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DesiClub.com's Top 50 Coolest Desis of 2004

Here it is ladies and gentlemen! Our list of the movers and shakers of 2004. This year, we took over the world of politics, movies, music and sports! We now showcase the very people who shaped the outcome of the year that was for South Asians.
by Peta Cooper

Top 50 Coolest Desis of 2004

The idea behind our putting together this feature is two fold. Firstly, we wanted to motivate people by showcasing the non-traditional success stories that South Asians are experiencing in North America and the UK. Secondly, we wanted to give exposure and well deserved recognition to these hardworking people. Something we have been doing for years and something we will be taking to the next level with our upcoming DesiClub.com Awards show in 2005.

While we were beating our heads trying to come up with this concept of the Top 50 Coolest Desis, we argued and we fought over who to include, who not to include. What the criteria should be, what it should not be. We even debated over the title of our feature - "The Top 50 Coolest Desis." The word "coolest" can be given to so many things, but to be clear, our definition of cool in this context is successful, entertaining, popular, honorable, progressive, positive and giving.

In attempting to put together such a comprehensive list, the very first of its kind, we did our best to include the most productive and positive South Asians. Desis that are having a far reaching impact and influence over our generation, as well as the next. Everyone in our list is a public figure with a great deal of celebrity in their respective areas. We made sure not to select anyone who has not touched a large number of people directly or indirectly. You will be familiar with many of the people on our list, while others will be new to you. If you find yourself scratching your head wondering who someone is, then its probably because they are the machines running things behind the scenes. We have compiled a list of the most progressive South Asians in the fields of Arts, Entertainment and Culture ever put together. That is not an exaggeration, but these people are the cream of the proverbial crop.

As you can imagine, being restricted to selecting only 50 "cool" South Asians was quite a challenge. To accomplish this gruesome task we followed a simple process: A) Negate the numbers by eliminating people who are ethically challenged, B) do what they do more out of personal or selfish gain C) and as was the case in most instances, are not reaching the critical mass necessary to have made the powerful impact we were looking for. The latter group could very well end up in our Top 50 Coolest Desis list for 2005, of course only time will tell.

Lastly, we did our best to be as fair as possible with the order of the list. However, with the so many ways these people have had an impact, many have an overlapping effect and therefore their placement may be debated. But assurance can come from the fact that all these people are #1 in what they're doing.

There are a lot of Desis working harder and harder in their respective fields, so we hope to showcase them and their accomplishments in the years to come. For peace of mind, everyone should know that some very worthy people were left out for the sake of completion itself. But let it be stated here and now, the 50 people you are about to meet have accomplished more in one week than most do in years. Needless to say, these people have earned a place in the history books for South Asians in the world.

So with all the necessary warnings and cautions out of the way, we bring you DesiClub.com's Top 50 Coolest Desis of 2004. We're gonna make your mama and papa proud of you!

50. Prosenjit Kundu50. Prosenjit Kundu
Location: New York, USA
Who Is He: Dancer, Choreographer
Why Is He Cool: Prosenjit has become a very popular dancer and choreographer among big name artists like Faith Evans and others. Moreover, he has shown that hard work and sacrifice in pursuing something you truly love does bring about success and happiness. Prosenjit now enjoys popularity and respect in a world where South Asians have barely made an impact; the world of mainstream Dance. We applaud him for making such an unconventional career a reality.
What's Next: Prosenjit continues to spread the word about his dance and plans on motivating younger South Asians to pursue their passion.
Cool Fun Fact: Prosenjit's nickname is Tony. Tony is half French, from his mother's side and was featured on an episode of MTV's "My Life Translated."

49. Shah Rukh Khan49. Shah Rukh Khan
Location: Mumbai, India
Who Is He: Do you really not know?
Why Is He Cool: Ok, you're probably asking yourself what this guy is doing on our Top 50 Coolest Desis list. We said it was for North American and UK Desis right? Well, we have to give respect to Mr. Khan and his buddies for being able to successfully continue the penetration of the not-so-intelligent South Asian fans, who aide in drowning the West with Bollywood. For as long as there are people who go crazy for the big SRK (and friends), it is our humble opinion that we will never have our own South Asian superstar in the West. So for that simple fact alone, Shahrukh Khan has snuck his way onto our Top 50 list!
What's Next: Hmmmm, another Bollywood movie?
Cool Fun Fact: No matter what we say, Shahrukh is a great actor. He just happens to be stuck in a dejecting industry. We don't mean to pick on you Shahrukh, you know we still love you, its not your fault.

48. Farhana Huq48. Farhana Huq
Location: California, USA
Who Is She: Entrepreneur, Founder CEO Women
Why Is She Cool: In 2000, Farhana launched CEO Women, a non-profit organization that helps improve the lives of low-income immigrant women by making them more stable socially and economically. Farhana has devoted her life to those who are in need. She has helped uplift the spirits of many women in her community and her hard work must not go unrecognized.
What's Next: She plans on expanding the reach of CEO Women to help women in more areas.
Cool Fun Fact: Farhana studies Kathak, classical dance of North India, and is an apprentice member for the internationally renowned Chitresh Das Dance Company.

