[ poet + music producer + awokenword founder ]
Anuj Rastogi is a Toronto-based writer, spoken word poet and music composer. Anuj has cultivated his worldly sensibilities and uses elements of word play and storyline that thread together broad narratives about social, political, personal and human insights. His works "Breaking News" and "I Wanna Know", and "While You Were Sleeping" have featured extensively. His latest work, "Baby Girl", is a heartfelt love letter in admiration of his daughter, and a dream for the world our daughters may one day grow up in.
As a musician, he has composed and produced music for film scores, studio albums, and has performed with a number of diverse artists across Canada, the US, the UK and India. Anuj has also composed the original theme music track, "Cosmos", for the AwokenWord podcast.
Anuj founded the AwokenWord Podcast in 2018 out of a deep desire to surface nuanced, meaningful long-form conversation that can help us reconnect with our shared humanity. The world needs this now more than ever!
January 15th, 2020 | Season 2 | 1 hr 32 mins
change, children, culture, hip hop, humanity, india, karmacy, music, obama, politics, rap, society, trump, wu tang
Live from DASH Radio studio in Los Angeles, Anuj Rastogi sits down with Sammy Chand. Sammy is the founder of Rukus Avenue Radio, a rapper, producer, record label exec, entrepreneur and man of the people. In this conversation, Anuj and Sammy explore the impact of Hip Hop, the genesis of Indian Hip Hop and its ties back to Sammy's group KARMACY. The two discuss identity, the evolution of music, fatherhood, the current political climate in the US and what we can do to shape the world for better.
December 11th, 2019 | Season 2 | 1 hr 35 mins
barkha madan, bollywood, buddha, buddhism, dalai lama, film, humanity, interview, love, society, spirituality
Anuj Rastogi is joined by Barkha Madan at the AwokenWord studio. Barkha Madan is a former Indian model, film actress and film producer who has also appeared in television serials and hosted TV shows in India. Barkha had risen to prominence through major film and fashion projects, while undergoing her own inner exploration and journey. In November 2012, Barkha finally made the leap into her self-described "calling" and underwent ordination to become a Buddhist nun and changed her name to Ven. Gyalten Samten. Barkha shares her incredible journey from the runway and silverscreen, and the experience of immersing herself in new characters, before eventually following through on her true spiritual calling. Anuj and Barkha discuss the challenges of a modern life in a modern, materialistic and social media driven world, as well as the joys of travel, meeting people, looking back across her experiences, and the ways in which her path has impacted countless others.
November 13th, 2019 | Season 2 | 1 hr 24 mins
action, bollywood, fight, film, gully boy, hip hop, history, humanity, india, inspiration, kickboxing, martial arts, mma, muay thai, mumbai, music, politics, spiritual, yoga
Anuj Rastogi reconnects with Shantanu Pujari, a multi-talented artist and fighter. Shantanu is a professional competitive mixed martial arts fighter, yoga instructor, action director for film, activist, b-boy, beatboxer and hip hop label artist manager. Shantanu is also the host of the "Shakahari Show" on Rukus Avenue Radio. Shantanu shares his incredible personal journey, and a deep respect and knowledge of the history of Hip Hop as well as India. This conversation is an inspiring and exciting journey through the eyes of India's youth which is on course to transform the country and the world in positive ways.
September 26th, 2019 | Season 2 | 1 hr 47 mins
america, brene brown, ceo, culture, education, humanity, leadership, levar burton, politics, race, reading rainbow, society, world
Live in Los Angeles, California (well, Orange County actually) Anuj Rastogi sits down with Sangita Patel, entrepreneur, tech leader and the CEO of LeVar Burton Kids. Sangita shares her jouney in America, finding a place in a world that was only black or white, and what she's learned in her remarkable life and career. Sangita also shares her journey working with one of the most inspiring men in the world, LeVar Burton, and the journey from Reading Rainbow to LeVar Burton Kids. The conversation wanders through race, society, the American dream, and what we can learn from our kids, as well as what we can do to shape the world through dialogue, books, literature and sharing the human experience through art that reflects the world.
August 14th, 2019 | Season 2 | 1 hr 56 mins
ar rahman, art, bansuri, culture, flute, humanity, india, indian classical, inspiration, london, mumbai, music, nitin sawhney, singer, story, travel
Live in Mumbai, Anuj Rastogi sits down with Ashwin Srinivasan, one of the most highly sought-after musicians in India. Ashwin is an acclaimed Indian Classical flautist and vocalist, and long-time collaborator with internationally renowned composer Nitin Sawhney, as well as core member of Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman's band. He has recorded, performed and collaborated with some of the most acclaimed global artists including AR Rahman, Nitin Sawhney, Anoushka Shankar, Hariharan, Javed Akhtar, Joss Stone, and Imogen Heap to name but a few. Ashwin's vocal and instrumental brilliance is well known, and in this conversation, Anuj and Ashwin explore the worlds of music, Ashwin's journey as an artist, and his unique approach to his art. Anuj and Ashwin also discuss the incredible beauty of India, and the experience of exploring the country and its people by road.
