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Articles, features and write-up's on NRI life in the US, Canada and North America >> Features Achieve >> Articles

We are constantly on the lookout for articles of interest to feature on Please mail us articles you would like to see featured and we will be glad to oblige.

Bollywood Calling: .From a techie to ...Bollywood Calling (From Times Of India)

It 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.

He 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.

What is it like for a technology person to make a movie? 

As 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.

 You 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.

 I 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 me. 

Now 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. 

Why a film to escape from the pace of business? 

All 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.

 Through 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. 

Rather 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.

 I jumped at the movie idea because I saw an opportunity to use Bollywood to help change American attitudes about Indians. 

What's the film about? 

It's 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.

 Does the BusinessWeek Online column suggest that Bollywood too is intriguing the West in the same way as Hollywood has fascinated India ? 

I was amazed when BusinessWeek Online contacted me. Alex Salkever (technology editor) said that these days India and Bollywood are both "as hot as hell". 

They 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. 

What 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? 

This 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. 

Then 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. 

Our 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. 

Will IT jobs dip in popularity because there's no "life" left at the end of the day? 

With 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.

Are Indian software companies sensitive to the hazards of IT jobs? 

The 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. 

It's 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. 

The good thing is that if an employer doesn't treat you right, you can always get another job in the IT field.






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