Bash Naran - Transcript

[00:00:00] yeah. Well, thank you so much for just taking some time to talk with us right now. We’ll go straight into everything. but yeah, I really appreciate the time and, and I don’t get to talk to a lot of, look managers. There’s the Asian lit managers, who are doing some good work out there. And, it’s really cool to, to meet you.

Masami Moriya: So,but please don’t tell me, introduce yourself, tell me your name and get people to introduce your voice into the audiences. And I would love to hear more.

Bash Naran: Yeah.

firstly, thanks so much for having me. And you’re right there. Aren’t very many of us Asian lit managers out there. and even fewer, obviously, south Asian lit managers. And so, we’re, we’re a very small. Bunch and, you know, we all know we want another and, and, and they’re trying to uplift one another.

So I’m happy to be here. Talk about the field, talk about myself a little bit. I’m, I’m very happy to talk about myself, give me any opportunity to talk about myself and let me make it happen. But you know, this is an awesome podcast and I’m so happy to be a part of it. and. I mean, so, yes, I’m a manager and producer of writ large.

I’ve been here, years now. I’m actually just starting my fourth year, a few days ago. So I just celebrated the anniversary and I’m very happy to be here. [00:01:00] and I, as the title indicates, I work with literary talent, so that’s writers directors, and now producers as well. in both scripted and unscripted media.

So everything from scripted television and feature films, indie film, studio films now documentaries and unscripted content as well.

Masami Moriya: Incredible. Yeah. And you tell me your full name, talking to pronunciation, right? Exactly. I want you to read your name, so I want to make

Bash Naran: No, no it’s bash. It’s just bash and Aaron, which is actually short for my, my, my parents, the name my parents gave me Bhaskar, but people call me bash.

Masami Moriya: Bhaskar like that to the bastion right on. no, this is fantastic. I think that the work, you know, a lot of people, I think there’s a lot of mistresses and behind, literary managers and what’s going on. Like, we want to get one, don’t let that does. So, yeah. So what is your day to day as a literary manager and working with your clients and finding.

Bash Naran: Yeah.

man. understand the mysticism. This is a hard industry to crack into just because there are so few opportunities. And so few shots that said, you know, I’m [00:02:00] happy to demystify the position and demystify the business just a little bit. My day-to-day varies. It’s never the same, quite frankly. And that’s because I do work with, you know, so many different writers and directors and some days one writer’s work or one director’s work may take precedent because of a time, a time issue a just because we’re jiving on a particular idea that said, breaking it down.

The literary man, I think the position of a literary manager, the role of the literary manager in a creative life is that of a creative partner. it’s somebody that you can. Speak to you on a day-to-day basis about all the ideas that are running through your head the things that you’re writing about the roadblocks you may have, or about the things that you may be really, really excited about.

you know, where that person that has read every draft of your work, quite frankly, that you’ve talked to about every insecure decision you’ve had about that, about that choice you might’ve made in that one script. Right. and so I think we get you intrinsically or that, that at least as the hope and the goal of the relation.

so [00:03:00] on a day-to-day basis, I am talking to clients. I am working with them on their material. If the, if that material is done, I’m working, either by myself or in concert with an agent, in bringing that material out to the town. I’m also doing lots of phone calls. I’m speaking to studio executives.

Bash Naran: I’m speaking to producers, I’m speaking to other writers. I’m speaking to other reps. The state of the marketplace, the state of the industry, just so that I can get a better understanding and can, can be more educated about the, what the world looks like, what the business world of entertainment looks like.

So that when I am talking to my clients about that next idea that they should write or that next, idea that they should pursue, you know, we’re always working in the right direction to make sure that we can find that beautiful intersection of art and con.

Masami Moriya: Yeah, I think that’s a, that’s a part of that. The writers, as a, as a writer, director person, myself, I’m like, okay, I need to hear about those things, but. Am I focusing on time? Do I know the right people? Am I talking and reading the right things? I’m getting an inside scoop of things is, valuable indict Wolf, if anything.

yeah. What do you [00:04:00] look for in your writers and your clients? when you’re looking for stories, whether it be in your specific genres you’re looking at right now for yourself, what kind of in the, as a writer, like, what do you look for in when you, when you find new writers, like, what are you asking them?

Masami Moriya: What do you, what do you hope that they’re doing? So that helped you sell them?

Bash Naran: Yeah, I’m always looking for people that. Life story that have life experience. You know, I know that there’s lots of kids coming out of like, you know, the film schools and whatnot, and I think that’s great. And I think that they are so ready to go. And they’re so ready to hit the ground running at the same time.

I’m curious about what else makes you, you, because it’s not film school, film school does not make you you, right. It’s the life that you’ve already lived to that point. It’s the family story. It’s the, it’s the cool thing. That’s a cool trip that you once took that makes you, you, and that defines your perspective, right?

I think at the end of the day, Every writer, every creator, every creative type is unique in, and of themselves. The stories that they tell everyone can tell a coming of age story. We all know this, right. We can all go and tell Ferris Bueller’s day off, over and over and over again. [00:05:00] But how do you David tell that story, I think is the interesting thing, right?

And so whenever I meet with a writer, I’m always curious about, what’s gotten them to this point today, right? And I tell every writer, I tell every director. You’ve got to nail your elevator pitch. And I don’t mean that in like that skeevy sort of like, you know, corporate way, when you, you know, you see, you see Ted Sarandos in an elevator and you’re like, oh, this is, this is who I am.

This is the five minute online. I’m like, no, that’s not what I mean. But I’m like when you are having, you know, when you are having a coffee with somebody, when you were having a meal with somebody, just like you write the stories that you want them to read, what’s your story. What’s your life story and why are people going to be invested in you?