July 25th, 2019 | Season 1 | 2 hrs 10 mins
art, conversation, culture, death, democrats, evolution, fatherhood, history, humanity, joe rogan, love, metoo, politics, religion, science, society, world
Anuj sits down with Ali A. Rizvi back in the AwokenWord studio. Ali is an author, speaker, and musician who grew up in Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan before moving to the US and eventually Canada at the age of 24. Anuj and Ali discuss his background, life experiences growing up, the insights Ali gleaned in working with the dead, science, and religion. They dive deep into the challenges and questions unanswered by religion, the history and impact of religion on human cultural evolution, and the role that spirituality may or may not play in our lives, as well as the beauty of wonder and fatherhood and everyday life. The conversation turns to the current US Democratic primaries and the role of politics, identity, populism and social forces shaping the world today.
June 13th, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 23 mins
america, apex youth center, cnn, conversation, culture, darius baxter, david brooks, gangs, gun violence, history, human, humanity, interview, love, new orleans, politics, prison, religion, society, sxsw, sxsw edu, system, world
Live from SXSW EDU, Anuj Rastogi sits down with Lisa Fitzpatrick, co-founder of the APEX Youth Center based in New Orleans, Louisiana. Lisa shared the stage as the opening keynote in SXSW EDU 2019. Lisa's story is a rare glimpse into the mind of a true hero who overcomes incredible trauma and build a life of humanity and compassion. Lisa shares her personal journey from tragically falling victim in a random act of violence to devoting her life and efforts to welcoming the community quite literally into her home. Lisa shares the story behind founding a community organization that has changed the lives for over 1,200 youth to date, and how her experience as a pastor, a business executive, and mother has shaped her incredible contributions to the world.
April 14th, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 3 mins
america, conversation, culture, david brooks, goodprojects, gun violence, history, human, humanity, interview, lisa fitzpatrick, love, politics, science, society, sxsw, sxsw edu, washington, world
Live from SXSW EDU, Anuj Rastogi sits down with Darius Baxter, co-founder of GOODProjects based in Washington DC. Darius shared the stage as the opening keynote in SXSW EDU 2019. He is an incredibly inspiring leader, and shares his personal journey from tragically losing his father at age 9, to being raised by a strong mother, and the choices he made between pursuing a Wall Street career and serving the community, modern political life in America, inspiring new generations, and being the change in action.
one of the country's most prolific event producers, as well as a talented author, speaker and poet. Anuj and Dwayne dive deep into many important territories, from Race, the experience of being black in this world, creating spaces and platforms for others to shine, being a man, fatherhood, sociopolitical polarization, the importance of self love, and paying it forward.
March 13th, 2019 | Season 1 | 1 hr 14 mins
andy serkis, dance, film, humanity, indian classical, inspiration, london, matrix, melody, mowgli, music, nicki wells, nitin sawhney, sapiens, singer, story, theatre, travel, turya
In this episode, Anuj connects with London-based singer, songwriter, composer, producer and multi-genre musical prodigy, Nicki Wells (aka TURYA). Nicki is an internationally acclaimed vocalist, and capable of astonishing fluency across Western classical, pop, and Indian Classical styles of music. A long-time collaborator with leading global artists, Nicki has worked with composer Nitin Sawhney, vocalists Tina Grace, and Joss Stone to name a few. Nicki has performed across many of the globe's most esteemed venues from Australia, the Middle East, South and East Asia, throughout Europe, Canada and the US. Nicki has also performed for, and composed original music for acclaimed film, theatre and dance productions, and he voice is found on soundtracks including the 2018 feature film "Mowgli" directed by Andy Serkis, and streaming on Netflix.
February 20th, 2019 | Season 1 | 2 hrs 4 mins
athetics, boxing, education, equity, film, history, hollywood, humanity, mickey rourke, pardeep nagra, sikh, tiger
In this episode of the AwokenWord podcast, Anuj Rastogi sits down in studio with Pardeep Singh Nagra, championship boxer, athlete, historian, educator, public speaker and human rights advocate. Pardeep is the Executive Director of the Sikh Heritage Museum of Canada, and a champion of equity within the public school system. In the 1990s Mr. Nagra was barred from competing in a Canadian boxing championship because of his beard, which is a mandatory article of his Sikh faith. These real-life events would go on to become the basis for the Hollywood movie "TIGER", about Pardeep's life, starring Mickey Rourke, Prem Singh, and Janel Parrish
January 19th, 2019 | Season 1 | 2 hrs 33 mins
#metoo, #womensmarch, conversation, culture, gentleman, gillette, hip hop, history, human, humanity, interview, love, manhood, masculinity, men, politics, science, society, toxic masculinity, world
In this episode of the AwokenWord podcast, Anuj Rastogi is joined by Jeff Perera, public speaker, motivator and leading voice in the evolution of our perceptions of manhood, masculinity and empathy. A well-respected voice, TEDx speaker and writer, Jeff has been devoted to the cause long before the #metoo movement, and polarizing ads such as that from Gillette, were in the public consciousness. Anuj and Jeff explore both very personal and collective experiences on issues of self reflection as men, self-love, as well as the related conversations on race, and our current political climate.
December 26th, 2018 | Season 1 | 1 hr 46 mins
art, black, civil rights, dwayne morgan, humanity, inspiration, love, manhood, masculinity, music, poetry, politics, race, racism, when brothers speak, when sisters speak
In this episode of the AwokenWord podcast, Anuj Rastogi sits down with Dwayne Morgan, one of the country's most prolific event producers, as well as a talented author, speaker and poet. Anuj and Dwayne dive deep into many important territories, from Race, the experience of being black in this world, creating spaces and platforms for others to shine, being a man, fatherhood, sociopolitical polarization, the importance of self love, and paying it forward.