Hangin’ with Pritesh Shah
Pritesh accomplishes anything he sets his mind to. He oozes confidence and uses it as a powerful tool to be a force for good. He has quickly become a prolific actor, producer, and comedian. After graduating as an accountant and quitting his “dream” job, Pritesh cut his teeth as a standup comic in southern California, where he was mentored by Chad Coleman (The Wire, Always Sunny) and performed at clubs throughout SoCal.
Pritesh has appeared on dozens of hit television shows, including “Grimm,” “Criminal Minds:” “Beyond Borders,” “Game of Silence,” recurring on the Emmy nominated “Six” on the History Channel, and on the pilot of “The Walking Dead: The World Beyond.” He produced the indie comedy “Fishbowl California” and starred in “The Black Ghiandola” with JK Simmons and Johnny Depp, directed by Sam Raimi. A horror filmed called “Warnings,” where he plays Rashad, the comedic relief, was just released on Amazon Prime. He recently released his short film “Invisible Brown Man” on YouTube. It’s a dramedy about stereotyping and tokenism and diversity casting.
Who Is Pritesh Shah?
Pritesh Shah was born in San Diego, California, and wasn’t immediately introduced into the world of acting and stand up comedy. He was, in fact, an accountant and described it as an “ideal job.” However, this clearly didn’t satisfy Pritesh, as he quit his job as an accountant in order to become an actor. He is now an established actor, comedian, producer, and screenwriter.
Acting and Comedy Life
Pritesh speaks English, Gujarati, and Hindi. Aside from acting and stand-up comedy, he’s also active in many other areas of interest such as baseball, basketball, cricket, football, scuba diving, snowboarding, swimming, weight-lifting, yoga, hip-hop dancing, and improvisation.
Pritesh has appeared and starred in dozens of hit television shows, including “Grim,” “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders,” and “Dynasty.” He has a recurring role on the Emmy-nominated hit show “Six” on the History Channel and “Game of Silence” on NBC.
On the big screen, he had scene-stealing roles in “Tie the Knot,” where he starred alongside Tara Reid, “Wizardream” with Ernie Hudson, and “All in Tim”e with Vanessa Ray. He also starred in “The Black Ghiandola,” directed by Sam Raimi, alongside JK Simmons and Johnny Depp. He recently starred in an Amazon Prime Video exclusive “Warnings.” He worked as an Executive Producer on “Fishbowl California.”
Pritesh has also starred in the new hit spin-off series on “The Walking Dead: The World Beyond” in October 2020. He has recently completed screenwriting his upcoming feature film “Brown Man Problems” with Dennis Fallon. He recently released “Invisible Brown Man” in February 2021 correlated to his full feature film “Brown Man Problems,” starring Netflix’s “Never Have I Ever” Richa Moorjani and Emmy-nominated director Roxy Shih.
As well as acting and stand-up comedy, Pritesh Shah also has experience in hosting, impressions, and improvisation. He also plays the trumpet. He has done voiceover work and has the capability to do Asian, East Indian, New York, Persian, Southern, and Spanish accents.
How Did “Invisible Brown Man” Come About?
Pritesh believes strongly in the problems that actors in Hollywood experience if they are a minority, and while he likes to express himself through comedy, he felt it was important to talk about the issues at hand.
In a recent interview with Hannah Joy Shareef, The Knockturnal, Pritesh said, “What doesn’t get discussed much is how we’re all stereotyping and being prejudiced. It isn’t just simply being done to us, but we’re also doing it to others. It’s owning and understanding the cultural and societal mold that has programmed all of us in such ways. Once I was able to recognize my own biases, see how they were leaving an imprint in my life, my external world started mirroring my inner healing. In the film, as my character TJ is bringing to light the truths of the industry, he too has to take accountability for the ‘invisibility.'”
Pritesh also openly talks about how the comedy of “Invisible Brown Man” can showcase the struggles many budding actors have. He finds humor as a way to deal with pain. Over the next few years, he would like to see the film industry get to “a place where we don’t have to ‘try’ to include different people under umbrella words like ‘diversity’ or ‘people of color.’”
Pritesh Shah Podcast Transcription
Charan: All right, what’s going on, guys? This is Charan Prabhakar with the Lemonade Stand podcast, and this dashingly handsome man that you are seeing in front of me, if you are watching this video, is my good buddy Pritesh Shah, who I had the pleasure of meeting … Oh my gosh, we were just discussing it … years ago.
Pritesh: At least seven years ago.
Charan: At least seven years ago or so. We met in LA. We were at the same audition together, and it was for some commercial audition. When we went in and I met him, I was so intimidated because I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this guy’s so confident. He’s so going to get it.” I’m pretty sure he did get it. No, it’s-
Pritesh: You know what’s so funny? I’m said to be confident because I was like, “Man, I just want to have fun. I’m not here to [crosstalk 00:02:07].” Just have a good time, man.
Charan: Yeah, and you know what? That’s actually, I feel like, the key to booking roles is to have a good time and just have fun with all those things.
Pritesh: There’s no formula.
Charan: So we met back then, and it’s just been such a great time getting to know him and we’ve had the privilege of just being good friends and working together. We’ve always talked about, “Hey, what projects can we ever end up doing together?” And I remember this one time — Pritesh, I don’t know if you remember this — we got together and we did our own little acting thing just in your apartment.
Pritesh: Yeah, yeah. I do.
Charan: We were practicing different skills and your buddy was judging … not judging us … was basically critiquing us as we performed.
Pritesh: I keep that going for eight years. We had an acting workout group at my place. Still do.
Charan: That’s so awesome that you’ve been doing that, and see, that’s cool because I’ve known you to be a self-motivated dude. You’re not one that just hangs out and just waits for the auditions to come, which a lot of actors do do that. You go for it and you make things happen, and you share that light, that positivity all around. Well, the Lemonade Stand podcast, I was explaining to you … The Lemonade Stand Stories podcast, excuse me, is all about people’s lemonade stand stories. It’s about people when they first got into creating their first lemonade stand. For a lot of people, it is creating a lemonade stand but for some people, when they’re younger, they mowed lawns or anything like that.
Pritesh Shah’s Lemonade Stand Story
Charan: So, what was your lemonade stand story? Did you have a lemonade stand? I know you grew up in San Diego. Is that right?
Pritesh: Yeah, I grew up in San Diego. I mean, even before that, when I was a really young kid, I was up in Portland, Oregon. Like you said, that was always in me. I remember in fourth grade, I used to mow my own lawn, our lawn obviously, and I’d also give my services to my neighbors. I was in fourth grade. I was barely bigger than the lawnmower. But I just loved creating and making money on my own. I’m just not a lazy person. I always have to do something. I like activity. As an adult, it’s “keep a still mind, but your body active.” As a kid, both were too active. But just sitting around just never … I’ve just never been a lazy person, even as a child. My engine’s always running, man, so I had to do something. So as a kid, it was always doing that.
Pritesh: I used to remember … my parents’ friends had a business. He would literally pay me to mail mail, like put stamps and fold paper and put it into an envelope, and I’d do it. I was like, “Okay, I’ll do whatever it took.” To answer your question, even in college, man, I would nerd out and do well in school, but at night, I was a club promoter. I’d get all the party buses and take everyone clubbing and I’d make bank. I’d be dancing on the dance floor with $700 in my pocket. That’s just how I’ve always thought from that perspective, because I learned early on that people that we see doing amazing things that we look up to, whatever industry you may be in, they’re just people like you. They’re not better or chosen. They’ve done certain skillsets, they’ve gotten good at it, so I’m going, “Well, I have these certain skillsets. How do I get good at it?”
