DiscoverMasala Podcast: The South Asian feminist podcast
Masala Podcast: The South Asian feminist podcast

Masala Podcast: The South Asian feminist podcast

Author: Soul Sutras

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This multi-award-winning South Asian feminist podcast is all about cultural taboos. Everything from sex, sexuality, periods, menopause, porn, mental health, shame, sexual harassment & more. Considered the biggest South Asian feminist podcast representing the voices & views of South Asian women, exploring intersectional feminism from a South Asian lens, Masala Podcast features some of the world's most inspiring South Asian women. Masala Podcast is the winner of multiple British Podcast Awards 2020, 2021, 2022 & 2023. Masala Podcast has been featured in the Guardian, BBC Radio, the Observer, Evening Standard, Cosmopolitan, Stylist, Eastern Eye, Huffington Post, BBC Sounds, Brown Girl Magazine, Women’s Health Austria, Deccan Herald India & more.
56 Episodes
Never Have I Ever & Fargo star Richa Moorjani is talking with me, Sangeeta Pillai, host of Masala Podcast! I'm thrilled to share my conversation with the exceptionally talented Richa Moorjani. We talk about challenging beauty standards, about the importance of representation, about our dual identities as South Asian women living in the West – and so much more. American actress Richa Moorjani hails from a South Asian family deeply rooted in music, her life filled with melodies and rhythms since her childhood. Her mother is a singer who lived in Mysore before migrating to the United States at the age of seven. A self-taught musical maestro, her father merged his love for music and community, creating bonds with fellow Indian immigrants.  Together, they formed a band that celebrated their roots through the sounds of Hindi cover songs. Richa’s upbringing in America sowed the seeds of a cultural blend that would later influence Richa's own artistic endeavours.  But this episode isn’t all about music, TV and the arts.  We’re going to get very serious, and make some impact on the cultural divides between Hollywood, and Bollywood.
Mira Jacob is a novelist, memoirist, illustrator and cultural critic. Her graphic memoir, 'Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations,' was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award, longlisted for the Pen Open Book Award, nominated for three Eisner awards, and named a New York Times notable book, as well as a Best Book of the Year by Time, Esquire, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal. Mira's writing and drawings have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Electric Literature, Tin House, Literary Hub, Guernica, Vol. 1 and The Telegraph. Mira Jacob and Masala Podcast had the most wonderful conversation, going from colorism to racism to the joy of fashion. We hope you enjoy listening!  
Aparna Nancherla is an LA-based comedian, actor and writer who performs all over the US and worldwide. Her TV stand-up appearances include Netflix's 'The Standups,' HBO's 'Two Dope Queens,' and Comedy Central's 'The Half Hour.' Aparna was also a series regular on Comedy Central's 'Corporate,' and appeared many times on HBO's 'Crashing.' She's also made late-night appearances on 'The Late Late Show with James Corden' and 'Late Night with Stephen Colbert.' Aparna's book of personal essays called 'Unreliable Narrator' is out now.
At just 18, Avantika is already a force as a well-known Hollywood actor and producer. She was the first ever Indian American lead in the Disney Channel Original Movies 'Spin'. She was named in Variety’s Young Hollywood 'Up Next' list in 2021. Avantika plays a lead role in the Sony Screen Gems feature 'Horoscope'. Avantika also starred opposite Rebel Wilson in a #1 movie on Netflix, Senior Year. She is also starring as 'Karen' in the Paramount feature 'Mean Girls Musical', for executive producers Tina Fey and Lorne Michaels. She is also currently developing a TV series adaptation of the New York Times bestselling novel A Crown of Wishes, which she will star in and executive produce, for Disney+. Avantika is the future, and that future is diverse, talented, and young. Watch this space; you won’t want to miss what comes next.
