Our Ambassadors are well known British Asian celebrities, sports persons and leaders who represent our work and help raise awareness about the projects we support.
Nihal is one of the most important broadcasters for BBC Radio 1, and one of the most high-profile British Asian broadcasters. He presents the BBC Radio 1 Review Show as well as ‘Nihal’ the award winning Asian/Desi Beats show on BBC Radio 1. He also presents ‘Nihal’ for the BBC Asian Network, a phone-in show that covers topics both political and social for the British Asian audience. This year the show won a prestigious Sony Radio Academy Award for best Speech Programme beating off competition from the World Service, LBC and Radio 4. He also makes many television appearances.
Sriram’s passion for food and knowledge began the first time he stepped into his father’s kitchen. He later gave up Law studies to become an award-winning chef. Sriram joined Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces before opening the Karavali Restaurant which became one of India’s top five restaurants and placed Sriram among the top five chefs in his country.Since becoming executive chef at London’s Quilon Restaurant, the accolades continue for Sriram’s ability to achieve the highest standard of modern Indian cuisine. His creativity and dedication have seen Quilon receive an array of awards including a Michelin star which the restaurant has maintained since 2008, and best Indian restaurant in the Good Curry Guide.
Manish Bhasin is a sports journalist and presenter of BBC’s ‘The Football League Show’. He was the first Asian to host ‘Football Focus’. Along with his football roles, Manish has emerged as the BBC’s primary cricket presenter, hosting highlights of the 2006–07 Ashes Series, the 2007 World Cup, the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 tournament and the 2011 Cricket World Cup. Manish is also a regular fixture at the British Asian Sports Awards (BASA), and served as a judge in 2011.
Sanjeev Bhaskar, OBE is a British-Asian comedian and actor, best known for his work in the BBC Two comedy series ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ and as host of ‘The Kumars at No. 42′. He also presented and starred in a documentary series called India with Sanjeev Bhaskar where he travelled India and visited his ancestral home in today’s Pakistan. In 2003, he was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. In 2005, Sanjeev was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year Honours List.
Former England rugby league star Ikram Butt founded the British Asian Rugby Association and the British Pakistani rugby league team. He was the first South Asian to play either code of international rugby for England. Taking a lead on development work in the UK, India and Pakistan, Ikram Butt is recognised as one of the country’s most influential Asian role models.
James Caan is one of the UK’s most successful and dynamic entrepreneurs. He is best known as one of the panellists of the hit BBC2 TV show, ‘Dragons’ Den’.He originally built businesses in the recruitment industry and has been creating successful ventures ever since. In 2004 he started private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw which now manages a portfolio of over 40 companies.James Caan has received numerous awards including ‘BT Enterprise of the Year’, PricewaterhouseCoopers ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ and ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ in the Asian Jewel Awards. He was voted one of the 100 most influential Asian people in the UK by Asian Power 1000, a list compiled by the Institute of Asian Professionals.
Gurinder Chadha is one of the UK’s most proven and respected film makers with a successful track record in directing films which are international box office successes. Her most successful films to date include ‘Bend it Like Beckham’, the highest grossing British-financed, British- distributed film, ever in the UK box-office and ‘Bride and Prejudice’ - a film which marries Jane Austen with Indian and Western musicals - the first film ever to open at Number One in the UK and India on the same day.
Hari Dhillon is best known in the UK as Mr. Michael Spence on BBC1’s ‘Holby City’. Work in US television and films include ‘Medium’,'Charmed’,'The Agency’,'She Spies’,'Cradle to the Grave’ and ‘Entrapment’. He has also performed at the Royal Court Theatre,London; The Mark Taper Forum,Los Angeles; The Magic Theatre,San Francisco; and The Woman’s Project Theatre, New York. He was raised in San Francisco, recently lived in Los Angeles and moved to London in 2007.
