Dr. Uma Jayaram is the co-founder and COO of VOKE VR that was acquired by Intel Corp in November 2016 for an undisclosed amount. We recorded our interview with Dr. Jayaram earlier this year before it was acquired by Intel.
We sat down with Dr. Jayaram to find out how she and her husband Dr. Sankar Jayaram came up with the idea to build VOKE VR and how they built an end-to-end VR solution. Their goal was to provide real-time, immersive experience to their audience and they succeeded in doing that. Their solution is used to stream live concert and sports events she shares.
Dr. Jayaram grew up in Durgapur, India and credits her mother for nurturing her interest in math and science. Her mother was one of the first women engineers in India, who got her master’s in electrical engineering from University of Washington in 1954. Instead of staying back in the US her mother elected to go back to India to teach physics at an Engineering college in Durgapur.
Dr. Jayaram shares her mother was her role model for her career and family. Dr. Jayaram fondly reminisces an evening when her mother taught her about Einstein’s theory for her exams, while rustling up a sumptuous dinner for her family.
Dr. Jayaram followed her mother’s footsteps and studied engineering and eventually ended up in Washington state, where she taught at Washington State University, Pullman. The Jayarams founded a couple of companies before founding VOKE.
We caught up director Theodore Melfi during the screening of his film Hidden Figures by the San Francisco Film Society (SFFS). We talked to him about the making of Hidden Figures which is about 3 African-American math teachers, who went on to work for NASA and worked in the Apollo project in the 1960s. We also spoke to him on he came to be attached the film project, the math boot camp that he held for his actors and the music by Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer.
Melfi and Olivia Spencer, who acts in the film were in San Francisco to receive The Sloan Science in Cinema award. The award is given by the SFSS and The Sloan Foundation.
Veteran actor Om Puri (66) passed away on Jan 6, 2016 in Mumbai. A versatile and talented actor, Puri acted in theatre, films and TV. He made his film debut in the 1970s and went on to act in many art house films in Hindi and branched off into mainstream Bollywood. He then went on to act in British films and TV and Hollywood and films like The Jewel In The Crown, City of Joy, East is East, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The Hundred-Foot Journey and the yet-to-be released Viceroy’s Houseby Gurinder Chadha.
Flor de Anís is a song composed by Jorge Licego by Cascada de Flores, a San Francisco Bay area ensemble. Liceaga sings the music and is accompanied by Arwen Lawrence (vocalist, dancer), Kyla Danysh (violinist, vocalist), and Saul Sierra-Alonso (bass).
You can watch the entire performance and an interview with Lawrence here. The show was aired on TV in the USA.
What a year 2016 turned out to be. To use the hackneyed phrase surreal to describe 2016 would be a master understatement. It is as if we are all part of some bad film. What was utterly surreal is the way in which the mother and daughter actors Carrie Fisher (60) and Debbie Reynolds (84) passed away within a day. Fisher suffered a massive heart attack on her flight from London to Los Angeles from which she never recovered. She passed away on Dec 27, 2016. Reynolds was in the midst of preparing her daughter’s funeral arrangements when she suffered a stroke and passed away on Dec 28, 2016. There will be now be a joint funeral for Fisher and Reynolds.
Both Fisher and Reynolds were gifted actors, who were beloved to millions of people around the world. Growing up in India I remember how folks would fondly recollect Reynolds in MGM’s film Singin’ In The Rain. In fact the film was a mandatory watch for many kids in India before the age of Internet. Reynolds made her mark in the film alongside Gene Kelley. Here is a clip of Reynolds from Singin’ In The Rain. She was only 19 when she acted in the film
Fisher followed her mother’s footsteps and made her mark as Princess Leia in Star Wars. Here is an interview of Fisher by Brian Linehan.
Fisher was also a writer, who wrote extensively and one of her books was made into a film called Postcards From The Edge.