47. Mannie Sadhra47. Mannie Sadhra
Location: California, USA
Who Is He: Promoter, KaliKwest.com
Why Is He Cool: No one knows how he does it, but Mannie is one of those guys who manages to get himself involved in some very big things. You can catch him at most of the Hip Hop concerts and NBA games networking with the biggest rappers and athletes. Through his networking and via KaliKwest, he's helped bridge the gap between the mainstream and South Asian market even more. In addition to his knack for networking, Mannie has the ear of some of today's most popular artists such as Sukhshinder Shinda and Jazzy B.
What's Next: Most of the marketing ideas you will see forthcoming in the scene will probably be his. Mannie is also behind the upcoming Shinda video for the song Balle.
Cool Fun Fact: Mannie was born in the UK and is also known as Mannie Kwest.

46. Shaheen Sheik46. Shaheen Sheik
Location: California, USA
Who Is She: Guitarist, Songwriter, ShaheenSheik.com
Why Is She Cool: Many of you may not be familiar with her name, but she performs one of the most challenging types of music, Rock. You already know the level of competition that exists within the genre, so just imagine a South Asian chic trying to break through. Shaheen is above the cut though, with the firm foundation she has with her roots, she has the foundation and talent to succeed further. If you log onto her site, you can listen to her beautiful music yourself.
What's Next: Shaheen is planning on a record deal in 2005.
Cool Fun Fact: Shaheen grew up in the Midwest (Cleveland) during the 70's and her mother took her to learn Classical Indian Dance at the age of 3.

45. DJ Vicious45. DJ Vicious
Location: Quebec, Canada
Who Is He: DJ, DJVicious.com
Why Is He Cool: In recent years, and more so in 2004, only one DJ has made a progressive impact on the scene from Canada. His name is DJ Vicious. After being on every big event out of Montreal, he has put out quite a few mixes that have gotten some serious attention. DJ Vicious shines through as the most dominant from a country where South Asian DJs are aplenty.
What's Next: DJ Vicious will be putting out more of his music and is looking to reach out to labels in America. He is making major moves behind the scenes!
Cool Fun Fact: He's been selling t-shirts with "Property of DJ Vicious" to girls all over Canada.

44. Shandana Durrani44. Shandana Durrani
Location: New York, USA
Who Is She: Senior Editor, Cigar Aficionado
Why Is She Cool: For starters, we have a woman running a men's magazine, a cigar magazine no less! Shandana is quite a success story because you'd think it was tough enough for a male to become a senior editor for such a publication. But a South Asian female, you know Shandana's talent and professionalism must be profound to have achieved such a position. She proves women can do anything that men can do, and then some! All you guys out there, take note!
What's Next: Shandana has written several feature-length screenplays and is hoping to see her name in the credits of a film soon.
Cool Fun Fact: You ever hear the one about the Cigar and the President? Don't try them here, Durrani's heard every single cigar joke known to mankind.

43. Ashish Patel43. Ashish Patel
Location: New Jersey, USA
Who Is He: Host, NiteLifeRadio.com
Why Is He Cool: Being behind America's very first "Urban" South Asian show on a FM station. Ashish adds a sarcastic and witty flavor to the show, which can be heard every Wednesday 8-10PM EST. You can ask the callers of the show what they think of Ashish, and they'll tell you how much they love annoying him. But we know and love what he does. You can call him a revolutionary in the sense that he has started something that will go a long way in influencing others to do the same and expand our scene.
What's Next: Hopefully he will stop using NiteLife Radio as a way to get chics and start focusing more on news and political issues (sarcasm).
Cool Fun Fact: Ashish is a workaholic and a former party DJ. He even came out with a couple of remix albums. Call in to his show and play them for him.

42. Soundtheory42. Soundtheory
Location: California, USA
Who Is He: DJ, Producer, RadioPhive.com
Why Is He Cool: Soundtheory has continued to progress the scene in the West coast of the USA for some time now. He brings us the latest sounds from around the globe with his online radio show via RadioPhive.com and with his countless party gigs. He is most definitely doing his part to increase the power of South Asian talent in America, giving the UK artists a run for their money. His musical talent is quite extensive, and if you've heard him at a party, you'll know exactly what we're talking about. From a regular radio show to gigs at some hot parties, to producing some hot tracks, Soundtheory IS cool!
What's Next: Look out for an album from Soundtheory and a possible tour across America.
Cool Fun Fact: Soundtheory started out earlier in his career as DJ Harmony.

41. Johnny Blue41. Johnny Blue
Location: New Jersey, USA
Who Is He: Host, NiteLifeRadio.com
Why Is He Cool: Talk about a radio name! Johnny Blue is quite a personality on his show. Being one of the co-founders, Mr. Blue is the glue that keeps the show sane and together. Working with a comedian like Anu Kalra and a co-host like Ashish, you know he's got a firm head on those shoulders. We have to give props to John because he is pushing forward a movement that is long overdue in America; Desis in Media! Doing us all proud. You can always tell John apart from the rest of his crew because he is the only one that makes sense most of the time.
What's Next: We look forward to Johnny Blue inviting strippers and alcoholics on his show. That'll do the trick!
Cool Fun Fact: Johnny Blue is a former party promoter; he was one of the first South Asian promoters in America.

40. Tanuja Desai Hidier40. Tanuja Desai Hidier
Location: New York, USA
Who Is She: Author, Singer
Why Is She Cool: Tanuja gained fame and notoriety with her novel "Born Confused." The novel is the first ever South Asian American coming-of-age story and became a staple for young South Asians everywhere. Earning credits like a Larry King pick of the week, an American Library Association BBYA book of the year, and Times of London book of the week. She has done a lot for young South Asian females who deal with culture-clashing issues growing up in the West.
What's Next: She's currently at work adapting "Born Confused" into a screenplay. Tanuja is also progressing with her music career by producing a CD based on her book.
Cool Fun Fact: She was Guest Consulting Editor for "Time Out New York's South Asian New York Special" edition, which showcased our generation.