Contemporary Indian musician Raghu Dixit is making waves internationally with his potent mix of folk, blues, rock, Sufi, funk, reggae, bhangra and Latin repertoire. Starting with a bet, he learned to play the guitar in two months… and the rest has become history. Raghu is celebrated as a ‘powerhouse delivering songs in a fluid combination of English, Hindi and Kannada, set to virtuoso guitars and violin’. His songs are inspired by the verse of classic Indian poets. Raghu’s self-titled album became the biggest selling non-Bollywood record in India in 2009. He has toured the UK and is heading to Australia, Abu Dhabi and America. Raghu is concentrating on building his international fan base before recording his second album. He performs with four other musicians as the Raghu Dixit Project.
Celebrated cricketer Rahul Dravid is the best No. 3 batsman to play for India. He is the second Indian batsman and the third international player to have scored more than 12,000 runs in Test cricket. He became the sixth player in history and the third Indian to score 10,000 runs in ODI cricket in 2007. Known as ‘the Wall’ for his ability to bat for long durations, Rahul was captain of the Indian team from 2005-2007 when he led series victories in England and the West Indies for the first time in a generation. With more than 200 catches, Rahul currently holds the world record for the most number of catches in Test cricket.
Nitin Ganatra, who plays the popular role of Masood Ahmed in the BBC soap opera ‘EastEnders’ is known internationally as Prince Pondicherry in the Tim Burton film ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. He also appeared in the Gurinder Chada’s popular film ‘Bride and Prejudice’ as Kholi Saab and ‘The Mistress of Spices’ as Haroun.
One of the brightest stars of England’s most successful women’s cricket team, Isa Guha started playing cricket at 8 and made her England debut at 17. She was the first young Asian woman to play for England. Isa is currently the highest wicket-taker and aims to be part of the 2013 World Cup in India. She captains Berkshire women who won the 2010 Twenty20 Championship. The British Asian Sports Awards crowned her 2010 Sports Personality of the Year. Off the pitch, Isa is completing a part-time PhD in Neuroscience. An ambassador for her sport, she is an inspirational role model for young Asian women.
Mishal Husain presents BBC1’s ‘News at Ten’ on Sunday evenings, and is a familiar face to viewers around the world as a key presenter on ‘BBC World News’ where she is the host of the flagship ‘Impact Asia’. Her wide ranging talents have also been seen on programmes as diverse as BBC1’s ‘Breakfast’, BBC2’s ‘The Culture Show’, and Radio 4’s ‘Profile’ and ‘You and Yours’.
Jaya is determined to achieve great things…and she has. With songs that combine electro pop and R&B, she burst onto the British Asian music scene with a repertoire including ‘DJ Do It Again’, ‘Outta Control’, ‘Runway’ and ‘No Other Girl.’ The daughter of a Hindu priest, Jaya’s show stopping performances have featured on national tours and at the Asian Music Awards. Jaya’s dynamic style has led to collaborations with urban pop leaders N‐Dubz and Tinie Tempah and many other celebrated musicians.
Preeya Kalidas made history in 2002 by being the first British Asian to land the original leading role in an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, ‘Bombay Dreams’. She also played the leading female role in his hit revival of ‘Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’. Preeya’s other film and TV credits include: ‘Bend It Like Beckham’, ‘East is East’, ‘Bollywood Queen’, ‘Britz’, ‘Bodies’, ‘Mistresses’, ‘Banglatown Banquet’ and ‘Sari and Trainers’.
Saira shot to fame in the first series of the smash hit BBC 2 TV Series ‘The Apprentice’ and has since taken the UK by storm. She is a regular face on BBC television and presents the hit children’s show ‘Beat the Boss’. She has recently been involved in ‘Celebrity Masterchef’, “‘Celebrity Mastermind’ and Children in Need’s ‘Around the World in 80 Days’. She is MD of her own company Miamoo, a luxury range of skincare products, has witten a self help book called PUSH for Success published by Random House and is an experienced motivational speaker.
Tasmin Lucia Khan brightens everyone’s mornings on ITV breakfast show ‘Daybreak’. She also presents the news bulletin for the ‘Lorraine’ programme on ITV. Tasmin has been on our TV screens for over 10 years, both as a presenter and correspondent. She was the face of BBC Three News bulletins for several years and hosted ‘E24’ show live on the BBC News Channel. Tasmin has interviewed some of the world’s most famous people including Bill Clinton, P Diddy and Shahrukh Khan, and has covered top showbiz events including the Oscars. Away from the camera, Tasmin is actively involved in charities close to her heart, including The British Asian Trust.
