Brooklyn package

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | GAUTAM SUNDER
Published May 10, 2017, 12:10 am IST
Updated May 10, 2017, 12:10 am IST
Priya Darshini straddles her various creative interests with ease and tops it up with philanthropy.
Brooklyn Raga Massive
 Brooklyn Raga Massive

Actress, singer-songwriter, swimmer, ultra-marathoner, entrepreneur… the interests of Priya Darshini are as eclectic as it can get. The New York-based youngster is a true cultural ambassador, with her diverse array of work across platforms. Musical collaborations with Grammy award winners, co-founding The WindChasers, which organises endurance races in the most challenging terrains, and starring in Hollywood flick The Letters, a biopic on Mother Teresa have been some of the highlights in recent years.

Talking about the challenges of succeeding in the west, Priya says that while there certainly are a lot more opportunities in NYC, there is also a huge amount of competition. “The best of musicians from around the world live or play here regularly. To be a successful musician in New York, you’ve got to be on top of your game and work on your art every single day,” she says.

 

Though exposed to many different styles, at heart she is still an Indian musician, she asserts. “I am a student of Indian classical music and I’ve been studying it most of my life,” says. “Even when I play different styles of music, my understanding and interpretation of it comes from my education in Indian classical music. There is a very large contingent of Indian classical musicians and audience here in NYC. I am also deeply involved with an incredibly inspiring collective called Brooklyn Raga Massive.”

She has also been collaborating with many leading individuals and groups including Karsh Kale, Grand Tapestry (an Indian classical hip hop band), Women’s Raga Massive and The Epichorus. A new multilingual record is in the pipeline.

 

She lives in Brooklyn with husband Max Zt, who is also a musician. “Max has been working hard on his own project called House of Waters which is an incredible band and are now signed up with Snarky Puppy’s label, Ground Up Music. Considering our gig and touring schedules, we make it a point to play as much music as we can when we’re together.”

Another project that has her talking animatedly is WindChasers which she kickstarted in 2011. She explains, “My intention for it was to introduce and encourage more and more people to start running, to promote a healthy lifestyle, to explore and encourage the amazing athletic talents we have in our country and to help with sustainable community development in the remote locations in India where our races are held.”

 

Priya’s Hollywood debut came with the film The Letters, a biopic about Mother Teresa. Her various other projects including her work with the Mumbai NGO Jana Rakshita has not allowed her to take up any other acting job yet but she is keeping an eye out for interesting projects.

Jana Rakshita works with pediatric cancer patients in India below the poverty line. “We cover their medical expenses, offer counseling, education and offer every kind of emotional and financial support that the patient and family need. We also work on educational projects with the Adivasi community.”

 

Charity definitely began at home for her. “I grew up in a home where my parents would regularly bring patients home from the streets and care for them,” she says. “They taught me and my sister how to live meaningfully and purposefully and to have our hearts in the right place, leading by example.”

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