Right. But this business is interesting. Like, yes, you can be a great writer, but you also have to be a great collateral. You have to be somebody that someone wants to invest their time into, right? Just like any relationship, any friendly relationship that you have out there, somebody’s going to have to invest their time into you, like you’re going to have to invest your time into them.

so what is that? What is that life experience that’s brought you to today? And that’s going to keep you going, is what I’m always looking for. The, [00:06:00] motivation, I guess the salt of the sand, you know, I’ve got.

Masami Moriya: Yeah. So what I’m hearing here, it’s really not about the work is really important, but really it’s about what this person is, who they are, what they’re learning from. It’s not, Hey, here’s my story. Here’s the thing I went to the AFL I went to,

to say yeah,

Bash Naran: the work is important, right? The writing is important. It has to, be great. But, great material, great written work comes before. Have a great writer who’s lived, right. Who can put a little bit of themselves into the work. Like I think you can even take like a, story-like like, even like a men in black, like story, right?

Like seemingly studio picture, big thing. What writer can relate to that experience of being a men in black. Right. But you break down that story a little bit. Right. And it’s about. From, you know, a kid from just the city that, that sees an opportunity and takes it and runs with it, right? He’s like, Hey man, I can, I can be this, other worldly or multi worldly if you want Right. agent that saves the world from alien invasions its core, at a, rather at a. [00:07:00] I don’t think you are. I can relate to that. Right. But what we can relate to is the coming of age aspect of will Smith’s character going from seemingly nobody to seemingly somebody. We all want that arc in our lives.

And so I want to see that arc in your life.

Masami Moriya: Yeah. So when you’re getting this elevator pitch of the pitching, the story or pitching yourself, it’s what do you like listening for? Is it that like they really understand themselves and really have their history down? Like, here’s the story? Cause I know how mine, but I think a lot of people I hear it’s like, they don’t know how to tell their story.

You don’t know, they don’t think they have a story. I think their story is this one they’re writing, not the one that brings. So what are you, what are you and what are you

Bash Naran: I, I promise you, you have a story. I promise you that if you’re listening to this, you have a story, right? Your stories brought you to this very moment, listening to David and myself. Right. but I think it’s, I think it’s important. Just like, just like any. Breaks down the, you know, their own story, their own script.

Right. You have to break down your life just a little bit, right? Like let’s, let’s break it down [00:08:00] really quickly. I can tell you about my story just for? a quick second. Okay. I am, I I’m a south Asian male. I grew up in a, in a family of. You know, as expected a family full of physicians, both my parents are doctors.

sister is a doctor. Her husband is a doctor, my little brother’s in medical school, his girlfriend’s in medical school. And obviously I’m the black sheep here, you know, something so far away different from what they did. and I’ve always actually found comfort in that. Like, I, I like to be the one that, that, that, that does something different.

I like to be the one that, you know, that ventured out a little bit in that. And that’s not to say that they didn’t, you know, they didn’t, they don’t have to veterans of their own. I, you know, I I’ve done this on my own I take pride in that. Right. I grew up. Creative. I grew up watching all the movies.

I grew up watching all the TV. I grew up listening to all the music. I grew up a creative type. I was always on stage. Any opportunity I could be in, in school starting. I remember, I think eighth grade I was in the, you know, I was in a play about the different food groups. [00:09:00] I think I actually, I think I played a piece of broccoli. But all said, right. Like I was on stage the moment I could be. and I’ve been, I’ve been, you know, involved in some sort of music endeavor pretty much my entire life. Like I’ve always been in choirs bands. I had a cover band. I was in a jazz ensemble. I acapella in college, you know, and, and now, unfortunately I don’t have the time to, to what to jam out, but at home, like when I’m by myself and just, just hanging now, crack out the guitar and just play for myself.

Right. So I’ve, I’ve tried to find creativity at each and every time. And, and look and cranny of my life. And so. That said, you know, I went to high school, I did all the creative stuff. And when it came time to go to college, my parents were very serious. Like, Hey, it’s time to finally focus. It’s time to focus.

And it’s time to become serious because you can’t the guitar your entire life. You can’t act, you can’t do.

any of that stuff. Right. You have to got to go do something serious. You’ve got to become a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, work in finance. And I believe. I 100% [00:10:00] believe them. Right. And, that’s what I did.

I, you know, I was an economics and finance major and, I worked really, really hard. And school it’s, it’s what I decided to pursue. I pursued the corporate life. I worked in startups, and in 2014 I was just really unhappy. And I wasn’t, I wasn’t fulfilled. knew that there was something else out there for me.

so I. I said enough was enough. And I moved out to Los Angeles I started on the very bottom. I was an assistant to an agent at CAA I worked from agency to management company where I realized that I, I loved management. I loved everything about it. And, now years later I’ve been a manager, I think, going on five or six years.

And, and I love each and every day of it, because like I said earlier, I get to work with so many different types of people. I get to work with so many different types of creators that are telling all different types of stories. They’re completely genre agnostic. And we’re just telling [00:11:00] stories that are fun that matter you know, that are relatable that you can enjoy from wherever you are, whether that be the theater or at home.

just really, really fun stuff is what I like to work on. And so. Yeah.

Bash Naran: that’s, that’s who I am. That’s how I got here. And that’s what, that’s where I want to go. I want to keep telling fun stories. And so that’s my elevator pitch. I think we did that in about three minutes, three and a half minutes. And I S I took you through the emotional portions of my life in which I was told I couldn’t do this.

And I still figured it out. Right. I took you through the, the, the facts of it all, here we are. Like that’s an elevator pitch and I hope you were invested. I hope, you know, please give me all the pointers, email me. but that’s, that’s the gist of what I think people need to accomplish. Right.

Masami Moriya: No, I think that was great too. I had, I was laughing. I have a motion. I felt my emotion changed. You’re like, oh, you can’t do them. Like now you can do this. I believe in you. No, I think that’s fantastic. And, that was a good story for itself, you know, and kind of going into wrapping into that a little [00:12:00] too.