Tanya Gupta was a NASA aerospace engineer, a childhood dream for so many of us and Tanya made it happen. She worked on a prototype aircraft, which now sits at the Smithsonian, and she also owns a software patent with Kennedy Space Centre. Born in the UK, she and her family moved to the US and spent some time in India too, all of which informs her work. These days, Tanya calls herself a New York based art director, multimedia artist and content creator. In 2021, Tanya became the first Indian American to join the Adobe Creative residency, after which she directed social campaigns for Tom Ford beauty, Disney, Toyota, and more. In 2022, Tanya was honoured on the Forbes 30 under 30 list. Her work has also been featured in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Teen Vogue. Tanya lives life in the fullest, brightest colours you can imagine. And that’s just brilliant.  
Michelle is the founder of Ranavat, a skin and hair care brand, based on age-old Ayurvedic traditions. Leveraging her expertise in the pharmaceutical industry and her background in engineering, Michelle honors her South Asian heritage to create a line of beautiful skin and hair treatments. Founded in 2017, Ranavat became the first Ayurvedic skincare brand to launch at the iconic retailer Sephora. And is now even available at Harrods. The brand proudly donates 1% of proceeds to Desai Foundation, a non-profit organization in India that empowers women and children through community programs to elevate health and livelihood in India and the U.S. Michelle's journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur is so grounded in her South Asian culture and is super inspiring.  
Melanie Chandra is an award-winning actress and producer passionate about bringing more empathy to this world through her work. She uses her platforms both on-screen and behind the camera to share powerful and diverse stories about women and minorities. I loved chatting with Melanie Chandra, we discovered our common Kerala heritage and explored our journeys towards our cultural identities. Melanie Chandra is best known for her role on the CBS drama Code Black. I also loved Mel in the hilarious comedy central movie, Hot Mess Holiday, which she co-created, executive produced and also starred in. It's the first buddy comedy on American TV to ever star two women of South Asian descent. It was awesome to watch two South Asian women near my age, playing the leads. A mechanical engineering student at Stanford University, Melanie traded her very successful corporate career for the arts and she hasn't looked back. 
Tanya Ravichandran is just 21 years old and incredibly wise. She is the South Asian creator, director and photographer making waves in the fashion and beauty industries. Tanya was photographing campaigns for well-known brands by the age of 15. She has amassed over one and a half million followers across TikTok and Instagram. Some of Tanya's recent partnerships include Fendi, Gucci, Dior, Alexander McQueen, Farfetch and many more. She has also been featured in Vogue India, Harper's Bazaar, and Coveteur to name a few.
Reshma Saujani is a leading activist and the founder of Girls Who Code as well as founder and CEO of Moms First (formerly Marshall Plan for Moms. Reshma began her career as an attorney and Democratic organizer. In 2010, she surged onto the political scene as the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress. Reshma has spent more than a decade building movements to fight for women and girls’ economic empowerment, working to close the gender gap in the tech sector. Most recently, she has been advocating for policies to support moms impacted by the pandemic. Reshma is also the author of the international bestseller Brave, Not Perfect, and her influential TED talk, “Teach girls, bravery not perfection,” has more than five million views globally. I found talking with Reshma Saujani so inspiring. I hope you do too.
Editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue Versha Sharma talks about the power of brown women in fashion and elsewhere. She focuses on covering social justice, culture, fashion and politics through the lens of young people. She also talks about the surge of incredible South Asian Americans creatives in the US. Varsha was named South Asian woman of the year in 2022 by the Howard South Asian Women's collective. Previously, she was managing editor and senior correspondent at Now This. Varsha has produced several short documentaries and has reported on many serious issues from all over the world. She won an Edward R. Murrow award with the Now This report team having got her start in journalism with an internship at Talking Points Memo in 2009. Varsha went on to cover the 2012 presidential election for MSNBC. This conversation with Versha has got me absolutely buzzing. Hope you enjoy it too.  