Charan: What was it in you that learned those things? Do you know what I mean? Because there’s some people that just want to be lazy, or they just don’t want to do anything with their lives, or whatever it is, but it takes a certain type of ability, that power, that confidence. Did your parents instill that in you? Or was this just something that you were born with? How do you feel like [crosstalk 00:05:52]-
Pritesh: I mean, innately I feel like that’s how I’ve always been wired. But there’s no denying the support I’ve gotten from family and friends, and having that type of upbringing, it was definitely a little privileged. My parents did really well, so I was always supported in what I wanted to try and do, and if I had an idea or thought, I had a foundation to get behind it. Look, in the end, man, in order to go after certain things that we want to go after, you have to have a certain level of basic necessities taken care of, right?
Charan: Yeah, absolutely.
Pritesh: I wasn’t hungry. I had a good family. I had good shelter and we didn’t have to worry about money. So, all of those things being taken care of is obviously a massive blessing. That’s the only time you can think about your dream or pursuing your dream. You’re not worried about your dream if you don’t have food to eat. To answer your question, it’s very simple. I just had all of those basic things taken care of, luckily, and my family is just a very funny family. I was always acting and creating comedies in the home. I was always the entertainer. Indian parties, as you know, I was always entertaining everybody. I was class-clown-type guy in high school and college. I was always that guy.
Pritesh: And, for me, that part of me I knew. I just never knew that artistry could be … I could be an entrepreneur in artistry, if that made sense.
Pritesh: That didn’t happen until after college when I quit my job and moved to LA. I quit my job before I even started and moved to LA. I guess that one thing …
Charan: Keep going, keep going. Keep going.
Pritesh: No, I would just say the one thing is that I’ve always been a big risk-taker to people. I wouldn’t say it’s risky to me. I’ve always been guided by gut and intuition. I’ll even invest in stocks simply because I have a gut feeling and people ask me, “Why? Have you looked at the earnings report?” I’m like, “No, I haven’t.” Yes, to many people, that could be idiotic or dumb but I’ve always … I’m not completely illogical about it, but certain times you have to go with your gut instinct, and logic won’t equate, won’t validate that feeling. It won’t. Logic a lot of times won’t. I always tell people listen to those whispers that’s your soul speaking to you. Those times where you have those intuitive hits. Like, “Huh. This doesn’t feel right. Or, this feels good. I don’t know why. I feel pulled towards this.” Those are all the things that I try to pay more attention to than my egoic mind running games in my head. Because what is that?
Charan: It’s interesting, and I really want to dive into what you just barely were talking about, because when we have those narratives writing our story for us, and we’re constantly listening to that, we’re not present. We’re not alive. We don’t feel joy. We’re trapped. We’ve given our power away to some story that’s controlling us. So, I love what you were saying about not listening to that voice but listening to the one in your gut. The one that’s your soul speaking to you. How have you been able to distinguish the two voices?
Pritesh: Well for me, I had hit before. I graduated with a degree in accounting and a minor in English. I had a 3.8 GPA, I was vice president of Accounting Society. Anything I do, I go hard.
Charan: Yeah, for sure.
Pritesh: I had it all set up and then my mom had me come home because we had a guru from India coming. And he was also an astrologer, and I knew nothing about that stuff. Anyway, so she has me sit with him and he literally looks at my thing and he goes, “What do you do?” I’m like, “Oh, I have a degree in accounting.” He’s like, “Not a chance. There’s no way you’re ever going to use your degree for your career. There’s just no way.” And, in my head at that time, I was so pissed. It’s like the first time I cursed to my mom. I was like, “Don’t you ever effing have me see these people again. How dare this man say that to me?”
Pritesh: In my immaturity at the time, when he said that, I heard “I’m going to be homeless.” That’s how I took it. I took it very personally and got very defensive. You fast-forward a year, I graduated from school in December of the year and my job was supposed to start in June, so I had six months off. Can’t sit at home and do nothing, like we talked about. My mom never understood it. She’s like, “You’re so talented. You’re so funny. I can’t imagine you being a freaking accountant.”
Charan: Even your mom says this to you.
Pritesh: Yeah, my mom’s intuition, right?
Pritesh: She found an acting class in this newspaper called India West. I know you must have heard of it. A lot of Indian people. I signed up for this class. I was like, “It’ll be fun until I start my job. This will be fun. Why not?” So, I drive up to Orange County once a week, and this guy was a big commercial actor, and it was only me in the hospital that he owned, in the waiting area.
Charan: Oh, man.
Pritesh: It’s like, “What?” But guess what? He was amazing. He would just teach me how to audition in front of a camera, made me do commercial copy, yada, yada. As time goes, a month or two, he says, “You know, you’re really good. I know this agent. I’m going to set up an audition for you.” Now, keep in mind, I have nothing to lose, man. I’m going to start my job, so I have no nerves. I don’t care. This is fun to me. I audition for the agent, they sign me on the spot, and I’m doing print and model work and all this stuff and it just feels good. And then I had my physical for the job I was supposed to start. These are all little angels, right? I’m talking about these whispers.
Pritesh: I go to the physical and the doctor looks at me and he goes, “You know, son. You’re about to start your job, but you don’t look very excited.” I go, “I mean, I guess it’s a job. What do you mean?” He goes, “Most people are pretty excited to start making money and start their career, but I don’t sense that excitement in you. Are you sure this is what you want to do?” What doctor says that during a physical, dude? I’m like, “I don’t know.” It was two days before my job was supposed to start Friday. I remember it because it was my sister’s high school graduation [crosstalk 00:12:11].
Charan: No, it’s amazing.
Pritesh: And, I was having panic attacks, crying, hyperventilating because I knew I had to start my job on Monday, but everything in my heart told me don’t do it. Don’t take this job. Don’t take this job. I go downstairs, I talk to my mom. I tell her how I’m feeling and she goes, “What was the point of us coming to this country, being two hours from the entertainment capital of the world, and I’m supposed to tell you no? Then what was the point of coming here? If I just wanted you to be the typical thing, we would have just stayed in India. We came here so our kids have opportunity.” She was amazing.
Pritesh: My sister was supportive as well, but my dad, I was scared. It’s Dad. So before I called my dad, that guru that I met two years ago, or a year and a half before that, I got his number and I called him in India. I’m crying. I’m having a panic attack. I’m like, “You told me this. Well, this is how I’m feeling so you better validate it.” And he looks and he goes, “Yeah, this is exactly what you’re meant to do.” He’s like, “I told you, you’re never going to take a job. It’s not what you’re meant to do.” I was like, “Okay.”
Pritesh: So, I called my dad. I’m like, “Dad, I just want to let you know I’m going to quit my job. I got to see this opportunity. I got to jump in and just see what happens.” And he’s quiet. Not one word.
Pritesh: You could feel the fury, right?
Charan: Yeah, yeah.
Pritesh: I hang up the phone, and this is another thing. I call HR. Now it’s lunchtime. I call HR at the job. No one picks up, so I leave a voicemail. I say, “Hey, I know I’m supposed to be coming in on Monday to start my first day of work, but I won’t be coming in because I figured out what I want to do with the rest of my life.” And that’s it, boom.
Charan: That was it.
Pritesh: I’m freaking out. I’m freaking out. An hour later, I get a call back from HR and she goes, “Hey, honey. I got your message, and you know what? I wish I made that decision when I was your age. Kill it.”
Charan: No way.
Pritesh: Who says that, right?
Charan: No way.
Pritesh: That’s how it all started, and then I moved to LA. This was end of 2009, I moved to LA.
Charan: Yeah, I moved to LA in the beginning of 2009.
Pritesh: Yeah, so around the same time. In the middle of 2009, I was still in San Diego living with my parents, but I’d drive up. I’d sleep in my car. I lived the homeless kind of way. I just didn’t care. This felt right. So that’s when the journey started for me, and then once I moved to LA, the rest has been an incredible journey. I love it.
