A Woman of Substance  

Gargi Duggal breaks ground in the arts, education, and business – with some help from her young kids  

Nupur Bhatnagar

One minute into a conversation with Gargi Duggal, the founder of Gargi Productions who is also an accomplished Bharatnatyam dancer and model, and one can feel the energy that she exudes. With infectious spontaneity and drive that won’t let her sit back, Duggal is the face of the South Asian woman across digital content-oriented media.

The winner of the “Woman of Substance” award from Miss Universe 1994 Sushmita Sen, Duggal, who has deep Gujarati roots, has also won the ‘Best Dancer’ award at the Dance USA dance competition.

“My mother put me into dancing when I was only two years old,” she said. “She could not pursue her dream of dancing as she belonged to a conservative family, so she poured her passion into me.”

Of course, not everything has come easy. Duggal was 14 when she had an accident, getting reparative surgery done just six years ago.

“When I told my mom of the surgery I was planning, her first question was, ‘Will you be able to dance?’ She’s overjoyed every time she sees me dancing now,” Duggal said.

Duggal, who attributes her success to the support of her family, is an IT professional who started her dream media house, Gargi Productions, three years ago. Her training in art direction helps her, she said.

“This year we plan to launch music videos and short films,” Duggal said. “We already hold talk shows, focusing especially on real life events. We may get more talent from outside, but I will definitely be involved, maybe as an actor, producer or as a director. If Gargi Productions is there, Gargi is there.” She chuckled.

She said that a degree in architecture and being mentored by art directors like Sharmistha Roy in Bollywood taught her a lot about story boarding and art direction.”

Duggal has two daughters who inspire her with ideas.

“So often my girls and I end up talking about what’s right and wrong,” Duggal said. “Just the other day we were discussing the perceived taboo of having a female child versus a boy child in India. We decided to have a talk show on it.” She also aims to promote female-oriented businesses and showcase the work they do.

Although Duggal does not feel she faces more challenges and discrimination than women in India, being a South Asian woman running a production house in Texas comes with its own struggles.

“The U.S. has been a welcoming country for us, but there are times when people doubt whether I can run a digital content-oriented production house here,” she said. “There is intense competition at times, but that’s not going to hinder me or make me stop. I’m not scared of competition. I believe you are your own critic and your own praise.”

Selected to the first round of an influencers’ TV reality show, she hopes to bring awareness about South Asians as a force to reckon with, not simply as Instagram influencers, but in entertainment as well.

Duggal described the driving force that helped her climb the Himalayas with her father when she was just 5 years and 8 months.

“Hats off to my father, who thought I could do it and took me with him,” she said. “We got a congratulatory letter from the Guinness Book of World Records later.”

Besides her work in the arts, Duggal has also been a proponent of the UCMAS, an abacus-based math program, for which she has opened her own franchise in Texas.

“My close family members own centers in India, and I have always been very interested in it,” she said. “When they started opening centers in Canada, I thought that is something we could introduce in the US market as well.”

Being an entrepreneur has its ups and downs and plenty of naysayers, but Duggal says that the aphorism, “We only live once.”

Talking of the daily uncertainties of entrepreneurship, where the future is unclear, she said, “Work is my stress buster. Even after a long day at my job, working on Gargi Productions gives me that reprieve. Entertainment is my passion, and the satisfaction you get from a job well done is blissful.”