39. Anjum Anand39. Anjum Anand
Location: London, UK
Who Is She: Chef, Author
Why Is She Cool: In addition to being a cutie, Anjum has brought the thing we love the most to the forefront of mainstream - Indian food. With her book "Indian Every Day - Light, Healthy Indian Food," she has given a new face to our cuisine. The best thing about her cooking style and recommendations is that the generally heavy Indian dishes can be made into lighter, healthier ones. Anjum has also appeared on several TV shows promoting her book and Indian food. Thanks to Anjum, we are that much closer to having Indian food become an even more permanent staple of Western cuisine.
What's Next: Anjum continues to promote her book and hopefully we will see her with her very own TV show soon.
Cool Fun Fact: Anjum worked in the trend-setting Café Spice in New York and for Tommy Tang at the Mondrian hotel in Los Angeles.

38. Sarina Jain38. Sarina Jain
Location: New York, USA
Who Is She: Founder Masala Dance & Fitness, MasalaDance.com
Why Is She Cool: Sarina is the first and most popular person to have showcased the aerobic and health aspect of South Asians. She is the cheery face and personality behind the Masala Bhangra Aerobics Workout series. When almost no one knew about Bhangra, Sarina brought the dance and its obvious cardiovascular benefits to the mainstream. Her series of DVDs and Tapes have become quite popular among weight conscious Desis and Non-Desis. There isn't a household you can go into without Sarina's workout tapes being present, or at least talked about.
What's Next: Sarina is working on releasing more interactive Masala Bhangra Videos and look out for Sarina to become an even more prominent TV personality.
Cool Fun Fact: We have to give an extra shout out to Sarina for making people like Richard Simmons a thing of the past. You can catch Sarina every Saturday morning on V-Desi in America.

37. Amit Dharmani37. Amit Dharmani
Location: Michigan, USA
Who Is He: Producer, 313SoundLabs.com
Why Is He Cool: Amit is one of the very first South Asian Producers/Promoters to have made a positive impact on the national scene with artists like Kidd Skilly and DJ Robby. That seems simple enough right? Many others have done the same thing and have done it well. But in 2004, Dharmani took the marketing for his product to new professional heights, very rarely seen in this budding "cross-over" scene. He did this by being a part of the brilliant "DJ Robby For President" campaign, taking full advantage of the Presidential race. The result of this agenda was that 313 Soundlabs successfully engaged the first generation of South Asians in America, giving his artists and label a newfound familiarity.
What's Next: While continuing to bring Kidd Skilly out to the forefront, Amit is planning on launching another marketing assault in 2005 that will surpass the Presidential ploy. We look forward to seeing the product and message that comes out from this mind in Michigan.
Cool Fun Fact: Amit is a party animal, so if you ever come across him at a mixer, watch yourself because before you know it... You've been warned!

36. Sanjay Sabarwal36. Sanjay Sabarwal
Location: California, USA
Who Is He: Businessman, ZibaMusic.com, ZibaBeauty.com
Why Is He Cool: Sanjay has been involved in the local South Asian scene since its roots in the early 90's. His popular ZibaMusic.com serves as one of the only few mediums for Desi music online. And his ZibaBeauty center has cornered the South Asian beauty market in Los Angeles. Sanjay has helped the scene progress by leaps and bounds with his support of local talent and involvement in great events. Sanjay is what we consider to be an unsung hero of the scene. Doing things behind the scenes, and doing them well!
What's Next: Sanjay will be behind Bruin Bhangra again in 2005 and we look forward to Ziba being the staple of South Asian business in Los Angeles.
Cool Fun Fact: If you ever want to pursue a case or sue someone, give Sanjay a call, he's also a lawyer.

35. Manny Brar35. Manny Brar
Location: Ontario, Canada
Who Is He: Founder DesiWear.com
Why Is He Cool: Many people have talked about starting their own "fashion line." For god's sake, I hear it all the time. Often, I have asked the question to some people: What are you up to? And the token response has been "I'm starting my own fashion line, its gonna be the first Desi fashion line to blow up." Well, don't let it be a blow to your ego, but Manny has been working hard to get the word out about his company, DesiWear, long before you hit your head and came up with the idea. DesiWear has got to be the most popular and premier South Asian marketed clothing line in the world. Our respect goes to Manny Brar for actually accomplishing something that many others have just been talking about.
What's Next: DesiWear is looking to expand its operation into the rest of North America and the UK in 2005.
Cool Fun Fact: You can see Manny partying away with his gear at various hot spots through-out the world.

34. Sunny Leone34. Sunny Leone
Location: California, USA
Who Is She: Model, Penthouse Pet, SunnyLeone.com (Rated NC-17)
Why Is She Cool: She had the guts to pose nude while enduring all the slack that came with it as a South Asian female. She continues to thrive in her chosen career as a model, having been chosen Penthouse Pet of the Year. Sunny is the most popular South Asian female to have posed nude in North America and we love her for it! She has undoubtedly opened the door for many other "ethnic" models.
What's Next: She continues to hypnotize guys and gals alike with her beauty and charm. Sunny has a starring role in Kidd Skilly's upcoming Music Video, so look out for more of Sunny in 2005 guys.
Cool Fun Fact: She really is Desi, and her parents are cool with what she does!