So how do you feel when people. Like, what do you see? Like, who’s good for this job. Like I’m not going into management and the writer’s side, but I think there’s a lot of open, just more opportunities for Asian and south Asian writers and people in who want to get in the film industry, but aren’t writers.

how does, how do people like assess they want to be a manager? Like, how did you find out you were like loved management, that side of management instead of, you know, being the guitarist and being managed. Right. So w how do you find where where’s.

Bash Naran: Yeah.

I think I’ve, I think I’ve always had. Like business, if you will. Right. I’ve always like, I remember selling chocolates on the street of New York city, you know, like I, I, Yeah.

I went to grade school in New York city and like to fundraise for my Catholic school. We had to sell chocolates every, you know, Other semester or so, I was the kid that always wanted to sell the most amount of chocolate bars, you know, and I, I most more often than not accomplished that goal that said, I’ve always been that hustler [00:13:00] type.

Right. and at the same time, I. Always loved story. And I’ve always loved movies. I’ve loved getting lost in the stories and the characters that, know, that are, that we see on our screens or that we hear in our headphones. I’ve really, really always loved it. And so I think I realized in high school that I loved being on stage.

It wasn’t my true calling. My calling was figuring out how to put people on stage, how to put, you know, how to bring these stories to life. and so I thought for a very long time, I wanted to be a producer because, that’s what I had heard of producer. Does they make, they make shit happen. Right. And, I didn’t know really what a manager did.

Like my concept of what a manager was, was being a teenager and watching entourage and seeing that. E, you know, Vince’s friend was his manager and I was like, okay, that’s your best friend. I don’t have that best friend who wants to be an actor. I don’t have that best friend who was a director. So management isn’t for me.

I didn’t know what it was. And when I got out here, even working at CAA, you know, I worked in a very interesting division of CA, which didn’t really have a [00:14:00] lot of management interaction. And so I still didn’t know what a manager was, but I knew that I wanted to be a producer even then. And, and a few of the agents they had told me.

Maybe being an agent isn’t for you, but why don’t you go work for a manager producer? you go work for somebody that does both and see you respond? Cause you know, you know, a bit of rep, you know, you know, you know, part of the representation. Yeah. Why don’t you go see what it’s like? You know what it’s like to work in their part of the business and see what it’s like to be a producer.

so I went to go work for a manager producer and I, I realized working for him, that being a manager is like, is being a producer and an agent sort of in one, right? there is a representative quality to the job, or you have to represent your clients out in the marketplace. You have to get people excited about them.

You have to make sure that you, you know, that that their best material is what people are seeing and watching and reading. Right. And, and it’s proved to soil in the sense that. When a writer or a director has an idea, I’m oftentimes the first person that they call and be like, I just had an idea of Ash.

I’m so excited about it. How do I make it happen? And [00:15:00] sometimes I have to crush dreams and be like, oh, somebody else has already had that idea. Cause I’m, you know, like I said, I’m, I’m constantly keeping myself in check with the marketplace or sometimes I’m like, that is so awesome. Let’s figure this out.

Right. And so it starts as a Colonel. And then we break it down into a sentence and then we break that sentence down into a few pages, and then we break those sentences, those pages rather into an outline and then a script. And then, you know, we work on that script, a few drafts over and we finally get it ready for the marketplace.

And then we get it out there into the marketplace and we get producers excited by it. And then producers come on board. And then we work with those producers to get it to finance years and studios, and they get excited when we bring them on board. And then we go out and find a director or we go out and find talent, or we go.

Whomever it is. And we put that together and we see, you know, we see that process through, from kernel to execution to release. is the role of a producer. So in, in an, in and of itself, the management role is very professorial. I don’t take credit necessarily on all the projects I’m working with. I’m working on, being a manager is being your clients.[00:16:00] number one advocate being their producer that doesn’t, you know, that doesn’t get that producer credit. I’m just happy that they are getting the credit and they are working and they are putting their brilliant stories out there. And so, I sort of landed on management as a, as a surprise. I didn’t realize that this is what a manager does, but now I know that I am, I am that producer that I want it to be.

And at the same time, I don’t have the discipline to do what you do, David. I can’t sit at a computer and like write, write, write, write, write, like, is it takes so much discipline, doesn’t it right. You have to tell yourself, no, I can’t go out for that walk. I need to finish this scene right now. Right. I can’t go out and get coffee or drinks with so-and-so.

I need to finish this at the moment. and I didn’t have that discipline, quite frankly. I’m I’m, I’m the extroverts extrovert, like invite me out to drinks. I’ll see you there.

Masami Moriya: Yeah.

Bash Naran: So, but I do know that I can talk my ear off and I’m a kid from Brooklyn, New York. And so I love to chat. A lot of that chat is great because I get to talk to you about your stories and I get to talk, I get to be that sounding board, that [00:17:00] ear that you needed to to get your story from good to great.

I think that’s so wonderful. Like just having someone to talk about this gap and really understand your script, like spend time with you. It’s not just the one read and like, here’s my notes. And here you go. Bye. Bye. It’s like really getting into. Th I, you know, I’m having my managers, like you just really get really important questions that no one ever really gives me.

Masami Moriya: I think that’s that super heavy and you’re not trying to break it down to like here, here’s the reality of things. And so,

Bash Naran: Because there’s No, hard feelings, right? Like I’m asking the critical questions I don’t want anybody to ask you those critical bash. This is the best thing I’ve ever read. Who is David? Why am I not working with him? Right. Like its core, that’s what I want to do. So, so that’s why I ask those critical questions.

Masami Moriya: yeah.

Bash Naran: Yeah,

Masami Moriya: facts. Well, thank you for breaking down the management side and that’s, I think it’s really important and I, you know, we don’t hear enough about that. So I think it’s valuable, but I wanna switch into the, Asian, Asian, south Asian representation of the management side. So, you know, what do you see the [00:18:00] landscape of, API, like literary management?

we don’t have a small list of people who has like here’s, they’re mostly it’s talent. It’s mostly. actors, I have it. I don’t know. I don’t see a lot of literary. So, where do you, do you see,a factor in the industry? Do you see, a pattern or what could be fixed? I don’t know. I’m interested in how you see.

