On the Way to the Bar
Modeling? Producing films? Practicing law? What will it be for this young go-getter from California? Pankit Doshi, all of 22 years, will be a proud graduate of law school this month—the youngest that Loyola Law School, Los Angeles has seen. Taking advantage of an accelerated program for gifted students, Doshi entered college at the age of 14, and went on to earn a degree in business and political science. Then why dabble in law? “At 14, I was really young and didn’t know what career I wanted. I liked business. But I had also taken a few law classes and realized that I not only liked it, but that law would be useful to me no matter what career I chose to pursue in life,” explains Doshi.

Academic achievements are not all that Doshi can flaunt. The brains come with a handsome helping of brawn—Doshi won the first Mr. India USA contest in 2000. He also placed 1st runner up in the Mr. India California 2000 pageant held in Los Angeles, and bagged both the People’s Choice Award as well as Mr. Congeniality.

The Los Angeles born and bred Doshi plans to practice entertainment law. What better way to get a feel for the business than to dive into it headlong? Currently Doshi is president of Indo-American Films, Inc., and producer of its first feature venture. “A couple of years spent practicing entertainment law, then maybe my own business,” says Doshi. Check out this versatile youngster at www.indoamericanfilms.com.


Stirring Interest
The Night of Henna a film by Hassan Zee, is in post-production stages. The
film is about Hawa, a young, traditionally raised Pakistani woman who struggles to make decisions for her own life. Hawa, who is a variable in the arranged marriage game, comes to the U.S. and finds herself in love with a man other than her betrothed. On the other hand, her husband-to-be already has a girlfriend.

In an empowering story that revolves around women’s rights issues, The Night of Henna portrays Hawa’s journey from a conservative society home in Pakistan to the U.S., where she tries to free herself from the unfavorable match-up. “This is the first time that the idea of a Pakistani woman trying to make her own decisions in life has been introduced in a film,” says Zee, adding that it is also what adds the element of interest for audiences. Moreover, the film has an emotional appeal like Monsoon Wedding and romance as in Romeo and Juliet, reads a press note from Zee.

Hassan’s script and a provoking premise have already attracted well-known names in acting circles to lend their talent to the film, including Girija Shankar (of Mahabharat fame), Pooja Kumar (Flavors, Little Magician), and Noor Shic (Seinfeld).

The film is expected to be available for viewers in August 2003. Zee intends to submit the film to the Toronto Film Festival, Sundance, and Cannes Film Festival. And he is confident that it will be received well in many quarters around the globe.


On the Road to Innovation
Venu Sarakki and his team have a vision for State Route 60 in Pomona, CA. Sarakki Associates Inc. (SAI) was recently awarded the task of performing preliminary design and evaluation of completely automated truck lanes along State Route 60 (Pomona Freeway) by the Caltrans office of new technology and innovation.

The project involves completely automating a 37.5-mile segment of freeway with one exclusive truck lane in each direction. A platoon of three trucks will use adaptive cruise control and lane-tracking algorithms to travel up to speeds of 75 miles per hour with only 5 feet distance (spatial headway) between each truck. Drivers can take their hands off the steering wheel and legs off the gas/brake pedals and read a newspaper or sip coffee along the entire segment of the freeway.

Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-roadway communication will be achieved using next generation of dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) in the 5.9 GHz range developed by University of California, Berkeley. The DSRC communication devices will be permanently embedded in the pavement at every 300 meters.

SAI will also develop the concepts and technology placements for automated vehicle check-in and check-out stations, vehicle on-board requirements, merging and weaving concepts, queuing analysis, storage requirements, and physical barrier separation of automated truck lanes from mixed flow lanes.

The project is a joint effort between SAI, Caltrans and University of California, Berkeley. Initial feasibility and concept design is expected to be complete by December 2003. If set into motion, “the project could lay the foundation for future freeway commercial vehicle automated lanes in California and in the United States,” says SAI.


Sharing a Passion, Sharing Heritage
Ramya Harishankar can’t seem to stop at one … award, that is. Only last year, she received a grant under the Master-Apprenticeship Program from the Alliance for California Traditional Artists, and a Traditional Folk Arts Program grant from the California Arts Council. This year, she was presented the Outstanding Artiste of the Year 2002 award from Arts Orange County. The organization is a nonprofit umbrella arts council dedicated to developing, sustaining, and promoting the arts and arts education throughout the county.

“Orange County is very multicultural, but a lot of things (like art) are mainly mainstream,” says Harishankar. Hence, she feels especially encouraged by the award. “It shows acknowledgement of the large multicultural community (in Orange County) and their contributions to the cultural landscape,” she says.

The nominations were made by individuals, corporations, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions. The selections were reviewed by an independent panel of arts, education, and community leaders.

Harishankar has been teaching bharata natyam for the past 20 years. She began with a desire to share her passion for the art. She has met part of her passion in students who have shown great commitment to the dance. However, “the ongoing goal is to work with local organizations, build ties, and share our heritage with the community,” says Harishankar, who, as a roster artist with the OCPAC’s “From the Center” program, has been bringing Indian music and dance to over 3000 students in Orange County schools each year.