33. Badmash Crew33. Badmash Crew
Location: California, USA
Who Are They: Cartoonists, Badmash.org
Why They're Cool: Badmash is the very first South Asian comic strip. Their humor is political, socially stimulating and downright hilarious. The best thing about Badmash is that their core medium is the Internet, where their cartoons and illustrations are sometimes animated with flash, having a far greater effect than print. From lampooning the Presidential race with the Big B, to satirizing Desi Suburban housewives, no one gets a free pass.
What's Next: Hopefully we'll see a Badmash movie one day, but until then, we look forward to even funnier and more interesting comics in 2005 from the Badmash Crew!
Cool Fun Fact: The Badmash crew consists of Sandeep Sood, Nimesh Patel, and Sanjay Shah. Badmash does some very heavy online Marketing utilizing their comics.

32. Panjabi Hit Squad32. Panjabi Hit Squad
Location: London, UK
Who Are They: DJs, Hosts - BBC1Xtra's "Desi Beats"
Why They're Cool: PHS is one of the oldest and most stable crews in the UK. These guys have done so much in the time they've been around. Last year they were signed to Def Jam UK and have been plugging away with the latest from all over the world on their radio show on the BBC1Xtra outlet. If someone wants to get heard in Europe, they go to these guys.
What's Next: There was supposed to be a PHS tour in America, which got cancelled due to shady promoters. But after having taken over the UK, PHS has got their eyes firmly set on American ground for 2005.
Cool Fun Fact: The leader of the pack, Markie Mark is an honorary Desi, he's a cool white cat. The rest of the crew is Rav, Amo and Dee.

31. RDB31. RDB
Location: UK & Canada
Who Are They: DJs, Producers, Singers
Why They're Cool: RDB is another part of the core South Asian foundation in the Western world. Having done a number of successful CDs and a crazy amount of shows all over the world, they launched RDBTV.com in '04. The internet "TV" show showcases talent from around the globe and adds the spice that only RDB can bring. The three brothers are on top of their game, as usual, bringing us very energetic and entertaining music and now, a TV show!
What's Next: You'll be hearing more about RDBTV.com and listening to more music from the trio.
Cool Fun Fact: The group has the market cornered by having a stable ground in both continents.

30. DJ Lost Soul30. DJ Lost Soul
Location: Washington DC, USA
Who Is He: DJ, NextUp, XM Satellite Radio
Why Is He Cool: DJ LS has been a fixture in the scene since day one. He is the first South Asian DJ to have ever released a Mix tape, and as we all know now, many others have followed. His talent and connections with people in the Hip Hop industry helped him land a regular gig on XM Radio's "The City" channel. We can now say with great pride that we have a South Asian DJ on a national Radio station. DJ LS is always up to something, so just when you don't hear from him in a few months, you're floored by what he comes out with.
What's Next: Working on more mix tapes, launching NextUp, which is a label set to release original music geared towards the Urban market.
Cool Fun Fact: He's got more black friends than any other Desi. We think this is a cool fun fact!

29. Aash Shravah29. Aash Shravah
Location: New York, USA
Who Is He: Founder Intense Management, Intense Comedy Nights
Why Is He Cool: He's got his hands on every big project across the country. And when we say big, we mean BIG. Aash is the guy who you'll find planning and executing some of these events we all go to. He is also the man behind some of the most talented artists that you just love to love. Being a pioneer of the scene in North America is not an easy task, but due to his very big scale thinking, Aash has managed to set himself apart and now sits on his massive South Asian management throne.
What's Next: Launching Intense Comedy Nights through-out North America. Aash continues to thrive on helping new artists kick start their respective careers. He is also currently putting together the largest South Asian media event in North American history.
Cool Fun Fact: Aash's wife's name is Intense. The man is married to his work!

28. Saroosh Gull28. Saroosh Gull
Location: New York, USA
Who Is He: Founder DesiClub.com
Why Is He Cool: Saroosh is behind almost every single aspect of the South Asian scene. Its a fact that if it weren't for his work, we would have to set our clocks back a few years. The progress he has made behind the scenes to nurture and promote South Asians in our global community has helped elevate us all. Doing small things like helping in the publicity of upcoming artists, to planning critical ventures that directly effect the marketplace, Saroosh has left his mark.
What's Next: Currently working on the DesiClub.com Awards show for 2005.
Cool Fun Fact: He's become known for his eccentric tastes, but most of you probably know him for his naughty humor.

27. Rajwant Girn27. Rajwant Girn
Location: Ontario, Canada
Who Is She: Publisher, Anokhi Vibe
Why Is She Cool: Rajwant is an amazing personality who has done what no one else in North America has been able to do. Anokhi Vibe, in the short amount of time that it has been around, has become a heavy weight in the print media world. South Asians in North America and the UK now swear by it. Rajwant can take comfort in the fact that AV is the premier lifestyle magazine for Desis everywhere and ofcourse being a successful female entrepreneur has its own bragging rights as well.
What's Next: Anokhi Vibe will be reaching its 2nd Anniversary in 2005. Look out for the parties and more from this amazing publication!
Cool Fun Fact: Rajwant's sense of humor is cruder than most guys. Needless to say, she's a great person to hang out with!

