Dhvani Bhanushali’s ‘Vaaste’ Garners Over 1.5 Billion Views

Singer Dhvani Bhanushali, who is known for her tracks like ‘Vaaste’, ‘Ishare Tere’ and ‘Leja Re’, has clocked 1.5 billion views for her song ‘Vaaste’ on YouTube.
Among the Indian songs that have crossed the 1 billion milestone are the devotional song ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ topping the list followed by regional songs like the Punjabi song ‘Lehanga’ and a Haryanvi song ’52 Gaj Ka Daman’ making Dhvani’s song the fourth most viewed song nationwide.
This has made Dhvani the youngest Indian musician to achieve the milestone. ‘Vaaste’ has been composed by Tanishk Bagchi and written by Arafat Mehmood, with Nikhil D’Souza featuring as the co-singer, the music video is directed by Radhika Rao and Vinay Sapru.
Expressing her gratitude, Dhvani said: “‘Vaaste’ is like that magical thing that happened in my life. I’ll always be grateful to all the people who have watched it more than a billion times on YouTube. It was the team of Tanishk, Arafat, Nikhil, Radhika Ma’am, Vinay Sir and Siddharth that we could break so many records back then and even today. Most importantly it’s all the love and support by the audiences; it only inspires me to work harder and create more magic. I want to thank everyone who was involved in making this beautiful song with me, our mark will live on forever.”
Dhvani made her debut in the pop world with ‘Ishare Tere’ and followed it up with another hit, ‘Leja Re’. However, it was ‘Vaaste’ that catapulted her to the A-list of Indian musicians.
The song became a massive hit and was also listed among the top 10 most-liked music videos globally, with Dhvani featuring as the only Indian music artist in YouTube Rewind 2019. The song was released under the label of T-Series. (IANS)

Priyanka Chopra To Star Opposite John Cena, Idris Elba In Heads Of State

Ahead of the global debut of the streaming spy series ‘Citadel’, Priyanka Chopra Jonas is getting into business with Amazon Studios again, this time with John Cena and Idris Elba in ‘Heads of State’. The movie’s cameras roll in May.

‘Nobody’ filmmaker Ilya Naishuller is directing off a script by Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, with an initial draft by Harrison Query based on Query’s original idea, reports Deadline.

Plot details are being kept under wraps, but the film, which we first told you about, is being described as Air Force One meets Midnight Run. Producers are the Safran Company’s Peter Safran and John Rickard. EPs are Cena, Elba and Marcus Viscidi.

As per ‘Deadline’, in February 2021, Priyanka became a New York Times bestselling author with her memoir ‘Unfinished’. She’ll be starring with Richard Madden in Prime Video’s ‘Citadel’, set to begin streaming on April 28.

On the film side, she will next star in Sony’s ‘Love Again’ and most recently starred in Netflix’s Oscar-nominated feature ‘The White Tiger’, which she also executive produced.

Chopra Jonas’ production banner Purple Pebble Pictures is currently under a first-look film and TV deal with Amazon Studios and has also partnered with Paramount Global to create original content focused on diversity and inclusion for its entertainment and youth channels.

Indie Meme Film Festival Showcases Social & Political Issues From South Asia And Iran

Indie Meme, a non-profit organization, is holding its 8th Film Festival (IMFF2023) from April 12-16 in Austin, TX at the AFS Cinema. The festival provides a platform for filmmakers from South Asia and Iran to showcase their unique stories, with award-winning actors and filmmakers attending every year. This year, Kalki Koechlin and Pushan Kripalani, lead actor and director of the festival’s opening night film “Goldfish”, and Leena Yadav, director of “Tell it like a Woman”, will be in attendance.

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The festival features over 30 films in 17 languages, representing 13 countries, touching on global issues such as mental health, women empowerment, poverty, freedom of speech, and more. Audience members have the opportunity to engage with the filmmakers after each screening, exchange perspectives and explore the premise further. Additionally, a virtual festival program is scheduled from April 28 to May 1, offering a hybrid experience for those outside Austin.

Indie Meme 2023 Film Lineup

ALL THAT BREATHES

The film “All That Breathes” is in the running for the Best International Documentary award at the 95th Academy Awards. The movie centers around two brothers who are trying to rescue black kite birds, which are crucial to New Delhi’s ecosystem but are dying due to environmental pollution. This documentary is unique in that it is the first film to have won the Best Documentary Prize at both the Sundance and Cannes film festivals.

GOLDFISH

“Goldfish,” directed by Pushan Kriplani and starring Kalki Koechlin, will premiere at the South Asian Film Festival in the US. The film follows Janaki, a young woman with bipolar disorder and addiction, as she searches for a missing father with a young boy. “Goldfish” explores mental health, trauma, and human connection and has received critical acclaim. Its premiere at the festival is significant for Indian cinema and a testament to the power of storytelling.

TELL IT LIKE A WOMAN

“Tell It Like A Woman,” a new Indian documentary film directed by Leena Yadav, will premiere at the South Asian Film Festival in the US. The film features interviews with influential and inspiring women from a range of backgrounds, exploring gender, identity, and the role of women in society in India. Through their stories, the film offers a window into the experiences and struggles of women in India.

LEILA’S BROTHERS

The Iranian film “Leila’s Brothers” will have its Texas premiere at IMFF2023. The film was awarded the International Critics’ Prize in 2022 for best film in Cannes main competition. Boasting a tour de force ensemble, Leila’s Brothers is a masterful family drama that echoes Greek tragedies.

This year, the festival scored two international premieres – “Dhabari Quruvi” and “Eikhoigi Yum.”

DHABARI QURUVI

The movie “Dhabari Quruvi” is the first of its kind in the world to have tribals both as actors and singers. It is a beautiful film directed by Priyanandanan with a cast entirely made up of indigenous people from Attappadi, Kerala. The plot revolves around a young girl who challenges the traditional customs of her tribe and takes control of her own body and life choices. The dialogue in the movie is exclusively in the “Irula” language, but according to the director, the emotions conveyed in the story will overcome any language barrier for the viewers.

EIKHOIGI YUM

The IMFF2023 will feature “Eikhoigi Yum” (Our Home), a Manipuri film directed by Romi Meitei. The film tells the story of an 11-year-old boy from an isolated fishing community who is determined to succeed in school despite personal and financial difficulties. The film takes place around the Loktak Pat Lake, and its stunning cinematography portrays the lives of those living in homes built on a floating biomass.

IN SEARCH OF BENGALI HARLEM

Don’t miss the Texas premiere of “In Search of Bengali Harlem,” a documentary created by historian and author Vivek Bald and stand-up comedian and actor Alaudin Ullah. The film follows Alaudin as he investigates the history of his immigrant parents from Bangladesh and uncovers a forgotten past where South Asian Muslims, African Americans, and Puerto Ricans created a unique and diverse community in the mid-20th century tenements of Harlem. Both creators of the documentary will be present at the event, which was supported by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state’s affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

WHILE WE WATCHED

The second documentary of filmmaker Vinay Shukla, who is an Indie Meme alumnus, is called “While We Watched.” The film centers on the experiences of Ravish Kumar, a reporter for NDTV in India, as he confronts limitations on journalism, navigates his career, and faces personal threats.

POLITE SOCIETY

The final movie for IMFF 2023 will be “Polite Society,” a comedy about a young woman training in martial arts who thinks she needs to rescue her sister from an arranged marriage. Together with her friends, they attempt to execute a daring wedding heist to promote sisterhood and independence.

Indie Meme’s Focus

Indie Meme has been featuring a diverse range of films, shorts, and documentaries from talented filmmakers in South Asia and Iran since 2013. The films address important global issues that are often neglected, including climate change, poverty, access to education and healthcare, and discrimination based on caste, gender, and sexual orientation.

Indie Meme is particularly honored to continue to bring these meaningful productions in its 10th year making Austin THE destination for debate, discussions, dialogue, and change!

Badges for the Indie Meme Film Festival, IMFF2023, are available at Indiememe.org/IMFF2023. The festival was dubbed “the best international passport” by The Austin Chronicle in 2016, solidifying Austin’s spot on the world map of film. IMFF 2023 is also supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin, Economic Development Department, and its Sponsors.

Indie Meme is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting independent cinema and filmmakers from South Asia & Iran. Our focus is on promoting diversity and cultural exchange. Over the past 10 years, and 8 years of the film festival, Indie Meme is thrilled to provide a platform for the best in independent South Asian cinema, and brings the work of these talented filmmakers to audiences in Austin, and across the United States.

Hedge Events To Organize Vandemataram 2023 Across Several Cities In USA

“As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Hedge Events New York, we are excited to have you join in and collaborate with us at the Multi-City Vandemataram 2023: Music & Dance Nite, a very popular Entertainment Show across several states in the United States in August-September 2023,” Jacob Araham, CEO of Hedge Funds announced here today. “Vandemataram is a way of expressing our commitment to India while commemorating and paying tributes to our Mother India on the milestone celebration, the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence.”

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Mr. Abraham introducing the Hedge Brokerage, the main organizing group of the Show said, “We take pride in our mission to be a link between India and the highly successful Indian American Diaspora in the United States. And, rightly so, Vandemataram 2023 is an effective way of being rooted in and appreciating the best of India’s culture and traditions, showcased by versatile internationally famed artists.

Hedge Events is well known in the community for organizing several Shows in the past decade. The Mollywood Kollywood Sooraj Venjaramoodu and Indrajith Mamatha Mohandas Show was organized in 2016. For the first time ever, The United States North American Film Award (NAFA) with participation from Dhulkar Salman, Parwathy, Bhavana. Vijay Yesudas, Gopisunder, which was live telecasted by Flowers Channel was a huge success. In  2017, NAFA event was proud to have Nivin Pauly, Kunjako Boban, Tovino, Manju Warrior, Asha Sarath, Vani Jayaram, Biji Pal, Rima Kallunkal, and Asiq Abu. The 2018 awards ceremony by the Hedge Fund and NAFA had Dulkar Salman, Manju Warrior,  Andria, Vijay Yesudas, Steven Devasia, Joju and many more.

The following stars have already confirmed their participation at the Live Show organized by Hedge in collaboration with several community organizations at the much anticipated Vandemataram 2013: Popular playback singers: Harish Anker and Nithya Mammen; Popular actor Anna Prasad;  Aishwarya renowned actress; Ramadan D4 Dance Winner ; P S Abhijith on Violin; Stephen Devasia on Keyboard; Rajesh Vaidyan on Veena; Mohini Dae on Base Guitar; Mahesh on Thabala; Choreographer Sunitha.

Each Show is expected to have more than 15.000 live audiences. The colorful souvenir we plan to release at the events will be an additional opportunity for you in promoting your business.

Vandemataram 2023 is a great way to connect with and inspire the hearts of souls of the fast-growing and highly successful Indian American community in the United States.  For more details, please contact by Email: [email protected] or visit: www.hedgeeventsny.com

Devdas – The Musical Set For World Premiere In Singapore

There will be two shows in Hindi with English subtitles on April 21 and 22, and two shows in English with Mandarin subtitles on April 22 and 23.

India’s leading live theatre producer AGP World, along with Arte Compass and Zee TV APAC, inspired by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s classic novel, brings Ashvin Gidwani’s ‘Devdas – The Musical for the world’ premiere in Singapore on April 21, 2023, at the Esplanade Theatre. The news release said that the 100-minute multi-starrer explores the saga of star-crossed lovers Devdas and Paro, torn apart by unfortunate circumstances.

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This multifaceted production features performances from popular Bollywood actors such as Sunil Kumar Palwal, Aanchal Chauhan, Bhavna Pani, Jayesh Thakkar and Smita Jaykar, who play key roles in the musical. Actor Arif Zakaria w plays Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, the writer of the classic tale. The musical also features songs from the Bollywood movie Devdas such as Woh Zindagi Hi Kya, Shyam Tore Rang Me, and Toota Re Manwa, sung by prominent singers, including Shaan, Kailash Kher, Alka Yagnik, Suresh Wadkar, Shail Hada, Bhoomi Trivedi and Antara Mitra.

Ashvin Gidwani, Producer & MD, AGP World, expressed delight to bring this classic on stage and showcase the first World Premiere in Singapore. The press statement said that there will be two shows in Hindi with English subtitles on April 21 and 22, and two shows in English with Mandarin subtitles on April 22 and 23. British theatre director, writer, actor, and teacher Toby Gough is the creative director for the grand musical which is co-directed by Indian director Ranga Godbole. The team also includes technical director and production designer Tom Kitney.

“Devdas has witnessed several renditions in the Indian cinema, yet there is something about the epic that connects with the audience. A saga of love presented by multiple onstage and offstage talents; Devdas promises to be a production never seen before on the Indian Stage,” Gidwani said.

Sanmesh Thakur, EVP – APAC, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, said, “Zee in Singapore has been known to support and co-produce high-quality productions. We are extremely proud and excited to be associated with Devdas, one of the most highly awaited shows of 2023!”

South Asian House At SXSW Showcased

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Created through sponsorships from The Auntie Network, Tasveer, One Minute Saree, URL Media, The Partnership Inc., Sway with Pray, Indie Meme, and Lailit Vadlamani & Shubha Iyengar, the first-ever South Asian House (SAH) kicked off at Fourth & Co in downtown Austin during the first weekend of the 37th annual SXSW®.

Featured speakers at the two-day, cultural pop-up included industry professionals from business, tech, film, TV, theater, music, and fashion. SAH also hosted a networking event with  happy hour each day, as well as live music and a DJ set each night. Local Bollywood dance company Sway With Pray organized flash mobs around the city, and to conclude the weekend, Tasveer presented a Red Carpet Awards Ceremony and a live Oscar Viewing Party on Sunday, March 12. Several South Asian nominees and celebrities were cheered on by the House during the Academy Awards.

The inaugural event opened with welcome remarks from the co-founders of the South Asian House and from SXSW’s Director of Sales, Neil Minocha, followed by a fireside chai & chat moderated by Ms. Media CEO and SAH co-founder Monika Samtani and featured movie producer Rishi Rajani (CEO, Hillman Grad Productions), actor Reema Sampat (Orange is the New Black), and journalist/entrepreneur Snigdha Sur (Founder & CEO, The Juggernaut). The fireside was sponsored by Catalyst Media and Lalit Vadlamani & Shubha Iyengar. SAH’s programming also included two noteworthy panels on film and television Saturday. Warm SriLankan Chai was provided by Kola Goodies.

The first, “Creating South Asian Content for a Global Audience,” was an hour-long discussion with actor Rizwan Manji (“Schitt’s Creek,” “Peacemaker”), Executive Producer of VICE TV, Falguni Adams, and Apoorva Bakshi, Emmy award-winning producer of the hit TV series “Delhi Crime,” moderated by CEO of Jingo Media and co-founder of SAH, Jitin Hingorani.

The second panel, “Investing in the Future of Our South Asian Stories,” was an important conversation that included CEO and Co-founder of URL Media S. Mitra Kalita, actor Kausar Mohammed (“4400,” “The Flash”), and Atit Shah, CEO of Create Entertainment, moderated by co-founder of Box Office Guru Media Gitesh Pandya.

Women in Film and Television, Austin presented the Pilot reading hour of Rehana Lew Mirza’s script ‘Don’t Hate’ with a full slate of talent cast by Ashley Guaragna Casting with this pilot to be produced by SAH co-founder Rohi Mirza Pandya under the sisters joint production company banner. EarlierThe Leadership Program took a deep dive into the successful leadership mindset followed by one-on-one mentorship sessions with industry leaders Pooja Kumar (Actress/Producer & former Miss India USA), Milan Chakraborty (Head of Film at Marginal MediaWorks), Sid Shah (Founder of Trackmind), and James A. Mathew (CEO of The Outer Voice Company). The Leadership Program was facilitated by SAH co-founders, Rohi Mirza Pandya and Monika Samtani, as well as their production company Catalyst Media+ sponsors Lalit Vadlamani & Shubha Iyengar.

South Asian House attendees enjoyed Happy Hours hosted by our partners Brown Girl Magazine and Austin’s very own Indie Meme Film Festival.

The Auntie Network, a Texas dating and marriage website for South Asian singles, presented The StoryLounge Variety Show, hosted by Vick Krishna and Samrat Chakrabarti, and included comics Proma Khosla, Tanveer Arora, and Aizzah Fatima, with musical guest on the table, Mayookh Bhaumik. The evening’s entertainment concluded with live music by Chloe Choudhury with SUNNN, Meetu Chilana, Aditya Rao, and DJ Anupi. The world renowned percussionist Drums Sivamani surprised all guests with an impromptu performance.

Fashion brand One Minute Saree presented Sunday’s Desi Drag Brunch, featuring New York drag queen Tara Ryst and local drag queens Darshan and Jayan, who draped the sarees on stage during their live Bollywood performances. The event was supported by Austin’s South Asian LBGTQ+ organization, Khush Texas.

The afternoon included a series of shorts content, curated by Jitin Hingorani, Founder and Festival Director of DFW South Asian Film Festival, which culminated with the launch of the title track music video from an upcoming Austin based AAPI project WHERE THE STARS ARE, a Banskota Productions feature film co-directed by Kirtana Banskota and Andy Yang. Oscar Sunday evening kicked off with a red carpet and the Uniquely South Asian awards ceremony presented by Tasveer’s Founder Rita Meher. Awardees included all the afore-mentioned panelists and other thought leaders who are uplifting the Diaspora through their unique contributions to the community at large. The Oscar Watch Party was followed by live sets from  Kiss Nuka Live (Mumbai & Goa) and Austin’s DJ Anup USA.

“And that’s a wrap!” exclaimed producers Mirza Pandya, Hingorani, Samtani, and Banskota. “We are just thrilled at the reception we’ve received from the South Asian community at SXSW, and we can’t wait to come back bigger and stronger next year. A huge shoutout to all our volunteers without whom this event would not be possible.”

About South Asian House: An initiative that aims to connect a thriving community of thought leaders from various sectors in the business, tech, film, television, fashion, music, ad theater idustries from seven different South Asian countries including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. The initiative was created by veteran producers, curators, and programmers Rohi Mirza Pandya (Box Office Guru Media), Jitin Hingorani (Jingo Media), Monika Samtani (Ms. Media), and Kirtana Banskota (Banskota Productions). For more information on SXSW’s first ever South Asian House please visit HERE.

Everything Everywhere All At Once Triumphs At Oscars

In addition to India making a remarkable mark on world stage, the 95th Academy awards were significant for another reason. It was not just India’s night, but all of Asia, with ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ making a clean sweep of almost every award it was nominated for. Michelle Yeoh as the first Asian Best Actress winner, and only the second person of colour to win that trophy after Halle Berry in 2002 for ‘Monster’s Ball’, spoke of her Oscar as ‘a beacon of hope and possibilities’.

Everything Everywhere All at Once has dominated this year’s Oscars, winning seven awards including best picture on a big night for Asian and Asian American representation.

The manic multiverse fantasy, about a fractured family swept up in an interdimensional adventure, also delivered wins for best actress, best director, best supporting actor, best supporting actress, best editing and best original screenplay at the 95th Academy Awards ceremony held on Sunday, March 12th, 2023. It was the most nominated film of the night.

Michelle Yeoh became only the second woman of color to win the best actress Oscar, following in the footsteps of Halle Berry in 2002. “For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight this is a beacon of hope and possibility,” she said, before adding: “Ladies don’t ever let anyone tell you you are past your prime.”

Ke Huy Quan was named best supporting actor for his role in the film, beating Barry Keoghan and Judd Hirsch. He is the first Vietnam-born actor to win an Oscar. “Mom, I just won an Oscar!” he said tearfully. “They say stories like this only happen in the movies, I cannot believe this is happening to me.”

Picture : Rolling Stone

The win built on the tremendous 2020 ‘Parasite’ sweep when Bong Joon Ho won the best director, and the film won both the best picture AND the best international feature film. EEAAO won seven, yes count them, Oscars. Vietnam-born Ke Huy Kwan won Best Supporting Actor, Jamie Lee Curtis, who really should have won for her breakout perf in A Fish Called Wanda ( yes, way back in 1988), finally got hers with a Best Supporting Actress, the Daniels won the Best Director: the film also picked up awards for Best Original Screenplay and Editing.

In an industry where race and representation have mostly stayed buzz words, the ‘Everything Everywhere..’ triumph feels like a shift, where people of colour are being seen and celebrated for who they are, and what they bring to the table, even if the film often feels laden with too many nods to Asians-in-America stereotypes. But what a performance from Yeoh, and a well-deserved win: there was no better film to have got this award in this year.

I’m sad that the fabulous ‘Banshees of Insherin’, a tale of two most unusual best friends buoyed by a terrific performance from Colin Farrell (an infinitely harder one to pull off as compared to Brendan Fraser’s prosthetic-laden turn in ‘The Whale’, which won the latter the Best Actor) and the gentle donkey Jenny, lost out the Best Picture to EEAAO, but I’m very happy that the latter won, won big, and won so emphatically. Thus proving that it is quite possible to be happy and sad at the same time. Now excuse me while I play ‘Naatu Naatu’ at full volume, all over again.

Naatu Naatu, The Elephant Whisperers & Padukone Make India Shine At Academy Awards

India shone bright at the 95th Academy awards. As an ecstatic MM Keeravani sang out his thanks in tune with that Carpenter’s immortal sappy ditty, the auditorium exploded in hoots, whistles and loud cheers. His ‘namaste’, a delightful little tailpiece to his acceptance speech, echoed the sentiments of a billion Indians on the top of the world after ‘Naatu Naatu’ won the Best Original Song at the Academy awards.

With “Naatu Naatu”, the hit dance track from “RRR”, documentary feature “All That Breathes” and short documentary “The Elephant Whisperers” up for an Oscar, the 95th Academy Awards could well be India’s moment to shine at perhaps the most glittering of all showbiz stages today. It is the first time that India-made productions have earned so many Oscar nominations.

India’s win at Oscars 2023 brings up one of our major strengths, which is being unafraid of sentiment, of bringing something real and emotional to a world that has been taken over by pallid superheroes and their even more pallid tales.

Picture : India Glitz

It’s not just the song which had had the globe dancing to its tune from S S Rajamouli’s blockbuster ‘RRR’ that made history at this edition of the Oscars. It was also the Best Documentary Short award for the ‘The Elephant Whisperers’, a heartwarming film on the deep bond between a pair of elephants and their humans, directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, and produced by Guneet Monga. If you haven’t seen the 40 minute film on Netflix, featuring the charming Raghu and Ammu, and Bomman and Bellie, get right to it: it truly is a testament to, as Gonsalves said, the ‘sacred bond between us and the natural world and respect for indigenous

Naatu Naatu was the first Indian win in the Best original song category, and Gonsalves the first Indian to win in the short docu category. India’s cup would have brimmeth over if Shaunak Sen had won the Best Documentary Feature for ‘All That Breathes’, a haunting film about a pair of Delhi-based brothers who care for injured kites falling from the skies. That loss will be a lasting regret.

Shaunak Sen didn’t win the Best Documentary Feature for ‘All That Breathes’. But even as Sen’s film kept winning hearts on the festival circuit, from Sundance to Cannes, and we kept our fingers and toes tightly crossed, it was ‘Navalny’, about the imprisoned Russian dissident and hardcore Putin critic Alexei Navalny which had been gathering momentum in the build-up to the Oscars. This was always going to be the year that anti-war sentiment was everywhere, with ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’ the front-runner in the race, which lost out, quite rightly, to Everything Everywhere All At Once.