Bash Naran: I think, I think, you know, I think we’re on the right path, right? think that things are slow moving and I wish that they were moving quicker, but they are. And I think that there are some really, really amazing folks out there that are doing some really, really amazing work and, and, and working to promote voices.

Right. are managers, there are producers, there are actors that have now become producers that are doing that work. there are really fantastic writers that have always been here, you know? and I don’t, I don’t mean to say always been here. They haven’t always been here, but they’ve been here much longer than you or I, they’re continuing to do that good work.

And they’re now finally getting recognized for it. Right. And there’s also this great cream of [00:19:00] new. API voices, writers, and directors that I’m super excited about that are telling the stories of your, and my generation. I believe we’re the same age as one another. And like they’re telling the stories that like wanted and then telling the stories that like are exciting to us and are, and are entirely relatable.

Right. so all said it’s slow moving, but it is moving and there’s fantastic people like, I’m just thinking of, like Daniel Dae. Kim has an awesome company, right? Three. They’re telling some really, really awesome stories. They’re taking chances on young writers, they’re making it happen. Right. there’s Mary Lee at a major, right.

Who started, started an Asian focus company, to, to work with Asian writers, directors and creators on telling Asian first stories. Right. there’s fantastic managers out there, like. Like a preset Yanni over at management, 360, she represents some amazing, amazing directors and, and talent.

Europe’s, it’s an amazing roster of, of, of, of talent. there are awesome agents out there for being panty and [00:20:00] CA right. Christina quo, who’s doing some amazing work and unscripted over at CAA. There’s a there’s, there’s just so many folks that are doing really, really good work out there. what I love to see now more than ever that we are coming together, we are working with one another because for so long, the wisdom, and, and we’ve heard this a million times, sorry, forgive me for saying it again, but we’ve heard right for so many times, so many times over.

There’s only so much space at the table and we’ve broken that down. Cause that’s not true. Like we can be successful together. We can like hold each other’s hands and take that step onto that, you know, in that final level together together. So. I think the work is being done. And, and there’s some really great stories being told.

Like, I’m really excited about a story that,I don’t know if you’ve heard about that. the Disney plus basketball movie That’s happening. We’ve seen, we’re seeing casting notices of that left and right. The, the, the writer directors of that are they’re awesome. Like, I don’t work with them at all.

I’ve just been a fan from afar. I know their manager, their managers crushing it. I know the producer he’s crushing it. Like. These are, they’re telling us some stories and Disney’s putting that out on, [00:21:00] like on a, on a, on the platform. Like how huge is that? Like, can you ever imagine that us up, like I remember growing up in Brooklyn, New York, the only kids you’d see out on the basketball court were Asian kids.

it was their job to run the courts. You know what I’m saying? And so the story is 20 years late, but it’s here. so I’m, I’m super excited about what’s.

Masami Moriya: That’s fantastic. Yeah, I think we have more writers than we have now. We have more represents representation, represented representation within the representatives. and I think that’s what we need. And now I’m always had this like kind of theories that it’s really helpful to have Asian represent, managers in Asia.

Champion Asian voices because they understand it more. They get asked different questions, less microaggressions, things like that. Do you feel the same way that really help all the time? is that something that you’re like shy away from

Bash Naran: no, not at all. I mean, like, I do think that like, listen, I’m south Asian and I love to represent south Asian folks because is a shorthand [00:22:00] that comes with speaking to another south Asian folks, another south Asian person about the things that we do that does, that doesn’t need saying, right.

Like, I don’t need to, I don’t need to ask you every question about how you are. I don’t need to ask you every question about the foods that you love. need to ask you every question about, you know, your, your, your love life. Because quite frankly, if you’re a teen, if you’re a south Asian teenager, you probably hide that shit from your parents

Masami Moriya: Yeah.

Bash Naran: one point in your life. When you were, you know, when you’re in elementary school, you were probably really, really shy about your mom giving you Indian food and everyone, you know, saying like, oh, what is that? It smells, it stinks. You know, we’re, we’re so far and away from that. You know, like I went through that, I know I went through that and it sucked.

And like, I look back on that now. I should have been proud that I had my mom’s food in the lunchroom. Right. Cause this shit is so much better. Now look, eat Indian food, you know, [00:23:00] I’m so like, I’m so proud of my culture and I’m like, you know, and I’ve obviously had a really nuanced. With my culture, you know, at a time shying away from it because I felt like it made me different. And then, and now being super proud of it because I realized it made me unique and unique is what we all strive for.

Right. and so, I think as a south Asian manager, working with south Asian clients, it’s, beautiful. There’s harmony to it. I get them. I, I just understand what they’re going for. And, and if we can call it deficiencies to the deficiencies in their work, Are simply understood. I get, I get why they might exist because of their cultural take on things.

Right. at the same time, do I think that, do I think that people outside of my community can represent Asian and south Asian folks 100%? Do I think they should? 100%. And do I think that we are getting to a world in which we can understand each other better? Yes. Right. I know that I’ve done the work. and I’m continuing to do the work. Like I think if anything, think if, if anything, 2020 taught us. The work that [00:24:00] needs to be done to making a better society is, is the work of education, right? Like we went from being, we went from being, from not being racist to becoming anti-racist. Right. Like that was a very powerful.

Right because it implied that not being a racist was not a passive thing. It was an active thing to take into your own hands. And so in that exact same way, think it is on each and every one of us to go out there, seek experiences, seek knowledge and education, not just about our own cultures, about, but about all those cultures.

