Enlightened conversations about the human experience.

About the show

AwokenWord is a long-form, conversation style podcast hosted by writer, poet, and music composer, Anuj Rastogi. Through nuanced and thoughtful dialogue with an incredible array of guests, Anuj explores the worlds of society, culture, art, music, science, current events and all things that comprise the human experience.

"I want to challenge and evolve ideas, intuitions and convictions. This world, is quite simply, nuts, and often terrifying. Yet, this same world is incredibly beautiful, inspiring and mesmerizing. I want to get to know people who are interesting, who hold varied opinions and have life experiences different than my own.

This podcast is my humble attempt to bring a grain of sand of goodness, conversation and inspiration to the beach of human experience. This podcast is my love letter to the world, and to what it means to be human."

~ Anuj Rastogi

AwokenWord on social media


  • #008: Pardeep Nagra - "The Tiger"

    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

  • #007: Jeff Perera - "Mankind. Kind Men"

    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.

  • #006: Dwayne Morgan - "The Race To Pay It Forward"

    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.

  • #005: IF The Poet - "Renaissance Reincarnated"

    November 3rd, 2018  |  Season 1  |  2 hrs 18 mins
    art, education, history, humanity, inspiration, love, masculinity, music, poetry, politics, racism

    In this episode of the AwokenWord podcast, Anuj Rastogi talks to Ian French, popularly known as "IF The Poet" and finalist in the 2015 World Slam Poetry championship in Paris. Ian has been the subject of a CBC documentary, and is a respected performer whose work spans the breadth of our collective, and individual human experiences. Anuj and Ian talk at length about the state of the world today, poetry, the journey of creativity, masculinity in today's world, being honest, the nuances of identity politics and political correctness, self-love and the importance of knowing your own story.

    [*NOTE: Though planned at the time of this recording, Ian ultimately pulled out of present at the 2018 "Men and Masculinity Summit" in Toronto, for specific concerns of his own regarding a decision for this year's sumit. He's continued to be a supporter of the summit, and the cause.]

  • #004: Roger Christian - "Star Wars & The Alchemy of Cinema"

    November 2nd, 2018  |  Season 1  |  2 hrs 36 mins
    alien, film, george lucas, hollywood, humanity, light saber, love, oscar, science fiction, star wars

    In this episode of the AwokenWord podcast, Anuj Rastogi speaks with legendary, Academy award-winning Art Director and Filmmaker, Roger Christian. Roger walks through his incredible life's journey from childhood in the UK, to learning the craft of set direction to the day he was hired personally by George Lucas to lead set design on "Star Wars: A New Hope". Roger explains the process he went through in inventing and designing the light-saber, R2D2, and the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, among many elements in the enduring look of the Star Wars universe.

    Anuj and Roger discuss the evolution of cinema, Roger's inspirations and experiences with some of the greats of Hollywood, today's changing political and social landscape, what it means to be a man today, and the future of his newly resurrected feature film project, "Black Angel".

  • #003: Raheel Raza - "Religion & the Real World"

    November 1st, 2018  |  Season 1  |  1 hr 28 mins
    culture, feminism, humanity, islam, love, multiculturalism, muslim, pakistan, politics, raheel, raza, religion, tolerance, youth

    In this episode of the AwokenWord podcast, Anuj Rastogi speaks with Raheel Raza, author, speaker, and incredibly fierce activist and advocate for reform within the Muslim world. Raheel talks about her experience as a muslim, and a woman pushing for reformation within the community, and for open, honest dialogue. Raheel speaks about her work with youth, with the UN Human Rights Commission, and the crisis of an increasingly polarized world, and how difficult it can be to call a "spade a spade" in a climate where both sides of the political spectrum take issue with one's views without engaging in that dialogue.

  • #002: Raj Sharma - "Home"

    October 31st, 2018  |  Season 1  |  1 hr 9 mins
    brexit, home, humanity, immigration, law, lawyer, love, migrants, politics, raj sharma, refugees, society

    In this episode of the AwokenWord podcast, Anuj Rastogi talks to Raj Sharma, one of Canada's leading refugee lawyers. Raj talks about his experience as a refugee protection officer, as a refugee and immigration lawyer in the context of the current migrant crisis in the US, and potential impact on Canada. Anuj and Raj discuss the concept of home itself, what it means to leave home, and what it means to find a new place to call home. The conversation makes timely reference in the context of a rise in political polarization, brexit, far-right fears and increasing globalization.

  • #001: Anuj Rastogi (Intro) - "Theory of Encumbered Will"

    October 30th, 2018  |  Season 1  |  18 mins 38 secs
    awoken, determinism, free will, history, host, human experience, introduction, love, omnesia, podcast

    In this episode of the AwokenWord podcast, Anuj Rastogi introduces himself, the podcast and the reasons behind launching this podcast. Anuj also introduces his hypothesis on free-will, entitled the "Theory of Encumbered Will".