The German war epic, directed by Edward Berger, had to be content with the Best International Feature, original score, production design and cinematography, and it lost out, quite rightly to the totally bonkers genre-bending multiverse sci-fi-action-adventure ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.

Still, two out of three is not a bad strike. History doesn’t always have to be grand sweeps. It can be made out of these small incremental steps, because of what they mean once the hurly burly of the awards night and the zillion pre-Oscars and post-Oscars after parties are done and dusted.

An award on a stage where the world is watching opens up doors not just for the film and its makers, but also the country they represent. Those who’ve been dismissing the ‘song-and-dance’ spectacles of Indian mainstream movies, are now dancing to the infectious rhythms of ‘Naatu Naatu’, even as SS Rajamouli’s RRR will always come with a caveat of whether or not it was truthful to the lives of the revolutionaries it was based on.

Picture : NDTV

But this is a time to celebrate, not nit-pick. As first-time Oscar presenter Deepika Padukone, the lights on stage making her even more luminous, asked the audience quite rhetorically: do you know ‘Naatu Naatu’, and it played out on stage, it was a moment.

That live performance may not have matched the mad energy of the song that you see in the film, but the win, which had looked like a shoo-in from the time it was nominated, brings to the fore the joyousness of music, and the stories that can be told via song when words fail. It brings up one of the major strengths of Indian cinema, which is being unafraid of sentiment, of bringing something real and emotional to a world which has been taken over by pallid superheroes and their even more pallid tales which all look and feel similar.

Night Shyamalan Signs Multi-Year First-Look Deal At Warner Bros

Indian American filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan has inked a new multi-year, first-look deal with Warner Bros. Pictures, with the Oscar-nominated filmmaker switching his allegiance from Universal.

The announcement was made on Thursday by Warner Bros. Pictures Group co-chairs and CEOs Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy.

News of the pact comes as the director celebrates his latest release ‘Knock at the Cabin’, which marks his seventh No. 1 opening at the box office – he has a No. 1 film in each of the last four decades – and further contributes to his more than $3 billion haul at the global box office, beginning with his breakout hit, ‘The Sixth Sense’, reports Variety.

“Where I write and direct is my home,” Shyamalan said in a statement announcing the new deal. Disney and Universal, where I’ve made most of my films, will always be home and family to me. Warner Bros. has a storied history of cinema. Through its recent experiences, the company has rediscovered its love and appreciation for filmmakers, and the impact of the theatrical experience.”

“We all win when movies succeed in theatres. I believe David Zaslav, Michael De Luca, and Pam Abdy have dedicated themselves to unique filmmakers, and to filling theatres all around the world for years to come.”

Under the new agreement, Shyamalan and his Philly-based production company Blinding Edge Pictures, run by president of production Ashwin Rajan, will develop original projects for the filmmaker to produce and/or direct for WBPG production divisions Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema.

Among those projects is Shyamalan’s much-anticipated next directorial effort, ‘Trap’, which is dated for a theatrical release on August 2, 2024.

Also, in the works is ‘The Watchers’, the forthcoming directorial debut of his daughter Ishana Night Shyamalan, which will commence production this year and is slated for a June 7, 2024 release.

“Night is one of the most iconic and influential directors of his generation and an auteur in every sense of the word,” stated De Luca and Abdy.

“From ‘The Sixth Sense’ through ‘Split’ to his latest chiller ‘Knock at the Cabin,’ he’s one of the few directors in contemporary cinema whose name alone promises a bold, singular vision, compelling original storytelling and a provocative, surprising and entirely unique experience at the theatre.”

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome him to the Warner Bros. family, and look forward to an exciting collaboration with Night and the entire Blinding Edge team.”

A lifelong film lover, Shyamalan began directing his own projects while a student at NYU, kicking off his career with 1992’s ‘Praying with Anger’ and 1998’s ‘Wide Awake’. In 1999, the writer, director and producer’s third film, “The Sixth Sense,” made him a mega-star, earning nearly $700 million worldwide and netting six Oscar nominations, including directing and original screenplay nods.

His body of work that followed includes blockbusters like ‘Signs’, ‘The Village’, ‘The Visit’ and the comic-book trilogy ‘Unbreakable’, ‘Split’ and ‘Glass’.

On the TV side, Shyamalan has directed five episodes of Apple+ TV’s thriller series ‘Servant’, for which he also serves as showrunner and executive producer. (IANS)

Stella Jean Quits Milan Fashion Week Over Lack Of Inclusion

(AP) — The only Black designer belonging to Italy’s fashion chamber withdrew Wednesday from this month’s Milan Fashion Week, alleging a lack of support for diversity and inclusion after the chamber “abandoned” a project to promote young designers of color working in Italy.

Stella Jean interrupted a press conference by the Italian National Fashion Chamber to announce that neither she nor five members of the We Are Made in Italy collective of designers of color would participate in fashion week.

She also said she had started a hunger strike Wednesday out of concern members of WAMI, an initiative launched in 2020 on the heels of the Black Lives Matter movement, could suffer a professional backlash for her activism.

The moves signaled a dramatic denouement of a nearly three-year-collaboration with the chamber to promote designers of color.

“The chamber told us, ‘We didn’t know there were Italian designers who weren’t white.’ We brought them to the runway. They supported us for two years. Then we were abandoned,” Jean told the press conference.

Picture : WWD

Italian Fashion Chamber President Carlo Capasa assured her from the dais that the chamber had no intention of retaliating in any way. He expressed regret that neither she nor the WAMI members would participate in Fashion Week.

“Stella’s contribution has always been appreciated. We Italians need to have our conscience stimulated,” he said. “As for WAMI, we are not people who retaliate. For us it is important to promote new brands.”

He noted that two WAMI designers from previous seasons were presenting collections during Milan Fashion Week, which runs from Feb. 21-27.

In addition, the chamber has included on the fashion week calendar the inaugural edition of the Black Carpet Awards recognizing the achievements of minorities in Italian society, and was hosting another diversity initiative by the owner and editor of U.S.-based Blanc Magazine, Teneshia Carr.

Jean charged that the chamber had significantly cut back support for WAMI after she made an impassioned speech about the personal price she had paid for highlighting racial injustice in Italy during a runway show last September.

She also said it backtracked on a promise to create a Black board within the chamber to promote diversity and inclusion. Capasa told AP that he decided against the board after WAMI made social media posts that cast a negative light on some Italian fashion brands.

“We wrote a nice letter, saying we want to give them the liberty to express themselves,” Capasa said, adding that the chamber could not host any board that appeared to take public swipes at other members.

Italian-Haitian Jean, who made her Milan runway premiere in 2013 on the Armani runway, said she and her family have been subjected to retaliation for her activism for racial justice in Italy. She said that included death threats against her daughter by other minors, and the termination of professional relationships for her.

“When you speak of retaliations, of death threats, people, I work in fashion. I don’t traffic arms, I don’t traffic drugs or make money from trafficking women,” Jean said. “It is absurd, vile, shameful and inhuman that I must speak for people who feel their lives are in danger, who feel they will suffer the same retaliation.”

WAMI was launched by Jean, African-American designer Edward Buchanan and the head of Afro Fashion Week Milano, Michelle Ngonmo, to draw attention to the lack of minority representation in the Italian fashion world. It followed some racial gaffes by major fashion houses that made global headlines.

Ngonmo told the AP that financial support for the project from the chamber had dwindled over the three years it has run so far, and that Afro Fashion Week Milano wasn’t able to come up with 20,000 euros ($21,000) to support the five young designers in making solid looks to present, plus a video.

The Italian fashion chamber fully supported the collections for the two WAMI classes, each with five designers, but hasn’t funded the third generation, Ngonmo and Jean said.

A September show featuring Jean, Buchanan and WAMI was financed through other allies and their own contributions. The latest WAMI collections were to be presented by video on Feb. 22.

“Maybe the message is the whole industry needs to open their eyes and say, ‘What can we do to make that happen?’” Ngonmo told the AP.

Capasa emphasized that the project by Blanc Magazine’s Carr is receiving the same support he offered WAMI: a slot on the calendar and a physical space in the Fashion Hub where journalists and buyers can view the collections.

But Jean insists that Italy’s designers of color deserve special promotion by the chamber, whose role is the promotion of Italian fashion.

Jean said progress in recent seasons — including opening fashion week with WAMI designer Joy Meribe’s runway show, and Jean’s own return to the runway in September — had turned out to be “performative.”

“They used WAMI as a free pass of safe conduct for diversity,” Jean told the AP. She said she was withdrawing out of fatigue with the “continual fight” for recognition for designers of color in Italy. “I am a fighter by nature, but I cannot be this way all the time,” she said.

Award-Winning Life Of Pi Stars To Make Their Broadway Debuts Reprising The Roles Of “Pi” And “Richard Parker”

Lolita Chakrabarti’s dazzling stage adaption of Yann Martel’s best-selling novel LIFE OF PI will premiere at Broadway’s Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (236 West 45th Street) with three Olivier Award-winning performers making their Broadway debuts. Recreating their critically acclaimed performances for Broadway will be “Best Actor” winner Hiran Abeysekera in the role of “Pi” and “Best Supporting Actor” winners Fred Davis and Scarlet Wilderink join the “Richard Parker” puppeteering team.

The Broadway production of the five-time Olivier Award-winning London production of LIFE OF PI will feature Brian Thomas Abraham as Cook/Voice of “Richard Parker,” Rajesh Bose as Father, Avery Glymph as Father Martin/Russian Sailor/Rear Admiral Jackson, Mahira Kakkar as Nurse/Amma/Orange Juice, Kirstin Louie as Lulu Chen, Salma Qarnain as Mrs. Biology Kumar/Zaida Khan, Sathya Sridharan as Mamaji/Pandit-Ji, Daisuke Tsuji as Mr. Okamoto/Captain, Sonya Venugopal as Rani, with Nikki Calonge, Fred Davis, Rowan Ian Seamus Magee, Jonathan David Martin, Betsy Rosen, Celia Mei Rubin, Scarlet Wilderink and Andrew Wilson as Royal Bengal tiger “Richard Parker.”  Mahnaz Damania, Jon Hoche, Usman Ali Mughal, Uma Paranjpe and David Shih round out the 24-member cast with Adi Dixit as the “Pi” alternate.

Picture : TheUNN

LIFE OF PI begins performances Thursday, March 9, 2023, and opens Thursday, March 30, 2023.  Prior to the Broadway engagement, LIFE OF PI made its North American Premiere at the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University.

LIFE OF PI is directed by Max Webster, with Set and Costume design by Olivier Award winner Tim Hatley, Puppetry and Movement Direction by Olivier Award winner Finn Caldwell, Puppet Design by Olivier Award winners Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell, Video Design by Olivier Award winner Andrzej Goulding, Lighting Design by Olivier Award winner Tim Lutkin, Sound Design by Carolyn Downing, Original Music by Andrew T Mackay, Dramaturgy by Jack Bradley, Wig Design by David Brian Brown, and Casting by Stewart/Whitley.

Based on one of the best-loved works of fiction – winner of the Man Booker Prize, selling over fifteen million copies worldwide – LIFE OF PI is a breath-taking new theatrical adaptation of an epic journey of endurance and hope.

After a cargo ship sinks in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, a sixteen-year-old boy name Pi is stranded on a lifeboat with four other survivors – a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. Time is against them, nature is harsh, who will survive?

Tickets for LIFE OF PI on Broadway are available at Telecharge.com (212.239.6200) and at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre box office and range from $49 – $199 (including $2 facility fee).  The playing schedule for LIFE OF PI is as follows: Tuesday through Saturday at 8pm, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm, and Sunday at 3pm.  Please note there will be no 2pm performance on Wednesday, March 15, and March 22.  Beginning Tuesday, April 4, 2023, the LIFE OF PI performance schedule is as follows: Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm, Wednesday and Friday at 7:30pm, and Saturday at 8pm, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm, and Sunday at 3pm.

LIFE OF PI on Broadway is produced by Simon Friend, Daryl Roth, Hal Luftig, Mark Gordon Pictures, Playing Field, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Gavin Kalin, Hunter Arnold, Hall Smalberg Winkler, 42nd.club, Elizabeth Armstrong, Eilene Davidson, deRoy Shea Waxman, Federman Jenen Productions, Susan Gallin, Independent Presenters Network, John Gore Organization, Kuhn Dodani, Harriet Newman Leve, Anastasia Muravyeva, Mary Lu Roffe, Catherine Schreiber, American Repertory Theatre and Sheffield Theatres, with Aaron Lustbader and Hanna Osmolska serving as Executive Producers.

LIFE OF PI played Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End where it won five Olivier Awards including Best New Play, Best Scenic Design and Best Lighting Design.  In an historic first for the Olivier Awards, the seven performers who play Royal Bengal tiger “Richard Parker” were collectively awarded “Best Actor in a Supporting Role.” The London production with its cutting-edge visual effects has garnered great critical acclaim and will launch a UK & Ireland tour in the summer of 2023.

Show info: www.LifeOfPiBway.com; Social: @lifeofpibway on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook

India Wins 3 Oscar Nominations

India received three nominations for Best Original Song (‘Naatu Naatu’ from ‘RRR’), Best Documentary Feature Film (‘All That Breathes’), and Best Documentary Short Film (‘The Elephant Whisperers’).

The Oscars are going to be held on March 13 this year and while the wait is going to be quite a long one from now, the nominations have sure lifted the spirits of not just the crew and cast of the films mentioned above, but also of everyone who hopes to see an Indian movie bagging the prestigious award.

Actor Jacqueline Fernandez penned down a heartfelt note last week as her film ‘Tell It Like A Woman’s song ‘Applause’ recently bagged an Oscar nomination in the ‘Best Original Song’ category.

The song is competing against ‘RRR’s ‘Naatu Naatu’, ‘Hold My Hand’ from the movie ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ ‘Lift me Up’ from ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,’ and ‘This Is Life,’ from ‘Everything, Everywhere All At Once’. The actor also congratulated the team ‘RRR’ for their Oscar nomination.

“Also big congratulations to Team RRR for Naatu Naatu nomination!!! My best wishes and love to the entire team and all the nominees,” the caption further reads.

Taking to Instagram, the ‘Kick’ actor shared a post which she captioned, “Beyond words right now Congratulations to @dianewarren @sofiacarson for the Oscar nomination for ‘Applause’ and making us all proud! It was an honor to be associated with this beautiful film ‘Tell it like a woman’ alongside such esteemed artists! Thank you @leenaclicks @chiaratilesi @lucasakoskin @andreaiervolinoproducer @wditogether @aseematographer @arrahman.”

The nominations for the upcoming 95th edition of Academy Awards were announced on last week by hosts Riz Ahmed and Allison Williams, with ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ leading the pack with as many as nine nominations.

The Colin Farrell-starrer film got nominated in the following categories — Best Supporting Actor (two nominations), Best Supporting Actress, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Original Score, Best Picture, Best Editing and Best Original Screenplay.

‘The Fabelmans’ received seven nominations followed by ‘Tar’ and ‘TopGun: Maverick’ (six each), ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ (five), ‘Avatar’ (four), and ‘The Whale’ (three).

Competing for the best picture are ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’, ‘Elvis’, ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, ‘The Fabelmans’, ‘Tar’, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’, ‘Triangle of Sadness’ and ‘Women Talking’.

The 95th Academy Awards is set to be presented at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 12. Jimmy Kimmel will be seen back as the host, after previously leading the awards show in 2017 and 2018. Last year, the Oscars returned to a host format with Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall, after going host-less the previous two years due to the Covid-19 pamdemic.

Here is the complete list of nominations:

* Best Supporting Actor

Brendan Gleeson (‘The Banshees of Inisherin’)

Brian Tyree Henry (‘Causeway’)

Judd Hirsch (‘”The Fabelmans’)

Barry Keoghan (‘The Banshees of Inisherin’)

Ke Huy Quan (‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’)

* Best Supporting Actress

Angela Bassett (‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’)

Hong Chau (‘The Whale’)

Kerry Condon (‘The Banshees of Inisherin’)

Jamie Lee Curtis (‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’)

Stephanie Hsu (‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’)

* Best Animated Feature Film

‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’, Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson, Gary Ungar and Alex Bulkley

‘Marcel the Shell With Shoes On’, Dean Fleischer Camp, Elisabeth Holm, Andrew Goldman, Caroline Kaplan and Paul Mezey

‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’, Joel Crawford and Mark Swift

‘The Sea Beast’, Chris Williams and Jed Schlanger

‘Turning Red’, Domee Shi and Lindsey Collins

* Best Animated Short Film

‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’, Charlie Mackesy and Matthew Freud

‘The Flying Sailor’, Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

‘Ice Merchants’, Joao Gonzalez and Bruno Caetano

‘My Year of Dicks’, Sara Gunnarsdottir and Pamela Ribon

‘An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It’, Lachlan Pendragon

* Best Costume Design

‘Babylon’, Mary Zophres

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, Ruth Carter

‘Elvis’, Catherine Martin

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, Shirley Kurata

‘Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris’, Jenny Beavan

* Best Live Action Short

‘An Irish Goodbye’, Tom Berkeley and Ross White

‘Ivalu’, Anders Walter and Rebecca Pruzan

‘Le Pupille’, Alice Rohrwacher and Alfonso Cuaron

‘Night Ride’, Eirik Tveiten and Gaute Lid Larssen

‘The Red Suitcase’, Cyrus Neshvad

* Best Makeup and Hairstyling

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, Heike Merker and Linda Eisenhamerova

‘The Batman’, Naomi Donne, Mike Marino and Mike Fontaine

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, Camille Friend and Joel Harlow

‘Elvis’, Mark Coulier, Jason Baird and Aldo Signoretti

‘The Whale’, Adrien Morot, Judy Chin and Anne Marie Bradley

* Best Original Score

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, Volker Bertelmann

‘Babylon’, Justin Hurwitz

‘The Banshees of Inisherin’, Carter Burwell

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, Son Lux

‘The Fabelmans’, John Williams

* Best Sound

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, Viktor Prasil, Frank Kruse, Markus Stemler, Lars Ginzel and Stefan Korte

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, Julian Howarth, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Dick Bernstein, Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers and Michael Hedges

‘The Batman’, Stuart Wilson, William Files, Douglas Murray and Andy Nelson

‘Elvis’, David Lee, Wayne Pashley, Andy Nelson and Michael Keller

‘Top Gun: Maverick’, Mark Weingarten, James H. Mather, Al Nelson, Chris Burdon and Mark Taylor

* Best Adapted Screenplay

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, Screenplay by Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson & Ian Stokell

‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’, Written by Rian Johnson

‘Living’, Written by Kazuo Ishiguro

‘Top Gun: Maverick’, Screenplay by Ehren Kruger and Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie; Story by Peter Craig and Justin Marks

‘Women Talking’, Screenplay by Sarah Polley

* Best Original Screenplay

‘The Banshees of Inisherin’, Written by Martin McDonagh

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, Written by Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert

‘The Fabelmans’, Written by Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner

‘Tar’, Written by Todd Field

‘Triangle of Sadness’, Written by Ruben Ostlund

* Best Cinematography

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, James Friend

‘Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths’, Darius Khondji

‘Elvis’, Mandy Walker

‘Empire of Light’, Roger Deakins

‘Tar’, Florian Hoffmeister

* Best Documentary Feature Film

‘All That Breathes’, Shaunak Sen, Aman Mann and Teddy Leifer

‘All the Beauty and the Bloodshed’, Laura Poitras, Howard Gertler, John Lyons, Nan Goldin and Yoni Golijov

‘Fire of Love’, Sara Dosa, Shane Boris and Ina Fichman

‘A House Made of Splinters’, Simon Lereng Wilmont and Monica Hellstrom

‘Navalny’, Daniel Roher, Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller and Shane Boris

* Best Documentary Short Film

‘The Elephant Whisperers’, Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga

‘Haulout’, Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev

‘How Do You Measure a Year?’ Jay Rosenblatt

‘The Martha Mitchell Effect’, Anne Alvergue and Beth Levison

‘Stranger at the Gate’, Joshua Seftel and Conall Jones

* Best Editing

‘The Banshees of Inisherin’, Mikkel E.G. Nielsen

‘Elvis’, Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, Paul Rogers

‘Tar’, Monika Willi

‘Top Gun: Maverick’, Eddie Hamilton

* Best International Feature Film

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ (Germany)

‘Argentina, 1985’ (Argentina)

‘Close’ (Belgium)

‘EO’ (Poland)

‘The Quiet Girl’ (Ireland)

* Best Original Song

‘Applause’ from ‘Tell It Like a Woman’, Music and Lyric by Diane Warren

‘Hold My Hand’ from ‘Top Gun: Maverick’, Music and Lyric by Lady Gaga and BloodPop

‘Lift Me Up’ from ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, Music by Tems, Rihanna, Ryan Coogler and Ludwig Goransson; Lyric by Tems and Ryan Coogler

‘Naatu Naatu’ from ‘RRR’, Music by M.M. Keeravaani; Lyric by Chandrabose

‘This Is a Life’ from ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, Music by Ryan Lott, David Byrne and Mitski; Lyric by Ryan Lott and David Byrne

* Best Production Design

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, Production Design: Christian M. Goldbeck; Set Decoration: Ernestine Hipper

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, Production Design: Dylan Cole and Ben Procter; Set Decoration: Vanessa Cole

‘Babylon’, Production Design: Florencia Martin; Set Decoration: Anthony Carlino

‘Elvis’, Production Design: Catherine Martin and Karen Murphy; Set Decoration: Bev Dunn

‘The Fabelmans’, Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara

* Best Visual Effects

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, Frank Petzold, Viktor Muller, Markus Frank and Kamil Jafar

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon and Daniel Barrett

‘The Batman’, Dan Lemmon, Russell Earl, Anders Langlands and Dominic Tuohy

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’, Geoffrey Baumann, Craig Hammack, R. Christopher White and Dan Sudick

‘Top Gun: Maverick’, Ryan Tudhope, Seth Hill, Bryan Litson and Scott R. Fisher

* Best Lead Actor

Austin Butler (‘Elvis’)

Colin Farrell (‘The Banshees of Inisherin’)

Brendan Fraser (‘The Whale’)

Paul Mescal (‘Aftersun’)

Bill Nighy (‘Living’)

* Best Lead Actress

Cate Blanchett (‘Tar’)

Ana de Armas (‘Blonde’)

Andrea Riseborough (‘To Leslie’)

Michelle Williams (‘The Fabelmans’)

Michelle Yeoh (‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’)

* Best Director

Martin McDonagh (‘The Banshees of Inisherin’)

Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert (‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’)

Steven Spielberg (‘The Fabelmans’)

Todd Field (‘Tar’)

Ruben Ostlund (‘Triangle of Sadness’)

* Best Picture

‘All Quiet on the Western Front’, Malte Grunert, Producer

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers

‘The Banshees of Inisherin’, Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin and Martin McDonagh, Producers

‘Elvis’, Baz Luhrmann, Catherine Martin, Gail Berman, Patrick McCormick and Schuyler Weiss, Producers

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert and Jonathan Wang, Producers

‘The Fabelmans’, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, Producers

‘Tar’, Todd Field, Alexandra Milchan and Scott Lambert, Producers

‘Top Gun: Maverick’, Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie, David Ellison and Jerry Bruckheimer, Producers

‘Triangle of Sadness’, Erik Hemmendorff and Philippe Bober, Producers

‘Women Talking’, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Frances McDormand, Producers

Anoushka Shankar Will Perform At 65th Grammy Awards

Kicking off the proceedings for the 65th annual Grammy Awards, Awards Premiere Ceremony, Anoushka Shankar will be seen making her third performance at the event.

