swati thiyagarajan

The Octopus Teacher, the Octopus Student’s Wife and MS Subbulakshmi

The success of the documentary My Octopus Teacher has become well-known, winning the Best Documentary Feature at the 2021 Oscars for its star, Craig Foster. His wife, Swati Thiyagarajan, is well-known in her own right and was production manager for the film.

Thiyagarajan works for NDTV as a journalist, their environmental editor, a job she’s held for over 20 years, and spends her time between her home in Cape Town and Delhi. She was born in Chennai and is actually the granddaughter of legendary Carnatic singer MS Subbulakshmi.

She wrote a blog post about her grandmother:

That voice.

My best memory of her is of her practicing her singing during long summer afternoons at home. Not a day went by when she did not practice. She would gently tune the tanpura, her graceful fingers running over the strings. She had the most beautiful hands, and the way she would move them or bring them together while singing was a wonderful sight in itself. She would close her eyes and almost seem to resonate with the vibrating strings of the tanpura. Only after that would she hand it over to the person behind her, and begin.


She has also authored a book, Born Wild:

“Feel the magic of the wild come alive with the book you’re holding in your hand. Come, walk with the author through mesmerizing wildlife landscape — from the length and breadth of India’s forests and sanctuaries in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, the Western Ghats, Karnataka and Orissa to Rwanda, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa,” says the book’s description on Amazon. 

Swati Thiyagarajan the conservationist and environmental journalist.

Thiyagarajan’s main mission is to promote conservation:

“Look at the main topics of conversation these days — politics, economics, terrorism, besides the Bollywood news and gossip,” she said. “Maybe there will be one random conversation about climate change. It shows where we put our priorities. I don’t blame people. You have had a hard day and want to talk about something light. But it’s because of these priorities that we are not aware of what we have. We are not alarmed enough.” 

Read: New book on MS Subbulakshmi

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