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Bollywood Calling: .From a
techie to ...Bollywood Calling (From
Times Of India)
took a cardiac arrest last year for Vivek Wadhwa ,
the 45-year-old founder-chairman of Relativity Technologies,
a North Carolina-based software company, to realise that the
"tech rat-race" had burnt him out.
is now producing a Bollywood musical crossover for a much-needed
escape and has even been invited by BusinessWeek Online
to author a column on Indian films. He tells Harsh
Kabra that Americans have developed positive stereotypes
of Indians, thanks as much to Indian technologists and doctors
as Indian movies.
is it like for a technology person to make a movie?
a technology executive, you learn to be creative and innovative,
manage many types of people with strong personalities, look
critically at project plans and budgets, find solutions to
difficult problems, etc. It isn't that different when you're
producing a movie.
have to leverage the talent of smart and creative people with
strong egos, ask difficult questions and motivate people to
do more with less, inspire and challenge them, develop tight
project plans and execute with precision.
actually find that movie stars have smaller egos than many
of the programmers I've managed! I was so used to working
non-stop that I never stopped to think where this would lead
my priority is to spend more time with my family and do things
that are fun. Having said that, I am sure that I'll get back
into the "rat race" sometime in the future. But
right now, I am enjoying the break.
a film to escape from the pace of business?
I've done since the age of 17 is IT, everything from writing
code to managing projects to building a technology company.
It was time to do something different. I happened to be visiting
India earlier last year with my son, who is an avid Bollywood
fan and wanted to meet Bollywood stars.
a friend, I was introduced to Feroz Khan, who got me excited
about Bollywood. One of the things I've worked hard on is
to help change western attitudes towards Indians. Over a period
of three years, I've seen a tremendous change in the attitudes
of American business people towards Indians.
than looking at us as low-level programmers, they see us as
leaders and managers. Movies like Bend It Like Beckham
and Monsoon Wedding have helped Americans understand
more about Indian culture, much beyond the old stereotypes
of ‘Gangadin' or snake charmers.
jumped at the movie idea because I saw an opportunity to use
Bollywood to help change American attitudes about Indians.
the film about?
a love story about an American who falls in love with a Bollywood
actress and follows her back to Mumbai. The movie shows India
through the eyes of a westerner and brings western and Indian
audiences together in a very positive way.
the BusinessWeek Online column suggest that Bollywood
too is intriguing the West in the same way as Hollywood has
fascinated India ?
was amazed when BusinessWeek Online contacted me.
Alex Salkever (technology editor) said that these days India
and Bollywood are both "as hot as hell".
thought that as an Indian American who is a "fish out
of water" in Bollywood, I'd be able to bridge both cultures
and write something that is exciting for western audiences
and also appeals to Indians. This is the beginning of a trend.
My belief is that the cultural pendulum has begun to swing
from East to West.
do you think of the health and lifestyle hazards faced by
the growing tribe of workaholic techies in India slogging
to prove themselves to their Indian bosses and foreign customers?
is a part of an economic evolution. A decade ago, western
companies started outsourcing menial IT tasks to India . First,
it was maintenance and testing of old applications.
Y2K happened, and entire projects were outsourced to India
. Soon, Indians became a part of all major IT initiatives
in the Silicon Valley , and today many in the West fear India
's IT industry.
people have always worked hard, but they had to learn about
quality and western work ethics and gain discipline, self-confidence
and financial strength to rise above menial stuff. All I can
say is that people should moderate themselves and be provided
with excellent working conditions.
IT jobs dip in popularity because there's no "life"
left at the end of the day?
India 's huge educated, English-speaking labour pool, there
will always be good people available to take these jobs. Some
people will grow out of these jobs and rise to the next level.
But there will be many new opportunities emerging for those
who dislike this lifestyle.
Indian software companies sensitive to the hazards of IT jobs?
technology field isn't for people who don't want to work hard
or have no ambition. It is very rewarding financially and
intellectually. Technology jobs demand a lot. However, you
do need to have a balance.
important to spend time with your family and give back to
the community along the way. I know that the most successful
companies do all the right things for their employees. I'm
not sure about the rest.
good thing is that if an employer doesn't treat you right,
you can always get another job in the IT field.