The ceremony will return to the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on 5 February.

The masterful sitar player, producer, film composer, activist and nine-time Grammy Award nominee will perform alongside vocalist Arooj Aftab on their nominated track ‘Udhero Na’ from Arooj’s new album, ‘Vulture Prince’.

Anoushka shared: “I’m genuinely over the moon to be performing at the Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony for the third time. This time I’m excited to share the stage with the wonderful Arooj Aftab, playing her beautiful song Udhero Na.”

“I’m grateful my music on this song and on my album Between Usa has been recognised with a nomination again and am proud to represent India and my instrument, the sitar, on this world stage.”

Anoushka enjoys an extensive Grammy history; she was the first Indian woman ever nominated and youngest-ever nominee in the World Music Category for her album Live At Carnegie Hall in 2002, and then went on to become the first Indian musician to perform at the ceremony in 2005, serve as presenter in 2016 and perform for the second time in 2021.

In addition to her fresh eighth and ninth nominations, Anoushka’s previous works Live At Carnegie Hall, Rise, Traveller, Traces Of You, Home, Land Of Goldand Love Letters have all been Grammy nominated.

This announcement coincides with Anoushka’s fresh inaugural empanellment as a Visiting Professor in Music at Oxford University.

Anoushka further added: “What a true honour to be invited as the Inaugural Visiting Professor in Music Business at Oxford University! I’m deeply grateful to embark upon this new journey.”

R’ Bonney Gabriel, Miss USA Is Crowned Miss Universe

R’Bonney Gabriel, a fashion designer, model and sewing instructor from Texas, a Filipino American, was crowned the 71st Miss Universe on Saturday, January 14th, 2023.  Gabriel, who last year became the first Filipino-American to win Miss USA, took the crown ahead of Amanda Dudamel from Venezuela and Andreína Martínez from the Dominican Republic.

The pageant was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, with 84 women from around the world competing for the crown. Gabriel closed her eyes and clasped hands with runner-up Miss Venezuela, Amanda Dudamel, at the moment of the dramatic reveal of the winner, then beamed after her name was announced.

In the Q&A at the last stage of the competition for the three finalists, Gabriel was asked how she would work to demonstrate Miss Universe is “an empowering and progressive organization” if she were to win.

“I would use it to be a transformational leader,” she responded, citing her work using recycled materials in her fashion design and teaching sewing to survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence. “It is so important to invest in others, invest in our community and use your unique talent to make a difference.”

When Gabriel entered the Top 5, she was asked, “Miss Universe recently made an inclusive change allowing mothers and married women to compete this year. What’s another change you’d like to see and why?” Gabriel responded that she hoped the contest organizers would increase the candidate age limit.

“For me, I would like to see an age increase because I am 28 years old. And that is the oldest age to compete. And I think it’s a beautiful thing. My favorite quote is ‘if not now, then when?’ Because as a woman, I believe age does not define us. It’s not tomorrow, it’s not yesterday — but it’s now. The time is now,” she said.

Earlier in the pageant, Gabriel donned a red-orange cape inspired by a rising phoenix with the maxim “if not now, then when,” which she had dyed herself. The words take inspiration from her father’s advice to act on goals, dreams and desires.

In the final question and answer segment of the competition, the Top 3 contenders were asked how they would work to demonstrate Miss Universe as an empowering and progressive organization if they won the title.

Gabriel said she would use the platform to be a “transformational leader” and emphasized her passion as a force for good in the fashion industry by cutting down on pollution and using recycled materials in making clothing pieces.

“I teach sewing classes to women that have survived from human trafficking and domestic violence. And I say that because it is so important to invest in others, invest in our community, and use your unique talent to make a difference,” Gabriel said. “We all have something special and when we plant those seeds for other people in our life, we transform them and we use that as a vehicle for change.”

This year’s pageant was organized for the first time by JKN Global Group PCL, a Thailand-based media distribution company, after tycoon and transgender rights advocate Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip bought the Miss Universe Organization for $20 million in October.

Jakkaphong has been outspoken about her experiences as a transgender woman, and is also the first woman owner of the pageant.

She made an appearance onstage to award the ImpactWayv Challenge winner to Thailand’s Anna Sueangam-iam, honoring her commitments for social good.

Miss Thailand had in the preliminary rounds of the pageant made waves in a dress made of soda tabs — a tribute to her humble beginnings and her parents’ work as garbage collectors.

3iii, A Platform for Indian Talent across the Globe

International Indian Icon (3iii) (Three Eye) by Gee Vision Inc. (Gee), Chicago USA is taking over the world as a global talent platform by giving young children and adults the opportunity to showcase their talent without any restrictions of location, culture, color, gender or age at a national and international level. Since its inception in 2017, Dec 30th 2022 Gee Vision Inc. completed 3iii 2022 Season-6 with the huge success 3iii S-6 episode production (Semi-finals, Finale and Grand finale) in n Plainfield, IL Suburb of Chicago) from Dec 29th to Dec 30th 2022. 3iii has reached a platform of 25,562 participants and a world-wide talent from the U.S., Canada, Europe, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Middle East, Asia and India with registrations from 46 countries of 7 continents. 1st 3iii S-6 Semi-final i.e., 3iii India 2022 with 102 on-site semi-finalists and 18 on-line semi-finalists (joined through Zoom) from all over Asia was shot in Delhi, India on Dec 26th & 27th 2022.

Picture : Asian Media USA

2nd 3iii S-6 semi-final and finale with 82 on-site semi-finalists; 23 on-line semifinalists from all over the world and 12 finalists i.e., 3iii India 2022 winners from India (joined through Zoom) was shot in Community Event Center, 24035 W. Riverwalk Ct., Plainfield, IL 60544 with multiple cameras and beautiful stage and 3iii Band by Suneer Mehmood on Dec 29th 2022.

3iii S-6 was judged by Bollywood Music composer, lyricist and singer ARKO, Hollywood actor and music manager BOBBY LEIGH, Ms India 2013 and International celebrity anchor SIMRAN AHUJA which was supported by 3iii International Jury consisting of Bollywood playback singer POONAL BHATIA, Bollywood entertainer from Dubai ABBAS ALI MITZA for singing; Gauri Jog, Pooja Joshi, Bharathi Devarakonda for Dance; Juhi Jigiasi and Pooja Nanjia for Fashion.

3iii Anchor/MC team included Simran Ahuja, Ajai Kumar and RJ Anya Ahuja.  Grand-finale of 3iii 2022 Season-6 was successfully concluded as per plan by declaring following Winners of International Indian Icon (3iii – 2022), Season-6 of different categories and age group.

Singing:

On-site in Chicago;

  • Payal Roy Gaguli (Senior)
  • Tulip Ghosh (Junior)

* On-line through Zoom

  • Sanika Pandey (Junior)

Dance:

* On-site in Chicago

  • Gazal Sethi (Senior)
  • Nayan Nampally (Junior)

Fashion:

* On-site in Chicago

  • Nayan Nampally (Junior)
  • Riya (Senior)

I Got Talent:

* On-site in Chicago

  • Tabla Jugalbandi (Junior):
  • Akshay Talreja Ashwin Nair Viral Patel Tejas Patnaik

* On-line through Zoom

  • Surjeet Singh (Senior)
  • Nihal Banda (Junior)

 

3iii previous 5 seasons have been judged by numerous

  • Bollywood legendary music directors, singers and choreographers like legendary music director Jatin Pandit;
  • Bollywood composer, lyricist and singer Arko Mukherjee,
  • Bollywood Slumdog millionaires choreographer Longinus Fernandez;
  • Bollywood actress Meenakshi Seshadri;
  • Ms India 2013 Simian Ahuja

Show their talent in numerous categories such as Singing, Dancing, Instruments, acting, Fashion, Comedy and I Got Talent (Any Talent) across all 3 age groups Junior (16 Yr.), Senior (55 Years) and Super Senior (More than 55 Years).

The first two seasons of 3iii were aired on Zee TV USA while 3rd and 4th seasons were televised by Sahara One, Samay and Filmy TV channels. Discussion about airing / streaming Season-5 and 6 episodes on some global TV channels/OTT platform is in progress, soon TV channel / OTT platform will be announced.

Talents are recognized in all talent categories across all 3 age groups as State Indian Icon at state level across the country, who are invited to compete at country level to be recognized as Indian Country Icon at country level across the globe and winners of all countries of all categories across all 3 age groups are invited to Chicago, USA to join 3iii Episode Production (Semi-final, Finale & Grand-finale) on-line or onsite during last week of December.

3iii (Three Eye) founded by Mr Sharan Walia, the vision behind the platform for both on-line and on-site competition to not only show the beauty of Indian culture through song, dance, fashion and talent but also allow nonnatives to show their love for Indian culture by performing to Indian songs and dance.

Picture : Asian Media USA

Gee would also like to thank Mr. Naresh Shastri (3iii Execution Director) from Chicago for successfully executing 3iii globally since 3iii 2017 Season-1. Gee thanks 3iii India Partner Mr Ajit Bains and huge support of Mr. Sanjay Yadav in making 3iii India 2022 a huge success. Gee appreciates support of Dr Chidatmika Khatua, founder of Adi Tribal Foundation for collaborating with Gee Vision for Tribal Queen Global (TQG) to empower Tribal women and recognize Tribal talent globally.

Raaj Rahhi as 3iii Director has taken the responsibility of entire 3iii episode production globally to make 3iii episodes to air/stream it globally on multiple TV channels and/or OTT Platform. TV and OTT platforms may contact Gee / 3iii for collaboration opportunities.

Gee would like to thank 3iii Advisory Board, 3iii International Jury and appreciates the volunteer support of Archana Mitta for supporting 3iii 2022 S-6 with her team.

Gee is on the move to create an International on-line and on-site platform 3iii for anyone who likes any type of Indian art and culture, living in any part of the world, without any restrictions of geographical boundaries, culture, color, gender and age to give them opportunity to showcase their talent at National and International Level.

Gee welcomes any talent of any category of any age group, gender, region, religion, and color without any discrimination to participate in 3iii Global talent competition to showcase their talent to the world. Gee has a unique vision and mission of bringing a global talent community at one platform 3iii to share the knowledge, talent, experience and art with each other globally.

3iii 2023 Season-7 plan is being built and registration for the same will open on Apr1st 2023 on both 3iii websites www.internationalindianicon.com and www.3iii.us as well as on 3iii Apps (iOS & Android).

Disney To Receive Its First Indian Princess, A Musical Helmed By Gurinder Chadha

The “Disney Princess” franchise is set to go Desi with its newest addition. According to a report by entertainment outlet Deadline, the House of Mouse has commissioned an original musical film from ‘Bride and Prejudice’ director Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges.

Chadha will serve as the film’s producer and director. Written by both Chadha and Berges, the team will be joined by Lindy Goldstein, the producer of ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’ the news report said.

Picture : TheUNN

No details have yet been shared on the film’s plot. However, the project would be headed by the President of the Walt Disney Motion Picture Production, Sean Bailey, Deadline said.

Chadha is the owner of the company ‘Bend It Films’, which has grossed in excess of $300 million at the worldwide box office.

She was nominated twice for the BAFTA Award, once for her debut film ‘Bhaji on the Beach’ and then for the film ‘Bend It Like Beckham’, as per Deadline.

Bend It Like Bekham was an international success, raking up $76 million worldwide and also ending up as the most successful British-financed and distributed feature film on the U.K. box office at the time.

‘Besharam Rang Is My First Song With Deepika So I Knew I Had To Do Something Really Special!’ : Vaibhavi Merchant

Producer Aditya Chopra and director Siddharth Anand unveiled the first song of Pathaan, Besharam Rang, on Monday which broke the internet! The song has been trending worldwide ever since it’s release and fans and audiences have gone berserk complimenting how SRK and Deepika Padukone are looking in the song and how hot the choreography is because the verdict is unanimous – Deepika has looked her hottest best in Besharam Rang!

Ace choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant, who is known to present the hottest versions of leading ladies on screen – Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Kajra Re from Bunty Aur Babli, Katrina Kaif in Kamli from Dhoom: 3 to the scintillating Deepika Padukone in Besharam Rang, etc is over the moon with the response to the song.

She says, “In my body of work, I have probably consciously made an effort to ensure that the female leads are always presented very aesthetically. For instance, with Ash (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) in Kajra Re, I made it a point to kind of enhance the expressions in the way she did her adaakari. In Kamli with Katrina again, I kept in my what Katrina would look great doing.”

Picture : Indian Express

She adds, “One must always study the actor you’re choreographing for because it doesn’t matter if the movement looks great on me or my assistants, but it must look fantastic on the actor, it should bespoke to the actor. So even with Katrina, it was very clear that I want to give her something that I’ve never done before and never seen before because she had her own style. In Katrina, I saw a very, very excruciatingly hard working talent and she would exhaust me with all the rehearsal time but what she did in the song, was simply incredible.”

Vaibhavi further says, “Strangely, I’ve never been able to choreograph something for Deepika until Besharam Rang. So, this is my first song with Deepika and I knew I had to do something really special for this one. It was very endearing for me to see her approach me and say finally we get to work with each other and I said Deepika I truly want to make this very special for you because this is our first and I don’t want to shoot a better song than this for you in future.”

Vaibhavi says she went all out in making Deepika look the hottest heroine that India has ever seen on screen. She says, ”I wanted to go all out to present her in a way that she has never been presented before. I must give it to Shaleena Nathani for the costumes. Deepika has a great rapport with her and I was pleasantly surprised to see her being so comfortable in her own skin. She owns the song and she is looking gorgeous in every frame.”

Vaibhavi adds, “Deepika put in a lot of hard work to look the way she is looking in Besharam Rang. She had an entire crew – dietitian, her physical trainer and the stunning costumes by Shaleena. I was mighty impressed with the way she just approached all the costumes she’s like, yeah, she’s cool to wear this, she’s cool to wear that. So, I think that really triggered a certain style in which this song should be shot. Because I was like, I can’t make her wear those costumes and make her do steps in a way that we usually shoot songs.”

The song features a sizzling Deepika with Shah Rukh Khan, who plays a gun-totting spy with a license of kill in Pathaan. Both are looking their hottest and fittest best as Deepika flaunts her hot bod in bikinis and SRK – a perfectly chiselled eight pack! Besharam Rang was shot in Spain’s most gorgeous coastal towns Mallorca, Cadiz and Jerez.

SRK and Deepika are one of the biggest on-screen pairings in the history of Indian cinema given their epic blockbusters Om Shanti Om, Chennai Express and Happy New Year.

Pathaan is India’s biggest ever action spectacle for audiences. The visually spectacular Yash Raj Films’ action extravaganza, Pathaan, is part of Aditya Chopra’s ambitious spy universe and has the biggest superstars of the country Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and John Abraham in it. The adrenaline pumping, visually extravagant film is set to release on Jan 25, 2023 in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Indian Origin Simone Ashwini Pillai Among AP’s 9 Nine Breakthrough Entertainers Of 2022

Simone Ashwini Pillai, known professionally as Simone Ashley, a British actress is among this year’s nine Associated Press’ Breakthrough Entertainers of the Year, a class of talent that flowered in 2022.

“They worked hard, with the rewards coming slowly but surely. Then something came along — often a key role or sometimes a cluster, maybe an album — and it all became next-level, a shift triggering where-did-you-come-from vibes,” a press release issued by AP stated,  “That describes most of They are Sadie Sink, Stephanie Hsu, Tenoch Huerta, Joaquina Kalukango, Iman Vellani, Daryl McCormack, Tobe Nwigwe, Simone Ashley and Danielle Deadwyler.”

She was born to Indian Tamil parents, Latha and Gunasekharan, and has an older brother.Simone Ashley is best known for her roles in the Netflix series Sex Education and Bridgerton. Ashley made her feature film debut in 2018 with a small role in Boogie Man as Aarti and a prominent role in Kill Ben Lyk as one of the characters named Ben Lyk.

Ashley found herself leading season two of the Regency-era period drama “Bridgerton.” She had a role in the series “Sex Education,” but playing the fiercely independent Kate Sharma for Shonda Rhimes was her first lead character in a major production.

Ashley grew up singing classical music and opera and playing the piano. She also later attended Redroofs Theatre School in Maidenhead for the sixth form and continued to train in acting at the Arts Educational School in London.

Simone Ashley began her acting career in 2006 as Inspector Coliandro on the comedy crime TV show Inspector Coliandro, where she received her first on-screen credit. Carlo Lucarelli produced the episode, which featured Ashley in the role of Veena. Later that year, she starred as Dana in the third season of the BBC American TV series Broadchurch. In the same year, Simone had the chance to play Aarti in Andrew Morahan’s show ” Boogie Man.” Ella-Rae Smith as Kristen, Ramon Tikaram as Deepak, Amy Jackson, Nick Moran as Gerry, Karan Gill as Rama, among others are among the series’ core cast members.

Sink had been on Broadway and worked alongside stars such as Naomi Watts and Helen Mirren. But playing Max Mayfield in the fourth season of “Stranger Things,” she broke through as a brave skater girl who never lets go of her Walkman, who hates pink, plays video games and is a “Dragon’s Lair” champion.

Hsu also was a Broadway veteran with a few TV credits when she was asked to play both a sullen teen and an intergalactic supervillain in the movie “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” That led to an unforgettable performance that included dressing as Elvis and walking a pig on a leash.

Like many of the others on the list, Kalukango had racked up plenty of Broadway credits when she took a risk and played the lead in a Broadway musical, “Paradise Square.” It led to a best actress in a leading role Tony Award and a stunning moment in the telecast when she sang “Let It Burn.”

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” isn’t one of Huerta’s biggest roles but the Mexican actor suddenly launched a hundred memes as the mutant leader of a kingdom based on Mayan and Aztec influences beneath the ocean for centuries. Huerta, known for roles in the Netflix series “Narcos: Mexico” and the movie “The Forever Purge,” has taken a big step for movie diversity.

Nwigwe, just nominated for a Grammy as best new artist, has been bubbling up with noted appearances on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series and earning a spot on Michelle Obama’s 2020 workout playlist with “I’m Dope.” This year, the Houston-based artist was featured on the “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” soundtrack and dropped the EP “moMINTs” to acclaim.

McCormack has worked consistently since 2018 but 2022 seems to have turned into something special with a constellation of roles — “Peaky Blinders,” the buzzy, dark comedy thriller “Bad Sisters,” plus a star-making performance as the title character in the film “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” opposite Emma Thompson.

Deadwyler burst into the awards race this year with her performance in “Till” as Mamie Till-Mobley, the mother of teenager Emmett Till, who was lynched in 1955. She has also appeared in “The Harder They Come,” “Watchmen” and the Netflix series “From Scratch” and “Station Eleven.”

Vellani, another member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on this list, is the exception, having had no such slow burn. The 19-year-old actor in “Ms. Marvel” plays a high school student enamored with all things superheroes only to find herself suddenly wielding powers of her own. And Vellani, in real life, is just starting to find her powers, like all the entertainers nominated here.

Transgender Life Celebrated At Pageant In India

(AP) Anilya Boro may not have won the crown at India’s Miss Trans NE pageant this year, but having her parents there in support was a validation in its own right.

“I must prove to my parents that I can do something as a girl,” said the 22-year-old. “I didn’t win a title, but I am very happy that my parents were at the show to support me. Now they have accepted my decision to live as a girl and undergo surgery, but they don’t want me to rush through.”

Picture : AP

Twenty transgender women sashayed on a stage dressed as ethnic and tribal characters in the beauty pageant, drawing rounds of applause from the audience. The contestants came from India’s remote eight northeastern states, some of them nestled in the Himalayas in a relatively undeveloped region known for its stunning natural vistas.

Anilya Boro may not have won the crown at India’s Miss Trans NE pageant this year, but having her parents there in support was a validation in its own right.

“I must prove to my parents that I can do something as a girl,” said the 22-year-old. “I didn’t win a title, but I am very happy that my parents were at the show to support me. Now they have accepted my decision to live as a girl and undergo surgery, but they don’t want me to rush through.”

Twenty transgender women sashayed on a stage dressed as ethnic and tribal characters in the beauty pageant, drawing rounds of applause from the audience. The contestants came from India’s remote eight northeastern states, some of them nestled in the Himalayas in a relatively undeveloped region known for its stunning natural vistas.

Sexual minorities across India have gained a degree of acceptance, especially in big cities, and transgender people were guaranteed equal rights as a third gender in 2014. But prejudice persists and the community continues to face discrimination and rejection by their families. They’re often denied jobs, education and health care.

Ajan lived in the Indian capital for 13 years as a fashion designer and moved to her hometown of Guwahati in northeastern Assam state after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country.

She had won the title of Trans Queen in 2014, in a pageant held in the southern city of Vishakhapatnam, and later decided to help the community in the northeastern region.

“The Miss Trans NE pageant on Nov. 30 was only for men who identified themselves as women. Next year, it will include transgender men as well,’’ Ajan said.

Anilya is keeping her sights high, dreaming of one day winning the Miss Universe title. Her mother, Aikon Boro, said Anilya wore only girl’s clothes since she was 6 or 7, feeling the most comfortable in them.

“Everybody in the family tried to change her habits and behavior but she didn’t listen. Now the family members have accepted her as a transgender person,’’ she said.

The top prize at Miss Trans NE went to Lucey Ham from Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh state which borders on China, while Aria Deka and Rishidhya Sangkarishan, both from Assam in the far northeast, were runners-up.

“I am overwhelmed with joy. I have nothing to say. I will never forget the biggest moment of my life,” Ham said after she was crowned the winner.

New Musical Brings High-Energy World Of K-Pop To Broadway

(AP) — There are some familiar storylines in a new musical opening on Broadway — a singer and her relationship with the mentor who guided her; a newcomer trying to find his place; young women chasing their dreams.

But they’ve never sounded quite like this.

The global sensation that is Korean pop music is coming to center stage in “KPOP,” opening Sunday at the Circle in the Square Theatre.

Playwright Jason Kim appears at the Circle in the Square Theatre in New York on Nov. 9, 2022, where his musical “KPOP” will open on Nov. 27. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Picture : WSJ

With an almost entirely Asian American and Asian cast, many of whom are making their Broadway debuts, the musical is set as a backstage look at some K-pop performers as they get ready for their debut show in New York City. Conflicts break out and get resolved, ending in a concert-like performance.

The show’s Broadway arrival has been a long time coming for playwright Jason Kim, who first conceived of a play around K-pop about a decade ago and staged an off-Broadway version in 2017, with music and lyrics composed by Helen Park and Max Vernon.

Born in South Korea, Kim came to the United States as a child, settling with his family in the Midwest. K-pop has been a fixture in his life, as have Korean television dramas. He also loved musical theater, especially shows like “A Chorus Line” and “Dreamgirls” where the story is about what’s happening behind the scenes.

