Harish Saluja

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Harish Saluja is a filmmaker and artist residing in Pittsburgh, United States. He is the founder and executive director of the Silk Screen Asian Arts and Cultural Organization and the host of the Music from India radio program. He is working on his next[when?] feature film and creating art for upcoming[when?] gallery shows.

Early life[edit]

Saluja was raised in India’s northwest state of Punjab. Growing up, he had a passion for art. His mother, a singer, exposed him to classical Indian music. He was fascinated by film, especially the work of the filmmaker of Satyajit Ray.

Moving to Bombay and studying film was Saluja’s dream as a boy, but instead he settled for the secure path of engineering. He graduated with a degree from IIT, Kharagpur and spent the following four years working as an engineer in a mining company.

In 1971, Saluja moved to the United States where he believed that an artist could undoubtedly flourish. After quickly learning that art does not always buy bread, Saluja went to Pittsburgh, well known for its steel industry. He was told that this was a place where an engineering degree would be appreciated. He was hired at a publishing company – of which he eventually became co-owner.

Work in film[edit]

Saluja began working in film as associate producer on Tony Buba’s No Pets (1994) and then as the executive producer of Dog Eat Dog. He also acted in commercials and in the Disney film Money for Nothing starring John Cusack.

In 1995, he established New Ray Films. Its first film was The Journey (1997) which he wrote, directed and produced, as well as acting in a small role. The film is a comedy drama chronicling the cultural and generational shock of a retired Indian headmaster who comes to the U.S. to visit his physician son and American daughter-in-law. The film starred Roshan Seth and Saeed Jaffrey, who were appearing together for the first time after Gandhi (1982) and My Beautiful Laundrette (1985).

The Journey was premiered at the Seattle Film Festival in 1997 and was screened in over 20 festivals nationwide. It won the Audience Award for Best Film at the Florida Film Festival and the Best Independent Film award at the Cleveland Film Festival. The film also had a wide release in cinemas across India.

Critics praised the film. In Variety, Emanuel Levy wrote: "technically accomplished directorial debut from Harish Saluja this nicely executed cross-cultural, cross-generational seriocomedy deserves to be seen on the big screen, particularly in cities with Indian (and other immigrant) communities."

Driven by the subject matter and message his film delivers, Saluja told the India Post: "Even though India has the largest filmmaking industry, there have been very few filmmakers of stature among the Indian immigrants. I feel that we – the Indian community – should make films about Indians in America."

Saluja has discussed his passion for telling stories about Indian Americans in many interviews. He believes that it is up to the visionaries of this community to have their stories told.

In addition to making films, Saluja has also shared his knowledge by teaching courses through the Honors College at the University of Pittsburgh.

Currently,[when?] Saluja is working on two films.

Art career[edit]

In addition to his work in film, Saluja has produced many works of abstract art that combine vivid colors and musical patterns. He has created series based on ragas and on jazz. Harry Schwalb of ARTnews described Saluja's style, writing: "Saluja sees the music's endless patterns – which evolve simultaneously in repetitively strummed layers of tone and rhythm – as like colored threads, woven by the performer into a musical carpet." Saluja’s work has been showcased at galleries in USA and Europe.[citation needed]

Radio work[edit]

Saluja co-hosts the weekly radio program Music From India which is broadcast every Sunday night on the NPR affiliate, WESA, 90.5 FM. The program has been made since 1972 and is one of WDUQ's longest-running programs. It is the longest-running Indian music program in the US and among the longest in the world.[citation needed]

His work as a radio host has made Saluja well known in the Indian community around Pittsburgh. He is often asked to emcee various community events and festivities.

Silk Screen[edit]

In 2005 Harish Saluja founded Silk Screen Asian Arts & Culture Organization which celebrates diversity & multiculturalism. Silk Screen brings together the region’s diverse ethnic communities. Through the media of film, music, dance, and theater, these communities are able to learn and experience each other’s cultures and come to recognize our shared human experience. The main event of Silk Screen is a 10-day Asian-American Film Festival. Each spring, Silk Screen brings 20 + feature length current Asian Films to Pittsburgh. Films range from drama to comedy to human interest to animation. Audience appeal is from 8 years to senior citizens. Internationally acclaimed filmmakers are invited to attend screenings and for Question and Answer sessions with the audiences. Silk Screen is the only organization in Western Pennsylvania to provide programming of this type.

Silk Sound[edit]

Silk Sound is an Asian-American Jazz ensemble and is produced by Silk Screen. A compilation of traditional and modern music, Silk Sound brings a new sound to the music scene. Ancient erhu and tabla sounds blend harmoniously with modern jazz saxophone, guitar and vibraphone. The premier concert was held in February 2014, with additional concerts throughout the year. Silk Screen also shares Asian and Asian-American music with collaborative events for the community. A CD (SUN GATE) featuring the first live performance of the group is being issued.