Charan: Dude, it’s so interesting that you have the experiences that you’ve had. Oh gosh, it’s unbelievable. And there’s so many similarities. Having Indian parents, I totally get it and I remember very similarly, I had thought I was going to major in business because logically it was like, “Yeah, that’s what I’m supposed to do.” I was majoring in business, and funny enough, it was my second semester. I just barely got back from the Christmas break. I was in an accounting class. It always goes back to accounting.
Charan: I was in an accounting class and literally while I was in that accounting class, I wanted to die and I didn’t know why. I was in my early, early 20s and just as the professor was talking about what was necessary, what we needed to do, I was like, “I just don’t want to exist right now.” I have no idea why, but this doesn’t seem good at all. I remember coming home so depressed. Just so depressed. I’m like, “What am I going to do? I’m not going to make money.” All this stuff, all these pressures that you’re putting on … the narratives, if you will. Like you said, like those angel whispers, I had my friend’s dad at the time, who unfortunately he passed away, but such a good man and I was calling him. I said, “Hey, I don’t know what … Why am I feeling this way? I’m so stressed out in my mind. It’s the first day of being back. I should be totally awake and excited, and yet, I’m not.”
Charan: He looks at me, he said, “Charan, have you ever thought that business might not be your path?” The moment he said that, it was just this overwhelming sense of love and release of, oh my gosh, I had never considered that this might not be my path. Just that feeling of letting it go was so impressive and so exciting, but when I finally decided I am going to be an actor, it was an amazing and a terrifying feeling because I knew I had to face my parents. My dad especially had a path laid out for me, but I think he was like, “All right, well go ahead and do it,” feeling that eventually I’m going to come back to my senses and maybe it’s just a phase.
Charan: That was back in 2004, but now he’s such a supporter and he sees the success I’ve had. He sees what has happened as a result of it, and so he’s like, “Oh wow, maybe you are able to make a life for yourself doing it.” It’s very cool because even as you’re talking, as you’re sharing the things that you’re sharing, I can see you come alive. And a lot of people, unfortunately, have not come alive, or they miss out on that chance. What that HR lady said to you is so impressive and unbelievable. A friend of mine, he’s also an actor, his dad is an accountant. He’s a bit overweight. He’s a good man, but he came up to me back in my 20s … this is when I already decided I wanted to be an actor. But he came up to me and looked at me with just solemnity in his eyes. He’s just looking at me and he said, “Charan, go live your dreams. Don’t do what I did.”
Charan: I’m like, “Oh crap.” He’s like, “Look, I became an accountant because I wanted to support my family and look, I’ve got a lot of joy with my kids and my grandkids and everything like that, but I spent 40 to 50 hours a week of my life doing something I absolutely hate.” And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, that’s-
Pritesh: That sounds brutal.
Charan: It’s brutal. It’s brutal, and I think about things like that when I’m going through some of my hard times, when nothing is happening and I’m like, “Never mind, I’m good. I love doing what I’m doing.”
Pritesh: Well, that’s the thing. It’s the conditioning of that level … the way we’ve conditioned society to feel what the idea of success is. You see so much. We’ll get into deep thing, then, but people living a life that’s not conducive to who they are, and then that’s what normalizes drinking all the time is the fact that happy hour and the bar life, it’s all been very normalized. We live in a society where people look forward to Friday, Saturday, Sunday. They hate Monday through Thursday, and the only reason they even like Friday is because hopefully it’ll lead to Saturday, right?
Pritesh: I never want a life where I’m only living for the weekends. What kind of life is that? You know what I mean? In my life, I love it. I love my schedule. Sometimes my Tuesday I’m free and Saturday I’m working all day. There is no formula. What type of formula is that to live in? If you’re only making money because of the hours that you put in, that never leads to freedom or wealth. Ever. How many people you know that work three jobs that are rich? You hear about that all the time. “Oh, my mom or dad …” And that’s the story that we convince people because they want you to be an employee, but anyone that works two or three jobs, yeah, they might be able to pay the rent, but they didn’t get rich because they worked three jobs. They’re just miserable and have no life, unfortunately.
Charan: That’s the thing. You’re trading in your freedom and life for money, but you can never actually enjoy the money.
Pritesh: Wealth only comes when money’s making you money.
Charan: Yeah, absolutely.
Pritesh: First of all, that’s a mindset, right? Of course, we have a lot of work in society to do to first educate people and allow people the opportunities for that to happen, but I’ve seen that a lot and then you just become a prisoner of that formula. It just turns into this hour equates this much money, and then you’re figuring out ways to spend the money because hopefully it’ll bring you some joy, but it doesn’t really bring you joy. So, you’re working at a job you don’t like to buy things you don’t really need. I mean, Will Smith said something like that before, right?
Charan: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
Pritesh: And impress people you don’t care about. It’s a crap cycle all of us can sucked into. Yeah, of course, you have your times in this business or whatever business you decide to be in, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, man. Because I see so many people I know in jobs, even if they’ve making good money. Sadhguru talks about you’ll see people who seek pleasure, but they don’t have joy. They’re very different things.
Pritesh: There’s a lot of people with pleasure all the time. Eat good food, drink, hooking up with all these people. They get all the pleasure taking care of, but you look in their eyes, there’s no joy.
Charan: There’s no joy.
Pritesh: They’re miserable and they’re not the same.
Charan: Yeah, and it’s like they haven’t truly lived. They haven’t truly lived. The greatest regret for their lives when they finally get to the end is when they realize all their chasing, their actions, have led to absolutely nothing. Nothing that can really satisfy them.
Pritesh: Yeah, you don’t want to live life in a “what if?” And I could have. It was a pinpointed decision in my life that completely changed the trajectory of my life. June 12, 2009, will never be forgotten. I actually don’t know how that version of me was that strong, because even thinking about that story, I don’t know how that guy did that. It doesn’t feel like me. I don’t know how he had the courage to do that. I’m glad. I’m very thankful, but even when I think about it, it gives me chills, because that was a hell of a decision, you know? I was obviously way younger then. I was a baby. I’m grateful that that moment happened because it opened my life up to amazing experiences.
Charan: I want to talk a little bit about … My gosh, I love everything we’re discussing. This is amazing. You came to LA knowing, hey, this is your dream and you love it, you’re going to go for it, you’re going to create. And everything about an actor’s journey is filled with uncertainty. Just filled with uncertainty and you’re navigating, you’re creating your own path as you go, and we’ve talked about this before. We’re like we got to keep creating our own path. A lot of times, especially as Indian actors … And we’re going to reference your short film, because I thought it was so profound and so powerful-
Charan: Yeah, a lot of times when I got there to LA, I remember thinking, “Okay, I’ve always been cast as a certain type of something,” or I was always like, “Hey, you’re going to get me to say this one line because then you’re filling that quota.” And it was that type of mentality and that type of lack of opportunity that led me to think, “Hey, you know what? I’m going to leave. I personally am going to leave and go to a place where I know I can create my own stuff and create my own stories.” And it felt really good.
Pritesh Shah Talks About “Invisible Brown Man”
Charan: In Utah. And I’m doing that and it’s been great. I’ve got TV shows and movies that are coming out, all because I was able to find a place where I can go and do that. But, let’s talk about you because I want to know how did you get to the point, because we always talk about creating our own stuff, but you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to do it.” How did you get to the point where you were like, “Okay, I’m going to create my own short”? Because, it’s brilliant.
Pritesh: It’s really hard for me to say it was a direct point. Most of my life, when I allowed myself to open up like 10 years ago when I moved to LA, I really started digging deep into meditation, just being in flow, in a way, that even this story feels like magic, to be honest. Because, back in 2014 or … Yeah, around 2014 or ’15, I had booked a film and I filmed in Pennsylvania. I was there for three days. We’re filming. The director and I had a lot of rapport and he liked me a lot, and we stayed in touch. I think over the year, we stayed in touch when I came back to LA. After a while, he goes, “Look, man. Are you just going to keep auditioning and hoping that something happens and you land a role? You want to play the game? It’s a crapshoot.” He goes, “If you get it, awesome, and you might, but the fact is there’s too many variables that are out of your control.”
