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Dr. Caleb Simmons specializes in religion in South Asia, especially Hinduism. His research specialties span religion and state-formation in medieval and colonial India to contemporary transnational aspects of Hinduism. His book Devotional Sovereignty: Kingship and Religion in India (Oxford University Press, 2020), examines how the late early modern/early colonial court of Mysore reenvisioned notions of kingship, territory, and religion, especially its articulations through devotion. He teaches courses on Hinduism, Indian religions, and method and theory of Religious Studies at the University of Arizona. Dr Simmons has also published several other books and papers and is an expert on Mysore, its history and culture. 
Prolific author and historian Manu S. Pillai releases his fourth book in five years, 'False Allies: India's Maharaja's in the age of Ravi Varma'. After having closely examined his growth and success over the years, Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation was delighted to give the author a research grant for this new book.We speak to him about this new twist that he has given an often jaded narrative, his favourite Ravi Varma painting and what his plans are for his next book. 
She’s dabbled in it all - art, food, wine, fashion, travel, culture, spirituality and writing.  Shoba Narayan wears many hats, but what she’s known for most are her eclectic written works - more specifically non-fiction memoirs. Her varied experiences reflect brilliantly in the words she pens, her thoughts are deep, yet easy to grasp. Shoba Narayan is the author of five books. She has been a journalist and columnist for 30 years, writing for national and international publications. She has won a James Beard Award and a Pulitzer Fellowship. She has taught and lectured at universities in India and abroad. She is interested in Indian aesthetics– and has researched its influence on jewellery, music, textiles and scents. She is a birdwatcher, wine-drinker and gadget geek. Her lifelong mission is to get fit without exercising and lose weight without dieting.
In this episode of the Expert Hour we address some specific questions on Dr. Girija Kaimal's practices. All questions have been sent in by listeners. Dr. Girija Kaimal is an Associate Professor in the PhD Program in Creative Arts Therapies at the Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions and Assistant Dean for Special Research Initiatives. In her Health, Arts, Learning and Evaluation (HALE) research lab,  she examines physiological and psychological outcomes of creative visual self-expression. Girija currently leads studies examining arts-based approaches to health among cancer caregivers, active duty military service members and veterans 
Dr. Girija Kaimal is an Associate Professor in the PhD Program in Creative Arts Therapies at the Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions and Assistant Dean for Special Research Initiatives. In her Health, Arts, Learning and Evaluation (HALE) research lab,  she examines physiological and psychological outcomes of creative visual self-expression. Girija currently leads studies examining arts-based approaches to health among cancer caregivers, active duty military service members and veterans In this episode of the Expert Hour we introduce Dr Girija Kaimal, who leads studies examining arts-based approaches to health among cancer caregivers, active duty military service members and veterans.
Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan is a children’s author, poet, translator, editor, and voice-over talent. She is also a former non-profit development professional who spent two decades as an advocate and fundraiser for persons with disabilities. She has published children’s books in India and the United States, including A Pie Surprise and Other Stories, the award-winning Indi-Alphabet (, and How Many Lines in a Limerick. Her newest book that hit the stands in April 2021 is called Prince with a Paintbrush: The Story of Raja Ravi Varma.
How many of you know and understand the significance of the story of the 'Churning Of The Ocean of Milk' and how many of you know that the temple complex of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, displays a spectacular 49 meters of intricately sculpted bas-reliefs that are part of a larger ensemble of scenes from the Battle of Kuruksetra, the Ramayana, the 37 Heavens and the 32 Hells. Professor Vasudha Narayanan from the Department of Religion, University of Florida, is an expert on Hindu Traditions: Iconography in Temples in Cambodia. She explains the significance of this iconic bas-relief work based on Indian and Khmer culture.
Having authored several popular books on jewellery, including ‘Treasures of the Deccan: Jewels of the Nizams’ and ‘Dance of The Peacock: Jewellery Traditions of India’, Dr Usha Balakrishnan is also the Chief Curator of the World Diamond Museum. Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation has engaged with Dr Balakrishnan several times over. She has been a speaker for events conducted by Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation and is also a well wisher of the institution.