Raveena Aurora is a massive music star & the first woman of Indian descent to play at Coachella. And she’s on Masala Podcast!  A gorgeous mix of music, spirituality & sensuality, Raveena talks about the barriers of being a brown woman in the music business. Her genre-bending style mixes soul, jazz, Bollywood & R&B effortlessly. Raveena speaks about her music, the barriers she as a brown woman has to face and overcome in the music industry. And what it was like being the first woman of Indian descent to play at Coachella.   Raveena’s magical personality shows in her music and shines through her when she speaks. Happy listening.
Season 5 of the multi-award-winning Masala Podcast is a USA Special. Our first episode features the trailblazing sex educator, sexual health expert and advocate Dr. Varuna Srinivasan. Listen for a thought-provoking journey as we dive into the heart of sexual orientation, identity, and LGBTQ+ rights with Varuna. Varuna's story is incredible, and their empathy for others navigating their own journey through their sexual orientation & identity is astonishing. Varuna identifies as a queer, immigrant, South Asian woman. They are a sexual health expert, writer, and activist who's been featured in many publications like Elle India, Vogue, Business Insider, Cosmopolitan, and more. Varuna is the founder of Tara Health Media, a sexual health education and empowerment lead digital platform for POC communities. Varuna was named woman of courage by Serena Williams. In October 2022, Varuna was Cosmopolitan India's LGBTQ + coverstar. We are so inspired by Varuna at Masala Podcast, I know you will be too. For full transcript & info, go to:
In this extra-special final episode, Masala Podcast creator Sangeeta Pillai becomes the guest. She is interviewed by Hollywood actor & producer Melanie Chandra about the importance of South Asian feminism. Sangeeta talks about her own personal and painful experiences growing up in the Mumbai slums with an alcoholic, abusive father. She talks about seeing her mother and other South Asian women being treated badly, which inspired her to become a feminist activist. Sanegeta also talks about why it’s important for women and girls to have safe spaces like Masala Podcast. And why she will keep being a South Asian feminist and activist until her last breath.
  “How are we expected to present ourselves as women from South Asian culture? Together, we discuss our experiences as South Asian womxn living all over Europe and what it means to be South Asian feminists today.” The fiercely feminist Masala Podcast goes international! This very special live episode was recorded in Cologne, Germany. Sangeeta Pillai chats with three amazing guests: Prasanna Oommen, Laxmi Manuela & Anu Ambasna as part of the INDERNET festival. We talk about Being (European) Bad Betis (Daughters) living all over Europe and being South Asian feminists. Masala Podcast, winner of British Podcast Awards 2020, 2021 & 2022 is a Spotify Original created & presented by Sangeeta Pillai @soulsutras For show notes & transcript, please visit: Masala Podcast: Live in Germany
  “Who’s a strong South Asian woman? Meet Poorna Bell who talks about getting into powerlifting and how that helped her see her body and herself differently.” We’re talking about strong women on this episode of the fiercely feminist Masala Podcast. Sangeeta Pillai chats with Poorna Bell, an award-winning journalist & author who is also a powerlifter. Poorna won her first powerlifting competition aged 40. Poorna and Sangeeta talk about the concept of womxn being physically strong. Masala Podcast, winner of British Podcast Awards 2020, 2021 & 2022 is a Spotify Original created & presented by Sangeeta Pillai @soulsutras For show notes & transcript, please visit: Poorna Bell Masala Podcast
  “Disabled people are often forgotten. We all need to highlight the need for support and to make the world a more inclusive place for those living with disabilities.” Shani Dhanda, the award-winning disability rights activist is on this episode of the fiercely feminist Masala Podcast. Its creator Sangeeta Pillai chats with Shani Dhanda, one of the UK’s most influential disability activists, helping organisations integrate inclusion into their business frameworks. Masala Podcast, winner of British Podcast Awards 2020, 2021 & 2022 is a Spotify Original created & presented by Sangeeta Pillai @soulsutras For show notes & transcript, please visit: Shani Dhanda Masala Podcast
