Mahesvari Autar is born in Rotterdam, a dynamic and modern city in the Netherlands. Her ethnicity is a mix of Sarnami-Hindustani and Indian.
She is the fourth-generation Sarnami-Hindustani. Her maternal ancestors were indentured laborers, who were recruited from India (147 years ago) by the British to work on plantations for the Dutch government. Her paternal roots are from North India. Mahesvari grew up under the caring wings of her Nani (grandmother). The uniqueness of their relationship is shared in the book Kleinkinderen written by Annelize van Dijk and Petra Maartense (2007).
It was a simple high school project that sealed Mahesvari’s fate. She was 14/15 years old when she interviewed Hans Wap, a Visual Art Designer from Rotterdam. After this interview experience Mahesvari dreamt of becoming a journalist and this wish turned into reality when she graduated from Hogeschool InHolland Select Studies in 2008 and received her bachelor degree in Journalism, specializing in Television and Crossmedia.
While studying journalism Mahesvari often traveled to London to visit the BBC headquarters and their she learned the first techniques of crossmedia journalism.This specialization — how to integrate video, audio, text and photo’s on a news website-became the key topic of her bachelor thesis. During her studies she weekly wrote short pieces for news papers De Havenloods & Maasstad Weekbladen, did an internship at Omroep West in the Hague and after college hours she worked as a transcriber for a marketing company.
The credits for her career in television goes to her professor Petra Maartense and her television father Chander Mathura. They believed in her and gave Mahesvari her first break. She started working as a researcher and producer for Omroep Hindoe Media, this program was about Hindu philosophy and India Diaspora culture and it was part of the National Broadcast Station (NPO).
Mahesvari’s desire to learn more and to make documentaries was graciously accepted by her chief-editor. He gave her the opportunity to enroll for a documentary course at TV-college, Hilversum and under the guidance of award winning director, Lioni schrederhof Mahesvari produced her first documentary in 2009. Her career shaped further and till 2012 she was responsible for a monthly current affairs program and made several documentaries. One documentary that is very close to her heart is Web of Life, this documentary features environmental activist Vandana Shiva and her ideology of biodiversity.
Due to organizational reasons Mahesvari left OHM and reshaped her career in the media. She became a CAMJO reporter and worked for inter-religious and intercultural platform NieuwWij, Amsterdam, broadcasting company KRO-NCRV and did video projects for several institutes Albeda College, Drechtstadsboer, Rotterdam Partners, Korzo Theater, Een land Een Samenleving etc.
In 2011 Mahesvari founded her company DesiYUP Media Productions. The idea was to organize meaningful Indian concerts in Dutch theaters. Mahesvari noticed that the cultural landscape of the Indian Diaspora community was limited to Bollywood related entertainment, be it music, film or dance. While there was a world to explore of great voices, breathtaking compositions and mind-blowing art projects. Her vision to introduce hidden gems worked out extremely well. DesiYUP is a pioneer in the Netherlands in Sharing Meaningful Music and organized more than 50 events so far. Over the years DesiYUP introduced many artists to the Dutch audience; Shammi Pithia, Maati Baani, Vasuda Sharma, Shivali Bhammer, Vee Kapoor and many more.
Between producing concerts, working as a CAMJO reporter and accepting visual story telling offers, Mahesvari enrolled at Erasmus University Rotterdam (2015) for the Master Media and Journalism program. Keeping a balance between her career and studies was extremely challenging, and due to personal circumstances she was forced to take a break of one year in 2016. In her master thesis study she examined the phenomena of personalization in the modern multicultural democracy, with the focus on elected migrant politicians in the Netherlands. For this study she used the semi-structured qualitative research method and interviewed 14 elected migrant politicians. In the year 2018 Mahesvari received her Master’s degree.
The bilateral ties between the Netherlands and India has strengthen and improved over the years. It 2017 the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi visited the Netherlands. During this visit, Mahesvari got opportunity from the Embassy of India in The Netherlands i.e. Ambassador Venu Rajamony to meet PM Modi. He introduced Mahesvari as the founder of DesiYUP and promoter of India’s soft power in Holland. This profound meeting happend only two days after wrapping up a major concert production named Soul to Soul, an Indian classical concert featuring the living legend Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia (bansuri) and the son of Pt. Shivkumar Sharma, Rahul (santoor). This concert was a collaboration between DesiYUP and Rasique.
The Embassy of India assigned DesiYUP for several cultural projects. World Music Band Maati Baani performed as opening act for the PM Modi welcome ceremony in The Hague. To inform the Sarnami-Hindustani community about the Overseas Indian Citizenship scheme Mahesvari produced an informative video. For the Gandi Peace Walk and opening of the Holland-India festival Mahesvari invited Indian model/actor Milind Soman. During the celebration of Navratri (honoring Goddess Durga) the embassy funded a community tour in Hindu temples with mantra vocalist Manish Vyas. And International Yoga Day celebration in Amsterdam (2018) was covered by Mahesvari and her crew.
Mahesvari’s love for music, expertise in media and years of experience with the Indian Diaspora community became a stepping stone towards marketing and communication consultancy for Dutch SME’s enterprises focussing on the Indian business market. Mahesvari support SME’s by giving them marketing and strategic communication advise and connecting them with trustworthy partners. Mahesvari participated in trade mission to India in 2018 and 2019 organized by the Dutch Government (RVO) and during these trips she organized Artist Meets in Mumbai and interviewed talented musicians. She also contributed entrepreneurial tips for the book ‘De Reli-ondernemer, Gids voor een heilzame business’ written by Greco Idema en Elze Riemer (2018). In 2019 Mahesvari got Nominated for the Rotterdamse Business Woman Award, in the category Self-Employed.
While reading this long ‘About Me’ post you must have noticed two things about Mahesvari. Firstly she is a social entrepreneur with a mission and secondly she finds her joy in every area of journalism, be it print, online, video, or radio. To expand her DesiYUP audience reach she occasionally makes radio programs. During her show – provided by Stanvaste Radio-she interviews guests about current affairs and plays music of independent artists. This is a smart and cost effective way to promote musicians, and at the same time introducing a new audience to Indian music. Over the years Mahesvari realized that meaningful music is an acquired taste and it takes a time before it grows on you.
More recently Mahesvari worked as a communication officer for Rotterdam Partners, for the project Eurovision Song Contest 2020. Mahesvari was responsible for the incoming offline and online communication. Due to the corona virus the ESC got postponed and will take place in 2021.