26. Anu Kalra26. Anu Kalra
Location: New Jersey, USA
Who Is He: Comedian, Co-Host NiteLife Radio
Why Is He Cool: Two reasons. Embarking upon one of the most challenging and competitive careers that exists in the Entertainment industry for one thing! Being successful at it is the other. Anu has devoted his life to being a comedian full time. For those of you that do not know the amount of sacrifice this endeavour requires, we dare you to try. His easy going manner, and his socially apt humor make him capable of reaching across large numbers of people and that is exactly what he has been doing. He is surely opening up a door for younger South Asian comedians to follow him through.
What's Next: We wouldn't be surprised if we saw Anu on NBC's "Last Comic Standing." These days, Anu is preparing for his one man show and makes regular appearances at Intense Comedy Nights and you can hear him weekly on NiteLife Radio.
Cool Fun Fact: He's Italian (PSYCH! But even he'll fool you with his impressions). And yeah ladies, he's single!

25. Bohemia25. Bohemia
Location: California, USA
Who Is He: Hip Hop Artist/Rapper - ThePunjabiRapper.com
Why Is He Cool: Bohemia is the first South Asian cat to come up in the National scene within the Punjabi Hip Hop realm. His rhyming skills in Punjabi and English are insanely entertaining and his approach is dead on point. In the music business, being a good entertainer is half the requirement, the other is being a good businessman. Bohemia's understanding of this makes him extraordinary and that is why he has been able to make it through the challenges put before him. Once you hear his music, you automatically crave for more.
What's Next: Bohemia is working on a Documentary and putting out more of his music. His hot new video is set to debut soon as well. We look forward to seeing Bohemia everywhere in 2005.
Cool Fun Fact: The guy is really hardcore, rough and tough in his appearances. But in person he is one of the most pleasant and professional people you'll ever come across. He's a sweetheart ladies. But we have a feeling he'll still kick your ass guys.

24. Jay Dabhi24. Jay Dabhi
Location: New York, USA
Who Is He: DJ, Producer, Co-Host NiteLife Radio
Why Is He Cool: Jay has been rocking crowds all over the World for almost 10 years. Unlike his counterparts, he continues to reign supreme as the most popular and in-demand South Asian DJ in North America. In 2004, he's performed at some of the biggest parties in South Africa and Europe as well as countless parties in his native land. His involvement in the scene also remains strong due to his support and passion for up and coming artists. Jay also puts in his time as Co-host of NiteLife Radio, where he blesses the audience with his wisdom.
What's Next: Jay's remixing tracks for the "who's who" in South Asian talent. Rumor has it he's also involved in a new clothing line for 2005.
Cool Fun Fact: He knows how to cook ladies. And word is that Jay has a good singing voice of his own!

23. Sumeet23. Sumeet
Location: New York, USA
Who Is She: Singer, SumeetMusic.com
Why Is She Cool: Sumeet's sultry voice was showcased in the popular Elephant Man hit "Agony." She's broken that "background singer" boundary and everyone who enjoyed that popular radio hit knows Sumeet was the voice behind it. She's working on some more powerful stuff for 2005 and making noise where ever she goes. Her list of accomplishments can go on and on, it just feels good to have a female South Asian singer getting so much respect and admiration.
What's Next: Sumeet's working on her debut album.
Cool Fun Fact: Her ideal date is herself, her CD player and a bag of chips. Fellas? Are you reading this? Buy her a bag of chips!

22. Kidd Skilly22. Kidd Skilly
Location: Michigan, USA
Who Is He: Hip Hop Artist/Rapper, Writer, 313SoundLabs.com
Why Is He Cool: Kidd Skilly burst onto the scene in 2004 with a greater impact than ever before. From being a fairly unknown rapper outside of his homestate of Michigan, he is now probably the most popular South Asian rapper on the scene. His hit single Nachna landed on some of the most popular Mixtapes in '04 and many a party goer bopped their heads to it.
What's Next: Coming off the popularity of Nachna, he just released Nachna Part 2 and he's also going to up the ante a bit with an album release in 2005 (Hopefully). Keep your eyes on this Kidd.
Cool Fun Fact: You can hear Kidd Skilly's minions prank calling NiteLife Radio all the time. On a completely biological note, Kidd Skilly is half Punjabi and half Mexican. How about some Guacamole with that Chicken Tikka Masala please?

21. DJ Rekha21. DJ Rekha
Location: New York, USA
Who Is She: DJ, Founder of Basement Bhangra
Why Is She Cool: Rekha is a pioneer of the South Asian scene in North America. In the music business, outside of Panjabi MC, she is probably the only person who has made a valid impact for South Asians in the American mainstream. She is regularly covered in the New York Times and many other publications. When there is a story about South Asians, the mainstream press goes to her for words of wisdom. She has become the face of our scene to many Non-Desis and represents South Asians with integrity and positivity. Needless to say, DJ Rekha is a role model for many aspiring female DJs.
What's Next: Rekha will continue entertaining thousands in 2005 with her Internationally popular Basement Bhangra parties. Maybe she'll even grace us with a CD?
Cool Fun Fact: She is the most popular female South Asian DJ, I think this is verifiable!

20. Gitesh Pandya20. Gitesh Pandya
Location: New York, USA
Who Is He: Producer, Founder BoxOfficeGuru.com
Why Is He Cool: Gitesh first made an impact on the scene by producing the hit film American Desi, which influenced many other South Asian film makers to follow suit. Gitesh now continues to make an impact on the film and media business by consulting and having access to mainstream outlets, which is very rarely experienced by most South Asians. Having access is one thing, but Gitesh takes it a step further by always progressing the South Asian fingerprint. He also heads an industry "insider" via BoxOfficeGuru.com, where the tallies of films are given from every weekend.
What's Next: We want to see Gitesh pumping out another great movie to follow-up American Desi with. But we'll settle for his continued work in the media business.
Cool Fun Fact: Gitesh is married to Rohi Mirza (Desipina fame) and they make a super duper powercouple. Fun Fact #2: Gitesh was an extra in American Desi. Fun Fact #3: You can catch Gitesh on various TV shows commentating on Hollywood films.