Pritesh: And I was like, “Yeah.” He’s like, “When I talk to you, you have a story to tell. You have a story. You do stand-up. You’re a storyteller. You have something to tell, so why don’t you write your story?” I’m like, “Yeah, I mean, I’ve thought about that.” He goes, “Look, I know this writer in this LA. His name is Dennis. Let me set up a lunch with you two.” I was like, “Okay.” He’s like, “Go talk to him.” I’m like, “All right.” So, he sets up a meeting. I go to meet this guy at Crave Café … infamous Crave Café-
Charan: Of course.
Pritesh: And man, I turned the corner and I see him sitting there and this guy looks like “Duck Dynasty.” There comes my judgment, right? I’m like, “Phew, there’s no way this guy’s going to get my story. Are you kidding me, bro? Come on.” I sit down, we start talking, and this guy is just brilliant. Incredible. Not only is — he’s just well read, very open-minded and a loving human being who his own story is just incredible, what he’s overcome. So, we just vibed. I told him my story, what I had in mind. I already knew what I wanted to say and what I wanted to put out. Over the next year and a half, we worked on this script called “Brown Man Problems.” It was a feature film.
Pritesh: And it was called “Brown Man Problems,” and the first draft was pretty good. I mean, he’s a high-level writer. Right now, the guy’s with WME. He’s not a joke. His agent also represented Jake Gyllenhaal and Shakira. So, you know he’s killing the game.
Pritesh: The reason I bring that is I can write, but there’s a different respect for someone who is a writer. That is a different craft, and I respect it highly and I’m not even going to try to put myself in that category. I can write. I’m good at comedy, obviously. I know what stories I want to tell. I have good vision, but to find someone who understands character work, plot, act, everything to connect, button it up, all that stuff, that is a craft. So working with him was brilliant and we did the first draft. It was not bad but needed to be better. Then we did two more drafts, and the journey was crazy because we’d start going out to people and getting great feedback. People were like, “Damn, this script is really good. It’s really funny. It’s entertaining. You have a lot to say. Wow.”
Pritesh: And then, people start offering … We had people who’d be down to offer money to get it, but as long as I’m not attached and that’s when if you saw the short, you saw me reference Dev Patel. The reason is I love the guy. I have no problem with Dev Patel at all. I think he’s an incredible actor. My thing is just I was told numerous times, “Yo, we’d love to put Dev Patel in this. He’d be great in this.” To me, this story’s my “Rocky.” You’re not going to take my story and you’re not going to buy me out. I was like, “Wow, this is Hollywood. Okay. All right. This is a lesson learned. Very humbling.”
Pritesh: We started going to script competitions in 2019. I was like, “You know what, man? Let me just start submitting to script competitions.” And guess what? We started doing really well. One of the competitions we did well and we got invited, because they had a partnership with MGM. So, they invited 100 writers and we’re in this room with all the CEOs, CFOs … The Who’s Who of MGM. The management team. They’re in doing a Q&A and that in itself was a learning experience for me, because I’m not a big fan of diversity events, and I’ll tell you why. Instead of looking at it like, “Hey, this is an issue. We need to find a solution for it” or “this is how we can go about it in a way of conversation,” it was just being around a bunch of victim mentality. It was bad.
Pritesh: You had a bunch of people who were literally on the verge of tears and acting like the world was ending. I was like, “Look, look. Let’s talk about this, but stop acting like you’re a Syrian refugee. Okay? We’re at MGM with free alcohol and food and valet parking and having a pretty damn good time, so relax.” That in itself turns me off because it takes away from the solution when you play from that mindset. It’s very much like “I’m a victim, boo hoo, boo me.” I’m sorry. You’re pursuing your dream? That’s already a luxury. Most of the world can’t do that. They’re too busy walking to get water. Common. You know what I’m saying?
Pritesh: So even when I’m talking about this film, I want to make it very clear that everything in my life is an inconvenience. I do not have problems. I have inconveniences. Outside of that, life is very good. I’m just going to put that out there.
Pritesh: So anyway, we’re sitting there and the thing ends, and you know how it is in Hollywood, man. Everyone runs up, “Can I email you? Can I send a postcard?” I don’t have it in me to be disingenuous. I can’t do that shit. So, I just walk out. I was like, “All right, this feels weird waiting in line to meet somebody. This just feels so odd to me.”
Charan: Yeah, absolutely.
Pritesh: So, I was walking out and there one of my girlfriends was right next to me, so I was just talking crap to her. You know me, I’m just messing around. I was talking some shit. And she was laughing. And then I hear a guy behind her laugh and I’m like, “Huh?” He’s starting to laugh loud. Ended up being the president of MGM.
Charan: No way.
Pritesh: So, we just started talking normal, because just like I said, these are angels. What’s the chances? He happened to be walking out because he wanted to use the restroom, so he was right behind us laughing at watching me make fun of her. So, we just started talking naturally and I started telling him why I was there and the idea I had, and I talked to him about my script and how it was about male objection. You know how men are also objectified? I talk about male objectification, stereotypes, tokenism, culturalism, and the idea of success. But the moment he heard “male objectification,” he went “What?” I was like, “Yeah, I’ve been objectified a ton in this business.” He was like, “Huh.”
Pritesh: He goes, “I want you to make a short and I want you to email me personally.” I was like, “What?”
Charan: No way.
Pritesh: I’m thinking, “Okay.” Immediately then, dude, I was like, “I got to make a short.”
Charan: You got to make a short.
Pritesh: A guy like this tells you that … I’ve been told it before, but this was the catalyst like, “Holy crap, okay, I got to make a short.” I remember going to Dennis. He was already upstairs where the food was and I was like, “Dude, you won’t believe I just talked to Steve. We got to make a short.” He said, “I guess we got to make a short.” I’m like, “I’ll figure it out. We got to make a short.”
Pritesh: And this is how crazy, this is October or November of 2019, man. A guy hits me up on Facebook that I studied abroad with in Australia. He lives in Sydney. He’s like, “Hey, mate. Coming into town. Would love to catch up.” I was like, “All right.” I don’t know him that well. I’m like okay, we can catch up. He comes to my comedy show. Buys 10 tickets to my comedy show that I was hosting and we start just hitting it off after. I was like, “Man, this guy’s great. He’s an awesome guy.” I was like, “Look, man. Let’s get coffee tomorrow and just talk, catch up properly because I’m busy.”
Pritesh: So, we get coffee. He talks to me about his whole spiritual journey. He was a corporate lawyer. He took mushrooms, realized “What am I doing with my life?” Sold everything he owned and now is just in the healing cannabis hemp business, making tons of money and just loves to help people.
Charan: Love that.
Pritesh: Just an incredible story. So, I told him about my journey, how I’ve been deep into meditation, my own spiritual journey and what I want to do with my stories and how I want to have impact but not play the victim. Coming at it from an empowered perspective and speak the truth but not put out this “boohoo” thing.
Charan: Not this “Woe is me,” please.
Pritesh: That’s not where I’m coming at all. And we were just talking and I was like, “Yeah, so I had this meeting at MGM, so I’m just putting a business plan together. I need to get some money to make this short.” And literally he looks at me and goes, “How much you need?” I’m like, “What?” He goes, “How much do you need?” I tell him. He goes, “Done.”
Charan: No way.
Pritesh: No contract. Nothing. He just gave me the money. And that’s how I made the short. Like I told you, it’s just [crosstalk 00:33:22]-
Charan: I’m telling you, I’d like to preach this from the rooftops, but you’re already living it, dude. When you’re living authentically and you’re doing what you’re supposed to do, things will line up. Things will line up and will help you out. How does that happen as some random guy, a buddy of yours from Australia shows up-
Pritesh: And it gets even more random.
Charan: It’s so great. Keep going, keep going.
Pritesh: What are the chances? And,he believed in me. The thing is when you are living that life, you need people to believe in you even more than your idea. It has to be you, because if they believe in you, they trust your idea because they believe in you. If you believe in the source, the rest of it follows through. The thing is, one thing I learned before this process, I’ve had other people offer me money for other stuff. Not all money is good money. I’m sure you know that in this business. Not all money is good money. What type of money and who you get it from is very important, because some people give you money with a lot of caveats, right?
Charan: A lot of strings attached.
Pritesh: A lot of strings attached. “I want this storyline changed.” “I want you to only hire her.” “You have to make my brother the lead.” And all this stuff that completely ruins the artistry of the project. So, the money was no good because now the art’s crap. It’s lost its truth. This guy, not one peep. Didn’t even ask anything. Nothing. Nothing. Cool. Nothing. Obviously, he loves what we have so now he’s even a bigger fan, and we’re going to be working together on other stuff, but the thing is now-
Charan: That must have been such a beautiful day, having coffee with this guy and all of a sudden he’s like, “Hey, I’m going to give you money for your short.” Not just because it’s the money that he’s giving you, but it’s a literal sign, I think, that says “You are on the right path.”
Pritesh: It was. That’s what it felt like.
Charan: “You’re on the right path.”
Pritesh: I’ve always wanted to be my own production company. I know what I have. I love my craft. I take it seriously and I love acting, but I’ve always been good at producing and putting things together always. That’s always been my thing. I know I am good at finding talent. I know who’s good at what they do, and I’m willing to give them the powers. I don’t need control of everything. Once I find someone, if I hire a director and I know they’re good, I don’t butt in. That’s very freeing, but I know I’m good at hiring the right people so they can get the job done well and then I can take a step back. Because otherwise, you’ll go crazy if [crosstalk 00:35:34]-
Charan: Yeah, trying to do everything.
Pritesh: So, that happened. This is the crazy part. I get a team together. I get Roxy Shih, who I’ve known for years. She’s an Emmy-nominated director and she’s my friend. We met in the industry at the same time. When I was hosting, she was the editor. That’s how we met in 2010 and we lost touch for years, and then we started talking again and just catching up as friends and she loved my script, and I told her I was going to make a short. I went to her, I was like, “I want you. Are you down?” She goes, “I am in. Awesome.” Got Richa Moorjani to play my sister, but I had already written a role originally for her before she got the role, because her and I have always had sibling energy. She used to come to my house all the time for acting class, so we’re already homies.
Pritesh: So, it’s just like all this happened. Some people think, “Oh, you got these people.” I’m like, “These people were already my friends. They just happened to blow up along the process.” They’re homies. Dennis signed with WME last year, but he’s been a part of my life for years before that and like my brother, literally one of my best friends, but now look at the leverage he has. All these things just aligned, but this is the crazy part, we were able to film the short three weeks before the pandemic started.
Charan: No way.
Pritesh: Now, imagine that. It was mid-February. I think it was February 15th, so maybe three to four weeks before the pandemic started, we got a movie done. Now, if we had waited-
Charan: Oh my gosh.
Pritesh: I wouldn’t have gotten it made last year. My investor might have dropped out because it’s a scary time. So it was just, like you said, from above, man. I’ll just say one thing … I know I’m talking a lot, but there’s so many intricacies to this story. It gets made, we’re done in August. I’m sending it out. I send it to Steve. He watches it, he loves it, so now there’s some level of communication. Who knows what will come of it, but it’s amazing to have someone watch something that instigated you doing it in the first place. That was a great feeling to get that validation from him. But the coolest part was this is that it’s never-ending with these magical things … My girlfriend hated my dining table. It was ugly. I’m not going to lie. It didn’t match my furniture.
Pritesh: So, she hits me up. She’s like, “I’ve been on Facebook Marketplace. I found this table. It’s great. It looks like your furniture. Go buy it now.” I’m like, “All right, whatever.” I messaged the guy and I say, “Hey man, I’m interested in your table. Is it for sale?” Yada, yada, yada. Anyway, I decided I’m going to go buy it. Has a house in Burbank, I drive to Burbank. I see the table. Looks good. Guess what? Won’t fit in my Prius.
Charan: Yeah, we have a Prius.
Pritesh: [crosstalk 00:38:17] in these streets. So, the guy was so nice and sweet that he’s like, “Look man, it’s no big deal. I have an SUV. Let’s just put it in my car. I’ll drive it to your house and drop it off.” I’m like, “Damn, okay. That’s nice of you.” He doesn’t owe me that. Dude comes to my house and because of that, we just started shooting the shit and talking and getting to know each other. Guess what? He’s head of PR for Marvel at Disney.
Charan: No way.
Pritesh: The guy I buy the table from. He has been one of my biggest backers for the short. We’ve stayed in touch. He’s watched the short numerous times. He’s given me so many contacts. He’s told me what to do as far as press is concerned. I mean, the guy my girlfriend found on Facebook Marketplace to buy a dining table.
Charan: Yeah, oh my gosh.
Pritesh: Do you understand what I’m saying?
Charan: I’m telling you it’s like-
Pritesh: It doesn’t make any sense at all.
Charan: Yeah, I’m telling you. These things right here, dude, you’re saying, the synchronicities, they are so divinely orchestrated, in my opinion. How can you say, “Oh, this is all me?” It’s not all you. It’s not.
Pritesh: Absolutely not.
Charan: Absolutely not, but you get to be a part of this incredible adventure because you chose to follow your soul instinct, to create what you’re meant to create, which I think is so awesome. And I love it, man. I love it because it’s not just the short you created. It’s how you created the short, and it’s how all the people came together to make it a reality. It’s the story that they put in your heart to say, “Hey, follow this path. We’ll help you. Follow this path. This will help [crosstalk 00:39:53]-
Pritesh: Well, everyone always connects when you connect with them. And even though the short’s called “Invisible Brown Man,” I make it very clear for those who haven’t seen it, and I’m assuming you’re going to put a link so they can check it out, it may seem like this is just a South Asian story, but that’s what it looks like on the surface. Because yes, this is my meat suit I’ve been given. Fine. That’s what I wear through life and, obviously, that’s impacted some of my experiences that I have, but the reality is when you’re following this character is anyone can connect to it because we’ve all felt invisible at some point in our life. Every single one of us. I don’t care what you look like, where you’re from. It has nothing to do with anything.
Pritesh: All of us have gone through life and been like, “Wow, people don’t get me.” And this is for that. This is for people. I think the reason I had so much support is anyone who read this script, regardless of what they looked like or where they were from, connected to that emotion. This is a feeling that sucks, when you just feel so unseen. The real point of this is that until my character TJ realizes, until he sees himself, no one sees him. You got to see yourself.
Charan: That’s a powerful message.
Pritesh: Yeah. We expect the world to see us in ways we haven’t even seen ourself. How do you expect that, right? If you objectify yourself, the world’s going to objectify you. That’s what I tell people.
Charan: That’s powerful, man.
Pritesh: The world’s always going to reflect what you put out, so it’s like even in the film, yeah, he brings out truth, but he also has to call himself out on his own BS. If you’re complaining about racism in the workplace, but are you too not being racist? We’re usually all guilty of doing the same things we complain about a lot, but we want others to change while we refuse to look in the mirror ourselves. I’m guilty of it a lot, as well.
Charan: Absolutely. Well, it’s interesting because I remember learning for myself, I feel like our reality is just a reflection of what’s going on inside of us.
Pritesh: Absolutely, you create it.
Charan: Exactly. So, when you start seeing yourself, when you start creating the power within yourself and owning the power that you have, things just magically appear and manifest as a result of it. I always tell people, I’m like, “Look, instead of just complaining about what you see in front of you, realize it’s just a shadow. It’s just a reflection of what’s going on in you. If you can just change what’s going on in you, you will see a massive change on the outside.”
