, she has mentored filmmakers at the Ex-Oriente Film Workshop in Vienna, the Sheffield DocuFest and for many years at the National Alliance of Latino Independent Producers’ (NALIP) Academy. She sits on the Board of Directors of Cinema Tropical, a resource for Latino independent filmmakers and on the Advisory Board of the Center for Social Media at American University. She is the recipient of New York Women in Film and Television’s Loreen Arbus Award and Hot Doc’s 2013 Doc Mogul Award, given to those who "over the course of their career has made an essential contribution to the creative vitality of the documentary industry, both in his or her country or abroad."

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