The new face of Indian cuisine, acclaimed Michelin star chef Atul Kochhar has earned a global reputation for his innovative dishes, his growing stable of first-class restaurants, his ever-increasing television profile and his celebrated cookbooks. Atul operates Benares and The Colony in London, Vatika in Wickham, Hampshire; Ananda in Dublin and Sindu for P&O Cruises. After coming to prominence on the BBC series Great British Menu, this inspired chef is a regular on BBC’s ‘Saturday Kitchen’, ITV’s ‘Saturday Cooks’, and UKTV’s ‘Great Food Live’ and ‘Market Kitchen’.
One of the strongest forces in the British Asian music industry today, Navin Kundra is a multi-talented singer, songwriter and musician captivating audiences worldwide with his performances in Punjabi, Hindi and English. His progressive music combining eastern and western influences with a contemporary sound has earned him the title of the UK’s fastest rising singing sensation. Navin was nominated as best male artist and best alternative act at the UK Asian Music Awards in 2010. He is at work on his debut album, which features four number one singles and four top 10 hits.
Big-hitting cricketer Adrian Dimitri Mascarenhas plays for the Hampshire County Cricket Club, for the Rajastan Royals in the India Premier League, and for the Otago Volts in New Zealand state cricket. He is currently the only Englishman to play in the Indian Premier League.
Muttiah Muralitharan, known as Murali, is Test cricket’s most successful bowler and one of the greatest cricketers to ever spin a ball. Murali is the highest wicket-taker in both Test cricket (800) and One Day Internationals (515). The first wrist-spinning off-spinner in the history of cricket, he is celebrated for reinventing the art of spin bowling.
Actor and film producer Ray Panthaki has appeared in top movies including ‘Ali G Indahouse’, ‘28 Days Later’, ‘It’s a Wonderful Afterlife’, ‘Screwed’ and ‘Provoked’. Known for tackling gritty projects in his acting and producing, he starred in and produced 2006 box office cult hit ‘Kidulthood’, award-winning ‘The Feral Generation’, ‘City Rats’ and soon to be released ‘The Man Inside’. He spent two years on ‘Eastenders’.
Indian food connoisseur Anjali Pathak is fiercely proud of her heritage. She delights in combining different flavours to bring a contemporary twist to traditional Asian classics. Part of the next generation of the Pathak Indian food dynasty, Anjali teamed up with her mother to produce the celebrated cookbook Meena Pathak Celebrates Indian Cooking: 100 Delicious Recipes, 50 years of Patak’s. Aiming to demystify Indian Cooking, Anjali shares her recipes and adventures on a blog. She is an impressive role model for young Asian women and has been shortlisted for the Asian Women Achievement Awards and the First Women Awards.
Celebrated cricketer Mark Ramprakash is one of only 25 players in the history of the sport to have scored 100 first-class centuries.A right-handed batsman, he initially made his name playing for Middlesex and was selected for the England team at age 21. Playing his first match for Middlesex at 17, he came to national prominence at 18 when he won the man-of-the match award in the 1988 NatWest Trophy.
DJ Neev Ranu’s Radio Show attracts close to a million listeners and her lunchtime programme has gone national. She has been nominated three times for the Asian Music Awards. The voice of the Kiss network, Neev made her radio debut at 18. Her repetoire includes Sunrise Radio, Star 106.6FM, and the BBC’s Asian Network. Neev was named Young Achiever of the Year at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards in 2009. Along with The British Asian Trust, Neev is an Ambassador for the Women of the Future programme, Epilepsy Research UK and dance4life, an HIV/AIDS youth awareness charity. Catch Neev weekdays 12–3pm on Kissfm and Neverend Weekend Sundays 7-10pm.