Charan: I don’t know, it’s been unbelievable, because I came back to Utah with this intention of, hey, I want to create some feature films and short films, and TV shows. And I know I can do it and I know I have resources here to make that happen, and it’s been unbelievable. It’s just like what you’re saying. I had the intention and all of a sudden I met the right team that had a perfect script that I really wanted to create, and now we are in post-production of a feature film that I’m very excited about that feels very much like a “Shaun of the Dead,” that type of zany fun-
Pritesh: And you did it all in Utah. Who would have thought that, man?
Charan: Yeah, and when people watch the trailer, they’re just like, “This is insane.” Because we went all over the place, and it’s very scenic and the things that would have cost a fortune in LA to make cost us nothing in Utah. Not nothing, but you know what I mean.
Pritesh: Are you saying you didn’t have to spend money on permits, Charan?
Charan: I’m saying that the permits were a lot less expensive [crosstalk 00:43:19] for dang sure. No, it’s so expensive in LA.
Pritesh: They’re expensive here. I’ve always been proud of you for that, because even when you were here, you were always going back to Utah a lot, though.
Pritesh: It always seemed like for you, your journey was always calling you there somehow. You needed to come to LA to learn and make some connections and probably understand how the business works, but we’re also living in a time where you can do this anywhere. [crosstalk 00:43:43]. There was a mass exodus of people from Los Angeles during the pandemic.
Charan: Absolutely. It’s like what you’re saying is, I feel like there was a narrative placed in my head saying, “If you want to be a big actor, you’ve got to move to LA.” That might have been the story before, but the truth is when you start creating what you want to create, things just happen and things just work out. I still have a lot of great relationships in LA as far as networks and things go, but I think, “Well wait, why can’t I just create something outside of LA and then make it happen in LA.”
Pritesh: But you can fly. You’re still auditioning, I’m sure. Self-tapes, right?
Charan: Sure, absolutely. I still am.
Pritesh: So, if you book something, you can fly here.
Pritesh: You can travel by air. I’ve never seen that … if you’re completely new and have nothing, maybe being here for a little bit may be helpful, but we do live in a time where, look, you can create content anywhere. You can do it for fairly cheap. I wouldn’t say my short was necessarily cheap, but it was done well. Obviously, if you want to have the people I had and do it at the quality I had to do it at, it’s going to cost a little bit of money, but you don’t have to do it that way, is what I’m saying. You can do it your own way.
Pritesh: For me, I knew the content I wanted to create, and this is not talking down on anyone else’s way of doing it, just for me, is that it just never fit me that these small videos and even doing stand-up, people would always be like, “Dude” … When Vine came out, they were like, “Dude, you’d be great on Vine. You’d be great on this.” But even though I know I’m funny and I can do all that type of stuff and be the wacky version, that never felt good to… That’s not what I really wanted to put out. I always wanted to put out that … I didn’t want to just put out art that people watch when they’re taking a poop. You know what I mean? I wanted to make art that people look at their husband or wife and go, “Hey, babe. After dinner, we’re going to watch this.” I wanted someone to make time for my art, I didn’t want my art to be something you did to pass time.
Charan: That makes sense.
Pritesh: Right? That’s just what feels good to me. That’s all I’m saying. That does not [crosstalk 00:46:00] … That’s what feels good to me.
Charan: I love that you said, dude. I love that you own that. Something similar happened to me, because I’ve got a couple buddies that are massively huge on TikTok and they’re like, “Dude, you would kill it. You would kill it on TikTok.” I’m like, “Okay.” I started it and quickly I’m like, “This isn’t for me. This isn’t for me.”
Pritesh: It’s not for me because people don’t realize … Kudos to the people that do it, because it is a lot of work.
Charan: Yes, it is.
Pritesh: This idea that people think they’re just like, “Ha ha. Done.”
Pritesh: No, no, no, no. These are well thought-out, things that take massive levels of editing and creativity, so it takes work. It is not easy to do. Kudos, man. It just doesn’t feel right for me is all I’m saying. Maybe, it’s just also because we’re old.
Charan: Dude, maybe that’s what it is. But I know what you mean, though. You’re still listening to that authentic part of you, right?
Pritesh: [crosstalk 00:46:57].
Pritesh Shah Talks About Overcoming Challenges
Charan: That’s the beautiful thing. I want to shift topics a little bit. Part of the Lemonade Stand journey is we have to face lemons in our life. We have to face pitfalls. As actors, I feel like we have plenty of pitfalls, but was there a significant moment in your life that was a massive pitfall or a moment where you were like, “This was really tough,” but somehow you were able to bounce back? Does anything come to your mind that we can talk about?
Pritesh: I mean, it’s interesting, because when you look at it, I’ve just gotten so used to not labeling anything as a pitfall, it’s just part of the journey and whatever’s meant to be is meant to be. So, when I started looking at it that way, I guess usually when we have massive levels of expectations and they get unfulfilled, it’s a pitfall, right?
Pritesh: But I’ve let go of expectations in a way and just let things be. Otherwise, I could have a million stories for you. Going up for a pilot and having four auditions for it, being so close and not getting it. Of course, that’s happened to me. I was just on avail for a commercial literally two days ago, and then got let off. I’ve probably been on avail so many times-
Charan: So many times, yeah.
Pritesh: Yeah, and this just happened a couple days ago, but that stuff doesn’t even phase me. Even when my agent calls, she’ll be like, “Sorry, honey,” even though I’m like, “Cool.” I don’t care. I really listen to this, and I always say this to people as my own way of saying it: if it’s meant to be yours, it can’t be taken and if it’s not, it can’t be had.
Charan: I love that.
Pritesh: What else do you want me to do, dude? I don’t know. It is what it is. I don’t really worry about it too much, to be honest with you. You know what I mean?
Charan: Well, let me shift the question then. What advice would you give to someone that does have a lot of expectations in life and then they got hit? How did you get to that phase where you’re like, “Hey, you know what? It’s okay. I’m just going to let things be.” Because I feel the same way as you. I like to be present and just say whatever happens happens and it’s going to be okay. I try not to have too many attachments to things. But for someone that has massive amounts of attachment, whether it’s a certain type of startup or a career, or whatever it is, how would you help those people out?
Pritesh: Well, I think the reason is what we’re saying right now, when it’s looked at from just a logical mind, people think of this as just a lazy person that’s going to smoke weed and sit on the couch all day. That’s actually not true at all. It’s when you open yourself up to allowing and operating from that level of energy, it’s very active. I mean, look at you. You’re an active person. I’m an active person. I get a lot done. I’m an early morning person. I get my workouts in, I’m doing interviews, press, all this stuff. So, it’s not like I’m getting nothing done. The problem with expectations, I’ve realized, is if you’re constantly growing and maturing, your expectations are always a victim of your current state. It’s like your dream. You can’t dream bigger than you usually are thinking, feeling and have self-worth in.
Pritesh: Similarly, what you must have dreamt about 10 years ago is probably nowhere close to what you care about now. It’s not. When I moved here 10 years ago, my expectation, my dream, was I’m going to show what an Indian man can be. And it’s like now I don’t know what being Indian or a man means. What does that even mean? It’s different for everybody. I don’t care about that because I’ve grown out of those limited beliefs.
Pritesh: I think there’s nothing wrong with having some level of discipline. There’s levels, right? First, there’s discipline and habit, but after a while, you want to be free of discipline and habit because there’s a level of freedom, but you’re moving with conscious energy. Because if you’re just doing things out of habit, but you’re miserable while you’re doing it, that’s not good. That’s not good. You don’t want to just go to the gym because “I got to go the gym. I go every morning at 8:00.” But you hate it Well, that vibe’s going to continue. That vibration’s not going to be healthy. I would say we live in a society that’s way too obsessed with goals and expectations. Very obsessed with goals and expectations, and goals can be incredibly limiting, I’ve seen, for a lot of people.