When I w as I told you, when I looked for writers, I looked for writers that have life experience and I, and that have, that have, you know, seen shit and have been through shit. Right. that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Like, I want to know more about, and I’m sorry, I didn’t, I didn’t get where, you know, what’s, what’s your, ethical.

mixed Japanese American fifth generation

Bash Naran: There you go that to me is so, so cool because I was born in India and I, I lived in South Africa till I was about eight [00:25:00] my family moved to New York. And so, you know, I’m not even first-generation, I don’t think. Right. Like I think my children will be first-generation right. I wasn’t born here.

And so, it’s hard for, it was hard for me for a very long time to fathom that Asian people existed in America until like the sixties or the seventies. Right. Like, I think it’s what we’ve been here.

Masami Moriya: Yeah.

and so like to me, like, I want to learn everything I can about that. Right. this is like, maybe this is like a sort of weird way to take this, but discovering war.

Bash Naran: Do you have you seen the show on

Masami Moriya: Oh, yeah. Oh

Bash Naran: We were discovering that show, in the pandemic and when HBO max launched and I became quickly obsessed with it. And then it took me down this huge, like Wikipedia hole where I was like, to know everything about Asian immigration into California during the gold trade, during the gold rush.

Right. and, and so it was an entry point, but nonetheless, I think exactly what I’m talking about. What can you do become a better human being a better society?

Masami Moriya: Yeah, and I think that’s a [00:26:00] more, just like you can choose to worry and you find new things, you learn about the history you learn about the, when it happened as well. I think that you really important to tell our stories, not only historical, but contemporary as well, but mainly for me, it’s historical, to then be educated about these things.

I’ve heard a lot of Indian stories. I’m just like, I don’t know anything about that. I really need to know more, cause this is not only fascinating, but it’s also. Just that’s how governments work and governments fall and, things happen. We’re not told any of this stuff. And so I think those are super valuable, but, this gives a great, nice segue into, so you have the salon, it tells more about the salon.

It’s a mentorship program for south Asians in America. it tells them more how it got started and, you know, what is.

Bash Naran: Yeah.

So it’s, it’s, it’s more than just a mentorship program. So the salon,

is a organization that I co-founded with. Nik Dodani and Vinnie sugar. And I should say they’re more than actors. They’re they’re producers, they’re creators. And, they are fantastic. I met Vinnie chipper at a mutual friend’s birthday party, and the only other Indian person.

And I like saw him from across and I instantly [00:27:00] beelined it over. And like, my, my rule is honestly, if I’d see if I see like a south Asian person at a party and I don’t know them, I’m going to go say hello. Like, I just need to know who you are. Like, I’m like, I’m always in search of that, like comfort, you know, if you will.

And so, and so I went over, I talked to him and we had a really, really great conversation. the state of our industry and the state of our, just our experiences, you know, in the past few years, he had told me that he would for so long was having these exact same conversations with Nik Dodani.

he brought us three together over whiskey one day. And, we, we talked about this exact thing and they had experienced the same thing as the same loneliness and that isolation and, that lack of community, you know, actors. I had felt that my whole way through, like, even just, I remember when I first moved to LA, and starting at CA in 2015, I remember there being, there were definitely some south Asian folks in the building and Asian folks in the building, but wasn’t a community, you know, there wasn’t a space for us.

Gather into commiserate with one another and to [00:28:00] celebrate and support one another. It just didn’t exist. And so for so long, I’ve been trying to put something like this together. And in fact, the salon was my third, try at putting together an organization for south Asian folks. And the first two iterations didn’t really.

not for lack of trying, just because the timing, I think wasn’t right. but this third version of the one with Nick and Vinny, worked because what we did was, is we came together and we said, okay, we’re going to put together an organization. We didn’t have a name for it for so long. It was Nik Dodani that came up with the name.

Bash Naran: we were, what we wanted to do was simply bring people together. And so, we started in 2019 and early 2019, and we hosted our first dinner party. salons started as dinner parties. Every other month, we would host 15 to 20 people at a dinner. south Asian actors, writers, directors, producers, executives, and I’m sorry, actors, writers, directors, producers, executives below the line, you know, and we would host them together and, we would just talk like the purpose of it wasn’t to find business.

It [00:29:00] was to find, it was to find. To build relationships. And if in a business came out of those relationships, then great, fantastic. And business has come out of relations. It’s really amazing to now look back and what we’ve done and how people have come together and how people are working together.

How shows are selling, how people are getting cast or people are getting staffed. Like that is just so, so thrilling to me. But yeah, it started as dinner parties every other month and we had a bunch of them Big a holiday party in 2019, where we brought together all of those dinner parties and other community members that hadn’t been able to attend the dinner parties.

And we, we brought us together to celebrate the past year to celebrate all of our achievements and to celebrate where we were going, you know, and to, and to put out a mission statement to say, Hey, we are the salon. And we are here to bring us all together to create a safe and friendly forum. For us to come together and talk about work, to talk about our personal lives, to talk about, you know,just, just to, just to be there for one another, you know, and, and we also announced in, in the holiday of 2019 that we were going to launch a mentorship program, which [00:30:00] was sort of our flagship program.

What we wanted to do was we gathered all the successful brown people that have, that had never known one another existed, but that didn’t really, you know, hadn’t, hadn’t been there for one another and we brought us all together and we realized the thing that. Is to make sure that no other south Asian kid has to come to this town and feel lonely has to a clueless.

Right? and so the mentorship program was launched. We put out applications last summer, we had over applications from, south Asian folks across the United States. And we found 23 mentees that. Just superb. really, really superb. the joke that we sometimes like to make is that it’s harder to get into the salon mentorship program than it is to get into Harvard, have to make the joke,

Masami Moriya: Yeah.

Bash Naran: but all said, there were just so many, so many, so many great folks and so many people that we unfortunately did not have the right person to pair them with.

There were more people that we want, we just didn’t have. Pairings, you know, and so we brought together 23 [00:31:00] mentees with 23 mentors. We have some really, really great mentors like, and these Shavante who directed searching. We have, Simran bide, one, who’s a very upper level level, writer. We have Sarah who are both very accomplished executives.