“I love backstage shows,” he said. “Is there fighting going on in-between everybody? Do they all love each other? These are the questions that I asked myself.”

In the initial stage version of the show, Kim was introducing the machine of K-pop to an American audience largely unfamiliar with it; five years later, it’s been rewritten for a world where K-pop musical heavy-hitters like BTS and Blackpink are pop chart mainstays, amid a slew of other Korean entertainment in movies and television like “Squid Games” becoming more popular in the U.S. as well.

Back then, America “didn’t really know what K-pop was, and so there was a lot of explaining that I had to do. … This time around, I didn’t have to really take the stance of having to apologize for anything or having to explain anything, and just let the story unfold,” said Kim, a writer in television and film.

He called the timing “really serendipitous.”

“It’s been really profound and moving actually to watch the world shift in this way.”

A Broadway musical showcasing the sounds of K-pop is a sign of how “the U.S. is finally catching up with what was already going on around the world,” said Robert Ji-Song Ku, an associate professor of Asian American studies at Binghamton University.

K-pop has been growing in popularity globally for the last 20 years, even though other attempts to break into the American market over the years haven’t met with the same success until recently, he said.

“If there’s a spectrum of universality, K-pop is engineered to be as universal as possible,” he said.

Casting the show took about two years, Kim said, with open calls both in the U.S. and South Korea. Some of those in the show have K-pop backgrounds, including Luna, a former member of the group f(x), who plays the central character of MwE, a singer who has spent years working toward her dreams and has come to a crossroads.

It’s a step forward for Asian American representation on Broadway, which matters a great deal to Kim.

The cast during a performance of “KPOP,” opening Nov. 27 at the Circle in the Square Theatre in New York. (Matthew Murphy/O+M/DKC via AP)

“That talent exists, and they just need a platform,” he said. “So it was really important to me to put these Asian people on stage and see them not playing the typical roles that they play, but playing rock stars, playing pop stars, dancing their faces off and acting their faces off and just being spectacular.”

For her part, Park called the experience an honor.

“K-pop and Broadway have both been my passion for a long time; K-pop has been like comfort food for me, and Broadway was my seemingly unattainable dream, given there haven’t been many Asian composers, let alone Asian female composers that I can see and dream to be like,” she said in an email. “To be able to bring something that feels like home to me, to my dream stage, Broadway, feels like the most miraculous gift that I’ll cherish for a lifetime.”

Kim said it was also important that the show includes some Korean interspersed among the English, both in the songs and the dialogue.

It’s “a way to be really authentic to the experience of K-pop idols and Korean people,” Kim said, pointing out that “when I speak to my mom, I’m switching back and forth all the time, depending on what we’re talking about.”

“The design of the bilingual nature of the show was very intentional.”

Clearly, a musical built around K-pop has a built-in base of potential audience members. But Kim says there’s something for everyone, even those who have never heard a K-pop tune.

“Hopefully if we do our jobs right, you’re watching a fun musical with a bunch of great K-pop songs,” he said. “But really what you’re getting as you leave the theater is a universal story.” (Hajela is a member of the AP’s team covering race and ethnicity. She’s on Twitter at twitter.com/dhajela)

Mindy Kaling To Receive Norman Lear Achievement Award 2023

Mindy Kaling, the executive producer of “Never Have I Ever” and “The Mindy Project,” has been named the recipient of the Norman Lear Achievement Award, which she will receive at the 24th Annual Producers Guild Awards in February 2023. The honor recognizes a producer or team each year for their impactful work in television. “Comedy can break boundaries and push culture forward; Mindy Kaling‘s immense contributions to the television comedy landscape are prime examples of this truth,” Producers Guild of America presidents Stephanie Allain and Donald De Line said in a joint statement.

The Norman Lear Award recognizes a producer or producing team for their extraordinary body of work in television. Previous honorees include Greg Berlanti, Marta Kauffman, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Ryan Murphy, Shonda Rhimes, Dick Wolf, Jerry Bruckheimer, Lorne Michaels, Aaron Spelling, David E. Kelley, and the eponymous Norman Lear himself.

“Comedy can break boundaries and push culture forward; Mindy Kaling‘s immense contributions to the television comedy landscape are prime examples of this truth,” said Producers Guild of America Presidents Stephanie Allain and Donald De Line. “Kaling is known for her trailblazing work on The Office, a widely loved and infinitely rewatchable contemporary classic, but it’s her work producing series from diverse female perspectives that is reshaping the industry. From The Mindy Project, to Never Have I Ever, to The Sex Lives of College Girls, Kaling has proven just how much audiences have been craving funny, relatable stories about characters we’ve rarely see as television protagonists. We are so happy to present her with the Norman Lear Award at this year’s PGA Awards ceremony.”

“It is such an honor to be asked to receive the Norman Lear Award, a prize named after the prolific and groundbreaking producer I am so inspired by. To be included in this prestigious group of past recipients is humbling, and I’m so grateful to the Producers Guild for this recognition”, said Kaling.

Emmy-nominated writer, producer, New York Times best-selling author, director, actor, and, most recently Tony Award winner, Mindy Kaling is one of the brightest voices of her generation.

At age twenty-four, Kaling joined the eight-person writing staff of The Office as the only woman. During her eight seasons on the show, Kaling served as both producer and executive producer on over 120 episodes, earning five consecutive nominations for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series. Kaling accomplished this while also starring as Kelly Kapoor, writing twenty-six episodes (more than any other writer), and directing two episodes. She has the barrier-breaking honor of being the first woman of color to be Emmy nominated in any writing category.

Following The Office, Kaling went on to create, star in, and executive produce The Mindy Project which ran for 6 seasons, and write, produce, and star in her feature film debut, Late Night. Currently, she is creator and Execuitve Producer of Netflix’s critically acclaimed series, Never Have I Ever, and the HBO Max hit, The Sex Lives of College Girls.

Upcoming projects include the film Legally Blonde 3, and the animated adult-comedy Scooby-Doo prequel, Velma.

The 2023 Producers Guild Awards Event Chairs are Mike Farah Chief Executive Officer at Funny Or Die and Joe Farrell, Chief Creative Officer at Funny Or Die. The 2023 Producers Guild of America Awards are produced by Anchor Street Collective for the Producers Guild of America. Branden Chapman is Executive Producer, Carleen Cappelletti is Co-Executive producer, Matt Ullian and Jane Sarkin of Boldface Partners are talent executives, and Jim Piccirillo is Director. The PGA Awards team also includes Diane Salerno (Six Degrees Global) managing sponsorship, and the PGA’s PR agency of record, Sunshine Sachs Morgan & Lylis for PR.

Indian Origin Artists Get Grammy Nominations 2023

The most-awaited list of nominees for the 65th Annual Grammy Awards was announced on November 16. Although Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, and Adele are leading the nominations, several Indian and Indian-origin artists also made their way to the grand list.

Indian artists, nominated by the Recording Academy for music’s biggest night include Berklee Indian Ensemble, Anoushka Shankar, Ricky Kej, and Norah Jones.

Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and Adele are among the top nominees at the upcoming 2023 edition of The Grammy Awards, but as always, there are several other narratives jumping out of the nominations this time.

With a total of 91 awards being given out in different categories at The Grammys 2023 – to be held on February 5th,

Picture : The Quint

Multicultural group, Berklee Indian Ensemble has earned their first-ever nomination in the category of Best Global Music Album, for their 2022 album ‘Shuruaat’. British-Indian sitarist, vocalist, and composer Anoushka Shankar have earned two nominations in the broader category of Global Music this year. These are Shankar’s eighth and ninth nominations for the Grammys.

Indian composer and producer Ricky Kej, secured yet another nomination at the 2023 Grammys with his 2022 album ‘Divine Tides’. Singer-songwriter, Norah Jones, Anoushka Shankar’s sister, has been nominated in the category of Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for ‘Dream of Christmas’ this year.

Now, Divine Tides has picked up a nomination for Best Immersive Audio Album at the Grammys 2023 – with credits going to “immersive mix engineer” Eric Schilling and “immersive producers” listed as Copeland, Kej and Herbert Waltl. Kej took to Instagram to talk about the nomination: “Overjoyed and humbled. I just got nominated for my third Grammy® Award! This time for ‘Best Immersive Audio Album’ for Divine Tides. Stewart Copeland and I are immensely grateful to the entire team of Divine Tides, especially immersive mix engineer Eric Schilling and mix producer Herbert Waltl. This feels absolutely surreal.”

London-born, Indo-American sitarist, vocalist and composer Anoushka Shankar has two nominations this year, both in the same broader category of Global Music. Pakistani-origin singer-composer Arooj Aftab’s song “Udhero Na” with Shankar is nominated for Best Global Music Performance, while the sitarist’s live album Between Us… (Live) with the Metropole Orkest, conductor Jules Buckley and hang player/percussionist Manu Delago has earned a nod for Best Global Music Album.

Shankar posted a video talking about the news and said, “I just got two Grammy nominations! For Between Us, my album and my dear friend Arooj Aftab’s song ‘Udhero Na’. These are my eighth and ninth nominations. Thank you so much!”

Multicultural, genre-hopping group Berklee Indian Ensemble earned their first-ever Grammy nomination for Best Global Music Album, for their collab-heavy, star-studded 2022 album Shuruaat. In essence, this extends a nomination to fusion duo Shadow and Light (who collaborated on the track “Dua”) and the likes of Zakir Hussain, Shankar Mahadevan, Shreya Ghoshal and Vijay Prakash, among others.

Indians have been maintaining a constant presence over the years. Composer and producer Ricky Kej won his first Grammy for his album Winds of Samsara in 2015 in the Best New Age Album category and he’s kept coming back for more. In 2022, Kej’s collaborative album with The Police drummer Stewart Copeland, Divine Tides, clinched another Grammy for Best New Age Album.

Indian Ensemble Nominated For A Grammy For Its Debut Album, Shuruaat

The Berklee College of Music Indian Ensemble has been nominated for a grammy for its debut album, Shuruaat. They received their nomination in the category of “Best Global Music Album,” marking the first Grammy nomination for Berklee, an institution known for its alumni becoming powerhouses in the music industry, such as Quincy Jones and Charlie Puth.

“My goal was always that this should be a safe space for musicians from any country to be able to explore Indian music but also bring themselves,” said Annette Philip, founder of the Berklee Indian Ensemble. Harshitha Krishnan, the group’s lead vocalist, said that having the opportunity to learn about her Indian culture through music is invaluable. The group is planning a North American tour beginning in early 2023.

The Berklee Indian Ensemble started out as just a class at Berklee College of Music in 2011 but has evolved to become one of the most happening global acts to emerge from Boston. Its founder is Annette Philip, an Indian Berklee alumna, and faculty member. The ensemble provides an open and inclusive creative space for musicians from all over the world to explore, study, interpret, experiment, and create music influenced by the rich and diverse tapestry that is Indian music today.

The Berklee Indian Ensemble has been nominated for their 2022 album Shuruaat (which means Beginning in Hindi). It has high-profile collaborations featuring iconic artists such as A. R. Rahman, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Shreya Ghoshal, Shankar Mahadevan, Vijay Prakash, Clinton Cerejo, and several others. Included within this shining roster are the Delhi-Based duo, Shadow and Light. It comprises talented vocalist and lyrcisit, Pavithra Chari, and a gifted sound engineer and keyboardist, Anindo Bose. The fusion duo collaborated on the track DuaRolling Stone India has hailed them as “the new faces of fusion music.” The song explores the theme of the never-ending cycle of desire that pervades human existence.

Released in July, the album Shuruaat is the labor of love from the decade the ensemble spent performing in the U.S., India, and different parts of the world. The ensemble has created a global Indian sound with a cross-pollination of genres ranging from jazz, and prog-rock to Indian classical, and more. The 10-track album comprises reimagined versions of Tamil film songs, live performance recordings, two tributes to jazz-fusion pioneers Shakti and four original compositions created by members of the ensemble.

The Grammy award is the music industry’s highest honor and was started in 1959 when it was known as the Gramophone award. The award originated in The United States, is presented by the Royal Academy, and is the equivalent of Academy awards for films and Emmy Awards for television success. The year was 1968 when the nation of India was immensely proud as Pandit Ravi Shankar made history by being the first Indian to win a Grammy Award for his album West Meets East in the Best Chamber Music Performance category. Over the years stalwarts of the Indian music industry such as Zakir Hussain, A.R. Rahman, Zubin Mehta, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, and Ricky Kej have won this prestigious award.

First-Ever South Asian Film Festival on Long Island Unveils 15 Films over SIX Hours

(New York, NY – November 10, 2022) Produced by JINGO Media, in association with Long Island actor, filmmaker, and model Harbinder Singh, the first-ever Long Island South Asian Film Festival boasts 13 shorts, one short documentary, and one feature film over the span of six hours on Saturday, November 19, 2022, at the Charles B. Wang Center on the Stony Brook University campus (100 Circle Drive, Stony Brook, NY 11794).

Presented by Curry Club at Saghar and supported by the Mattoo Center for Indian Studies, the day-long event aims to engage, educate, and entertain Long Island audiences, especially students. “We wish to leverage this mini-festival as a pilot program for public and private universities around the country who aim to empower the next generation of filmmakers, producers, and cinephiles through South Asian independent cinema,” said Jitin Hingorani, founder and festival director. His company, JINGO Media, has also launched the DFW South Asian Film Festival (www.dfwsaff.com) and the NYC South Asian Film Festival (www.nycsaff.com).

This festival’s highlights include:

SIX Short Films from South Asia
EIGHT Short Films from the Diaspora
THREE World Premieres
FIVE Women-Directed Films

Bharat is a 13-year-old boy struggling with adolescence in a conservative Mumbai suburb. When Meera, a beautiful cosmopolitan woman from the big city, moves in next door, she immediately causes a stir. Bharat is drawn to her and pursues an unlikely friendship. Meera, lonely and vulnerable, finds Bharat’s innocence a welcome change in a sea of ogling, Indian men. When she introduces him to jazz and teaches him how to dance with a woman, Bharat glimpses a world of possibilities he is eager to experience. But when he stumbles upon a dark secret from Meera’s past, Bharat is forced to choose: Is she a woman of bad character like everyone says, or is she the smart, sensitive person he knows? It’s only a matter of time before the grownups in the building find out, and what Bharat does next will determine the kind of man he will grow up to be. Watch trailer HERE.

The complete festival lineup, along with trailers, synopses, and ticket information, is all available on the festival’s website, www.longislandsaff.com.

Amazon Prime Video Mobile Edition Expanded To All In India, Costs Rs. 599 Per Year

Amazon Prime Video Mobile Edition was launched in India on Monday as an affordable version of the company’s video streaming service. The e-commerce giant, which first introduced Prime Video Mobile Edition for Airtel subscribers last year in partnership with the telecom operator, has expanded access to the plan to all customers in India, allowing them to subscribe to Amazon Prime Video with a mobile-only plan.

The service announced on Monday that it was launching Amazon Prime Video Mobile Edition, a cheaper version of its streaming subcription service priced at Rs. 599 per year. The mobile version will offer access to only one user, and will be accessible on one smartphone, according to Amazon.

Subscribers will have access to all videos available on the service in standard-definition (SD) on a single smartphone, and the service will be available for a single user, according to Amazon. Unlike the full Prime Video experience that comes with an Amazon Prime subscription, users won’t have access to multiple profiles, and cannot stream content at up to 4K resolution on computers or smart TVs.

Amazon says that customers can sign up for the plan via the Prime Video App on Android or visit the Prime Video website to buy an annual subscription to Prime Video Mobile Edition, according to the company. They can also choose to upgrade to the full Prime Video experience priced at Rs. 1,499, which also comes with other Amazon Prime benefits including music streaming and faster deliveries.

The company’s announcement comes as Amazon moves to expand access to the mobile-only plan that it announced last year in partnership with Airtel, offering access to the same content as regular Prime Video subscribers along with 6GB of data for 28 days, priced at Rs. 89. At the time, Airtel subscribers could also opt for a Rs. 299 plan that offered access to Prime Video Mobile Edition, along with 1.5GB of data every day for 28 days.

Amazon is looking to accelerate its growth in India, as it competes with other streaming services like NetflixVoot, and Disney+ Hotstar. The mobile version of Prime Video is expected to help the company compete with Netflix, which also offers an affordable mobile-only plan for users in the country.

“India is one of our fastest growing and most engaged locales worldwide. Our success in the country can be attributed to innovations that are focused on creating an exceptional entertainment experience for customers. In fact, India is turning into an innovation hub for Prime Video,” Kelly Day, Vice President, International, Prime Video said in a mailed statement.

“An initiative like Prime Video Mobile Edition, that had its genesis in India, is now being rolled out across multiple countries in Latin America and South East Asia. We are confident that the new Prime Video Mobile Edition annual plan will further help accelerate the growth of our India business and give an even larger customer base access to the high-quality content on the service. With this launch we look forward to entertaining every Indian with our popular on-demand entertainment content and live sports,” she added.

Miss World 2021 Runner-Up Shree Saini Implanted With New Pacemaker

Pacemakers are usually given to those who have lived a long life and now their heart needs an extra assistance. For me, I was born with a heart defect,” Shree, 26, wrote.

Indian-American model Shree Saini, who was declared the first runner-up at the Miss World 2021 pageant, recently revealed that she is undergoing heart surgery for a new pacemaker implant as her “current pacemaker batteries have died”. A heart patient, Shree, who got a pacemaker at the age of 12, went on to share that she has to “undergo a total of eight pacemaker replacement surgeries” in her lifetime.

“I would so greatly appreciate your prayers. There will be no visitors allowed at the hospital. I want to thank everyone who has been there for me. For those who may not know, I was born with a complete heart block, where my upper and bottom chambers did not communicate with each other. My block led me to me having a very low heart rate and feel terribly fatigued,” she mentioned in a note on Instagram.

“The pacemaker paces my heart to beat at a normal rate. It does this by using the pacemaker to send electric shocks to my heart which allows it to beat at a normal rate. Average age of a pacemaker recipient is age 80. Pacemakers are usually given to those who have lived a long life and now their heart needs an extra assistance. For me, I was born with a heart defect,” Shree, now 26, penned.

Adding that she is sharing her story to “encourage people to have a greater sense of hope even in their hardships”, she wrote, “Let’s rise up from our challenges with a victor, not a victim mindset.”

Picture: Beauty Pageant

Shree, who was also adjudged Ambassador Beauty With Purpose at the 2021 Miss World, thanked her well-wishers for their constant support. “I still remember being a kid and being so confused, scared while waiting for my initial surgery. I do remember the teachers and peers who were there for me. I will forever be grateful for people who cared, reached out with comforting words and whose love filled me with strength. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts. I am the sum of God’s blessings, parents’ unconditional love and the blessings of so many people. So grateful for scientists, doctors for creating this remarkable pacemaker technology, that literally allows me to live today!”

About the size of a pocket watch, artificial pacemakers are implanted under the skin through an incision in the chest. The device is connected to the heart through leads or wires that deliver electrical signals that regulate the heart’s activity. “Pacemakers are small machines placed to generate heart beats. When your heart beats slows down to less than 50-60 beats, with or without heart conduction tissue, it indicates damage to your heart’s wiring system, or in cases of heart failure where a patient’s heart do not beat in tandem to produce a good pulse or output, then the doctor recommends these small machines to improve the quality of life, said Dr Bipeenchandra Bhamre, consultant cardiac surgeon, Sir H. N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai, adding that ECG and Holter monitoring tests help to determine the need of pacemakers.

According to the expert, two types of machines are widely used — single chamber and dual chamber — depending on the number of heart chambers affected. “Periodic check up, every year, is required to check for battery. Your doctor will recommend the type of machine better for you,” he said.

Dr Pankaj Batra, senior interventional cardiologist, Fortis Escorts Faridabad, told indianexpress.com that the PPI or Permanent Pacemaker Implantation procedure takes about an hour to be completed. “Permanent pacemaker insertion is considered a minimally invasive procedure. Transvenous access to the heart chambers under local anesthesia is the favored technique. It is not a surgery,” said Dr Batra, adding that “in case of congenital heart defects, pacemakers may be preferred for a long life.”

A National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) review also suggested that the primary purpose of such a device is to maintain an adequate heart rate, either because the heart’s natural pacemaker is not fast enough, or there is a block in the heart’s electrical conduction system. “Modern pacemakers are externally programmable and allow the cardiologist to select the optimum pacing modes for patients on a case-to-case basis,” explained Dr Batra and further said that replacement is usually done after 10 to 15 years using a “minor procedure”.

While pacemakers can be temporary in cases of a heart attack, permanent pacemakers are used to control long-term heart issues. “Pacemaker can relieve some arrhythmia symptoms, such as fatigue and fainting. A pacemaker also can help a person who has abnormal heart rhythms resume a more active lifestyle,” mentioned the NCBI review. Agreed Dr Batra and mentioned that pacemakers are needed to “improve the quality of life”, and with minimal heart-related issues. (Courtesy: The Indian Express)

Indian Musical RAMAAVAN Off-Broadway

Surati for Performing Arts (www.suratifpa.org) presents the Off-Broadway premiere of Rimli Roy’s RAMAAVAN, the story of Prince Ram and King Ravan, based on the ancient Indian literary text, “The Ramayana,” from Nov. 2nd to 6th (total of SEVEN performances) at the historic American Theatre of Actors (Cullum Theatre) on 314 W 54th St. in Times Square.

The musical is performed in English by an international and diverse cast, including Caucasians, African Americans, LatinX, and South Asians. It is a story of duty, honor, love, courage, and revenge told through verse, traditional (classical and folk), and experimental Indian dance and music, along with world genres of musical theatre, opera, contemporary, jazz, ballet, and modern dance. The concept, script, costumes, and music are all original and were workshopped and performed in 2019 in Jersey City and Hoboken. 

“RAMAAVAN is an evolving theatrical experience that appeals to a global audience today,” said creator and director Rimli Roy. “Though the tale is ancient, the modern-day interpretation of the story challenges the ‘Status Quo,’ and the dominant themes include peace, mutual respect, understanding, cultural representation, brotherhood, and harmony, all of the values we constantly espouse through our work at Surati for Performing Arts.”

Movie Star Anna May Wong To Be First Asian American Featured On US Currency

Movie star Anna May Wong, who broke into Hollywood during the silent film era, will become the first Asian American to appear on US currency, a century after she landed her first leading role. Wong’s image, with her trademark blunt bangs and pencil-thin eyebrows, will feature on the back of new quarters from October 24th, 2022.

The design is the fifth to emerge from the American Women Quarters Program, which highlights pioneering women in their respective fields. The other four quarters, all put into production this year, feature poet and activist Maya Angelou; the first American woman in space, Sally Ride; Cherokee Nation leader Wilma Mankiller; and suffragist Nina Otero-Warren. The latter two were, along with Wong, selected with input from the public.

“These inspiring coin designs tell the stories of five extraordinary women whose contributions are indelibly etched in American culture,” the US Mint’s acting director, Alison Doone, said in a statement to CNN last year, when the list was revealed.

Considered the movie industry’s first Chinese American star, Wong overcame widespread discrimination to carve out a four-decade career in film, theater and radio. She acted alongside icons including Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford and Laurence Olivier and appeared on stage in London and New York.

Born in Los Angeles, she began acting at 14 and took a lead role in “The Toll of the Sea” three years later, in 1922. She went on to appear in dozens of movies but faced deeply entrenched racism in Hollywood, where she struggled to break from stereotypical roles.

She moved to Europe in the 1920s, but later returned to the US to make hits including “Shanghai Express,” the 1932 adventure-romance movie that gave Wong one of her best-known roles — it starred Dietrich as a notorious courtesan who takes a three-day rail journey through China during the Chinese Civil War and is held hostage on board, with Wong playing a fellow first-class passenger.

Throughout her life, Wong advocated for greater representation of Asian American actors in Hollywood. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, the year before she died aged 56.

Her keen sense of style also made her a fashion icon, with Wong often mixing traditional Chinese gowns and flapper-era styles with eccentric touches. A biopic of the actor’s life, which will see her portrayed by “Crazy Rich Asians” star Gemma Chan, is currently in production.

“Many prominent actors from the 1920s and 1930s saw their name framed by lightbulbs on movie theater marquees, so I thought it made sense to feature Anna May Wong in this way,” said the coin’s designer, Emily Damstra, in a press release.

“Along with the hard work, determination, and skill Anna May Wong brought to the profession of acting, I think it was her face and expressive gestures that really captivated movie audiences, so I included these elements next to her name.”

The American Women Quarters program will choose five different women each year to be featured on the coin’s reverse side through 2025. Next year’s confirmed designs will spotlight pilot Bessie Coleman, composer Edith Kanakaʻole, former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, journalist and activist Jovita Idar and ballerina Maria Tallchief. (The Hill)

Lolita Chakrabarti’s Stage Adaptation Of Yann Martel’s Best-Selling Novel

Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director Diane Paulus and Executive Director Kelvin Dinkins, Jr., playing at the Loeb Drama Center (64 Brattle Street, Cambridge) December 4, 2022, through January 29, 2023.

As a proud partner of LIFE OF PI, American Express® Card Members have access to exclusive pre-sale tickets before the general public beginning Monday, October 24, 2022, at 10:00AM (ET) through Monday, October 31, 2022, at 9:59AM (ET) at Telecharge.com.

Presale tickets for LIFE OF PI are available exclusively to Audience Rewards® members from Monday, October 31, 2022, at 10AM (ET) to Thursday, November 3, 2022, at 9:59AM ET. General on-sale begins Thursday, November 3, 2022, at 10AM (ET).

LIFE OF PI is directed by Max Webster, with Set and Costume design by Olivier Award winner Tim Hatley, Puppet and Movement Direction by Finn Caldwell, Puppet Design by Olivier Award winners Nick Barnes and Finn Caldwell, Video Design by Olivier Award winner Andrzej Goulding, Lighting Design by Olivier Award winner Tim Lutkin, Sound Design by Carolyn Downing, Original Music by Andrew T Mackay, and Dramaturgy by Jack Bradley. Broadway casting for LIFE OF PI will be announced shortly.

“Having started work seven years ago to bring Yann Martel’s much-loved story to the stage, for it to live on Broadway is enormously gratifying,” said Simon Friend, producer of the Olivier Award-winning Best Play, “LIFE OF PI has been so joyously received by audiences young and old in the UK, which is testament to the skill of the large team of artists delivering a show which entertains, and makes you think and feel in equal measure. We can’t wait to welcome audiences on Broadway.”

“It has been such a privilege to adapt Yann Martel’s modern classic LIFE OF PI for the stage. It was daunting, creatively, exciting, and always collaborative. To be able to tell this story the way I imagined it, to create the world using my references and viewpoint has been an extraordinary gift. And to see it resonate with young and old audience members alike has been humbling,” said playwright Lolita Chakrabarti, “It is a beautiful, visceral, magical show, a story of survival which all of us can fundamentally relate to after the effects of the pandemic. I am beyond thrilled that we will bring this play to Broadway.”

Based on one of the best-loved works of fiction – winner of the Man Booker Prize, selling over fifteen million copies worldwide – LIFE OF PI is a breath-taking new theatrical adaptation of an epic journey of endurance and hope.

After a cargo ship sinks in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, a sixteen-year-old boy name Pi is stranded on a lifeboat with four other survivors – a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. Time is against them, nature is harsh, who will survive?

Tickets for LIFE OF PI on Broadway are available at Telecharge.com (212.239.6200) and at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre box office and range from $49 – $199 (including $2 facility fee). The playing schedule for LIFE OF PI is as follows: Tuesday through Saturday at 8pm, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm, and Sunday at 3pm. Please note there will be no 2pm performance on Wednesday, March 15. Beginning Tuesday, April 4, 2023, the LIFE OF PI performance schedule is as follows: Tuesday through Saturday at 8pm, Friday at 7:30pm, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm, and Sunday at 3pm.

LIFE OF PI on Broadway is produced by Simon Friend, Daryl Roth, Hal Luftig, Mark Gordon, Playing Field, Tulchin/Bartner Productions, Gavin Kalin, Hunter Arnold, Hall Smalberg Winkler, 42nd.club, Elizabeth Armstrong, Eilene Davidson, Federman Jenen Productions, Susan Gallin, Independent Presenters Network, John Gore Organization, Kuhn Dodani, Harriet Leve, Mary Lu Roffe, Catherine Schreiber, Anthony Tang, Triple Threat

Productions, American Repertory Theatre and Sheffield Theatres, with Aaron Lustbader and Hanna Osmolska serving as Executive Producers.

LIFE OF PI is currently playing at Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End where it won five Olivier Awards including Best New Play, Best Scenic Design and Best Lighting Design. In an historic first for the Olivier Awards, the seven performers who play Royal Bengal tiger ‘Richard Parker’ were collectively awarded Best Actor in a Supporting Role. The London production with its cutting-edge visual effects has garnered great critical acclaim.

LOLITA CHAKRABARTI (Playwright) OBE is an actress and an award-winning playwright. Her debut play Red Velvet opened at the Tricycle Theatre, London, before transferring to St Ann’s Warehouse in New York and then to London’s West End as part of Sir Kenneth Branagh’s inaugural season at The Garrick Theatre. It earned her the Evening Standard Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright 2012; The Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright 2013; AWA for Arts and Culture 2013 and an Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre 2012, as well as many other nominations. Red Velvet is now on the Drama syllabus for A level, is studied at universities in the UK and USA and there have been over twenty professional productions in the USA and beyond, including at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington in June 2022. In 2019 Lolita adapted the Booker Prize winning novel Life of Pi for the stage, (Sheffield Theatres and Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End) for which she won the award for Best New Play at the Olivier Awards 2022, UK Theatre Awards 2019, and WhatsonStage Awards 2019. Other writing credits include Hymn (Almeida Theatre/Sky Arts); an adaptation of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (Manchester International Festival and Brisbane Festival); Stones of Venice, a VR film for

Raja Kumari, Malik Nominated For ‘Best Indian Act’ At MTV EMA 2022

Singer-songwriter Armaan Malik and rapper Raja Kumari have received nominations at the upcoming MTV Europe Music Awards (EMAs). Both Malik and Kumari have secured nods in the best Indian act category at the annual music gala.

Raja Kumari has been nominated for the fifth time for the ‘Best Indian Act’ at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2022, which is scheduled to be held on November 13. She has been nominated for her song ‘Made In India’ for which she collaborated with Bollywood star Madhuri Dixit.

Kumari has been nominated for the fifth time for the ‘Best Indian Act’ at the MTV Europe Music Awards. She has been nominated for her latest release ‘Made In India‘ in which she collaborated with Bollywood actor Madhuri Dixit.

Talking about her experience and the year so far, she said: “It has been an incredible year and I am looking forward to the rest of it. The support and love that my fans have always shown me has left me speechless. I’m happiest when I see my fans dancing to my music.”

Reacting to the news of receiving the nomination, she said: “I am thrilled to receive this nomination for ‘Made in India’ at the prestigious MTV Europe Music Awards 2022. This song holds a special place in my heart, and I had a wonderful time working on it. This is a big moment for all of us and I wish luck to all the other talented nominees.”

Kumari said she was thrilled to receive this nomination for ‘Made in India‘ at the prestigious MTV Europe Music Awards 2022. “This song holds a special place in my heart, and I had a wonderful time working on it. This is a big moment for all of us and I wish luck to all the other talented nominees,” she added.

Malik has been nominated for his latest English single ‘You’. This is a second nod for him in the best Indian act category at the annual music gala. His first international single ‘Control; won him the MTV EMA in 2020 in the same segment.

Malik said he is “elated” to earn yet another nomination at the MTV EMAs. “The last time, I’d won the award for my debut single ‘Control’ and it was such a massive career milestone for me!

“I hope to make my fans, family and the country proud once again. I wish the very best to the other talented nominees alongside me, this is a big moment for all of us,” Malik said in a statement.

Public voting for all award categories is currently live on the MTV EMA’s website. The awards ceremony will be held in Dusseldorf, Germany on November 13, 2022. (IANS)

Shreya Ghoshal On Global Tour To Celebrate 2 Decades In Music Industry

Playback singer Shreya Ghoshal, who is known for hits such as ‘Ami Je Tomar’, ‘Bahara’ and ‘Chikni Chameli’, will headline a series of concerts across the world as she completes two decades in the music industry. 

She will perform in a 5-city Australia-New Zealand tour from October 7 to October 16, 2022, in Ireland on October 29 and The Netherlands on October 30. Additionally, she will also perform in the USA from November 4 to November 19, 2022.

Talking about the US tour, Shreya Ghoshal said: “This US tour is very special for me as I am completing twenty years in Bollywood, and what a beautiful way to celebrate my journey with my fans. Coincidentally, this is my first tour in the US after the unfortunate pandemic disruption.”

She further said: “I am humbled to be a part of the concert and to be able to continue entertaining my fans. I always had an amazing experience performing for the warm crowd of the US and I am quite excited to perform there after three long years.”

The high-profile music concert will see a seven-city tour across the US. The US leg of the tour will start on November 4 in New Jersey, followed by Dallas, Texas on November 5, Washington, DC on November 11, Oakland, Bay Area on November 12, Los Angeles on November 13, Orlando, Florida on November 18, and will conclude in New York on November 19, 2022. 

Shreya Ghoshal (born 12 March 1984) is an Indian playback singer. She has received four National Film Awards, seven Filmfare Awards including six for Best Female Playback Singer, nine Filmfare Awards South, three Kerala State Film Awards, two Tamil Nadu State Film Awards and many other awards. She has recorded songs for film music and albums in various Indian languages and has established herself as a leading playback singer of Indian cinema.

USAID, UNICEF Partner With Doordarshan To Launch TV Series, Duur Se Namaste

Tthe U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and UNICEF formally launched the Doordarshan and YouTube series titled Duur Se Namaste (“Greetings from a distance!”) at an event held today in New Delhi.

Duur Se Namaste, a fictional Hindi series developed in an entertainment-education format, highlights the challenges of a post-pandemic world and promotes the adoption of healthy behaviours and practices. Weaving messages on COVID-19 vaccine promotion and the need to continue COVID-19-appropriate behavior, the series includes tips for navigating mental health issues for children and young people and supporting children’s learning recovery as they return to school.

Additional Secretary and Mission Director (National Health Mission), Ms Roli Singh and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Ms. Neerja Sekhar were present at the inauguration. Ms. Singh spoke on the COVID-19 pandemic and outlined the way forward for the post-pandemic world. Ms Sekhar spoke on the critical role of Mass media and communications in health promotion.

Sharing the vision of the edutainment series, Ms. Veena Reddy, Mission Director of USAID India, said, “COVID-19 knows no borders, and no one is safe until everyone is safe. USAID is proud to support Duur Se Namaste, highlighting life’s challenges in the new normal and ways to navigate these through good health practices.

Highlighting the importance of using mass media for behavioural change, Mr Arjan de Wagt, UNICEF India Deputy Representative a.i, said, “We know from scientific studies in India how impactful television can be in catalysing effective behaviour change, and we have seen the power of visual communication during the pandemic.

I am very pleased to join you for the launch of Duur Se Namaste, which is sure to provide not only excellent entertainment to a large audience but also create a space to discuss important themes like supporting children as they are now back to school, psychosocial support for children of all ages, and mental health challenges among young people.”

Reiterating the commitment of Doordarshan, Mr. Mayank Agrawal, CEO, Prasar Bharati and DG, Doordarshan said, “Duur Se Namaste is a very relevant show in the present times and as India’s Public Service Broadcaster, it is our mandate to ensure that such shows reach the public. We are happy to have this partnership with UNICEF and look forward to continuing our work together for public welfare.”

A theatrical film on Duur Se Namaste was screened at the event, taking the audience through the main story, and showing how the messages of vaccine promotion and COVID-19 Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) have been interwoven in the entertainment education series. The event also included a panel with the show’s lead actors Ankit Raizada, Dolly Chawla and Atul Parchure moderated by Manav Rath and Mannish Singh, from the creative team.

The series is produced by National Film Award winner and Padmashee, Nil Madhav Panda’s production house, Elleeanora Images Pvt. Ltd.

The edutainment series Duur Se Namaste has been on air on DD National at primetime slots since August 14, 2022. The show is broadcast every Sunday from 11 am to 12 noon, with repeat telecasts on Saturdays from 6-7 pm. The show is also available on Duur Se Namaste YouTube channel.

About the cast:

Ankit Raizada: Ankit is the main lead of Duur Se Namaste. A popular television actor, who has worked on shows like Jodha Akbar and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai. Ankitt plays Vishu, a COVID hero in the series, who helps his neighbours with their challenges and problems and works as a volunteer for the elderly and infected during the peak of the pandemic.

Dolly Chawla: Dolly plays Geet on the show Duur Se Namaste, a fun and career-oriented girl, who models women chasing their dreams. Dolly played lead roles  in Sasural Simar Ka, Zindagi Mere Ghar Aana, Thapki Pyar ki among other shows.

Atul Parchure: Atul Parchure is a well-known Indian movie, television and theater actor. He is mainly known for his comedy roles in Marathi and Bollywood film industry. His career spanning over two decades includes roles in the popular Kapil Sharma Show, Jago Mohan Jago, R K Laxman ki Duniya among others.

USAID, UNICEF Partner With Doordarshan To Launch TV Series, Duur Se Namaste

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and UNICEF formally launched the Doordarshan and YouTube series titled Duur Se Namaste (“Greetings from a distance!”) at an event held today in New Delhi.

Duur Se Namaste, a fictional Hindi series developed in an entertainment-education format, highlights the challenges of a post-pandemic world and promotes the adoption of healthy behaviours and practices. Weaving messages on COVID-19 vaccine promotion and the need to continue COVID-19-appropriate behavior, the series includes tips for navigating mental health issues for children and young people and supporting children’s learning recovery as they return to school.

Additional Secretary and Mission Director (National Health Mission), Ms Roli Singh and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Ms. Neerja Sekhar were present at the inauguration. Ms. Singh spoke on the COVID-19 pandemic and outlined the way forward for the post-pandemic world. Ms Sekhar spoke on the critical role of Mass media and communications in health promotion.

Sharing the vision of the edutainment series, Ms. Veena Reddy, Mission Director of USAID India, said, “COVID-19 knows no borders, and no one is safe until everyone is safe. USAID is proud to support Duur Se Namaste, highlighting life’s challenges in the new normal and ways to navigate these through good health practices.”

Highlighting the importance of using mass media for behavioural change, Mr Arjan de Wagt, UNICEF India Deputy Representative a.i, said, “We know from scientific studies in India how impactful television can be in catalysing effective behaviour change, and we have seen the power of visual communication during the pandemic.

I am very pleased to join you for the launch of Duur Se Namaste, which is sure to provide not only excellent entertainment to a large audience but also create a space to discuss important themes like supporting children as they are now back to school, psychosocial support for children of all ages, and mental health challenges among young people.”

Reiterating the commitment of Doordarshan, Mr. Mayank Agrawal, CEO, Prasar Bharati and DG, Doordarshan said, “Duur Se Namaste is a very relevant show in the present times and as India’s Public Service Broadcaster, it is our mandate to ensure that such shows reach the public. We are happy to have this partnership with UNICEF and look forward to continuing our work together for public welfare.”

A theatrical film on Duur Se Namaste was screened at the event, taking the audience through the main story, and showing how the messages of vaccine promotion and COVID-19 Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) have been interwoven in the entertainment education series. The event also included a panel with the show’s lead actors Ankit Raizada, Dolly Chawla and Atul Parchure moderated by Manav Rath and Mannish Singh, from the creative team.

The series is produced by National Film Award winner and Padmashee, Nil Madhav Panda’s production house, Elleeanora Images Pvt. Ltd. 

The edutainment series Duur Se Namaste has been on air on DD National at primetime slots since August 14, 2022. The show is broadcast every Sunday from 11 am to 12 noon, with repeat telecasts on Saturdays from 6-7 pm. The show is also available on Duur Se Namaste YouTube channel.

About the cast: 

Ankit Raizada: Ankit is the main lead of Duur Se Namaste. A popular television actor, who has worked on shows like Jodha Akbar and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai. Ankitt plays Vishu, a COVID hero in the series, who helps his neighbours with their challenges and problems and works as a volunteer for the elderly and infected during the peak of the pandemic.

Dolly Chawla: Dolly plays Geet on the show Duur Se Namaste, a fun and career-oriented girl, who models women chasing their dreams. Dolly played lead roles  in Sasural Simar Ka, Zindagi Mere Ghar Aana, Thapki Pyar ki among other shows.

Atul Parchure: Atul Parchure is a well-known Indian movie, television and theater actor. He is mainly known for his comedy roles in Marathi and Bollywood film industry. His career spanning over two decades includes roles in the popular Kapil Sharma Show, Jago Mohan Jago, R K Laxman ki Duniya among others.

Indian American Rom-Com No. 2 After ‘The Sandman’ On Netflix Global Top 10

While the streaming fantasy drama ‘The Sandman’ was watched for 127.5 million hours, landing in the No. 1 position on the newly released Top 10 rankings of Netflix, Season 3 of the Mindy Kaling-created Indo-american teen comedy series ‘Never Have I Ever’ debuted at No. 2 during the August 8-14 viewing window.

‘Never Have I Ever’ was watched for 55 million hours after three days of availability, reports Variety. It was followed by the debut of another teen series’ third season: ‘Locke & Key,’ which was watched for 38.4 million hours in its first five days of availability.

According to Variety, the fourth place was secured by Season 4 of ‘Stranger Things,’ which was watched for 35.3 million hours. This was the season’s sixth full week of availability since the premiere of the two episodes making up Volume 2 on July 1.

Following ‘Stranger Things 4’ on heels is the fourth season of the romantic-drama series ‘Virgin River’. With 29.6 million hours watched, the show lands at No. 5.

Variety further states that ‘Manifest’ also remains in the Top 10 after reappearing during the July 4-10 window due its recent addition to Netflix in India, Latin America and the Nordic countries. This week, the show’s third season came in at No. 6 (28.4 million hours).

The No. 7 position went to ‘I Just Killed My Dad,’ which was viewed for 26.2 million hours in its first six days of availability. Limited thriller series ‘Keep Breathing’ took eighth place with 20.9 million hours watched after debuting at No. 3 during the July 25-31 window and taking second place last week.

The 9th and 10th spot on the ranking board are occupied by ‘Manifest’ season 2 and ‘Manifest’ season 3 respectively. (IANS)

Indian American Creators Put A New Spin On Arranged Marriage

Visibly frustrated, matchmaker Sima Taparia recounts her struggle to an “Indian Matchmaking” producer: She has been tasked with finding potential partners for a 30-something Indian man living in Nashik, a few hours outside of Mumbai, but women of his generation would rather live in a bustling metropolis than this quieter part of the country. Thirty years ago, Sima reminisces, she followed her husband to Nashik and fell in love with the warmth of its people. Why hasn’t anyone done the same for Akshay Dhumal?

“Akshay’s charming, handsome. Parents are good. He’s loaded with money. He has a good business, good education. Everything is there,” she says. “But the girls, they do not want to go to Nashik.”

Generational differences often pose challenges to Sima, whose downsized presence in the new season of the Netflix reality series hints at the evolving landscape of arranged marriage. When the show premiered two years ago, it set off a flurry of takes in South Asian communities: Some criticized how it painted the culture as “burdensome,” while others described it as “telling it like it is.” Sima’s strong-willed client Aparna Shewakramani became a fan favorite for refusing to contort herself to fit other people’s expectations.

The determined independence exhibited by Aparna — as well as by the women who refuse to abandon their big-city lives — is also a central component of two other recent South Asian-led projects on Netflix: the romantic comedy “Wedding Season” and the comedy series “Never Have I Ever,” which released a new season Friday. All three were created by Indian Americans and explore the growing sense of autonomy exercised by the people for whom matches are sought, whether in India or as part of the diaspora. Ultimately, the power lies with them.

“In America, you feel tired of being asked about arranged marriage,” said “Wedding Season” writer Shiwani Srivastava. “But on the flip side, you realize people have a gross misunderstanding of it.”

Following in the footsteps of its rom-com forebears, the “Wedding Season” screenplay began with a trope: Protagonists Asha (Pallavi Sharda) and Ravi (Suraj Sharma) would pretend to date, but … to what end? Srivastava, 40, pulled from her life years before, when she attended weddings on an almost biweekly basis. Maybe Asha and Ravi want to throw nosy aunties off the scent. If they “dated” each other, neither one would be pestered into going out with a close friend of someone’s second cousin, twice removed.

In the film, Asha, a certified girlboss, starts to resent the expectation that she entertain those matchmaking efforts. She challenges her parents to consider that she can support herself and may never want to get married. In writing immigrant parents who presumably came to the United States in the 1970s or ’80s, Srivastava made sure to include a line in which Asha’s father, Vijay (Rizwan Manji), observes that his daughter seems to believe her parents’ mentality is straight from the India of 40 years ago.

“I think it does happen. It’s been documented across different immigrant communities: You bring your way of thinking from certain points of time and transplant it in America,” the screenwriter said. “It evolves in America but, meanwhile, India is evolving in parallel. We’re not the same. We’re different cultures.”

Srivastava underscored that “Wedding Season,” set in her home state of New Jersey, depicts “a very specific Indian American experience for millennials who were born to this wave of immigrants.” The disclaimer could be even more precise. Similar to “Never Have I Ever” — and, to some extent, this season of “Indian Matchmaking” — the film doesn’t delve into factors such as caste or colorism, both of which can heavily influence the matchmaking process. All three projects feature heterosexual Indian couples as well, for the most part from middle- or upper-class Hindu families.

These grains of salt might be implied with a Netflix rom-com, a genre hardly expected to answer for societal shortcomings. Srivastava didn’t set out with the intention to provide commentary on arranged marriage; Ravi, for instance, never hesitates to go out with someone of his parents’ choosing. Srivastava said it was a framework she used to highlight the courage it takes for two people to embrace what they truly desire in life. Although Asha and Ravi are initially set up, what matters in the end is that they choose each other.

In Srivastava’s experience, arranged marriage “feels like a misnomer — it’s more like an arranged introduction,” she said. “I often joke with my family about [this] dating service run by your parents and their network. They’re the ones setting you up on the date, and the rest is up to you.”

In “Indian Matchmaking,” Sima shares her exasperation directly with Akshay and his parents. This isn’t the first time she has been asked to find someone willing to move somewhere like Nashik. She says she often winds up asking clients, “Are you marrying a city, or are you marrying the boy and the family?”

The boy and the family, granted equal weight. In this collectivist culture — and in any culture, really — the best-case scenario would be for both partners to mesh well with each other’s families. It might even be a requirement for some couples. The worst case? Let’s turn to the teen comedy “Never Have I Ever.”

Early on, protagonist Devi Vishwakumar’s older cousin, Kamala (Richa Moorjani), begins living with Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) and her mother, Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan), after arriving from India to pursue a PhD at Caltech. Kamala is soon set up with a potential husband, Prashant (Rushi Kota), and she gives him a fair chance. But in the third season, Kamala realizes her growing discomfort with the situation has less to do with Prashant and more to do with the fact that she isn’t ready for marriage, period.

They end things, much to the chagrin of Devi and Kamala’s grandmother, Nirmala (Ranjita Chakravarty), who proceeds to ice Kamala out. Kamala is forced to reckon with the fact that her desire to better understand what she wants for herself — which includes dating Devi’s English teacher, Manish Kulkarni (Utkarsh Ambudkar), a man Nirmala disapproves of — butts heads with what is expected of her.

‘Never Have I Ever’ gives immigrant mothers the dimension they rarely receive on TV

“The arranged marriage storyline we were introduced to has really evolved and been a part of a larger story about [Kamala] finding her independence and voice,” said Moorjani, 33. “I felt very empowered by her journey because it’s something I deal with in my own life, to put my own happiness first.”

Moorjani found the storyline “fascinating and interesting to watch on an American television show.” The series, which was co-created by Lang Fisher and Mindy Kaling, marks the latter writer’s most substantial depiction yet of Indian American culture. She previously starred in sitcoms “The Mindy Project” and “The Office,” for which she wrote numerous episodes — including the silly, celebrated “Diwali” episode.

In a recent interview with Marie Claire, Kaling noted that her production company is developing a romantic comedy about Indian weddings that she co-wrote with Dan Goor and will star in with Indian actress Priyanka Chopra. Kaling, a single mother of two, said the film is “a lot about the value that we put, particularly Indian women, on marriage. And how so much of our value is set on being married.”

When filmmaker Smriti Mundhra was in her late 20s, an aunt recommended she become a client of Sima’s. It didn’t work out for Mundhra romantically — she had just gotten out of a relationship and largely agreed to her aunt’s suggestion because she “felt like as long as I was unmarried, I was disappointing people that I loved” — but she did succeed on another level. She was now well acquainted with Sima, who was “so blunt and so hilarious.”

In her time working with Sima, Mundhra encountered firsthand the “regressive and problematic things that exist” in matchmaking alongside the merits of a “culture that values community over individuality.” As a storyteller, she couldn’t let that go. Sima first appeared in Mundhra’s 2017 documentary “A Suitable Girl,” about three Indian women facing pressure to marry, before starring in “Indian Matchmaking.”

Mundhra, now 42, approaches reality television as a documentarian. In its second season, the show is less concerned with whether its characters will find love than it is the evolving concepts at play: individual needs and desires, societal expectations and, of course, the matchmaking process itself. Sima can seem dismissive at times but, according to Mundhra, is a “product of her generation” and aware she must change alongside her clients.

“That doesn’t come without its pains and frustrations,” Mundhra added.

One of the most significant shifts Mundhra has witnessed in the process may come as a surprise to those unfamiliar with more traditional practices: Whereas Sima used to base the bulk of her assessments off conversations with clients’ parents, she now speaks to clients directly. This makes for great television at times, particularly when a client balks at Sima’s frequent suggestions that they lower their standards, but exposes flaws in the system as well. Should they really be expected to set aside much of what they believe they deserve?

The answer varies. Mundhra noted that none of the clients showcased in “Indian Matchmaking” were forced into the process; even for the more reluctant sort — such as Aparna, who decides Sima isn’t a match for her, either, and spends the second season looking for love on her own — autonomy doesn’t imply rejecting traditions but deciding the extent to which they embrace them.

The show continues to follow Aparna’s journey even after she shirks the matchmaking process because, according to Mundhra, the realization that “I need to hit pause on this because I need to figure out who I am” is just as valuable a takeaway.

The desire to “make our communities happy, our families happy — it’s still strong,” Mundhra said of her generation. “But it’s getting harder and harder to drown out that individual voice.”

Aarya Walveka From Virginia Is Crowned As Miss India USA

As many as 74 contestants representing 30 States from across the United States participated in three different categories – Miss India USA, Mrs. India USA and Miss Teen India USA held in New Jersey

Aarya Walvekar, 18, from Virginia was crowned Miss India USA 2022 during a glittering pageant held at the Royal Alberts Palace, Edison in New Jersey on Friday, August 5th, 2022. Saumya Sharma, a second year premedical student at the University of Virginia, was declared the first runner-up and Sanjana Chekuri of New Jersey was the second runner-up.

As many as 74 contestants representing 30 States from across the United States participated in three different categories – Miss India USA, Mrs. India USA and Miss Teen India USA. Akshi Jain from Washington State has crowned Mrs. India USA and Tanvi Grover from New York was crowned Miss Teen India USA.

During the talent competition, the contestants performed Bollywood dances and songs on stage, gave motivational speeches, did mono acting, sang popular American songs, performed hip hop, and did paintings. Esha Kode – The First Ever Miss Teen India Worldwide and Navya Paingol – the reigning Miss Teen India USA were emcees for the pageant. Nishi Bahl was the choreographer, and was assisted by Shilpa Jhurani and Anushree Shah. Tabulation was done by Nilesh Choksi CPA.

Neelam Saran and Dharmatma Saran, chairman and founder of the New York based India Cultural Festival (IFC) that organizes the trail blazing Miss India Worldwide, are pioneers in entertainment, holding Indian pageants and fashion shows in the USA and worldwide. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the pageant, which is the longest-running Indian pageant outside of India. The pageant was presented by Morgan Stanley and was supported by  TV Asia and Royal Albert’s palace.

The annual pageants started in a basement in New York in 1980 with the first ever Miss India New York and Miss India USA, has evolved and expanded, now incorporating and having membership from over 40 countries, that promote Indian heritage and providing a platform for people of Indian origin to unite and showcase their talents, skills and beauty. Winners of all three categories gets complimentary tickets to Mumbai to take part in worldwide pageants, also organized by the same organization, early next year.

“It has been my childhood dream to see myself on the silver screen and work in films and TV,” said Aarya who is an aspiring actress. The Bollywood fan also shared on Instagram that she got the opportunity to showcase herself in front of leading playback singers from the 80s and 90s. “It was an honor to open the show for Bollywood legends Kumar Saanu, Alka Yagnik, and Udit Narayan. Forever grateful,” she wrote. Her hobbies include exploring new places, cooking and debating.

Attended by over five hundred participants from across the nation, the beauty pageant began with an opening dance number for all contestants choreographed by Shilpa Jhurani and followed by Ethnic costume and talent performances by the top five and the finale was the question/answer segment.

Dharmatma Saran presented an appreciation plaque to Padmashree Dr. H.R. Shah – Chairman of TV Asia and Albert Jasani of Royal Albert’s Palace for their continued support. Judging panel included Bollywood singer Shibani Kashyap, Swathi Vimal – the reigning Mrs. India Worldwide, Gietanjali Thakoer – National Director of Worldwide Pageants from Suriname, Sachin Mally CEO of Lucid Technologies, Sonika Krishna – Vice President of UST Contineo Health and Diamandi Devereaux – Hollywood actor and model. Sumathi Narayanan, State Director of Connecticut, was awarded “State Director of the Year” award.  Khushi Patel, the reigning Miss India Worldwide, attended the pageant as the Special Guest.

Saran said, he is “very proud of the fact that we have been able to provide a common platform for the international Indian community through pageantry. We are equally proud of the fact that we have been able to imbibe Indian values, traditions and culture among the youth of Indian origin around the world. We have also been successful in promoting Indian performing arts around the world.”

Nomad Fashion Show Mixes Ancient With Modern

On the shore of one of the world’s deepest lakes, high up in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, models strutted and sashayed in outfits mixing the ancient and modern at the World Nomads Fashion festival.

The event, now in its third year, drew designers and fashion-industry figures from about 20 countries to shimmering Lake Issyk-Kul to admire outfits drawing on Kyrgyzstan’s millennia-old nomadic culture.

The stiletto heels worn by some models wouldn’t be suitable for a proper nomad, but some of their elaborate headdresses that seemed to mimic the horns of cattle were takes on traditional nomad costume. Swirling, voluminous skirts featured in many of the outfits, either elaborately patterned or in blocks of vivid color.

“The World Nomad Fashion Festival is the first and only project in Central Asia and some European countries that glorifies the civilization of nomads,” the event’s founder, Nazira Begim, said.

Along with the couture, the show offered visitors the chance to see an array of yurts — the wood-framed tents of skin or felt characteristic of nomads — and brightly colored carpets.

“It was created in 2019. This idea belongs to me. The project is one of my old dreams. When I organized it for the first time, without knowing anyone personally, I invited designers from 17 countries and held it also on the shores of Issyk-Kul lake,” Begim added. Ms Begim is keen to spotlight Kyrgyzstan’s fashion industry. (Associated Press)

Doordarshan Launches “Swaraj,” A 75-Episode Serial On India’s Freedom Struggle

Coinciding with Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Doordarshan is all set to come up with a 75-episode series titled Swaraj, which will narrate the untold stories of unsung heroes of India. According to reports, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has launched the promo of Doordarshan’s mega historical show titled “Swaraj- Bharat Ke Swatantrata Sangram Ki Samagra Gatha” on July 15,2022.

The 75-episode docu-drama series will depict India’s freedom struggle from the 15th century when Vasco da Gama first reached India to 1947 when the country got independence. “This serial will bring to life several aspects of Indian history while featuring the lives and sacrifices of lesser known heroes,” a press release noted.

Among the new content, Swaraj, a 75-episodes mega show illustrating the glorious history of India’s freedom struggle and lesser-known tales about Indian history would be aired soon. The series will showcase India’s historical journey from 1498 when Vasco da Gama first reached India to 1947 when the country got independence. The popular film actor, Manoj Joshi, plays a stellar role as the narrator (sutradhar) of the serial. The serial has grand production quality and promises to be a visual treat.

Swaraj is to be launched on 14th August 2022 in Hindi on DD National and subsequently in several regional languages for telecast on the regional network of Doordarshan. Its audio version will be broadcast on the All India Radio network as well. Speaking during the promo launch, Anurag Singh Thakur said “The promo is not only a glimpse of what was envisioned during the freedom struggle but it is also a glimpse of what will be the New Doordarshan of New India.” 

He said that from Chitrahar to Samachar, the programs of DD used to have quality. The minister added, “We will ensure that it is further enhanced in the coming years.” He appreciated the efforts of the research and advisory team of ‘Swaraj’ for continuing their work despite the COVID-19 pandemic. He also emphasised that the telecast of Swaraj in 10 languages will amplify its accessibility for all. The minister congratulated the whole team of Doordarshan and All India Radio on the successful launch. Secretary, Ministry of I&B, Apurva Chandra, who also attended the launch event said, “On the occasion of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, it is a matter of great joy that through the serial youth will come to know about the contribution of people who made sacrifices in the freedom struggle.” He also said that Prasar Bharati is fulfilling its mandate of wholesome entertainment through such high-quality serials for its viewers. Member, Swaraj Advisory Committee, Jawahar Lal Kaul in his address stressed the point that unsung and lesser-known heroes of India’s freedom struggle from all the regions must be remembered for their supreme sacrifice for Swaraj. He said that the deep research and study by the Swaraj Advisory Committee enriched the content for the production of the serial.

‘Squid Game,’ ‘Abbott Elementary’ Vying For Emmy Nominations

(AP) — “Succession” and “Ted Lasso” are in the hunt for Emmy nominations that could add to their previous trophy hauls, but they’re up against hungry newcomers.

When the bids are announced Tuesday, the social satire “Succession,” a 2020 top-drama winner, may face a showdown with “Squid Game.” The South Korean hit about a brutal survival contest is vying to become the first non-English language Emmy nominee.

A formerly sunken boat sits upright into the air with its stern stuck in the mud along the shoreline of Lake Mead at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, near Boulder City, Nev. Lake Mead water has dropped to levels it hasn’t been since the lake initially filled over 80 years ago. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The Emmys once were dominated by broadcast networks and then cable, with the rise of streaming services changing the balance of power and perhaps the awards themselves. The possibility of Netflix’s “Squid Game” joining the Emmy mix is the result of streaming’s global marketplace focus.

Other possible drama contenders include the modern Western “Yellowstone,” workplace thriller “Severance” and “Yellowjackets,” a hybrid survival and coming-of-age tale. 

Potential competition for “Ted Lasso,” which claimed seven trophies including best comedy last year, includes the inaugural seasons of “Abbott Elementary” and “Only Murders in the Building” — both popular and critical successes.

Jean Smart, last year’s best comedy actress winner for “Hacks,” is in the running for a nod again, as is the series, with “Ted Lasso” star Jason Sudeikis hoping to repeat his 2021 comedy actor win. Bill Hader is chasing a third award in the category for “Barry.”

“The Crown,” which dominated the 2021 drama awards, wasn’t televised within the eligibility period and is sitting this year out.

JB Smoove (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Melissa Fumero (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) and Television Academy Chairman and CEO Frank Scherma were to announce the nominees. The Emmy ceremony is set for Sept. 12 and will air on NBC, with a host yet to be announced. (For more on this year’s Emmy Awards, visit: www.apnews.com/EmmyAwards)

Indian Actors Kajol, Suriya Among New Members Of The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Science

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has welcomed 397 new members this year, among whom are Indian actors Kajol and Suriya, as well as the directors Sushmit Ghosh, Rintu Thomas, Reema Kagti, and Pan Nalin. 

The Academy in a press statement on its website said that the list comprises artists and executives who have already established themselves by their services to theatrical motion pictures. The selection of members is associated with career qualifications and a continued emphasis is placed on representation, inclusion, and equity. Aneil Karia, a British director of Indian descent, is also on the directors branch’s list of invited guests. 

Membership selection is based on professional qualifications, with an ongoing commitment to representation, inclusion and equity remaining a priority.

“The 2022 class is 44% women, 37% belong to underrepresented ethnic/racial communities, and 50% are from 53 countries and territories outside the United States,” the Academy said in the statement.

Kajol, the star of Hindi films such as “My Name Is Khan” and “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…”, and Suriya, popular for his work in Tamil cinema through films “Jai Bhim” and “Soorarai Pottru”, have been invited by the actors branch.

Ghosh and Thomas, whose “Writing With Fire” was nominated in the best documentary feature category at this year’s Academy Awards, are included in the documentary branch.

Kagti, known for Hindi films such as “Talaash”, “Gully Boy” and “Gold”, has received an invitation from the writers branch.

Nalin, best known for his films “Samsara”, “Angry Indian Goddesses” and “Last Film Show”, has been invited by the directors branch.

From the Indian film industry, Oscar-winner A R Rahman, megastar Amitabh Bachchan, superstars Shah Rukh Khan, Vidya Balan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Ali Afzal as well as producers Aditya Chopra, Guneet Monga, Ekta Kapoor, and Shobha Kapoor, are already the Academy members.

British director of Indian origin Aneil Karia is also part of the invitee list sent out by the directors branch. Karia’s “The Long Goodbye”, starring British-Pakistani star Riz Ahmed, won the Oscar in the live-action short film category this year.

Among the invitees, there are 71 Oscar nominees, including 15 winners, the Academy said.

Among this year’s Oscar winners on the list are “CODA” writer-director Sian Heder and “Drive My Car” director Ryusuke Hamaguchi, who have been invited into both the directors and writers branches.

Hamaguchi’s “Drive My Car” won the Oscar for best international feature film earlier this year and, “CODA” earned wins in three major categories — best supporting actor for Troy Kotsur, best adapted screenplay for Heder and best picture, the top prize.

Bhutanese filmmaker Pawo Choyning Dorji, who was nominated for “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” in the best international feature film at the 2022 Academy Awards, has also been called on by the directors and writers branches.

Denmark’s Jonas Poher Rasmussen, the director of Oscar-nominated animated documentary film “Flee”, has been invited by three sections — directors, writers and documentary branches.

According to the Academy, these four individuals must select one branch upon accepting membership.

Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2022, it added. There are a total of 17 branches, along with 25 who today received members-at-large invitations.

Others on the list include this year’s best supporting actress winner Ariana DeBose, best original song winners Billie Eilish and brother Finneas O’Connell as well as nominees Jamie Dornan (“Belfast”), Jesse Plemons (“The Power of The Dog”), alongside “The Northmen” star Anya Joy Taylor, and “Drive My Car” star Hidetoshi Nishijima.

Jennifer Hudson Makes History At The Tony Awards 2022

The 75th annual Tony Awards held on Sunday, June  named the best of Broadway in the 2021-22 season. And it was a big night for Jennifer Hudson: At Sunday’s Tonys, Jennifer Hudson became just the 17th person to reach the 12th rarified status of the entertainment industry’s version of the grand slam.

A Tony Award is the final piece of the puzzle for Hudson, who reached EGOT status — winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and now, a Tony.

Hudson was a producer for A Strange Loop, which was nominated for best musical. In the words of the show’s creator Michael R. Jackson, the show is “a musical about a young Black gay man named Usher who works as an usher at a Broadway show who is writing a musical about a young Black gay man named Usher who works as an usher at a Broadway show… who is caught in a self-referential loop of his own self hatred.”

Hudson has won a Daytime Emmy for her role as executive producer for Baba Yaga, Grammy awards for The Color Purple and her debut self-titled studio album, and an Oscar for best supporting actress in Dreamgirls.

These are the nominations and winners for the 2022 Tony Awards.

Best Play

  • Clyde’s, Lynn Nottage
  • Hangmen, Martin McDonagh
  • The Lehman Trilogy, Stefano Massini, Ben Power
  • The Minutes, Tracy Letts
  • Skeleton Crew, Dominique Morisseau

Best Direction of a Play

  • Lileana Blain-Cruz, The Skin of Our Teeth
  • Camille A. Brown, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
  • Sam Mendes, The Lehman Trilogy
  • Neil Pepe, American Buffalo
  • Les Waters, Dana H.

Best Musical

  • Girl From The North Country
  • MJ
  • Mr. Saturday Night
  • Paradise Square
  • SIX: The Musical
  • A Strange Loop

Best Direction of a Musical

  • Stephen Brackett, A Strange Loop
  • Marianne Elliott, Company
  • Conor McPherson, Girl From The North Country
  • Lucy Moss & Jamie Armitage, SIX: The Musical
  • Christopher Wheeldon, MJ

Best Revival of a Play

  • American Buffalo
  • for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
  • How I Learned to Drive
  • Take Me Out
  • Trouble in Mind

Best Revival of a Musical

  • Caroline, or Change
  • Company
  • The Music Man

Best Book of a Musical

  • Girl From The North Country: Conor McPherson
  • MJ: Lynn Nottage
  • Mr. Saturday Night: Billy Crystal, Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel
  • Paradise Square: Christina Anderson, Craig Lucas & Larry Kirwan
  • A Strange Loop: Michael R. Jackson

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Best Original Score

  • SIX: The Musical: Music and Lyrics: Toby Marlow & Lucy Moss
  • Flying Over Sunset: Music: Tom Kitt Lyrics: Michael Korie
  • Mr. Saturday Night: Music: Jason Robert Brown Lyrics: Amanda Green
  • Paradise Square: Music: Jason Howland Lyrics: Nathan Tysen & Masi Asare
  • A Strange Loop: Music & Lyrics: Michael R. Jackson

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play

  • Simon Russell Beale, The Lehman Trilogy
  • Adam Godley, The Lehman Trilogy
  • Adrian Lester, The Lehman Trilogy
  • David Morse, How I Learned to Drive
  • Sam Rockwell, American Buffalo
  • Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Lackawanna Blues
  • David Threlfall, Hangmen

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

  • Gabby Beans, The Skin of Our Teeth
  • LaChanze, Trouble in Mind
  • Ruth Negga, Macbeth
  • Deirdre O’Connell, Dana H.
  • Mary-Louise Parker, How I Learned to Drive

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

  • Billy Crystal, Mr. Saturday Night
  • Myles Frost, MJ
  • Hugh Jackman, The Music Man
  • Rob McClure, Mrs. Doubtfire
  • Jaquel Spivey, A Strange Loop

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

  • Sharon D Clarke, Caroline, or Change
  • Carmen Cusack, Flying Over Sunset Sutton Foster, The Music Man
  • Joaquina Kalukango, Paradise Square
  • Mare Winningham, Girl From The North Country

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play

  • Alfie Allen, Hangmen
  • Chuck Cooper, Trouble in Mind
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Take Me Out
  • Ron Cephas Jones, Clyde’s
  • Michael Oberholtzer, Take Me Out
  • Jesse Williams, Take Me Out

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play

  • Uzo Aduba, Clyde’s
  • Rachel Dratch, POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive
  • Kenita R. Miller, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
  • Phylicia Rashad, Skeleton Crew
  • Julie White, POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive
  • Kara Young, Clyde’s

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

  • Matt Doyle, Company
  • Sidney DuPont, Paradise Square
  • Jared Grimes, Funny Girl
  • John-Andrew Morrison, A Strange Loop
  • A.J. Shively, Paradise Square

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

  • Jeannette Bayardelle, Girl From The North Country
  • Shoshana Bean, Mr. Saturday Night
  • Jayne Houdyshell, The Music Man
  • L Morgan Lee, A Strange Loop
  • Patti LuPone, Company
  • Jennifer Simard, Company

Best Scenic Design of a Play

  • Beowulf Boritt, POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive
  • Michael Carnahan and Nicholas Hussong, Skeleton Crew
  • Es Devlin, The Lehman Trilogy
  • Anna Fleischle, Hangmen
  • Scott Pask, American Buffalo
  • Adam Rigg, The Skin of Our Teeth

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

  • Beowulf Boritt and 59 Productions, Flying Over Sunset
  • Bunny Christie, Company
  • Arnulfo Maldonado, A Strange Loop
  • Derek McLane and Peter Nigrini, MJ
  • Allen Moyer, Paradise Square

Best Costume Design of a Play

  • Montana Levi Blanco, The Skin of Our Teeth
  • Sarafina Bush, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
  • Emilio Sosa, Trouble in Mind
  • Jane Greenwood, Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite
  • Jennifer Moeller, Clyde’s

Best Costume Design of a Musical

  • Fly Davis, Caroline, or Change
  • Toni-Leslie James, Paradise Square
  • William Ivey Long, Diana, The Musical
  • Santo Loquasto, The Music Man
  • Paul Tazewell, MJ
  • Gabriella Slade, SIX: The Musical

Best Lighting Design of a Play

  • Joshua Carr, Hangmen
  • Jiyoun Chang, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
  • Jon Clark, The Lehman Trilogy
  • Jane Cox, Macbeth
  • Yi Zhao, The Skin of Our Teeth

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

  • Neil Austin, Company
  • Tim Deiling, SIX: The Musical
  • Donald Holder, Paradise Square
  • Natasha Katz, MJ
  • Bradley King, Flying Over Sunset
  • Jen Schriever, A Strange Loop

Best Sound Design of a Play

  • Justin Ellington, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
  • Mikhail Fiksel, Dana H.
  • Palmer Hefferan, The Skin of Our Teeth
  • Nick Powell and Dominic Bilkey, The Lehman Trilogy
  • Mikaal Sulaiman, Macbeth

Best Sound Design of a Musical

  • Simon Baker, Girl From The North Country
  • Paul Gatehouse, SIX: The Musical
  • Ian Dickinson for Autograph, Company
  • Drew Levy, A Strange Loop
  • Gareth Owen, MJ

Best Choreography

  • Camille A. Brown, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
  • Warren Carlyle, The Music Man
  • Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, SIX: The Musical
  • Bill T. Jones, Paradise Square
  • Christopher Wheeldon, MJ

Best Orchestration

  • David Cullen, Company
  • Tom Curran, SIX: The Musical
  • Simon Hale, Girl From The North Country
  • Jason Michael Webb and David Holcenberg, MJ
  • Charlie Rosen, A Strange Loop

The Youngest Legend Of Them All—KK—Is No More

Someone rightly put it after his sudden and shocking demise, “KK (1968-forever)”. He was certainly the best playback singer after Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan and Abhijeet (who all came in the 1980s). Krishnakumar Kunnath, or KK as he was known to the world, passed away minutes after a Kolkata concert on May 31.