Deepanjana Pal an author and a journalist who writes about culture and society, and is particularly interested in art, literature and cinema. Her biography of Raja Ravi Varma, titled The Painter: A Life of Ravi Varma, was listed among the best non-fiction books of the year, when it was published in 2009. She is also the author of the crime thriller, Hush A Bye Baby, and two books of children's fiction.She speaks about Fiction and Roles it Plays in a Society - the things we imagine, the ideas we preserve through stories, the way stories are reshaped through retellings and how things make stories cultural artefacts.
Shibu Arakkal’s artistic sensibility, approach, and appreciation comes from painting. Although by choice he has never painted, he was exposed to it from a very early age. Her is the son of well-known artist Yusuf Arakkal. Shibu learned about painting as a subject matter and travelled widely to experience in person the great paintings that have influenced his sensibility.Arakkal also claims that he is the creator of the term ‘iPhonography’, the medium of digital photography using the iPhone. His works are a part of important collections across India, China, Singapore, Australia, Italy and New York.
Deepthi Sasidharan is an art historian, curator and founder Director at Eka Archiving, a cultural advisory and works on heritage and museum projects across India with the government, private and corporate clients. Deepthi has led Eka projects have been path-breaking in India, including setting up museums, seminal exhibitions and the creation of archives like those for Kalakshetra at Chennai, City Palace at Udaipur, Mumbai Police and Tata Trusts, Mumbai.She is currently working on the Moda Goa Museum, India’s first costume museum in Goa, on the redevelopment of the Bastion Bungalow, Fort Kochi with the Government of Kerala and a memorial project in Porbander, Gujarat.A Fulbright and Fundacao Oriente scholar, she has curated, spoken and published extensively on 19th century photography and has worked on photography collections at IGNCA and IGMT, New Delhi, and Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad and several private collections. Deepthi lives in Mumbai and is the co-author of Indira A Life of Courage (2017) and Treasures of the Deccan (2018).
Jay Varma is the great great great grandson of Raja Ravi Varma, and someone who began his artistic career late in life. Having spent much of the last two decades gaining formal education in painting and portraiture from various well-known art schools in the United States, Jay Varma has only just embarked on his chosen career path. He is now close to 60! But age has neither dampened Jay’s spirit or affected his artistic oeuvre. Instead he believes that like fine wine, his skills have matured with age, as have his perceptions and understanding of subjects. Jay Varma is also the recipient of the largest grant given out by Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation. 
Bose Krishnamachari, the internationally acclaimed Indian artist,  is also the founder member of the Kochi Muziris Biennale.This is India's first ever biennial of international contemporary art and its story is unique to India's current reality—its political, social and and artistic landscape. What began as a casual conversation between Bose and the then Minister of Culture & Education, Mr Mariam Alexander Baby over how to promote art in Kerala, has today grown into an international platform for art in India.Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation have been patrons of the Kochi biennale since its inception and continue to support the event and many of its artists to date. 
Spirituality and Science are two subjects that have always fuelled the human brain. In this episode of the Expert Hour we chat with artist and author Rukmini Varma, who also happens to be the great great granddaughter of Indian master artist Raja Ravi Varma. Not just adept with her brush and eloquent with her words, Mrs Varma is also an extremely deep thinker and often dwells on the parallels that we often see, but cannot prove, between the world of science and spirituality. 
In this session we meet Manu S Pillai, the well-known young author and historian. His debut book The Ivory Throne won him the 2017 Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar.He has written 2 more books Rebel Sultans and most recently The Courtesan, the Mahatma & the Italian Brahmin. As we await his next book, slated to release early next year, we chat with him on Rebel Sultans, a project that was supported by the Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation. 
Hello and welcome to the Expert Hour brought to you by Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation and its principal patron John Delano. I am Archana Shenoy from the foundation. We work to preserve Indian history, heritage, art, artists and culture. This series of talks deals with subjects that are light, interesting, inspiring and invigorating. To borrow Mahatma Gandhi’s words: “A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.” So join us as we take you through the exciting world of art and artists, delve into the inquisitive mind of authors and scholars, peer through the lens of photographers to capture magical moments, and explore the vibrant melting pot of cultures that defines India and what makes up the Expert Hour.
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