Showcasing Indian culture in the US
A former senior bureaucrat from India is making waves on Chicago's cable television, showing films on topics ranging from Indian culture to the experiences of the earliest Indian immigrants in US.
Seventy-two-year-old RS Rajan, who immigrated to the US in 1979, shows films on cable on Indian classical dance forms like Bharatanatyam and also films on how Indian savouries are made.
Rajan helped set up the Indo-American Centre, a community service organization in Chicago, before retiring as its executive director.
Rajan was senior deputy accountant general in Tamil Nadu before immigrating here. He took up an intensive course in television and is now the only Indian American among Comcast studio's 125 'certified producers'.
He does not make any money from the films that are aired in the cable channels in Chicago suburbs.
Sometimes, unable to find actors for his films, Rajan has been forced to improvise. A good cook, he has been director as well as principal actor for an episode that explained how to cook vadas and idlis. For the film he enlisted the help of his American-born granddaughters to demystify Indian cooking to American audiences.
Cooking is Rajan's passion, which he acquired during his work in India. A strict vegetarian, Rajan says, "I love to cook and in the US you realise there are more male than female chefs."
Although his unfamiliarity with the medium led to an unsteady start with television films, Rajan is more at ease behind the camera and in the editing room.
His short films have been screened through the public access channels in Chicago's suburbs, leading to congratulatory calls from viewers.
"I remember walking into a store to have the owner ask me, 'Where is my vada?' He had seen my cooking show."
Future projects include one on a favourite theme - the rituals practised in Indian temples.