We have, we have, and then the program, I should say, we brought together. Rishi Rajani who runs Lena, Lena company helmet, Brad, and we, we brought Reena saying who, who’s over at Disney. And, we asked them to come in and sort of work with us, the founding team, in creating this program and building the mentorship from the ground up.

And so they’ve been a part of every decision they’ve they’ve led the way quite frankly for us. and, and so we, year one will end in December we launched applications for year two, about a month and a half ago, and applications just close on the 30th. we had, we had another few hundred applications come in and, we are now going through the process of figuring out who’s who.

What mentors, you know, we have available to us this next year. And I think for as long as the salon exists, the [00:32:00] mentorship program, it exists because, it needs to, right. It’s not that we wanted to, it needs to exist. And, and the mentorship program is just the beginning for us. There’s so many more things that we have. We’d love to host more events. we’d love to bring about other specific, cultural groups within the community. Like we’d like, you know, we already have a working relationship with Cape. we have, you know, we’ve, we’ve made outreach to a bunch of a bunch of other organizations that we want to bring together.

you know, for when things open up in the world opens up a little bit more for like, you know, summer barbecue, for instance, if you will like just to get us together. Right. we, we have plans to raise money for grant funding of writers and directors. we would like to, we would like to create a pathway for south Asian documentarians and unscripted producers create the first piece of documentary work they can.

and so we’re working on all those things and, You know, we’re not rushing because we’re going to be here for a minute. I’m not going anywhere. And I know the rest of the salon isn’t going anywhere. And so, yeah.

Bash Naran: th that’s the goal of the salon.

Masami Moriya: Yeah, I think it’s valuable not to rush things [00:33:00] because then it feels like you’re trying to keep up with your own self. yeah. And get it, get it right for the people in the community and, all it’s there. So though, so thank you for bringing those things. I might not be at the south Asian, but I think it’s really important that those spaces are made, needed and talked about.

what do you see in, in south Asian representation or what’s not in south Asian representation that you’re really excited to see, or you’re still looking for,

Bash Naran: I think when it comes to the stories that are being told, I think so often, and this is changing, I should say. I think, know, there’s a few people that I can call out specifically, but like, I think that,

that for so long, because the gatekeepers of the industry, you know, More often than not males.

Right. there was a very, there was a very, very specific and incorrect perception of what the Asian hero Right. we more often than not followed a model minority sort of. you know, framework, we, you know, where we, where the [00:34:00] computer geek, where the doctor, were, you know, the business owner, we were the seven 11 guy, right.

We own the laundromat. and that’s all that Asian people were, I think for very, very long in American media. is weird to say, but like one of, one of a movie that like inspired me to do this was Indiana Jones and the templates. Right. Like, that’s crazy crazy today because it’s, it’s entirely the most racist movie of all time.

Right. I was, I don’t know, maybe six or seven and I can’t believe my parents won’t let me watch the movie, but I was like, whoa, brown people on screen. Like, that’s all I saw. Right. And it’s older. I was like, oh, wait a second. That moves a little trouble. Right. But also, right. Like the specificity of the Asian role was, was just incorrect.

And I think. What announcing and what I’m so excited to see is that can be bad too. You know what I’m saying? Like, I want, I want the badass Asian person in, in, in the movie, you know, I want, I want Asian John wick, like show me that, me, that [00:35:00] guy, you know what I’m saying? like, I’m excited. I always, I’m always excited about the, the James Bond chatter, right?

Like who’s James Bond. I’m like dev Patel, Henry Golden. Let’s go, let’s go.

Masami Moriya: Yes.

Bash Naran: We don’t have to be sitting behind the computer anymore. Right. and so I think that’s really, that’s, that’s still what. Asian representation in media, we need more, but I, I really love what, what Mindy Kelly and link fish are doing with never have I ever, right.

I had never really seen, unless it was a really, really specific indie film. I’d never really seen that version of an Indian girl. Right. I had never seen that girl, like struggle with her, struggle with sex, struggle with talking to her parents about sex. you know, struggle with, with just being the Indian girl, right?

Like these are all like, I’ve talked to so many Indian girls, like a lot of what. A lot of what that character never have I ever is going through. It’s something that they have gone through in, in each, in [00:36:00] each and, like in each of their own ways. Right. And so I want to see more nuanced takes of the struggles of being south Asian, but also not just the struggles that the winds of being Like, it’s fucking cool. I apologize if I’m not allowed to curse here, but.

Masami Moriya: go ahead, please. Do.

Bash Naran: It’s it’s cool to be Asian. Like, like I just spent, I just spent a bunch of, a bunch of my time, this past summer in New York city. And I, know, I grew up there and so I went back to like my favorite, like haunts, right? Like going back to the Indian places and the Chinese places and the sushi spots.

These places are so crowded. They always have been, we’re celebrating Asian food at like, like it’s never been celebrated before. And in that same way, I want to celebrate the people that are making those foods. Right. I want to celebrate those people that are telling the story of food. and so I really, really love, tastes, taste paste the nation, the Padma luxury show.

but that was really, really cool, but she was telling a really cool. You know, stories of what it means to be American food, right. Well, what American food really is. And so, I thought that was really, really [00:37:00] cool. And so a long-winded way of saying, think for so long, we struggled with what the Asian character should be.

Bash Naran: I am so happy to see that that character is changing and we are more open to nuanced and more specific takes of the antihero Asian person.

Masami Moriya: Yeah, no, I think it’s fantastic. I want to see heroes as soon as he and the antihero them, but also like, characters that are not perfect. They’re flawed. They’re. They’re making mistakes, doing different things

Bash Naran: That’s what I love Menari. Like I think about Menari all the time. Right? Like in so many ways they shouldn’t have been in that school. Right. Like, it was just, it was a, it was a rough, rough decision for them to be there for the sake of their son. That sake of their own sanity. Right. But it was, it was something that they had to do.

