Here’s presenting Vizdumb’s 2022 new establishment list, featuring a set of young, original achievers who reflect the best of India’s youth and a dynamic economy on the rise.
Meet Vizdumb’s 5 Most Influential Young Indians of 2022
Firmly placed among India’s most cherished independent musicians, Prateek Kuhad is about to go global. And he’d love for you to come along and watch. Even as his discography—bursting with moving songs about human connection—continues to be played on heavy rotation in India, the singer-songwriter has quietly been working to level up. In 2020, he signed to the legendary U.S. label Elektra Records. In 2021, he spent a glorious two months in a Seattle studio working with The Lumineers and Vance Joy producer Ryan Hadlock on his new album. In March this year, he dropped the first single off The Way That Lovers Do and starred in his first proper music video too. Judging by the sheer volume of videos on Instagram of him performing “Just a Word” at NH7 Weekender earlier this year, this is just the beginning of a very big year for Kuhad.
Divya Gokulnath was a student at a coaching centre called Byju’s when she got an opportunity to teach there at age 21. One thing led to another and she ended up founding the edtech company named after (and with) husband Byju Raveendran in 2011. Backed by heavyweights such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, BlackRock, and Tiger Global Management, their success story is a role model for other Indian start-ups. As the pandemic forced students indoors, online learning became mainstream and Byju’s fortunes went up to the next stage, with a student base of over 100 million and about 6.5 million paid subscribers. Byju’s is currently ranked 15 on Forbes’s list of highest-valued start-ups in the world with a valuation of $22 billion pre-IPO. The company became an official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which will take place later this year, marking a strong entry into the global market, besides its sponsorship of the Indian cricket team. Gokulnath, who believes in democratizing education with technology, remains an advocate for gender balance at workplaces, saying that women leaders will tend to hire more women leaders.
3. Sara Ali Khan
At a time when everything about celebrities seems strategically PR-driven and filtered, Sara Ali Khan projects just the opposite. Whether it’s earthy food puns, her classic knock-knock-who’s-there shorts, or her incandescent reels where she can be seen creatively interpreting topics as diverse as Squid Game and the many quirks of her own fans, the Atrangi Re actor has demonstrated that you can be a committed professional without taking yourself too seriously. She loves being referred to as a “zillennial” and likes fine things, but she is also unafraid to pick Gulati’s butter chicken and kebabs in Delhi over a fine-dining restaurant, wear a salwar kameez from Sarojini Nagar, or wax eloquent about the many joys of pindi chole. Her fans love it.
The pandemic was a huge disruption for musicians, a wrecking ball smashing into their carefully laid plans. But where most artists hit pause in the face of an uncertain future, AP Dhillon doubled down. The Canadian rapper-producer-songwriter has spent the past two years dropping a string of red-hot singles—it’s physically impossible to have lived through 2021 without hearing “Brown Munde” at least once—that have propelled him to the brink of global breakout success.
Co-founder and CEO, Lenskart
About half of India’s population need glasses but only a quarter wear a pair—that’s just 137.5 million out of 550 million. That’s the statistic Peyush Bansal uses to explain why he started Lenskart more than a decade ago, besides wishing to do something unique. The omni-channel eyewear retailer, valued at about $2.5 billion now, is expanding in Southeast Asia and the Middle East apart from considering going public in a few years. The McGill University graduate and IIM Bangalore alumni says some of the biggest challenges in building the company have been in hiring the right people and making a consumer connect.