He is survived by his childhood sweetheart wife, Jyothy Krishna, whom he wed in 1991, and son Nakul and daughter Taamara. As per an old friend who also went into music, composer Julius Packiam, music was not his only love. Jyothy, whom he knew since Standard VIII (8), was “his other obsession – they dated through school and college and eventually married. KK split all his time between music and Jyothy.”

KK was performing at Kolkata’s Nazrul Mancha for Shri Gurudas Mahavidhyalaya’s college-fest Utkarsh 2022. The singer was obviously uncomfortable during the later part of the show, complaining of perspiration and showing obvious discomfort. He then went to his hotel room but complained of uneasiness in his chest.

He was rushed to hospital but declared dead on arrival. As per protocol and also because of the presence of some cut marks on his head and neck, an autopsy was ordered. Initial reports suggest death due to cardiac arrest. The singer was even accorded a gun salute in Kolkata before his mortal remains were flown to Mumbai. The funeral will be held June 2 in Mumbai.

Born August 23 in Delhi, KK has sung over 700 songs in Hindi films and private albums and in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Bengali, Assamese and Gujarati in a career of over 28 years. He also sang over 3500 jingles in 11 languages. He was probably the last of the brigade that believed that singers should be heard and not seen. Because of this, he was very dedicated and competent and could be trusted with high and intricate notes despite never getting any formal training in music. A Malayali, he also made sure that his Hindi and Urdu diction was perfect and worked hard on his songs.

Originally only into Western music, KK was converted to the idea of also singing in Hindi by Sumitra Mohanty Chakrabarti, a physics faculty member who founded the Kirori Mal College’s music society – MUSOC. The Delhi college was KK’s Alma Mater.

The multiple breaks

KK considered Lesle Lewis as his mentor because of his first break—a jingle. In films, KK originally recorded two songs for A.R. Rahman’s Kadhal Desam (Kalluri saaley and Hello Doctor). Alongside, he was introduced in Mumbai by Vishal Bhardwaj (KK had shifted to Mumbai in 1994) in the hit song Chhod aaye hum woh galiyaan (with three other singers) in Maachis. Both these films hit the screen in 1996.

And while his first jingle won him multiple assignments in that field, his career largely took off in 1999, with his first album, Pal, on Sony Music, which had cult songs like Pal and Yaari dosti and the evergreen Tadap tadap ke iss dil (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam) which KK believes was the take-off song of his film career. Besides singing in another album, Humsafar, many years later (including a duet with son Nakul) he also sang the title tracks for many TV shows and serials and the song Tanha chala for the Pakistani TV show The Ghost.

A huge favorite with the youth, KK specialized in concerts as well, paradoxical for someone who believed in the “singers should be heard only” dictum. He was magic on them.

After this, KK sang innumerable hits for Pritam as also Himesh Reshammiya, Ismail Darbar, Vishal-Shekhar, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Anu Malik, Rajesh Roshan and many others. A.R. Rahman and Vishal Bhardwaj and leading South Indian composers also employed his voice. His oldest singing associates were Asha Bhosle (four duets), Amit Kumar, Hariharan and Suresh Wadkar. His most senior composers remain Dr. Bhupen Hazarika and Ilaiyaraja.

Filmmakers Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Mukesh and Mahesh Bhatt and Anurag Basu especially harnessed his voice. He also sang for all the top names from Salman Khan to Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Hrithik Roshan, Emraan Hashmi, Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor and more.

Tributes to the youngest legend among the male singers poured in from all quarters, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Most of his composers (Pritam, Anu Malik, Lalit Pandit, A.R. Rahman, Jeet Gannguli, Salim Merchant, Shankar Mahadevan, Shantanu Moitra, Vishal-Shekhar, Vishal Bhardwaj) and stars (Akshay Kumar, Priyanka Chopra, Salman Khan, Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi, Ranveer Singh, Suriya Sivakumar, Allu Arjun, Kajal Aggarwal, Sonal Chauhan) showered their respects for KK.

Friends like actress Mini Mathur (in whose director-husband Kabir Khan’s films KK always had a minimum one song) lyricists and singers (Shaan, Sonu Nigam, Armaan Malik, Shreya Ghoshal, Neeti Mohan, Shilpa Rao, Daler Mehndi, Mohit Chauhan) paid rich tributes to him in print and on social media.

KK recorded his last song a few days ago for Shantanu Moitra for Srijit Mukherji’s film Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga. His last released song was Yeh hausle in Pritam’s 83 (2021). His only other song to come is also under Pritam in the Salman Khan –Katrina Kaif film, Tiger 3.

A man whose heart was as golden as his voice, KK will be remembered for some of the greatest gems heard in film music in the last 20 years.

The KK Hindi Top 20 (a subjective list, for everyone had personal favorites among his melodies):

  1. Yaaron dosti / Album: Pal Music: Lesle Lewis
  2. Hum rahe ya na rahenge / Album: Pal / Lesle Lewis
  3. Tadap tadap / Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (with Dominique) / Ismail Darbar
  4. Dil ibaadat kar raha hai / Tum Mile / Pritam
  5. Khuda jaane / Bachna Ae Haseeno (with Shilpa Rao) / Vishal-Shekhar
  6. Tu jo mila / Bajrangi Bhaijaan / Pritam
  7. Zara si dil mein / Jannat / Pritam
  8. Zindagi do pal ki / Kites / Rajesh Roshan
  9. Dil kyoon yeh mera / Kites / Rajesh Roshan
  10. Sarzameen / Zameen (with Shaan) / Himesh Reshammiya
  11. Ankhon mein teri / Om Shanti Om / Vishal-Shekhar
  12. Maine dil se kahaa / Rog / M.M. Kreem
  13. Sach keh raha hai deewana / Rehna Hai Terre Dil Mein / Harrys Jairaj
  14. Tu hi meri shab hai / Gangster / Pritam
  15. Alvida / Life In A…Metro / Pritam
  16. Jab bhi koi haseena / Hera Pheri / Anu Malik
  17. Awarapan banjarapan / Jism / M.M. Kreem
  18. Tu bhoola jisse / Airlift (with Amaal Mallik) / Amaal Mallik
  19. Ae bekhabar / Zeher / Roopkumar Rathod
  20. Kabhi khushboo / Saaya / Anu Malik

I-Phone-Created Bengali Short Film Goes To Oscar-Qualifying Festival In Denmark

Indian director Abhiroop Basu’s (MEAL, LAALI, GUDGUDI) latest film, GUDIYA (Plaything), is one of 123 films, out of more than 4000 submissions from 40 countries, selected to compete for “Best International Short Film” at the 46th annual, Oscar-Qualifying Odense International Film Festival (OFF) in Denmark in August, 2022.

Logline: On the eve of India’s 73rd Republic Day, a working class woman’s daily routine goes for a toss when she is called to squeeze in an extra shift at work.

In English, “Gudiya” means “Plaything” or “Doll.” In a world diametrically divided between the powerful and the powerless, GUDIYA becomes an identity for those who are on the bottom of the food chain. Meanwhile, the film aims to hold up a metaphorical mirror to a nation obsessed with a false sense of hyper-nationalism that blinds them in the face of stark reality.

An international co-production between India and the United States, the nine-minute, socio-political drama on issues of gender and sexuality was shot in eight hours on a handheld I-phone with a crew of four people. It has been produced by Tushar Tyagi (India) and executive produced by Cynthia Kane (New York) and Jitin Hingorani (Texas). Select stills from the film are below

Director’s Statement: “The impetus for making a film like GUDIYA originated from a question I asked a middle-aged man in Kolkata’s famous Red-Light District, Sonagachhi: ‘Why do you prefer girls under 14?’ To which he replied, ‘Because they are easy to dominate.

The day was 26th January, India’s 73rd Republic Day, and a famous patriotic song was playing in the background, while this customer finished his cigarette and went inside. Though I didn’t get a glimpse of who he was with, I noticed the big round ears of a tattered teddy bear peeking from the window, as it slammed shut on my face.”

*One of Basu’s other short films, MEAL starring Adil Hussain, was also selected in 2019 for OFF, which is the largest short film festival in Europe.

FIA Celebrates Gujarat Maharashtra Day

The Federation of Indian Association and the Indian Consulate celebrated Gujarat Maharashtra Day on May 1. 2022 at the Indian Consulate premises in New York as part of the ongoing celebrations of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ commemorating 75 years of Indian Independence.

The chief guests to grace the occasion were  Ms. Archana Joglekar – a celebrated actress, director & a renowned Kathak exponent, and Ms. Kaajal Oza Vaidya – a noted author, scriptwriter, radio jockey, and a motivational speaker.

The event was attended by Hon Consul General Sh. Randhir Jaswal, Hon DCG Dr. Varun Jep, FIA President Mr. Kenny Desai, FIA Chairman Mr. Ankur Vaidya, Padma Shri Sh. H R Shah, Padamshri Dr. Sudhir Parikh, Mayor of Edison Mr. Sam Joshi and FIA’s Srujal Parikh, Alok Kumar. Smt Smita Miki Patel amongst others.

Hon CG Shree Randhir Jaswal welcomed the guests and said that the Indian Diaspora from both the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, not only in America but in other countries as well, continues to contribute towards the economic and social progress of the countries they live in.

Hon DCG Dr. Varun Jep, in his speech said that people from both the states are leaders in Finance, Business, Entrepreneurship and they also stand out for their rich cultural traditions and heritage.

FIA president Mr. Kenny Desai said that the state of Gujarat is the ‘Karambhoomi’ of Lord Krishna and has been the land of many notable figures hailing from different fields like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Bhakt Narsi Mehta, Vikram Sarabhai, PM Sh Narender Modi, and the Industrial houses of Ambanis and Adanis. He mentioned that Mahrashtra has been the guardian of Hindu Sanatan Dharam and have produced bravehearts like Chattrapati Shivaji, Baji Rao Peshwa and Ahilyabai Holkar. He said that people from both states have contributed to the Economic, Industrial and Financial growth of India.

FIA Chairman Mr. Ankur Vaidya in his speech said that he was born and brought up in Baroda in Gujarat which had a significant Maharashtrian Influence and as such had the best of both cultures. He also emphasized the need to engage other Indian Communities and have events and gatherings where all the members from the various Indian communities can participate. He said that Hon CG Sh Jaiswal has done a tremendous job in this direction to bring the communities together. He also lauded the efforts of the officials and staff of the Indian Consulate for doing an unprecedented job and in being accessible to all.

One minute silence was observed in the memory of founding member, Past President and Vice Chairman Emeritus Late Mr. Yashpal Soi. Mr. Vaidya remembered him for his selfless service and dedication to the cause of FIA and lamented the loss FIA has suffered in his passing away.

Guru Archana Joglekar spoke about the folk of Maharashtra. She explained in detail about the culture and folk tradition of Maharashtra. She also spoke about the shared culture of both states.

Kajal Oza Vaidya said that both the states should be seen in unison and commended the fact that the twin states took to the path of progress and development and have excelled in the fields of enterprise, culture, commerce, and entertainment. She said that today’s gathering is proof of the fact that our country lives in our hearts.

Padma Shri Mr. H R Shah said that he is honored to be there for the event and gave a brief outline of the history behind the Gujarat Maharashtra day when the 2 states came into being. Ms. Sam Joshi Mayor of Edison said that it was an honor to be present and spoke about his vision to have a satellite office of IIT India in Edison. He thanked the FIA for their initiatives which go a long way in keeping the Indian Community in touch with their Indian roots.

Event Chair, Past President, and member of Board of Trustees of FIA,  Sh. Srujal Parikh said it’s a great honor to celebrate the event and took pride in the fact that Gujarat is the Land of Lord Krishna & Mahatma Gandhi. He recognized and felicitated the sponsors, supporters, partner associations, and members in their effort to make the event successful

Padma Shri Sudhir Parikh said that he shares a personal bond with Maharshtra as he did his schooling from Mumbai. He attributed his success to the State of Gujarat as it accorded him his higher education

The audiences were regaled with cultural performances from both the states and especially the ‘Garbha’ and ‘Laavni’ which they thoroughly enjoyed. The Maharashtrian folk dance was performed by the students of ‘Archana Nritalya’ which is run by Guru Archana Joglekar.

Salman Rushdie, Sabyasachi Mukherjee Among Inducted Into American Academy Of Arts & Sciences

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences elected several Indians from around the world to be members of the august body which was established in 1780, and which “honors excellence and convenes leaders to examine new ideas and address issues of importance to the nation and the world, and advance the public good.”

The list which was announced April 28, 2022, contained Indians from U.S., U.K. and India in several fields of endeavor ranging from science to arts and humanities.

This year’s election of 261 new members includes at least 14 persons of Indian descent. “We are celebrating a depth of achievements in a breadth of areas,” David Oxtoby, president of the American Academy is quoted saying in the press release. “These individuals excel in ways that excite us and inspire us at a time when recognizing excellence, commending expertise, and working toward the common good is absolutely essential to realizing a better future.”

The new members join the likes of Benjamin Franklin (elected 1781) and Alexander Hamilton (1791) in the eighteenth century; Ralph Waldo Emerson (1864), Maria Mitchell (1848), and Charles Darwin (1874) in the nineteenth; Albert Einstein (1924), Robert Frost (1931), Margaret Mead (1948), Milton Friedman (1959), Martin Luther King, Jr. (1966), Stephen Hawking (1984), and Condoleezza Rice (1997) in the twentieth; and more recently Jennifer Doudna (2003), Bryan Stevenson (2014), M. Temple Grandin (2016), John Legend (2017), Viet Thanh Nguyen (2018), James Fallows (2019), Joan Baez (2020), and Sanjay Gupta (2021).

This year’s list of artists, scholars, scientists, and leaders in the public, non-profit, and private sectors elected to the Academy include the following of Indian descent:

Physics – Ramamoorthy Ramesh, University of California, Berkeley

Physics – Shamit Kachru, Stanford University

Engineering and Technology- Nilay Shah (IHM), Imperial College London

Computer Science –George Varghese, University of California, Los Angeles

Cellular and Developmental Biology- Arshad B. Desai, University of California, San Diego

Cellular and Developmental Biology- Harmit Singh Malik, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Evolution and Ecology- Maharaj K. Pandit (IHM) , University of Delhi

Medical Sciences – Abraham C. Verghese, Stanford School of Medicine

Economics – Rohini Pande, Yale University

Philosophy and Religious Studies – Jamsheed K. Choksy, Indiana University

Philosophy and Religious Studies – Archana Venkatesan, University of California, Davis

Literature – Salman Rushdie

Visual Arts – Sabyasachi Mukherjee (IHM), Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalay

Scientific, Cultural and Nonprofit Leadership – Maya Ajmera Society for Science

MR. MALCOLM’S LIST Opens In Theaters On July 1st

Popular international actor Freida Pinto’s newest film MR. MALCOLM’S LIST will release exclusively in North American theaters on July 1st. The acclaimed actress stars in the film and also is an Executive Producer as well.

In the short film, or more precisely the Overture, (the film conceives the first ten minutes of the feature), the year is 1818. A wealthy, young lady named Julia engages in courtship with a mysterious wealthy suitor, Mr. Malcolm, unaware that he has a list of qualities required of a future wife.

He’s “the biggest catch of the season,” but when Julia learns that she doesn’t meet one of the qualifications on Mr. Malcolm’s list, she begins to plot her revenge.

When she fails to meet an item on his list of requirements for a bride, Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton) is jilted by London’s most eligible bachelor, Mr. Malcolm (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù). Feeling humiliated and determined to exact revenge, she convinces her friend Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto) to play the role of his ideal match. Soon, Mr. Malcolm wonders whether he’s found the perfect woman…or the perfect hoax. Also starring Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ashley Park, with Theo James.

The story comes from Suzanne Allain, author of historical romantic comedy novels. Years after writing her second novel Mr. Malcolm’s List, a “blend of Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, and P.G. Wodehouse,” Allain adapted it into a screenplay.

In 2015, after reading the script, Warner Brothers offered Allain a blind script deal – an opportunity to collaborate in the future on an unspecified project – but they didn’t actually purchase the rights to “Mr. Malcolm’s List.”MALCOLM’S LIST is directed by Emma Holly Jones. Cast include: Freida Pinto, Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ashley Park, with Zawe Ashton, and Theo James. Social tag: #MrMalcolmsList

Manushi Chhillar Is Humbled With The Acclaim That She Has Been Getting From The Trailer Of Prithviraj

Superstar Akshay Kumar and gorgeous Bollywood debutant Manushi Chhillar starrer, Yash Raj Films’ first historical, Prithviraj, which is based on the life and valour of the fearless and mighty King Prithviraj Chauhan. Akshay is essaying the role of the legendary warrior who fought valiantly to protect India from the merciless invader Muhammad of Ghor. Manushi is playing the role of Prithviraj’s beloved Princess Sanyogita and she is thrilled that audiences are appreciating her unanimously in the trailer.

Manushi says, “It is amazing that people are appreciating my performance from what they have seen and experienced in the Prithviraj trailer. This is a dream come true of a debut for me and I’m hugely grateful that I’m getting to bring Princess Sanyogita’s life come alive on the big screen.”

She adds, “A debut like this, opposite one of the biggest superstars of the country like Akshay Kumar, is a lot of responsibility and I think I have given my everything to ensure that I play this role with utmost sincerity and dedication. So, the reaction of the audience that I’m getting today is humbling.”

Manushi further says, “My phone is buzzing with positivity from people on social media and my forever supportive fans. It’s a hugely happy moment of my career and I’m cherishing this thoroughly.”

Prithviraj has been directed by Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi, who is best known for directing the television epic Chanakya and the critically acclaimed film Pinjar. The ethereally gorgeous Manushi’s launch is definitely one of the most awaited debuts of 2022. The film is set to release on June 3 in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Akshay Kumar Is Overwhelmed With Positive Response For PRITHVIRAJ

Superstar Akshay Kumar’s next is Yash Raj Films’ first historical, Prithviraj, which is based on the life and valour of the fearless and mighty King Prithviraj Chauhan. He is essaying the role of the legendary warrior who fought valiantly to protect India from the merciless invader Muhammad of Ghor. Akshay is thrilled with the incredibly positive response to the trailer of the film that was launched yesterday and feels humbled that people have connected to the most glorious tribute to the brave warrior who needs to be celebrated.

Akshay says, “I’m thrilled with the response to the trailer of Prithviraj. We wanted to give a glorious and the most authentic tribute to the incredibly valiant Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan and I’m so happy that the trailer has resonated with the audience. It’s amazing to see how people want to know more about the valour of the mighty king and we are humbled that we have been able to make people across the world want to know more about the Samrat.”

He adds, “I’m humbled that people are appreciating my craft and our efforts because we have given it our all to bring Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan to life on screen. It has truly been an honour to play a man who stood for his country, no matter what the consequence.”

Akshay further states, “I share this moment of joy with my director Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi, my producer Aditya Chopra, my co-star Manushi Chhillar, who is debuting in the film, and the brilliant Sanjay Dutt and Sonu Sood and all the actors and technicians who have believed in the mission to make Prithviraj an important film for this generation.”

Prithviraj has been directed by Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi, who is best known for directing the television epic Chanakya and the critically acclaimed film Pinjar. The ethereally gorgeous Manushi Chhillar plays the role of King Prithviraj’s beloved Sanyogita and her launch is definitely one of the most awaited debuts of 2022. The film is set to release on June 3 in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Mira Nair’s MISSISSIPPI MASALA At Kick Off 8th Annual DFW SAFF

The 8th annual DFW South Asian Film Festival, presented by Toyota USA, will KICK OFF its festival week with a SPECIAL SCREENING of the restored 4K version of Mira Nair‘s ground-breaking film MISSISSIPPI MASALA, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year!

Synopsis: The vibrant cultures of India, Uganda, and the American South are blended and simmered into a rich and fragrant fusion feast in Mira Nair’s luminous look at the complexities of love in the modern melting pot. Years after her Indian family was forced to flee their home in Uganda by the dictatorship of Idi Amin, twenty something Mina (Sarita Choudhury) finds herself helping to run a motel in the faraway land of Mississippi. It’s there that a passionate romance with the charming Black carpet cleaner Demetrius (Denzel Washington) challenges the prejudices of their conservative families and exposes the rifts between the region’s Indian and African American communities. Tackling thorny issues of racism, colorism, culture clash, and displacement with big-hearted humor and keen insight, Nair serves up a sweet, sexy, and radical celebration of love’s power to break down the barriers between us. Watch trailer HERE.

*The screening will take place on Monday, May 16th at 7:30 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse Dallas / Fort Worth (6770 Abrams Road, Dallas, TX 75231).

To purchase tickets for this stand alone screening, please go HERE. Join us afterwards for a drink and a nibble at the bar, so that we can share highlights about the upcoming #dfwsaff2022. Our entire schedule and festival lineup (May 20 to 22 at Grandscape in The Colony) is available HERE.

Netflix Collaborates With India To Honor Real-Life Heroes

Streaming giant Netflix and The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting have joined hands to honour unique real-life stories of extraordinary individuals through a series of inspiring short videos titled Azadi Ki Amrit Kahaniyan. This was launched today in the presence of Shri Anurag Thakur, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India.

‘Azadi ki Amrit Kahaniya’ narrated by Neena Gupta, will chronicle the incredible journeys of those individuals who cracked the glass barrier in their respective industries, ranging from science to sports.

In conjunction with OTT giant Netflix, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I & B) released ‘Azadi Ki Amrit Kahaniyan,’ a short video series to honor real-life stories of those individuals who cracked the glass barrier in their respective fields, ranging from science to sports. It was disclosed at the event that Neena Gupta would be narrating these stories. The freshly announced series is a part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, which commemorates India’s 75th anniversary of independence.

Bela Bajaria, Global Head of TV, Netflix, who was also present at the event, said, “Great stories can come from anywhere and are ever so inspiring when they are about people who rise against the odds. In partnership with The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Azadi Ki Amrit Kahaniyan focuses on celebrating remarkable individuals and their stories that can inspire people in India and around the world.”