On January 7, 2017 HBO plans to debut its documentary Bright Lights that explores the relationship between Reynolds and Fisher.
We sat down with Lochhead to talk about his book, growing up in Canada and how he came to work in Silicon Valley and worked for 3 different companies: Vantive, Scient and Mercury Interactive that was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 1996 for over $4.5 billion. Lochhead also shares about how he and his partner failed in their first company and how his dyslexia. And finally, we talk to him about his priesthood in the Church of Latter-Day Dude that is based on the teachings of The Big Lebowski.
We got an opportunity to speak with Damien Chazelle and Justin Hurwitz about the making of La La Land, its music, the influence of Hollywood musicals, Jacques Demy and their first day in Los Angeles. Are there any autobiographical elements in this film? Tune in to find out.
Chazelle wrote and directed the film and Hurwitz composed the music. They have worked together since their student days at Harvard University. Their last collaboration Whiplash for which JK Simmons won an Oscar for best supporting actor.
La La Land stars Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, JK Simmons and John Legend.
This interview was originally aired on TV in the US.
Director John Madden’s new film Miss Sloane is about a powerful Washington DC lobbyist played by Jessica Chastain. We caught up with Madden at Industrial Light Magic’s (ILM) office in San Francisco. ILM was a fitting venue since Madden’s first American project was a radio drama of Star Wars. George Lucas is a big fan of radio drama and gave the radio drama rights to his alma mater University of Southern California (USC) points out Madden.
We talked with Madden about his association with ILM, Star Wars, the making of Miss Sloane and Chastain. The film is based on a screenplay by debut writer Jonathan Perera.
Madden first worked with Chastain in The Debt and was impressed with her acting. Tune in to find out what he has to say about Star Wars, the making of Miss Sloane, Jessica Chastain and Perera.
LISTEN: JOHN MADDEN ON “MISS SLOANE,” JESSICA CHASTIN & STAR WARS
Madden started his career in directing radio dramas and went on to work in theatre, TV and films. His first film was Ethan Fromefollowed by Mrs. Brown,Shakespeare in Love, The Debt, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 1 and 2 and now Miss Sloane.
Title: MISS SLOANE
Running Time: 132 minutes
Status: Releases Nov 9, 2016 in San Francisco Bay area
Jayalalitha Jayaraman, the Chief Minister of the southern Indian India state Tamil Nadu passed on Dec 5, 2106 in Chennai. Jayalalitha (68) represents a rare breed of Tamil politicians, who built their career in the Tamil film industry before joining politics. Jayalalitha along with MGR and Karunanidhi exerted a powerful influence on their voters and on the policy and politics of Tamil Nadu. This is a rare and unusual phenomenon where these 3 politicians were democratically voted in and out of power for over 40 years.
These 3 politicians – Jayalalitha, MGR and Karunanidhi have been elected as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu since the 1970s till 2016. With the passing away of Jayalalitha and MGR, the only person left in the triumivirate is Karunanidhi, who is is 92 years old now.
Tamil Nadu politics is filled with complexties and contradictions. To an outsider Tamil Nadu politics is full of contradictions points out Vaasanthi author of Cut-outs, Caste and Cine Stars. But, for an insider or someone who grew up in Tamil Nadu (like I did) the contradictions were part and parcel of their life.
We spoke to Vaasanthi about Jayalalitha, Karunanidhi and the evolution of caste politics in Tamil Nadu and the central roles that Tamil films played. We get a peek into Jayalalitha’s personality and political style through Vaasanthi.
LISTEN: VAASANTHI ON JAYALALITHA & TAMIL NADU POLITICS
This interview was recorded in 2016 when Tamil Nadu had just held its state elections, where Jayalalitha’s party failed to win the elections. At a personal level Jayalalitha did well in the 2016 elections. Don’t write off Jayalalitha yet she says. Vaasanthi was right. A few years later Jayalalitha won the elections and became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
This interview was originally published in May 2006.