  “We’re never too old to do whatever we want to do. We don’t have to fit into a box because our upbringing or culture says so. Meet the Aunty Skater who took up skating in her 40s.” This episode of the fiercely feminist Masala Podcast features a sari-wearing skater who’s a TikTok sensation. Sangeeta Pillai chats with Oorbee Roy who’s also known as Aunty Skater. Having started skating at 43, Oorbee Aunty Skates shows us that we’re never too old to do whatever we want to do. Masala Podcast, winner of British Podcast Awards 2020, 2021 & 2022 is a Spotify Original created & presented by Sangeeta Pillai @soulsutras For show notes & transcript, please visit: Oorbee Roy Masala Podcast
  “As women, we carry within us infinite pleasure & the capacity to experience orgasms. But our cultural baggage, with its ideas of ‘shame’ or the sense of feeling ‘dirty’ around sex has stopped us accessing our own pleasure.” Let’s talk about sex, betis! Sangeeta Pillai, from the fiercely feminist Masala Podcast, chats with Pallavi Barnwal, a globally renowned sex & intimacy coach. She has counselled thousands of people helping them understand, navigate, and improve both their sex lives and intimate relationships. On this episode, we explore why sex and pleasure are still so difficult for us within South Asian culture. Masala Podcast, winner of British Podcast Awards 2020, 2021 & 2022 is a Spotify Original created & presented by Sangeeta Pillai @soulsutras For show notes & transcript, please visit: Pallavi Barnwal Masala Podcast
  “The menopause is still taboo in our culture & we talk through the various stages of the menopause, how it affects our bodies & minds and what we can do about it.” The fiercely feminist Masala Podcast continues as Sangeeta Pillai chats with Dr. Nighat Arif, a GP specialising in women’s health and the menopause & a regular on our TV screens. The Menopause is even harder for South Asianwomen, as it’s such a taboo. In this episode, we explore menopause symptoms and how the menopause affects our bodies & minds. Masala Podcast, winner of British Podcast Awards 2020, 2021 & 2022 is a Spotify Original created & presented by Sangeeta Pillai @soulsutras For show notes & transcript, please visit: Dr Nighat Arif Masala Podcast
“The First Live LGBTQ Marriage Proposal, the sense of sisterhood, the love….” This very special episode of Masala Podcast Live recorded at Kings Place London on Sat 11th Sept as part of the London Podcast Festival. Our Bad Betis took over Kings Place, we had a wonderful live audience. The sense of sisterhood and support across the room was electrifying. We had four incredible guests. Raga D’Silva, LGBTQ activist. Farah Kabir, co-founder of female focussed sexual wellness brand HANX. Dr. Rageshri Dhairyawan, HIV and Sexual Health activist. As well as Dr. Tina Mistry, clinical psychologist specialising in South Asian mental health. We had the first ever LGBTQ South Asian marriage proposal live on a podcast where guest Raga D’Silva proposed to their long-time partner Nicola Fenton. It was just so moving. We shed tears, we danced a little to some Indian Shaadi (wedding) music. We were witness to the most beautiful moment of love. Not just among the couple but also the huge love from the Masala Podcast community who turned up to support the podcast. READ MORE
Comments (4)

Tanya Vyas

Absolutely love this podcast! Conversations do wholesome for the soul. Such an important movement. " Let's talk about taboos, beti! "

Nov 23rd

Khy Lovegood

This podcast is literally a beacon for those carving out their own identity in the South Asian world, where women who go against the grain are outcasted. Thank you for covering topics that are too taboo to talk about but should be shouted about from the top of our lungs. I always return to this podcast to remind myself that the duality of my identity is important, worth while and mostly mine to own. Thank you for creating such an important platform! Bad Beti all the way!

Nov 19th

Nikita Chadha

As a South Asian woman, there aren't a lot of spaces or platforms that are inclusive of our narratives. Fiiiiinnnnnaaaallllly a podcast that allows us to discuss subjects that are taboo within society and the wider community. A lot of the diasporic representation of desi people is male so refreshing to see something that is female led, too! #badbetiforlife #breakingtaboos #breakingbarriers

Nov 19th

Ray Grewal

entertaining and enlightening! great to hear such unabashed honesty. And Sangeeta has such a calm, soothing voice it's unsurprising that women feel empowered to open up their lives and hearts. Keep up the good work!!

Oct 10th