19. Raghav19. Raghav
Location: Calgary, Canada/London, UK
Who Is He: Singer, Songwriter
Why Is He Cool: Raghav was caught in the middle of an insane amount of buzz surrounding his name in 2004. Not overblown hype to say the least, this guy is very talented and is set to take the entire world by storm. With hit tracks like "Can't Get Enough" and "Angel Eyes," you know the mainstream appeal is there. Raghav has collaborated with producers like Sunship (Craig David's producer), Mis-teeq, Damage, Beverley Knight and Terry Hall. This has all come together to give Raghav an even more powerful position in the music business. From the way it apears, if anyone is going to do for Desis what Ricky Martin did for Latinos, its going to be Raghav.
What's Next: Working on an album ofcourse.
Cool Fun Fact: Raghav actually has a load of fan sites, unlike anything we've seen for South Asian artists in the west. You know it's a big deal when complete strangers are making websites dedicated to you!

18. Juggy D18. Juggy D
Location: Southall, UK
Who Is He: Singer, JuggyD.com
Why Is He Cool: Juggy D has surpassed boundaries that were never thought possible. He's toured almost all over the world and his songs have become National anthems for party goers everywhere. Hailing from the Rishi Rich camp, Juggy D has made his impact felt hard in the Punjabi singing world. He is part of the reason why the UK is so strong with South Asian talent. In 2004, Juggy D toured everywhere and increased the awareness and entertainment value of South Asian talent.
What's Next: Juggy D plans on releasing an album in 2005 and taking himself to even greater heights. What else did you expect? ;)
Cool Fun Fact: Juggy D and his posse have helped revive the Track Suit/Adidas look circa RUM-DMC in the 80's. You go make that fashion statement boy! He speaks Punjabi at home with his parents, they won't have it any other way!

17. Aashna Patel17. Aashna Patel
Location: California, USA
Who Is She: Travel Channel (Host), Aashna.com
Why Is She Cool: Breaking barriers for brown women, Aashna hosted her own show on the TV Guide channel. In late November her current show, "Vacation Home Search," broke records and became one of the highest rated shows on the Travel Channel. Aashna now has one of the most recognizable faces in mainstream TV! It is very rare to see a beautiful South Asian woman having such a prominent face on mainstream television, but Aashna does us all proud.
What's Next: Aashna is launching her new single, "Kiss Me" in 2005. Yes, she sings too!
Cool Fun Fact: Aashna admits that if she could be on any reality TV show it would be "The Bachlorette." Guys, ahem ahem.

16. Manny Malhotra16. Manny Malhotra
Location: Ontario, Canada
Who Is He: Hockey Player, NHL
Why Is He Cool: Manny is the first South Asian (half) Hockey player in the NHL. He's played on an International scale and has brought a new found respect for South Asians in sports. No less in a sport that is dominated by whites and doesn't have many other "ethnic" players to begin with. He's played for the New York Rangers, Dallas Stars and now plays for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
What's Next: Hopefully earn his way to getting the Stanley Cup for his team!
Cool Fun Fact: Manny is half Indian and half French-Canadian and his real name is Emmanuel Noveen Malhotra. And yes, the ladies do love him!

15. Mohini Bhardwaj15. Mohini Bhardwaj
Location: California, USA
Who Is She: Gymnast, 2004 USA Olympic Team
Why Is She Cool: Mohini made us all proud by showing us how much of an impact we can have in the Sports world. She's a seven-time member of the U.S. National Gymnastics Team, having made it to the '04 Olympic games in Greece to win the silver medal in the women's team competition. This is no small feat, and we hope to see Mohini making even greater strides in her life. There is no question that Mohini's success has helped younger South Asian females realize their desire to follow in her footsteps.
What's Next: She recently submitted her own "flip" to the Olympic council and they approved it. From this moment forward the skill will be known as "The Bhardwaj."
Cool Fun Fact: Her name "Mohini," is the perfect gymnastics name - it means "illusion" in Hindi. Her father is Indian and her mother is a Russian of Indian descent. But our favorite fun fact is that she had her training funded by television star Pamela Anderson!

14. Anand Jon14. Anand Jon
Location: New York, USA
Who Is He: Fashion Designer
Why Is He Cool: Anand has stamped the fashion world with his work. He has made himself a success in an industry long known for its tendency to favor European designers and stylists. He is one of those individuals who has pioneered the way for other South Asians to establish themselves in the Fashion business. Anand's designs represent the glamour and mysticism of the East and therefore, make him unique in this market.
What's Next: Anand will continue dazzling the Fashion world with his style and persona.
Cool Fun Fact: Anand travels with at least 5 babes in his entourage.

