Loudmouth Ladkis is a popular desi diasporic podcast hosted by Saniya Soni and Sapna Ramappa. Launched in 2019 after a shared desire to talk about issues plaguing the South Asian American Community, Loudmouth Ladkis is a standout podcast that does not shy away from difficult conversations. From mental health to colourism, representation to sexuality, Sapna and Saniya explore the spectrum of topics that together define the South Asian experience.
After establishing themselves as key figures in the online desi diaspora community, Sapna and Saniya have worked on increasing the online presence of Loudmouth Ladkis, and are focusing on building a community of “Loudmouth Ladkis” who are advocates for what they believe in.
Kaneeka had the chance to sit with the two co-hosts ahead of the launch of their 5th season, premiering on February 11th, 2021!
Tell us about yourselves and your journey to launching Loudmouth Ladkis!
Saniya: Sapna and I are both from the Bay Area in California. We both grew up in San Jose and went to different high schools, but we both did speech and debate and that’s actually how we met!
We met at a speech and debate tournament and realised that we were so similar, and from then on, we began getting closer and closer. In 2019, I was studying in Philadelphia, but I came back for the summer to California, where Sapna was studying at UCLA. In the first half of 2019, I had become very invested in South Asian art – I found people like ZHKDesigns and HateCopy and instantly became obsessed. I made it my personal mission to consume more South Asian art.
In July 2019, HateCopy was doing an exhibit in San Francisco at a restaurant called Besharam, and I knew I needed to go. I dragged Sapna to the event and made her dress Western-Desi to fit in with the Hatecopy aesthetic – I honestly don’t know how I managed to convince her, but we wore lehenga tops, tikkas, bangles and jeans in public transport on the way to San Francisco.
On the journey, we began talking about our passion for advocacy, especially in the South Asian community. When we got to the event, we were so inspired by Maria (HateCopy) and how badass she is. It was so inspiring to see a South Asian woman so untethered in her identity, especially in the US – and how she was able to combine living in the West with her cultural identities. After we left, we were like – “We are doing it. We are starting a podcast”.
We spent about a week trying to figure out a name – that was probably the hardest part of all of it – and then we filmed the first season across just 2 or 3 days in my mom’s bedroom. We launched in 2019 and it has been a journey ever since!
I saw that you released a motif recently of what the “loudmouth ladki” looks like, but I’m interested to hear from you both – what does it mean to be a loudmouth ladki?
Sapna: A lot of it is about being an advocate and being outspoken about the stigmas in our community. The biggest part of it is being an advocate for yourself, for others, and for people who may be marginalized in our community.
Saniya: In addition to advocacy, a loudmouth ladki knows and understands the art of storytelling – this is something we are trying to achieve through our podcast. We want to tell stories; we think stories are really powerful and try to continue that theme through this “loudmouth persona”.
The episode that reeled me in the one where you talked about identity (“Desi me rolling”). Hearing you guys talking about the tension of being Western and Eastern at the same time is something that resonated with me personally. As you can see from a lot of our content on Pardesi, identity conflict is something we really are trying to get to grips with, through opening up conversations around it. How did launching this podcast help you both explore your own identities and come to terms with it?
Sapna: for me, the biggest thing was understanding that our South Asian-American culture and our identity is not a monolith at all. Everyone has such a different experience and being able to explore these experiences through an intersectional lens [on our podcast] has allowed me to understand that there are so many different layers to the things that we face. There are so many different identities at play that influence the way we act, and the way we think. It helped me realise 1) we aren’t alone, but also 2) there is so much diversity in our experience.
Saniya: Sapna and I came into this with two very different perspectives on what South Asian identity means to us – up until high school, I really separated my two lives. I loved Bollywood at home and was Western at school. It wasn’t until high school that I met people who thought like I did. I am very lucky to have never experienced being a minority, and in high school I was surrounded by people who loved dancing like I did, eating the food that I did and weren’t hiding it, because there was no need to. However, I don’t think I fully claimed my South Asian identity as a holistic identity until Loudmouth Ladkis. This podcast has given me the space to fully accept that I am a desi woman, I am a Punjabi woman, and this is my identity. It is prevalent in everything that I do and seeps through anywhere I am, and I am okay with that! I don’t need to water it down for anybody.
Alongside the underlying theme of identity, which I do think carries through all of your episodes, you talk about a huge variety of topics – mental health, sexuality, domestic violence amongst a few. Through all this range, what has actually been your favourite topic to talk about and your favourite episode to record?
Saniya: Decolonising self-care was hands down my favourite episode! For favourite topic, I think it has to be mental health. I do a lot of mental health advocacy and have been doing it through high school. De-stigmatising mental health has been a huge part of my journey – both de-stigmatising it for myself, and for the people around me. It is also what drives me career wise – I want to be a psychotherapist for people of colour – and so everything I do is mental health-oriented. I am very happy I get to use this podcast to cover mental health through different lenses, and through doing it with Sapna, we get to share different perspectives as well.
Sapna: I definitely agree – all of our mental health episodes have been my favourite so far. What I love about this podcast is that we reflect our own experiences through our content – so one other episode I really loved was our “identity politics” episode. Saniya and I talked about American politics, and how big of a part identity politics has to play – for example, our community wanting to supporting Kamala Harris because she is South Asian – but also how important it is to understand the nuances of political discussion. That was a really fun episode that pushed our boundaries a little bit, and that’s something we are going to do a bit more of in the next season!
What’s one topic that you want to explore more in your podcast?
Sapna: Moving into valentine’s day, we would love to do an episode about self-love, and just generally more episodes about the different areas of love and relationships. Dating is one of our most requested topics – stay tuned for next season *wink* *wink*
Saniya: I think I would like to explore my own personal journey with mental health and share my story. There is so much power with sharing your story, and I would love to do that through the podcast.
Time for a quickfire round! Answer these questions as quickly as you can and with as few words as possible!
Saniya: Call her Daddy
Sapna: The Daily by Michael Barbaro
Those are some VERY different energies right there – they could not be more different if I had planned that. One of you really said SEX and the other said BUSINESS. Honestly, I am a huge fan of Alex Cooper, so I really support you on that one Saniya!
Female role model?
Sapna: Dr. Leana Wen former President of Planned Parenthood
Saniya: Dr. Alfiee Breland-Noble
Favourite IG account for empowering desi content?
Both: ZHK Designs!
Favourite desi influencer?
Both: Seerat Saini
KKHH or K3G?
Saniya: Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Sapna: Khabi Kushi Khabie Gham
Wow! These are some polarising questions
What is your favourite desi food?
Sapna: Shahi Paneer
Saniya: Makki di roti and sarson ka saag
Pani Puri or gol gappa?
Saniya: Gol gappa!
Sapna: Pani Puri
Saniya: That’s it. The podcast is over.
Favourite Bollywood film?
Saniya: Zindagi na milegi dobara
Sapna: 3 idiots
One song you could listen to for the rest of your life?
Sapna: Channa Mereya or, if it’s not Desi music, Feeling Myself by Beyonce and Nicki Minaj.
What’s one thing on your bucketlist?
Sapna: Visit Europe!
Saniya: Stargaze in Joshua Tree
Check out Loudmouth Ladkis' latest episode below: