New York’s own Padma Lakshmi, Salman Rushdie, among 2023 Top 100 ‘Influential People’ of Time

Padma Lakshmi. Photo profile picture on Facebook @padmalakshmi

New York’s nationally renowned host of the television show Top Chef, and globally known cultural icon, author and commentator, Padma Lakshmi, is among Time Magazine’s 2023 Top 100 ‘most influential people. She was joined by 2 other luminaries of Indian origin – Bollywood’s megastar and moviemaker Shah Rukh Khan, and Oscar-nominee film maker S.S. Rajamouli of ‘RRR’ fame and Oscar-winning song Naatu Naatu.

Comedian and actress Ali Wong wrote the profile on Padma Lakshmi saying, “It’s Padma’s genuine love of food—and how freaking smart she is—that makes her electric to watch as the host of Top Chef, currently in its 20th season, and Taste the Nation With Padma Lakshmi, which returns for a second season in May. It also helps that she’s drop-dead gorgeous.”

Wong went on to describe Lakshmi as “an incredible writer” with a strong point of view, who is “honest and unafraid” of being disliked. “I’m always in awe of Padma because, yes, she really is that beautiful, talented, and charismatic. She’s iconic.”

On the news of her listing by Time, April 14, 2023, Lakshmi, posted a memorable photo on Facebook of herself with her own mother, noting

“This little girl is a #Time100 honoree.” Lakshmi is 4 years old in that picture, the cultural icon said in a detailed account of her journey from her arrival in New York as a child.

Padma Lakshmi is the 4 year old little girl in the photo with her mother in undated photoposted on April 14, 2023. Photo: Facebook @padmalakshmi

“At age 4 I joined my mom in America, arriving in New York to build a new life with her. From the start, I clung to the familiar foods of my motherland. Food was a link to my grandparents in India, to quieter streets with familiar street vendors, to what I knew,” Lakshmi recounted.

“Later, when we moved from New York to LA, I missed the after-school pizza slices and my neighbor’s empanadas. With every big move, I’d add new dishes to my personal canon. Laid out, they told the story of my life. Dish by dish, they also tell the story of America,” Lakshmi said, connecting her journey to that of legions of immigrants over the years who connect with their heritage through food and blend old recipes with the new culture.

“Once you realize that every dish has a story, you can’t stop looking for them… Over the years, the more I’ve eaten, the more curious I’ve become,” Lakshmi said, giving a shout-out to her upcoming 2nd Season of her show, Taste the Nation.

“I’ve loved learning about our history through this lens, one city and culture at a time. And I’m so honored that the response has been as positive as it has, that it’s helped put me on a list among people I so admire. Whether it’s being shared with friends or screened in classrooms, I’m just happy knowing there are more hungry, curious people in the world,” Lakshmi added.

Author and former husband of Lakshmi, Salman Rushdie, globally famous for being the target of terrorists after publication of his book Satanic Verses, also made the list. His brief is written by singer, activist, philanthropist of the world famous band U2, Bono, who noted that Rushdie, “has refused to be terrorized.” On Aug. 12, 2022, Rushdie was attacked while speaking at a book release event in upstate New York. The author lost an eye as a result of the attack.

Salman Rushdie after the injury he suffered following a terrorist attack in August 2022. PHOTO: videograb

“I was not surprised the great novelist was able to describe the attack on him on Aug. 12, 2022—as he was speaking about the U.S. as a safe place for exiled writers—with frame-by-frame specificity,” Bono says. “Salman didn’t miss a detail as he recounted the crisis he had prepared for since 1989. What did surprise me was that he made me laugh. “Really?” he recalled thinking. “After 30 years? Amongst these most kindly, casually dressed readers in Chautauqua, New York?” Rushdie said in bono’s recollection quoted in the Time brief.

Shah Rukh Khan’s profile on Time is written by fellow Bollywood star Deepika Padukone who recalls meeting Khan 16 years ago after arriving in Mumbai from Bangalore.

Header photo on Shah Rukh Khan’s Facebook page. Photo: Facebook @IamSRK

“Shah Rukh Khan will forever be known as one of the greatest actors of all time. But what truly sets him apart is his mind, his chivalry, his generosity. The list goes on …,” Padukone says.

Shah Rukh Khan, 57, a household name in India, also sometimes called King Khan or Baadshah of Bollywood, was born in New Delhi to Meer Taj Mohammed Khan and Lateef Fatima Khan, graduated from Hansraj College. Khan lost his father in 1981 and his mother in 1991, after which he moved to Mumbai here he found his calling, according to IMDB. Khan has been in more than 90 films. His latest one is Pathaan in which Padukone is in the lead role and his love interest.

SRK is married to Gauri Chibber and the couple has three children. Khan has won numerous awards during his career, and taken up humanitarian causes as well.

Film maker S.S. Rajamouli. Photo: Facebook @SSRajamouli

Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt writes the brief on film director S. S. Rajamouli, whose film RRR was nominated for the Oscar, and the signature song in the film, Naatu Naatu, composed by M.M. Keeravani, won the Oscar in 2023 for Best Original Song.

“Being directed by him in RRR was like going to school all over again. He knows the audience he’s serving. He knows what beats to hit, what turns to take. I call him the master storyteller,” Bhatt says. “India is a massive country with diverse demographics, tastes, and culture. But he gets that—and he unites us through his movies,” she adds.

Srisaila Sri Rajamouli, 49, who is involved mainly in Telugu cinema, was born in Amreshwara Camp in Karnataka to parents V. Vijayendra Prasad and Raja Nandini. He was brought up in Andhra Pradesh. His father was also a well-known writer and producer, according to IMDB. He is married to Rama since 2021, and the couple has two sons, S.S. Karthikeya and S.S. Mayookha.

(Story updated on April 20, 2023)



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