13. Saira Mohan13. Saira Mohan
Location: Calgary, Canada
Who Is She: Model, Saira.com
Why Is She Cool: Saira has been on numerous magazine covers and she's been the face and body for an infinite number of campaigns. Unlike many others in the public eye, she openly speaks about sex and many other subjects. She's a true artist and modelling is just one of her many talents. The more you learn about Saira, the more there is to admire. She stands alone in a certain respect from the industry she represents. Her beauty and presence have no doubt helped shift the general public's view point on associating beauty with whites and blondes only.
What's Next: She's re-launching her website to help move her career more in the direction of Acting and "serious" work. For Saira, that means she will be involving herself in some deeper, more meaningful projects.
Cool Fun Fact: You've seen her in ads for Victoria Secret and many other major outlets. Saira is half Desi and half French-Irish-Canadian. But she's married guys. Sorry.

12. Russell Peters12. Russell Peters
Location: Ontario, Canada
Who Is He: Comedian
Why Is He Cool: Russell is the first South Asian comedian to have reached the level of success that mainstream comedians have aspired to. You can catch him on Comedy Central as well as many other major networks and venues. His act is always on the edge and his wit is unmatchable. Russell's ability to engage the audience with his culture clashing humor is now classic. His ability to unite South Asians with humor is an amazing thing to witness. The way he reaches across the most diverse audiences is just pure genius.
What's Next: Russell is putting together an agenda to tour the entire United States. You can bet your bottom dollar that we'll be seeing Mister Peters on mainstream outlets in the US in 2005.
Cool Fun Fact: Russell Peters' middle name is Dominique and yes, that is his real name.

11. Rishi Rich11. Rishi Rich
Location: London, UK
Who Is He: Producer
Why Is He Cool: Many of you may not know this but Rishi has been behind some of the most popular tracks dating back to the Mid-90's. Recently coming into the forefront through his Rishi Rich Project with Juggy D and Jay Sean. Almost all of the music he's been behind so far has become a hit and a popular tool for DJs everywhere to pump at their parties. That is a sure-fire way to tell the success of a producer. His work continues to reach across to the mainstream, causing a global buzz in the music industry.
What's Next: Making his own DVD called "Aj Kal," an exclusive look behind the Rishi Rich project.
Cool Fun Fact: He did a remix with Britney Spears' song "Me Against The Music." That's not the fun fact, the fun fact is that he did it with her!! The lucky dog.

10. Hari Sreenivasan10. Hari Sreenivasan
Location: New York, USA
Who Is He: Anchor, ABC News Now
Why Is He Cool: Hari is among the very first South Asians to have a national presence in the mainstream News business. Being named anchor/correspondent for ABC News Now in February, 2004 he has since gained an even greater notoriety. He's one of those faces that brings a fresh perspective on things. After 9/11, Hari was proactive with his input on the state of our society, raising awareness on the issue of South Asians and our culture clash. We applaud him for his speaking out and bringing us the latest news on a national network. A familiar face is that much better when you're watching the news!
What's Next: Maybe a run for office? That's just our take on him, but we hope to continue seeing Hari objectively dishing out the news and reaching even more people.
Cool Fun Fact: Before Hari went to ABC; he did technology reporting for CNET Central. Hari is also the owner of OMpower, a media consulting firm.

9. Bobby Jindal9. Bobby Jindal
Location: Louisiana, USA
Who Is He: U.S. Congressman
Why Is He Cool: Republican candidate Bobby Jindal made history on November 2, 2004 by becoming the first Indian-American elected to the U.S. Congress in nearly 50 years. Bobby won 78 percent of the vote! This was the first election won by an Indian-American since 1956, when Dalip Singh Saund won a seat in Congress from California. Bobby will no doubt go down in history for this accomplishment. Finally, no matter what the differences, we do have a voice in American political life.
What's Next: Since Bobby is a politician, we'll say the most political thing possible; Bobby Jindal plans on improving the lives of the people in his local district and increasing the involvement of South Asians in the political process.
Cool Fun Fact: Jindal tried becoming Governor of Louisiana but was defeated. Someone went onto bigger and better things right?

8. Sree Sreenivasan8. Sree Sreenivasan
Location: New York, USA
Who Is He: Co-Founder SAJA, WABC's Tech Guru
Why Is He Cool: Sree helped set into motion the power of South Asians in the media with his involvement in establishing SAJA (South Asian Journalist Association). SAJA's network of journalists and media personalities have done so much to improve our presence and awareness in the mainstream. Sree is of course indirectly responsible for the success we have experienced due to this awareness created by SAJA. You can watch this pioneer talk about the latest techie stuff on WABC-TV's "Tech Guru" (Thursday mornings at 6:45 EST and Saturday mornings at 7:45 EST).
What's Next: We can expect to see Sree continuing his work and involvement in media, bringing us all closer together and into the mainstream.
Cool Fun Fact: Sree is also a new media professor at Columbia University.

7. Deepa Mehta7. Deepa Mehta
Location: Ontario, Canada
Who Is She: Film Maker, Fire, Earth
Why Is She Cool: We give props to Deepa for taking on taboo subjects like arranged marriages, same-sex relationships and the partition of 1947. As we all know, these things aren't really discussed openly in the South Asian community. She has the ability to tackle these "old school" subjects and make them interesting to the younger generation. She does so by adding an entertaining context to them in her films. Her films have opened the door for many a discussion on these subjects.
What's Next: Her highly anticipated film "Water" should be released in 2005. This film will complete the trilogy that "Fire" and "Earth" started. "Water" stars Lisa Ray.
Cool Fun Fact: Deepa is sometimes known as Deepa Mehta Saltzman. Her movie "Fire" was banned in India for its lesbian subject matter.