A pioneer of the Asian/Urban music scene, producer Rishi Rich’s trademark mix of Bhangra, Bollywood and urban beats placed British Asian music and youth culture firmly on the map.Through his Rishi Rich Project, he is responsible for launching British Asian talents who have gained mainstream success like Jay Sean and Juggy D. Rishi has produced for some of the biggest names including Madonna, Britney Spears, Mary J Blige and UK artists Craig David, Nathan and Mis-teeq. Making music since he was 14, Rishi Rich has also released his own solo albums, Simply Rich in 2002 and The Project in 2006. His produced songs have appeared in many Bollywood films.
Laila Rouass was born in London. Laila studied in Britain but decided to drop her studies and travel around India for a few months. A few months turned into six years after being offered the position of house VJ on popular music channel, Channel V. Whilst living in Bombay, she worked for BBC World and TNT. Her step into movies came when she was spotted by Indian director Aditya Bhattacharya and whisked off to Messina to shoot ‘Senso unico’ (1997).
Ritula Shah is a journalist and broadcaster. She presents the ‘World Tonight’ on BBC Radio 4, a daily news and current affairs programme, which has a focus on international affairs. Ritula has reported for the BBC from all over the world, including Iran, Russia, India, South Africa, Europe and the United States. She spent a decade working at the World Service and has regularly presented ‘Woman’s Hour ‘and ‘PM’ on Radio 4. Ritula is an incompetent but enthusiastic gardener, talks far too much and enjoys walking in wide open spaces.
Dr Shini Somara has a passion for transforming the world of science into fascinating television. She works in front of and behind the camera to communicate technology and scientific theory to the general public. Appearing on BBC’s ‘One Show’ and ‘Inside Out’, she is currently a presenter on ‘The Health Show’, BBC World News’ groundbreaking new series bringing the most important health stories from around the world. Shini has a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering and many other achievements including a degree in classical ballet from the Royal Academy of Dance and a qualification in aerobics instruction; and yet she’s still found time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and dabble in the world of fashion as a model.
Part of the BBC presentation team for the London Olympics 2012, Sonali also co-presents British Olympic Dreams - a monthly BBC One show following Britain’s finest athletes in their quest to reach London 2012.
Raised in Plaistow by Bengali parents, Mumzy’s music blends the bhangra and Bollywood beats of his childhood with the riffs and reggae-inspired rhythms of his teenage years. Whether he’s rapping or singing, producing or songwriting, Mumzy Stranger’s wide-ranging musical abilities set him apart from the masses. His recently released album ‘Journey Begins’ is his biggest success to date. It was under fellow Trust Ambassador Rishi Rich’s guidance that Mumzy’s innate musical ability flourished. He won the Best British Asian Urban Act at the 2010 BritAsia Awards.
A British comedienne, author, playwright, singer, journalist, producer and actress, Meera Syal MBE is one of the UK’s best known Indian personalities. She rose to prominence as one of the team that created ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ and is renowned as Sanjeev’s grandmother, Ummi, in ‘The Kumars at No. 42′. Frequently on television and on stage, Meera Syal wrote the novel and later the screenplay for ‘Anita and Me’. She was awarded an MBE in 1997 and listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy.
She began her musical journey at age 12 and has been winning awards ever since including UK Asian Music Award for Best Female Act, MTV Award/Pakistan for Best International Female Act; UK Asian Pop and Media Award for Favorite Female and Best Female Artist for Movie Box Awards. She made her screen debut in the Bollywood film ‘Kya Kool Hai Hum’ and created the sound track ‘Hum Tum’ for the film of the same name. Veronica’s recent signing as a songwriter to Sunset Entertainment/Timberland is a highlight of her career.
Nina Wadia first came to prominence in the BBC sketch show “Goodness Gracious Me” playing characters such as Mrs “I can make it at home for nothing!” and one half of “The Competitive Mothers”. She took over from her “Goodness Gracious Me” co-star, Meera Syal, in the role of Rupinder in the sitcom “All About Me”. In 2007, Wadia was cast as Zainab Masood in the long running BBC soap opera “EastEnders.” Nina Wadia has won ‘Best Comedy Performance’ at the 2009 British Soap Awards. In 2004 she won the Chairman’s Award at the Asian Women Awards. She is married and has two children.