It was something they had to do to make a living. Right. And even when the going got tough and when things went terribly wrong, I think, think, Stephen UN’s character in that movie, right. [00:38:00] He made, he made both good and bad decisions because he’s a flawed person. We all are flawed. Like there’s no such thing as a perfect person.

Right. And so I really, really loved that. Right? Like it blew by you as well. Like there’s just like, there’s just so much, there’s so much nuance And yes, we can be flawed and it’s okay to be flawed because that’s how you learn. We were always told every teacher in growing up was told us, that’s all, you’ve got to make mistakes because you learn from your mistakes.

Right? Asian characters are not allowed to make mistakes for 20 to 30 to 40 years in media. Let us make some money.

Masami Moriya: And make, just make decisions at all.

Bash Naran: can make decisions you’re so right.

Masami Moriya: Yeah, no, I think it’s super valuable hearing from your perspective too. Like, you know, you’re, you’re you, you see what’s going on the backside of the industry too, and see what’s going on there. So what is, what is this next thing for you? What’s what is the next goal? if there truly is something, but is there something that you’re, I dunno, really championed for in a way that’s, you know, it’s something unique that you feel [00:39:00] proud, proud, proud, proud to do for.

Bash Naran: Yeah. It’s, you know, I, I, you haven’t heard of it yet,

Masami Moriya: sir.

Bash Naran: but I think I’m really proud of the work that, that my clients and my. And, and I are doing this year in the business. I think that we have taken really, really cool projects with interesting characters out to the marketplace. I am, sad that I’m surprised, but I’m so surprised at how, how people are receiving them.

How studio executives are receiving them. I think year alone sold, you know, four to five TV shows with south Asian and Asian. Right. I’m seeing veteran producers like the top tier triple eight, producers of the. Telling telling me bash, we want to tell salvation stories. Right. And, and we want to tell them what the right people want to tell them with all the nuance that you’re talking about.

I’m seeing that happen. Like I really, really am. And, and every time I like every [00:40:00] time I hear that, I’m like, oh my God, I can’t wait to tell my parents about this because I really do want to win that with them. want them to see that, like the work that we do here. It’s about our culture. It’s about our community.

I want to only uplift the community. and so I really am excited about that work that’s being done. you know, I work with lots of, lots of really cool documentarians as well that are telling stories. Asian and south Asian folks, API folks altogether. Right. they’re, they’re, they’re really interesting.

It takes like I work with Smithy Mundra who is now both academy and Emmy nominated for her work on Indian matchmaking and St. Louis Superman, like Indian matchmaking was such a huge win, I think, to the community. I think it resulted in so much, so much, so much. you know, chatter online about both the positives and negatives of that show.

And, and I think I’m really proud of what Smithy did with that chatter. I think she listened to her. and she was able to talk, she was able to talk succinct succinctly and appropriately about, those positives and negatives. Right. how she heard [00:41:00] the negatives and how she’s making the positives.

I think that was really, really cool. And, know, it’s resulting in more Indian matchmaking like more’s coming. and I saw what that show did for my community. Like I, know, I’ve now worked in this business six or seven years. I had never seen interest from my community. Like I’m talking about the older aunties and uncles.

then, then I did, when Indian matchmaker came out, they were like, wait, wait, what? Like you, you, you, you know something about that show. I’m like, yeah, I know something about that a little bit.

It was really, really cool to get, to see people react to it in the way that they did. And it brought together. The entire subset of my community, like the aunties, the uncles, the kids, the teenagers, the mid thirties, the mid forties folks, like it just brought us all together to talk about something for awhile.

And we had, and you watch that show. There are perfect characters on that show. There are entirely flawed characters on that show. All different types of south Asians exist on that show. And that’s why that show was really, really special. And so, I’m excited for, for what Morris to come. [00:42:00] Next year. So maybe, maybe, you know, if you like me, you’ll have me back and I can tell you more about those, what I talked about last year.

Masami Moriya: Sure you love talking to you and you know, I grew up in Brooklyn, but I was out there for five years. I just, I got that. I got that sense of like people and just talking. So, I feel you, man. so I’m actually curious, the chat around, the Indian matchmaking, it was about like, it’s kind of stereotypical, but it’s not, it’s breaking is showing it.

Right. So how do you,

Bash Naran: yeah, If I can just break down the chatter really quickly. I think the chatter was mostly about the chatter was about, cast ism, right? It was about colorism within the Indian community because both of those two things, more, but let’s just focus on those two for a quick second. I think classism to colorism are huge issues, specifically within within Hindu Indians, right?

Because cast is a mostly Hindu thing. And, a lot of, you know, the reason why those things became an issue, the matchmaker at the center of the show seemed to paria, right? She, [00:43:00] in her like sort of Rolodex of potential matches, oftentimes she would comment about something. Cast right. This person is blah, blah, blah, this blah, blah, blah.

Right. And I think we are, at least our generation lives in a, or wants to.

live in a post cast world where cast shouldn’t be an issue. Right. And I agree, it shouldn’t be an issue. but, but the reality of the situation is, you know, Yeah.

I think in our parents’ generation and the generation arrests around.

Cast was still a thing. Like some people like you really, like, I have friends that are going through the matchmaking or the arranged marriage process. And more often than not, when you look at their, you know, they call it a bio data, which I think everyone is now maybe aware of, if you’ve watched Indian, Indian matchmaking, the bio data is your sort of like your relationship resume, who you are, of you, your job, title, your education, the amount of money you make And even, and even like, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve seen this more often than not quite frankly, also the co your complexion, right? Like there’s,[00:44:00] there is fair-skinned, there’s dark skinned. Like those things just exist. Like they really, really do exist. And so what Indian matchmaking did, was showed, it showed the practice of arranged marriage and matchmaking for what it is,

Masami Moriya: Mm.