6. Monita Rajpal6. Monita Rajpal
Location: Georgia, USA
Who Is She: Anchor for CNN
Why Is She Cool: First of all, she's cool because she's a bona fide hottie. Then we get into the whole thing about being a female South Asian Anchor for CNN. Monita is an anchor for CNN International's signature "World News" program. Her serious style of reporting comes across quite strongly. During the recent war in Iraq, she conducted interviews with the leader of Iraq's biggest Shi'ite Muslim political group, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, Dr. Barham Salih, and others. She joined CNN from Citytv in Toronto. Yet another familiar face to watch out for on TV.
What's Next: We look forward to seeing more of Monita on CNN, as well as other places. ;)
Cool Fun Fact: She was born in Hong Kong, moved to Canada and speaks conversational Cantonese, French and Punjabi.

5. Kal Penn5. Kal Penn
Location: New Jersey, USA
Who Is He: Actor, Harold & Kumar
Why Is He Cool: Kal is one of the very first South Asian actors to break into mainstream Hollywood acting. Sure, he started out playing stereotypical roles, but with his role in the hit Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, he showed his value and self-worth as a talented actor. We've loved Kal ever since his hilarious work in American Desi and his non-stop, down right courageous appearances at our parties. And we continue to love him with his current super star Indian-Actor status in Hollywood. Finally, a Desi face in Hollywood movies that isn't behind the wheel of a cab or behind a counter at a 7-11. Kal Penn has kicked down that Hollywood door and we can't wait to see what he does next!
What's Next: Kal is currently shooting his next movie, "Man About Town" in Vancouver.
Cool Fun Fact: He pigged out on "vegetarian" burgers for the White Castle shoot. Kal is one of the most giving and nicest people in the business! And yeah ladies, track him down, he lives alone!

4. Mira Nair4. Mira Nair
Location: New York, USA
Who Is She: Film Maker, Vanity Fair
Why Is She Cool: Mira has been behind some of the most popular movies that have been enjoyed by millions of people all over the world. From her critically acclaimed "Salaam Bombay" and HBO's "Hysterical Blindness," to my absolute favorite, "Monsoon Wedding." Her most recent work, "Vanity Fair" starred Hollywood's Reese Witherspoon. Having reached the pinnacle of success that Mira has attained is still a dream for some. She makes us all proud to have accomplished so much as a South Asian woman! We give her an extra bow for staying 10 steps ahead of the redundancy of Bollywood.
What's Next: She's now working on a film called "The Impressionist" and there are plans of taking Monsoon Wedding to Broadway.
Cool Fun Fact: Mira teamed up with Bala Entertainment International to create "International Bhenji Brigade," a film production company that will create Independent Asian cinema. That means more of Mira people!

3. Dr. Sanjay Gupta3. Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Location: Georgia, USA
Who Is He: CNN Senior Med. Correspondent, Doctor
Why Is He Cool: Being a brilliant and accomplished Doctor at the age of 34, Sanjay Gupta performed brain surgery five times in Iraq last spring while embedded with U.S. troops. Closer to home, he operates Mondays and alternate Fridays at two Atlanta hospitals. In addition to his success in the medical field, he is one of the very first South Asians to have gained National prominence on a major TV network. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has opened many doors for up and coming South Asians who want to pursue a career in Television and Media. It wouldn't be completely out of line to say that Gupta is probably the most recognizable South Asian on TV these days.
What's Next: He's sticking with CNN to cover World affairs relating to Medicine and continues speaking about his career to motivate others.
Cool Fun Fact: He was named one of People Magazine's "Sexiest Men Alive!" Go Sanjay, you sexy thang! And yeah ladies, send a picture of Sanjay to your parents!

2. Gurinder Chadha2. Gurinder Chadha
Location: Southall, UK
Who Is She: Film Maker, Bride & Prejudice
Why Is She Cool: We all know Gurinder as being behind one of our most favorite films, "Bend it like Beckham." In 2004, she was able to take her approach and popularity to new heights by bringing a Bollywood actress (Aishwarya Rai) into a Hollywood film, "Bride & Prejudice," which made for quite an epic cross-over. Gurinder has got to be one of the most talented people in Hollywood. She is one of the most sought-after directors in the industry and mark our words, this is only the beginning for her.
What's Next: In 2005 Gurinder will be filming three feature films, The Closet, My Sassy Girl, and I Dream of Jeannie, a film re-make of the popular 60's sitcom. All three films are set for release in 2006.
Cool Fun Fact: Gurinder was born in Kenya but raised in the UK. Bend It like Beckham became one of the highest grossing house-produced films.

1. M. Night Shyamalan1. M. Night Shyamalan
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Who Is He: Director, The Village
Why Is He Cool: Well, it should not have been that much of a surprise that our Most Coolest Desi accolade would be going to M. Night Shyamalan. He is after all, the first blockbuster South Asian Director in Hollywood. Not once, but his films have broken Box Office records over and over again. M. Night has even been referred to as the new Steven Speilberg. His films are complex and impactful, thanks to his creative vision and approach. His movies rock and have made Desis all over the world proud! His Alfred Hitchcock-like cameo appearances and his ultra-suspenseful endings all keep us glued to our seats. M. Night has shown the world what South Asians in the West are capable of. He is boundless and unlimited with his talent and the positive influence he has had on South Asians globally will last a lifetime.
What's Next: M. Night will continue to impress us by making his epic thrillers.
Cool Fun Fact: M. stands for Manoj and he made up the name "Night" as a middle name for himself. Pretty Fun for a final fact huh?

Do you have any thoughts on this? Feel free to send Peta an e-mail @ Peta Cooper.