Pritesh: Just pick something you like, go at it full throttle. Be conscious as possible and great things will happen.
Charan: Well, see, it’s beautiful because I have goals only to give me direction. That’s my thing is I just say, “Hey, you know what? This gives me direction so I’ll go for it.” But as far as actually living, I try living presently. I really do because I think-
Pritesh: When you forego the path, that’s the thing. Jim Carrey said it best: Let the universe know what you want, but let go of how it comes.
Charan: Yes, yes.
Pritesh: Right? So it’s like, “Okay, this is what I want. Cool.” It naturally establishes what you want, and that’s what fuels you, you’re going to take steps to move towards in those directions. You may not know how. You’re going to learn how and there’s going to be different ways of going about it, but a lot of actors will get into this “have to book a costar.” They have to do a guest star. “Once I start getting guest stars, I’m going to book a pilot. Then I’m going to become a lead.” And they get so caught up with this formula that they’re not seeing other magical ways things can happen for them to help them grow. They get so caught up in this narrow-minded path, and I see a lot of people miserable because of it.
Pritesh: It’s like, “Well, you got so caught up in going down that traditional route that you missed out on all these opportunities to create your own thing. Or you didn’t take that movie that could’ve really helped you and made you grow as an actor because you thought it-“
Charan: As a person. As a human being.
Pritesh: As a person. That’s what I mean by that. I’m not saying be scattered all over the place, but if you’re naturally focused and you know what … They say where focus goes, energy flows. So that naturally will lead you down a path, I think … If you’re treating any part of life like it’s a mathematical equation, necessarily. I mean, it is, because spiritually it is all math in a way, but if you’re looking at it from that perspective, just very linear, it’s not. Nothing in life is. Raghunath, I would suggest everyone listen to him. One thing he said that was brilliant on Joe Rogan’s podcast, because Joe asked him, “What are your thoughts on free will and destiny?” That’s always the cosmic question.
Charan: Cosmic question.
Pritesh: He goes, “You’re on a plane from LA to San Diego. That’s your life. You’re going to San Diego. That’s your destiny. You’re going to San Diego. That’s your destiny. You have no choice. But what you do on the plane, that’s up to you.” I love that explanation.
Pritesh Shah Talks About Joy
Charan: I love that. That’s so beautiful. Gosh, it’s so great because everything about what you’re doing in life right now is just helping you be more alive, and by being more alive, you have this light within you that you’re shining brightly, and you’re influencing other people, and you’re attracting good things into your life. It’s just a magical thing. So, I want to talk a little bit about where your source of joy comes from.
Charan: Yeah, joy. What fills you up? What gets you excited and happy and joyous?
Pritesh: I just like being able to create my own content, like I did. Dude, every part of life feels pretty joyous right now. I know this all sounds so cliché in LA but-
Charan: Don’t worry.
Pritesh: Life’s good, man. I have a three-bedroom condo to myself in LA. I have my dog. I have my girlfriend. I have a healthy family, a great support system. Life is pretty good. So, I guess what would take away from the joy is if I woke up and I’m like, “Well, I don’t have an audition today, so it’s going to be a crappy day.” No, I don’t care. If I don’t have that, then I live by a park. I’ll go work out at the park. Even during the pandemic, I have access to stuff that’s outside. I hang out with my dog, watch a movie. I don’t know, I’ll cook something good. I learned a long time ago that if you have an answer for a source of joy, you’re going to live a constricted life. Your life is going to be constipated. If you’re only passionate about one thing in life, you’re going to live a constipated life. You should be passionate about everything. It shouldn’t be just what you do.
Pritesh: I’m passionate about acting, but I’m also passionate about fitness. I’m also passionate about hanging out with my friends. I’m passionate about eating food that I enjoy. I’m passionate about playing with my dog and talking to strangers. If you’re passionate about life, there’s nothing really to … I mean, you’re screwed if you’re passionate about one thing. Look at what happens to athletes. They get too old, they have to retire, but they’re only 30 years old. What are you going to do the rest of your life? A lot of them go through massive levels of depression because that’s the only thing they-
Charan: Their identify was completely based on that one thing, right?
Pritesh: That’s the thing. When you identify, you’re screwed. Even when you say, “You’re an actor,” I just am. Acting is one thing I do. It’s not who I am. It’s just one thing I do. It just happens to be one thing I’m good at and I like it, but I’m way more than an actor.
Charan: You’re way more than an actor. That’s part of your creation, but that’s not who you really are.
Pritesh: Yeah, that’s not who you are.
Charan: Yeah, and it’s interesting, and we’ve talked a little bit about this, because you practice different types of meditation, yoga and everything like that, and you gave me an analogy about clouds. I don’t know if you remember this. Let’s talk about that analogy real quick, about the passing clouds.
Pritesh: Unfortunately, we see a lot of people dealing with a lot of sadness, depression, and whatever emotions they may be feeling, and words are important. You see people, they go, “I am sad. I am depressed. I am cranky.” Or whatever it may be. Even “I am happy.” When you get to identify with emotions, I always say, “You’re the sky and your emotions are clouds that are floating by. They will pass. They’re not who you are.” But when you take them on, you’re in big trouble because you made your identity something that’s fleeting. You don’t need to take my word for it. You’ve lived life. Everyone listening has lived life. They’ve felt happy before, and then had moments where they don’t feel that. They’ve had moments of pain and grief. Are you still feeling that? No, so you know it passes. You know it’s not a never-ending thing.
Pritesh: But that’s also a spiritual thing. Just to be an observer. Observe your pain, observe your happiness, observe all of it. That’s why I’m not perfect by any means, but I have worked on those tools so I can catch myself immediately. Relax.
Charan: When you start identifying and then you have to relax and be like, “Hey, relax.” And that’s a great word “relax,” because I equate that even to surrender. Hey, just chill. Just relax. Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay. Let it pass. Let it pass through you.
Pritesh: Well, even start observing your thoughts, because they’re just thoughts. Even if I have a thought where I’m talking crap about somebody because I got triggered or pissed off, I’ll laugh. I’m like, “That’s a funny thought.” I don’t really take it serious. I’m like, “Oh, that’s funny you thought that.” You just don’t get so identified with your thoughts because it’s just a thought. I think people are very obsessed with what they feel. I always tell people, “Don’t get so caught up with what you believe because it’s usually wrong.” It’s a very humbling thing.
Pritesh: I’m saying that to myself, too. It’s very important. No matter what you know, what you don’t know is always greater.
Pritesh: I don’t care how much you know. I don’t care if you’ve read every book on the planet. You still don’t know everything. You don’t know the mysteries of the cosmos and the mystery of this universe. You can’t know with your limited senses. Relax. In the end, you’ve just got to understand that, so I think when people always say, “Fight for what you believe in,” you got to be very careful because there are a lot of people who believe in a lot of harmful things to themselves and people around them, and they only believe in it because it validates their ego. And you’re telling them to fight for it? That’s the reason we have all these problems on the planet. All these wars, people are fighting for what they believe in, even if that means killing millions of people. Hey, but it’s fighting for what I believe in.
Pritesh: So people validate a lot of bullshit. Follow your purpose or your will. We got to be careful with all that. It’s pretty much very egoic. [crosstalk 00:59:45] caught up in the ego.
Charan: It’s very, very interesting what happened with the elections all last year. Just the narratives and people fighting, just getting caught up in one side or the other. It’s very interesting. I don’t consider myself an overly prophetic person or anything, but this one time last year at some point, I had this dream. And in this dream, I saw a bunch of tornadoes ripping through the land of Utah, where I was at, which is weird because tornadoes don’t appear in Utah that much. And then some of them merged with each other and became even more destructive. Anyway, so I woke up the next day … But what I was going to say was in the dream, I was totally okay. My family was okay. I was okay. Everyone else around me was destroyed.