Bash Naran: It didn’t comment. This is bad is good, right? It didn’t do that. What Indian matchmaking serves to do was become a mirror for us to look at what our community for us to look and, and, and give, give us the platform for having that conversation. Because for so long, the, the, the, the topic of colorism and classism. is spurned. You know, it’s rather spurt so many conversations about the pros and cons and honestly, they’re most, they’re all cons like the co colorism, caseloads, all cons. Right. but those conversations have been had forever, but nothing’s ever happened. Right. You look at it and like, it’s really sad to say, but like, if you, especially in India, especially in India, those issues still [00:45:00] versus.

Right. And so little movement has been made on those issues. And so, I think what, what Indian matchmakers have to do is be like, Hey, we can finally talk about this on the largest of scales. Here’s a top 10 Netflix show. Now it’s not just Indian people that know about these things. Cause I don’t think you were into the issues of cast ism and colorism within the Indian sub community as a whole, right?

Like

Masami Moriya: I know it’s there and I know Japanese have the same thing, but it’s like, where is it specifically?

Bash Naran: And so to, to be able to now bring other people into the conversation, right. And say, Hey, this exists, you should know about this. Right. I think it was a, was a big boon that the show did. do I think we were perfect. Absolutely not. Right. Do I think we could have been better? Absolutely. We can always be better.

but I think that, that the criticism was valid. And I also think that the way we dealt with that criticism and the way we, the way the story that we set out to, to. and when I say we, I should, I should apologize. I, the story that Smithy Mundra and her teams that have to tell, I think. I was told, I think they did a really fantastic job of telling that [00:46:00] story and creating conversation.

and, and it’s, it’s, it’s persistent. It’s still, I still see chatter about those things. And, and I hope things will change. I hope things will change. And maybe season two of Indian matchmaking will cause more chatter to arise, to arise, not just in classism and colorism, but maybe in other issues as well.

Bash Naran: Because, again, we can, all we can do is try to get better and better and better and better.

Masami Moriya: So was that, the impact of that was it kind of planned kind of saw it coming that you might see like, okay, this is what it might do. How do you plan for that? I feel like I that’s what I was like, think about what I’m telling here, what the impact it might do. How do you kind of wrangle

Bash Naran: should say I can’t, I can’t completely speak for the Indian matchmaking team. Cause like I said, I’m, you know, I just manage the creator. But if I were put in the same position, right. If I were in the same position I, know that smart, the Mundra right. she definitely foresaw chatter, being a thing.

She definitely foresaw that happening. Right. She knew that people were going to talk about those things and she was ready for it. [00:47:00] She was ready to have those conversations. She didn’t want to shy away from it. So she was ready to have those conversations. I think that?

if you’re a good, if you’re a good documentary and if you’re a good filmmaker, are probably Okay.

Of what, of how people react. Right. And I think it’s on you to have honest conversations with your, with your viewers and your audience members, because our audience as much as. Is is more smarter than they’ve ever been. Right. I’ve actually seen situations in which filmmakers have been, have been clued into the subversions and the nuances of their own work that they weren’t aware of.

Right. Right. so I think our audience is very, very smart, but I think that what you can always do is ask yourself The hard questions when you are working on something, when you’re in the edit bay, you’re like, Hmm. I wonder how I perceive this. how David proceeds this. I wonder how fast bash perceives this.

I wonder how. You know, Joe Smith in Kentucky perceives. It’s like, I think it’s very wise to ask those questions of ourselves because it then allows us to create the best version of the, of the material there is. And so, I think, and that’s why they say, [00:48:00] editing is like, w what, what’s the, what’s the,

Masami Moriya: The third, the third written script.

Bash Naran: Yeah, but it’s like, it’s like filmmaking is editing and in some senses, right. Like go out and shoot that thing, but then it becomes something totally different in, in the edit bay. Right. And so when you are wherever you are in your process, asking yourself those important questions character, about story, about perception, I think are really, really important to help you get ahead of any such conversation.

But then to also help you just be with yourself and with

Masami Moriya: A hundred percent. Wow. Batch, this has been an amazing conversation. I’m so thankful. I got to speak with you and ask these questions and just really dive into it. I’m very thankful for that. And

Bash Naran: Thank you so.

much for having me, man. I’ve, I’ve really loved being here and I love what you.

guys are doing, with the podcast. And, and I can’t wait to, to I can’t wait to hear this episode.

Masami Moriya: No, that’s really good.

Bash Naran: I decided my voice. I can’t wait to hear more and just keep up with what you guys are up to. You guys are doing some really, really strong and great work for the community.

Masami Moriya: Thank you. Yeah, we’ve got [00:49:00] some cool stuff coming up.

Bash Naran: I want to shout out Rachel Whitney, who, who brought us more. She’s a, she’s a very dear friend and, and I love her and she’s doing some really great things for the community as well.

So you, Rachel, for bringing us together.

Masami Moriya: Yeah, I think so much. She’s amazing. She just started with us. I’m like, great. So it’s just some of those step up. but as we close out, where can people find, you find the salon, Instagram’s down right now, get what you can,

Bash Naran: well down, right. it’s been done for a few hours. Yeah.

Masami Moriya: It’s been all

Bash Naran: Well, listen to this way after people will listen to this way after I’m assuming we’d have some issues, but I think everyone will relate with that. Cause like what do you do when you’re a mom and you’re looking at Instagram, right? And so has been down for a couple of hours, but when Instagram is back up, if it.

ever is, you can find me.

B a S H N a R I N . and I think you can find me there on Twitter as well. I’m not really active on either or, but Hey, feel free to connect and, and we can go from there. And then, you can also find the salon and salon.xyz.

Masami Moriya: Fabulous. All right. All [00:50:00] bash. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time. And yeah, I would definitely want to have you back some other time and keep, keep us posted.

Bash Naran: Well, thanks so much, David. I really, really appreciate you. And I really appreciate your, your, your, audience as well. Thanks so much.

Masami Moriya: Thank you.

 

Bash Naran: Cheers.

 

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