For the past four years, popular television personality Kriya Gangiah has served as one of the hosts on the popular magazine show ‘Mela’. The series is known for showcasing the uniquely South African Indian experience and has become a staple in almost every Indian home.

Mela offers viewers an opportunity to get to know leading figures and innovators in business, the creative and performing arts, fashion, entertainment and many other sectors. In short, these are the kind of people who are making a mark on popular culture, setting trends that others follow or are presenting new ways of seeing and thinking about our contemporary world. As the series continues to be a game-changer for the local Indian community, presenter Kriya Gangiah opens up about the importance of a show like this while sharing some of her fondest memories as a presenter on the show.

Why do you think Mela is still such an iconic TV show after all these years? 

I believe that there is no other program on South African television like Mela. The series continues the legacy of ‘Eastern Mosaic’ and gives South Africans a window into the exciting, diverse and colourful Indian culture, food and traditions. As South Africans, it is extremely important for us to learn and understand different cultures and I believe Mela represents the Indian community in such a beautiful way.

What attracted you to be a part of a series like Mela? 

I am extremely proud to be a South African Indian and it is honestly an honour to be able to showcase our community and what we have to offer. I find that, for us as South African Indians, there aren’t many platforms in the country that celebrate what we have to offer as much as Mela does. While we are brought up to be conservative, I think it’s so important to highlight and honour our Indian culture and heritage and being part of a brand that does this so proudly is a dream come true. The Indian community plays a major role in the framework of South Africa and shows like Mela play an imperative part in keeping that fire within us alive.

What has been your favourite story you’ve shared as a presenter on the show? 

My very first assignment on Mela was a travel segment to Zanzibar. Besides the fact that I got to travel to one of the most spectacular destinations in the world, I also got to understand the local culture, the people and their traditions. It’s such a vibrant community and being on location blended two of my absolute passions – telling stories and travel.

Which of the interviews you’ve conducted on the series stands out the most?  

I have had the opportunity to interview a number of local and international guests but my favourite has got be Krijay Govender. Not only is she an amazing comedian but she has cemented herself as one of the leading directors and producers in the South African film and television industry. I got to spend time with her and he beautiful family during the segment which was really special as well.

How important is your Indian heritage to you? 

My heritage is extremely important to me, it makes me who I am. It gives me pride to understand where my roots are from and helps me connect with people.

You’re quite the foodie as well! Which dish can you flawlessly whip up that Mela viewers would be proud of you for? 

I think I have definitely gotten the hang of a good mutton biryani. It’s something I always said to myself I am going to learn to cook because it special dish that takes hours to prepare and you always find it at important events and functions. It reminds you of home.  

Mela is quite different to the presenting style you had when you were presenting Craz-e which is very different to the presenting style you have for Supersport. How do you get into these different grooves so effortlessly?  

Every one of the shows is a subject that I am very passionate about and something that I talk about every day with friends and family. I’ll even talk to a complete stranger about it! So, when I present I try and bring that passion across to the viewers, I try and speak to them like they are sitting right next to me.

You’re a seasoned presenter but what advice do you have for any up-and-coming presenters who are looking to get into get into the industry?  

Try, try, try , try and when you want to give up, try again. The entertainment industry is not all glitz and glamour and it’s not easy to get into it. So as long as you don’t take no for an answer you’ll be just fine. Oh and be yourself, there is only one of you in the world so celebrate it!

What’s one thing no one knows about life on set as a presenter? 

It’s a long tiring day. I often dress myself, do my own hair and make-up and write my own script – and that’s all before we even start shooting! However, the harder you work the better the show turns out.

How have you been keeping yourself busy during lockdown?

I own a digital agency so most of lockdown consisted of getting my clients digitally ready for the “new normal”. That and a lot of cooking! I’ve been trying so many new recipes during lockdown. I have perfected the potjie with dumplings, I made a delicious batch of koesisters and recently found the perfect cheesecake recipe as well.

Catch Kriya Gangiah on Mela every Sunday at 17:30 on SABC 3. 

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