Charan: So, I woke up and I’m a prayerful person, so I pray, and as I was praying I was like, “What does that mean?” And then suddenly I had this thought. I felt like those tornadoes represented narratives, and that if I got caught up into a narrative and I started attaching myself to a narrative, I was going to become destroyed. I was like, “That’s an interesting thought because so many people are caught up in narratives.”
Pritesh: Well, it’s identity, right?
Charan: Identity, yeah.
Pritesh: [crosstalk 01:00:56] identity, a narrative is another identity. You have to pick a side. Everything is identity-based, but as we know, most things in life are always nuanced. Nothing has an answer. I close my ears when I hear a mass generalization of any group of people because you’re wrong. That’s an ignorant thing. All so and so … I’m like, “Eh, there’s not point in this conversation because you’re wrong, because you don’t know.” Human beings are way too complicated for you to make such a vapid statement like that. There’s a lot going on. You obviously saw that with the election, and the election was just mirroring what we’ve been doing all along internally. It’s like “I’m going to pick a side; my side’s better than you. How could you? How dare you?” And instead of being like, “I don’t get this, but let me talk to you because this isn’t making sense,” I think we can all agree that half the population isn’t evil naturally, regardless of what side you’re on.
Pritesh: I think if you feel like that, then there’s a lot more going on within you. But outside of that, it’s always just been most people are just trying to feel “better than.” That’s it. These arguments aren’t really about the argument. It’s like “I’m morally superior than you. This is why I know everything. I am all knowing. I know how people function. I know what’s good. I know what’s bad. I define it, and based on my definitions, you’re a bad person. So, I will tweet about it. I’ll Instagram about it. I’ll let everyone know how you’re a terrible human being and how I’m righteous so I can drink my tea and feel better at night.” It’s unreal, and I’m talking both sides were doing that.
Pritesh: I don’t care. Dude, I’ve always been nonpartisan. I don’t get this at all, the way people become so obsessed. I’m not saying I agreed with what the last president was doing at all, but it went deeper than that alone, and I think we all have to look at ourselves because in the end, we’re all responsible, whether you voted for a certain individual or not, look at the way society is operating. What are we doing to people? We have too many people trying to fix the world, but they haven’t fixed themselves. First, fix yourself, then fix your community, then fix the world. But you have people who are incredibly broken trying to solve the climate crisis. It doesn’t work like that. You can not. You can’t even make your bed in the morning, yet you think you can solve a global crisis?
Pritesh: There’s ways to go about this that you have to develop and mature, and that’s what happens when you give everyone a voice that can’t handle one. You can’t have a voice if you don’t know what your voice is. Right?
Charan: Yeah, that’s exactly it. That’s exactly it, man. Here’s the thing. When you get to this point when you yourself haven’t found yourself, when you haven’t dug deep within yourself and figured out who you really are, then you get to this point where you’re already lost and you’re trying to fix a bunch of lost people. The blind leading the blind, man.
Pritesh: A lot of people are trying to fix the world because it allows them to avoid their own problems. Any people that consistently post or talk about world issues but aren’t … It’s a distraction from fixing themselves. You see that all the time. You can look at all the psychological studies. It’s proven. It’s like, “But you’re an alcoholic.” “You have massive eating issues,” or whatever it may be in your life — abuse, trauma. Maybe it’s time to fix that. Stop worrying about what’s going on out there, because you fixing that will automatically be an incredible domino effect. You will not be traumatic to your spouse and your kids. That’s going to be a domino effect on how they impact the world. It starts with you. It always starts with you.
Pritesh: Somehow people feel like that doesn’t have any meaning unfortunately.
Charan: Man, it’s so true. I always tell people the greatest blessing you can do to other people is to come alive yourself. It’s to truly go inside within you and figure out the things that you need to work on and come alive yourself, because you give permission for other people to come alive. It’s the craziest thing.
Pritesh: If you’re not a liability to yourself and therefore the world at large, you’ve already done a very, very positive impactful thing. The best thing to do in the world is take care of yourself so it doesn’t have to take care of you, and I mean emotionally, mentally, physically. If you can be a self-working individual, think about how that helps in a community. If you allow yourself to love yourself and take care of yourself, that automatically has deep-rooted impact to those around you. And that’s where it starts, and like I said, the point of that story about being on a plane from LA to San Diego, it doesn’t matter where you’re going. It’s the journey. The journey is being on the plane, bro. Right?
Pritesh: It doesn’t matter, but people just want to get to San Diego. I always say that. This is life. You’re born and you die. Everyone wants to, “You’re born? All right, educate. Get a good job. Make money. Be famous. Have kids, buy a house.” And the finish line is death, and when they get to death, they want to hit the brakes. I don’t get it. You race through life, yet, we all know the finish line is death and when that gets close, you want to push the brakes. Life don’t work that way. If you’re racing through life, then just die because that’s the finish line. But you don’t want to, right?
Pritesh: The process is all of this and people have lost focus on that so they’re born and they want to be like, “Oh, shit. Solve the global crisis.” What about this?
Pritesh Shah’s Advice to His Younger Self
Charan: Oh, man. I’m telling you, we could probably talk for hours. It’s crazy, it’s crazy. I want to ask one last question, though, man. One last question. I feel like you have learned just vast amounts of knowledge and information. What would you tell your younger self? What would you tell that self that was thinking right before he was going to get his accounting degree, what would you tell that younger Pritesh?
Pritesh: Go live life. That everything you think that matters, doesn’t. Everything you think that matters, doesn’t. Just connecting and living life and being in a place of love … money doesn’t matter. Having to be in a relationship doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t make you. I’m not saying relationships aren’t beautiful. They are incredible. Friendships, romantic or whatever, but this whole idea of this anxiety that we have that I have to do this, this and this and check all these boxes to live and all that anxiety and pressure I had, that’s all been programming. It’s very freeing when you’re like, “Oh, whether I get married or not doesn’t make me a better or lesser. Whether I have kids or not doesn’t make me better or lesser.” If I want to, I can. If I don’t, I don’t have to and that’s great, too. It doesn’t really matter where you are and what you’re doing as long as you’re just living, man.
Pritesh: I would just say this. I think Sadhguru said this: Don’t look up to anyone. Don’t look down at anyone, and then you see life for what it is. You just see people for who they are. You can handle situations really well when you don’t idolize people and you don’t look down at them. It’s very easy to be objective like, “What’s happening here? What’s this person doing. Cool. This is how I’m going …
Charan: Love it. I love it, man. I love it. Dude, it’s been so great having you and talking about this stuff.
Pritesh: We’re catching up, brother.
Charan: It’s so fun. It’s been a long time, and when we catch up, it’s depth. It’s depth. That’s what this is.
Pritesh: I love it.
Charan: No, I’m excited. I’m excited for your journey. I’m excited for what is going to come of your creation and where it’s going to lead down the road, so very, very stoked about it. Yeah, thanks, man. Any last words before we wrap up.
Pritesh: No, man. I’d appreciate everyone going to check out the film, Invisible Brown Man. It’s on YouTube. I hope people just connect with it and it resonates. And right now we’re just pushing it as a 30-minute dramedy TV series.
Charan: I love it. I love it and the fact that you’re connected to all these people, like the PR over at Marvel and [crosstalk 01:09:26] the president at MGM. Again, it’s going to show those people are aligning in your life. It’s amazing. I love that.
Pritesh: I appreciate it. Love what you’re doing, brother.
Charan: Thanks, man. I appreciate that. All right, well, we’ll go ahead and end this interview, all right?
Pritesh: All right, brother.
Charan: Okay, thanks, man.
Charan: Thanks so much for listening to The Lemonade Stand podcast and we hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you use to be alerted when we release new episodes. We’d also love to hear your feedback in the reviews, and if you or someone you know has an awesome lemonade stand story, please reach out to us on social media and let us know. Thanks so much and have a great day.