Narrated by acclaimed actress Neena Gupta, these short videos capture the remarkable journey of these individuals and how they broke the glass ceiling in their respective fields, ranging from science to sports. Here is what these achievers had to say about what Azadi (freedom) means to them personally.

“If something hasn’t been attempted, it doesn’t mean you cannot do it. To me, Azadi means facing a raging fire.” — Harshini Kanheker, India’s first female firefighter.

“From water comes life, and water is life. I flow free like a river and will continue to protect and serve water, that’s Azadi to me.” — Basanti Devi, Environmentalist and protector of the Kosi river ecosystem.

“If women hold the power to create life, women also hold the power to save lives. If I have to put my life at stake to save other lives, I wouldn’t think twice.”  — Poonam Nautiyal walked miles across the Bageshwar district in Uttarakhand to vaccinate thousands of people living in remote areas.

“Being a scientist, every moment is a learning curve. We need to face challenges, and we need to learn. I always say that science has no gender, and Azadi is when we take our nation to new horizons.” — Tessy Thomas, the “Missile Woman of India”, is the first-ever woman scientist to head a missile project in India.

“I am a force of nature, I can scale great heights, and my journey has just begun. Azadi means to make your way up in the world.” — Anshu Jamsenpa, the first woman in the world to summit Mount Everest twice in 5 days.

“When you dream something out of the box, it’s very important to push the norms. Azadi is to be one with the wind.” — Aarohi Pandit, the world’s youngest person and first woman pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean solo in a light-sport aircraft.

“You have the right to dream, and the right to achieve your dream. Just like the waves, be patient, be consistent, and never look back. To me, Azadi is to take a bit of the ocean wherever I go.”— Tanvi Jagadish, India’s first competitive woman stand-up paddleboarder. The videos are now available on the Ministry’s social media platforms and Doordarshan.

Shah Rukh Khan Honored With Happiness Card From UAE Govt

Bollywood superstar and the celebrity face of Dubai tourism Shah Rukh Khan was honoured with a happiness card by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs on April 13.

A picture of the ‘Pathaan’ star holding his newly-gained happiness card was posted on the authorities’ Twitter account. The card aims to give Khan a slew of discounts, privileges, and access to promotions during his stay in the UAE.

The Happiness cardholder will be benefited with various discounts and offers in Dubai.

The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs Dubai (GDRFA) presented Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan with a Happiness Card.

“GDRFA Dubai welcomes Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan and grants him the Happiness Card with the aim of achieving happiness for them through various benefits, discounts, and offers,” the Directorate tweeted.

Khan is no stranger to Dubai and has spearheaded several tourism videos to lure his fans all over the globe to Dubai. In March, Khan along with Dubai Tourism rolled out a promotional short film showcasing the emirate as a must-visit city.

The three-minutes, four-second video opens with Khan busy filming in Dubai when he gets interrupted by a call from his doting daughter Suhana who nudges him to have some fun in the emirate. She urges him to step out of his work mode and explore the glitzy city and what it has to offer.

The next few scenes shows the iconic actor soaking in the sights across Dubai, taking selfies with his adoring fans in the city. He is also seen dancing on Sheikh Zayed Road, overlooking Dubai’s new Museum of the Future. Wide shots of Atlantis The Palm, where he filmed ‘Happy New Year’ are also seen in the short film.

“Everything Must Change But Love Remains The Same;” Ilaiyaraaja

One of India’s greatest music directors Ilaiyaraaja has said that everything in the world must change but the one thing that would remain the same was love.

He made this observation in a reply to director Aishwaryaa Rajinikanth, who had put out a series of pictures on social media about a recent meeting she had had with him.

Aishwaraya had said, “My Monday mid noon couldn’t have been more musical and magical. Always a delight to spend time with my dearest Ilaiyaraaja uncle. #mondayvibes #workmodeon.”

Responding to her tweet on Tuesday, Ilaiyaraaja said, “Am happy to meet and spend time. Many things may happen in one’s life but one thing will never change – my true love. God bless you. Be happy always. Everything must change. But one thing will remain the same, that’s love.”

The music director also went on to post a YouTube link to Quincy Jones’s number ‘Everything must change.”

Speculation has been rife in the film industry if Ilaiyaraaja is scoring the music for Aishwaryaa Rajinikanth’s next film as the filmmaker, in her tweet, had hashtagged the phrase, ‘work mode on’. (IANS)

Sooni Taraporevala Urges Re-Releasing Of “Mississippi Masala” In US

The screen-writer of Mississippi Masala talks about what makes the Mira Nair directorial relevant to the current generation of the Indian diaspora in the US even today

31 years after it first premiered in France, filmmaker Mira Nair’s Mississippi Masala is all set to re-release in a remixed and remastered format in the USA on April 15. The film starring Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury revolves around Indians being subjected to racism and xenophobia in Uganda.

Its screenplay writer Sooni Taraporevala believes that the film will have a strong impact on the new generation of the Indian diaspora in the USA this time around as well. “When the film first came out, I was in India and there were so many comments like, ‘We aren’t like that, we aren’t racists’ but it’s just not true. We like pointing fingers at others and call them racist, but deny it when it comes to us. It’s going to be very relevant for the next generation because sadly, not much has changed,” she says. Sharing her excitement about the re-release of the film,

Taraporevala, who bagged the Golden Osella Best Original Screenplay for it at the Venice international Film Festival in 1991, says, “In a climate where new films aren’t getting released theatrically, we find it absolutely amazing and thrilling that a film that’s 30-year-old is being re-released.”

The Salaam Bombay! (1988) and The Namesake (2006) writer feels that it’s imperative to introduce the younger NRI audience to cult classics that offer them a glimpse into their culture. She explains, “It’s always important to expose them to what came before, provided it’s relevant, especially in today’s times where attention spans are zero. Nobody reads and so, there’s no concept of history today.”

Taraporevala further reveals that Mississippi Masala holds a special place in Nair’s heart due to personal reasons. “Mira met her husband, Mahmood Mamdani, when we went to Kampala to do our research. The house in the film is now her house. Her son was born there,” she ends.

This Is The Time To Unite: AR Rahman On North-South Debate

Pointing out that it was very easy to divide people through art, Oscar-winner and one of India’s top music directors A.R. Rahman said that this was the time to unite and to celebrate differences.

Speaking at the CII-DAKSHIN South India Media and Entertainment Summit, where he was honoured with the Icon award, Rahman recalled an incident that had occurred in Malaysia seven years ago.

“I had gone to Malaysia some seven years ago. There, a nice Chinese gentleman told me, ‘You are from India?’ I like India. I like North India better. They are more fair. He said, “Their movies are much more charming.”

The music director said that the gentleman’s comments got him thinking and it made him wonder if the man had actually watched south Indian movies and why he made such a statement.

“It deeply disturbed me. Then, I discovered that what we need to do is we need to cast people with colour. Make them empowering and give them characters which will give them dignity. This is the most important thing that south Indians can do because we love our colour,” he said.

Rahman also went on to make it clear that be it south India or north India, India was India.

“For me, it doesn’t matter. Somebody does good here, north India benefits. Somebody does good there, we benefit. the borders are broken. If you look at Netflix, people watch Malayalam movies, Tamil movies everything… The borders are broken but we need to empower ourselves definitely. And through art, it is much more easier,” he said.

Rahman said, “Imagination should not be just for South Indians. Just for our culture. You need to show the world what minds we are and what culture we have in the most international way,” the music director pointed out before concluding his speech with a point on unity.

“It is very easy to divide people through art, through movies. This is the time to unite. This is the time to celebrate differences. This is the time to show the unity so that we can be more powerful and we can lead the world,” he said. (IANS)

Falguni Shah, Ricky Kej Win Grammy Awards 2022

Two musicians of Indian origin and one of Pakistani descent were among the winners at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, given out to musicians during a glittering annual Emmy Awards nite on Sundsay April 3rd , held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the 2022 Grammys.

The internationally acclaimed and watched the world over on live media streams saw a number of first-time winners from the Indian subcontinent. Falguni ‘Falu’ Shah bagged her maiden trophy for the category of ‘Best Children’s Music Album.’ Composer Ricky Kej repeated his 2015 win with the ‘Best New Album’ award. while Pakistani-American artist Arooj Aftab became the first ever female Pakistani to be on the winning list. The Brooklyn-based artist won in the ‘Best Global Music Performance’ category.

The New York-based artist Falguni ‘Falu’ Shah bagged the award for the ‘Best Children’s Music Album’ category for her album, ‘A Colourful World’. Shah has previously worked with A.R. Rahman for Slumdog Millionaire and has received training under the legendary sarangi player and master Ustad Sultan Khan. 

This marks her first victory at the Grammy Awards. The artist’s acceptance speech revealed the inspiration behind the album. In her acceptance speech at the awards, she said, “Who would have thought that having my mother sing an old children’s lullaby from India would get a response from parents in America?”

The performer also posted a picture of herself with her award on Instagram celebrating her win. In the caption alongside, she wrote, “I have no words to describe today’s magic. What an honor to perform for the opening number of the GRAMMY Premier Ceremony, and then take home a statue on behalf of all the incredible people who worked on A Colorful World. We are humbled and thank the Recording Academy for this tremendous recognition. THANK YOU!”

Kej, in collaboration with Stewart Copeland, took home the award for ‘Best New Age Album’ for ‘Divine Tides’. This is Kej’s second win after 2015 while Copeland has a total of six Grammys. “Won the Grammy Award today for our album Divine Tides Filled with gratitude and love this living-legend standing with me – @copelandmusic . My 2nd Grammy and Stewart’s 6th. Thank you to everyone who ever collaborated, hired, or listened to my music. I exist because of you,” he tweeted after winning the award.

Arooj brought home the first Grammy for her song ‘Mohabbat’. The Brooklyn-based singer won in the category of ‘Best Global Music Performance’. Arooj’s work is a confluence of Sufi traditions mixed with folk, jazz and minimalism. She has been receiving global recognition for her work in recent years.

The 2022 Grammys, which kicked off on Sunday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, was hosted by Trevor Noah. At the event, singer Olivia Rodrigo made an impressive Grammy debut, Silk Sonic claimed two major awards and Jon Batiste had the most stunning victory of the night winning the top prize at Grammy Awards.

A R. Rahman was also spotted at the award function. However, much like the Oscars, the ‘In Memoriam’ section missed paying tribute to Indian maestro Lata Mangeshkar. While her name was included in the official website, it did not make it to the mentions at the live event on Sunday night.

Jessica Chastain, Will Smith, Jane Campion Win At 94th Oscars 2022

Jessica Chastain, Will Smith, and Jane Campion are among those who won at the 94th annual Academy Awards 2022 held at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday, March 27th. The ceremony, which used to usually be held in February-end or March-beginning, was delayed due to the Covid pandemic.

For the past three years, the Oscars did not have any host. However, this year’s Oscars was hosted by comedians Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer and actress Regina Hall. Introduced by Venus and Serena Williams, Beyoncé opened the ceremony performing her nominated song “Be Alive” in a lavish production in Compton where the Williams sisters grew up.

The Apple TV+ drama, ‘CODA’ about a deaf family has won the Academy Award for best picture, the first time a streaming service has won Hollywood’s top prize, marking the first time that Hollywood’s top award has gone to a streaming service. Sian Heder’s deaf family drama found a backer in Apple TV+, which scored its first best picture Oscar less than three years after the streaming service was launched.

“Thank you to the Academy for letting our ‘CODA’ make history tonight,” producer Philippe Rousselet said when accepting the best picture honor. Fellow producer Patrick Wachsberger also thanked Oscar voters for “recognizing a movie of love and family.”

Jessica Chastain won the Academy Award for best actress for her role in “The Eyes Of Tammy Faye.” The award was presented by Anthony Hopkins, who was notably absent at last year’s ceremony to collect his best actor Oscar. Jane Campion, won the Oscar for best director for The Power of the Dog.

Chastain’s third nomination is the charm, winning best actress for playing televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” “We’re faced with discriminatory legislation, there is violence and hate crime perpetrated on civilians,” says Chastain, but adds we can find inspiration in Bakker’s mindset and her “radical acts of love.”

Will Smith won his first Academy Award for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father who raised tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, in “King Richard.” He had been nominated twice before, first for “Ali” in 2001 and then for the 2006 movie “The Pursuit of Happyness.” Smith’s win came shortly after a shocking onstage incident, as he slapped presenter Chris Rock over a joke referencing the hairstyle of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

“Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father,” a tearful Smith said in his acceptance speech after the incident with Rock. “Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling me to do and be in this world. Making the film, I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do, you’ve got to be able to take abuse, you’ve got to be able to take people talking crazy about you, people disrespecting you, and you got to smile and pretend that’s OK.” He also apologized to “the Academy and all my fellow nominees” for the Rock moment. “This is a beautiful moment and I’m not crying for winning an award. It’s not about winning an award for me. It’s about shining a light. … Love will make you do crazy things.”

Following the Will Smith-Chris Rock punch drama, The Academy Awards issued a statement condemning the act. The statement read, “The Academy does not condone violence of any form. Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world (sic).”

Dune, starring Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya, led this year’s Oscar tally, picking up six of the 10 awards it was nominated for. Dune walked away with several awards at Oscars 2022 and one of them was for Best Visual Effects (VFX). Dune’s VFX is a London-based visual effects and animations company, DNEG (Double Negative), the CEO of the company is Namit Malhotra, a man of Indian origin. Dune also won the awards for best cinematography, sound, film editing and production design. Hans Zimmer won his second career Oscar for original score for Denis Villeneuve’s film.

Troy Kotsur made history as the first deaf male actor to win an Oscar. He won the best supporting honors for his role in best picture winner “CODA,” a title which stands for “child of deaf adult.” Accepting the award, Kotsur signed: “I just wanted to say this is dedicated to the deaf community, the CODA community and the disabled community. This is our moment.”

Ariana DeBose also made history with her award for best actress in a supporting role, becoming the first Afro-Latina and openly LGBTQ actor to win in the category. In her acceptance speech, she said, “To anybody who has ever questioned your identity, I promise you there is a place for us” — echoing one of the songs from her film, the musical “West Side Story.”

Disney’s “Encanto” picked up the Oscar for the best animated feature film. Hailed for its magical realism and music, the film won over a range of diverse works — including Afghan refugee documentary “Flee,” Pixar’s coming-of-age tale “Luca” set in Italy, the family comedy “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” and Disney’s own “Raya and the Last Dragon.”

Japan’s emotional epic “Drive My Car” won the Oscar for the best international feature film. Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, the film became the fifth from Japan to win the Oscar, the last being “Departures” in 2008. Other nominees included Italy’s “The Hand of God,” Denmark’s “Flee,” Bhutan’s “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” and Norway’s “The Worst Person in the World.”

The ceremony held a minute of silence for Ukraine. Among those showing gestures of support for Ukraine were Oscar-winning actress Youn Yuh-jung, nominated songwriter Diane Warren, composer Nicholas Britell and the actress Jamie Lee Curtis. They wore blue ribbons that read #WithRefugees to show support for those who have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded a month ago.

Led by Ukrainian-born actress Mila Kunis, the Oscars stood in solidarity with those under Russian attack in Ukraine. “We’d like to have a moment of silence to show our support for the people of Ukraine currently facing invasion, conflict and prejudice within their own borders,” read a card presented onscreen.

Indian American Joseph Patel & Team Win Oscar For Documentary, ‘Summer of Soul’

Indian American Joseph Monish Patel along with co-producers David Dinerstein and Robert Fyvolent and director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson won Best Documentary Feature Oscar for “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised).”

“First Patel to ever win an Oscar” declared Joseph Monish Patel on his Instagram handle along with an image of the award after winning one at the 94th Academy Awards held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Mar.27th.

Indeed, for the Indian American who had been bullied as a youngster for the name ‘Monish’ it must have been a gratifying journey to the top!

The documentary is an exploration of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which was held at Mount Morris Park in Harlem. Running for six weeks, it drew a large attendance and performers like Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Gladys Knight and the Pips.

The festival was a celebration of African-American music and culture and promoted Black pride and unity. Given all this, it still drew little attention in pop culture history. The documentary tries to figure out why.

For the Indian American community centered on Bollywood and the stars who make it here, Patel may not be in the forefront of the imagination, but he has an applause worthy body of work.

He began his career as a music journalist and went on to produce and direct television and digital content for MTV News and Docs, Vice Media, The Fader, and Vevo. He is a BAFTA nominated producer as well as a winner of several critics’ awards.

The Indian American told GQ magazine, that his father was a grad student in the US, when he went back home to Gujarat to get married. While dad is from Baroda, his mother came to Anand with her family via Uganda when she was 12.

Patel was born soon after and was raised in California’s Bay area. He later to college at UC Davis and he told the magazine that it was “probably the most transformative experience I had in my life was being involved in the campus radio station. It’s there where I found my tribe.”

While the Indian American made history as a Patel, it was a heartbreaker for the Indian documentary, ‘Writing With Fire,’ directed by the filmmaker duo of Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh which was in the race for the same category.

The “Summer of Soul” team received the award by Chris Rock, who had just been slapped by Will Smith following a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith. “This is such a stunning moment for me right now, but it’s not about me,” Questlove said. “It’s about marginalized people in Harlem that needed to heal from pain. Just know that in 2022, this is not just a 1969 story about marginalized people in Harlem.”

The documentary edged past “Writing With Fire,” chronicling India’s only Dalit women-run newspaper; and Riz Ahmed co-produced “Flee,” which tells the real-life story of Amin, a gay Afghan refugee, through vividly animated renderings of both his past and future with a new husband; as well as “Ascension,” by Jessica Kingdon, Kira Simon-Kennedy and Nathan Truesdell; and “Attica” by Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry.

It was Thomas and Ghosh’s debut feature documentary about a newspaper ‘Khabar Lahariya’ started as a social experiment by an NGO. It’s India’s only rural newspaper run by Dalit women since 2002, from Chitrakoot in the Bundelkhand region.

The documentary captures ‘Khabar Lahariya’s’ switch from print to digital in recent years. It follows how the newspaper’s chief reporter Meera and her journalists break traditions, redefining what it means to be powerful by reporting India’s biggest issues and within the confines of their own homes, questioning notions of patriarchy and redefining power, investigating local police-force incompetence, listening in and standing by victims of caste and gender violence. It was the first Indian documentary made by an all-India independent production to bag an Oscar nomination in this category.

A producer, director, writer, and executive with over two decades of experience in TV, film, digital and print journalism, the Brooklyn, New York-based Patel was most recently the Head of Content at Vevo, the world’s largest music video platform. He has held similar positions at Vice Media, The Fader, and MTV News & Docs. He recently won two Clio Awards for films produced in partnership between The Fader and YouTube (2018 Gold, “Stormzy: Gang Signs & Prayer” and 2017 Silver “Aurora: Nothing is Eternal”).

Shree Saini Crowned First Runner-Up At Miss World Pageant

Shree Saini, a former Miss India USA and Miss India Worldwide, has been crowned as the first runner-up at 70th edition of the Miss World 2021 pageant held in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the Coca-Cola Music Hall, on Wednesday, March 16th, 2022. The 26-year-old Ludhiana-born Indian American represented the United States at the beauty pageant.

Karolina Bielawska of Poland was crowned Miss World 2021, which was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Karolina is currently pursuing her Master’s in Management and hopes to get a PhD too, according to the Miss World organization.

Introducing the winners, Miss World organization tweeted: “Our newly crowned Miss World Karolina Bielawska from Poland with 1st Runner Up Shree Saini from US 2nd Runner up Olivia Yace from Côte d’Ivoire.”

Toni-Ann Singh, Miss World 2020, also graced the event by performing a special number ‘The Prayer’ to show her support for Ukraine in the midst of its conflict with Russia. “Our current Miss World Toni-Ann Singh performs ‘The Prayer’ as we light candles around the world to stand with Ukraine. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house #mwcandlesforukraine.” tweeted from Miss World’s handle.

Beautiful, compassionate, talented, ambitious, gentle, humble, determined and dedicated to achieving the lofty goals in life, she has set before herself at a very young age, Shree Saini is a woman with a golden heart.

Shree Saini is from Punjab’s Ludhiana, but moved to Washington, DC with her family when she was five. Shree grew up in Moses Lake in Washington state, has been living with a pacemaker since the age of 12. With a heartbeat rate of 20 per minute, doctors ruled her out for her first love — ballet. But, literally dancing against all odds, Saini became a trained ballerina and has been accepted as a trainee by the prestigious Joffrey Ballet, based out of Chicago.

The story of Shree is one of resilience over adversities that would daunt even the sturdiest individuals. In October 2019, Saini collapsed right before the final night of the Miss World America competition, where she eventually got to wear the crown, which she accepted from Miss World 1997 Diana Hayden.

Taking to Instagram that evening, Saini’s mother, Ekta Saini, said that doctors had kept her daughter on “cardiac arrest watch” because just 1 per cent of individuals around the world get a pacemaker implant. Undeterred by the episode, Saini went on to be crowned Miss World America 2020.

Before she left for Miss World earlier this month, Saini shared a “global message of hope and resilience” in which spoke about how she survived a “major rollover car accident that left my face with bleeding wounds” while she was still in university.

Recalling that horrific episode, Saini wrote: “I no longer had my face. I couldn’t even recognise myself. I couldn’t even cry because my tears would burn as they would pass down my wounds. It was the most excruciating pain I had ever endured.”

The Instagram post, which went viral after Saini became the first runner-up at Miss World 2021, concluded with her urging her social media followers “to keep being solution-oriented … to never lose sight of hope … to have a possibility mindset … and to apply solutions to everyday difficulties”.

Shree was crowned Miss World America 2021 in Los Angeles, CA on Saturday, October 2nd, 2021. Diana Hayden crowned Shree Saini, who is also the first Indian-origin contestant to represent America on a global stage. “I am happy and quite nervous. I can’t express my feelings (in words). All the credit goes to my parents, especially my mother because of whose support I am here. Thank you Miss World America for this honor,” Shree Saini said in her statement, after the crowning moment. Saini wrote on her Instagram, “I am the first American of Indian origin and first Asian to be crowned Miss World America.”

An advocate for heart health, Saini has had a permanent pacemaker since she was 12 and overcame a major car accident which left her with burns all over her face. But she rarely if ever lets any of that hold her back or define her.

Shree Saini, who has been recognized by several organizations and states and world renowned persons for her work and is aspiring to be an actor, told this writer during a recent interview “I am now “Miss World America Washington,” which is preliminary to Miss World America and Miss World! Miss World Titles have been won by Aishwarya Rai and Priyanka Chopra. It’s the largest and the most philanthropic pageant, having raised 1.3 billion dollars for charities around the world. And I want to promote the many charitable initiatives this noble organization does all around the world.”

The official Instagram handle of Miss World America shared the news with a caption that read as, “Shree, who is currently Miss World America Washington, also holds the prestigious position of “MWA National Beauty with a Purpose Ambassador,” a position she earned by working tirelessly to help those less fortunate and in need. Among her many accomplishments, her work has been recognized by UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, Susan G Komen, and many others. We are certain Shree will continue to immaculately embody Beauty With A Purpose, and no doubt will be successful in raising awareness and attention to the Miss World America mission. Stay tuned and follow the Miss World America 2021 journey!”

Shree Saini has also been crowned Miss India Worldwide 2018 at a pageant held in the Fords City of New Jersey. “My dance journey began when I was only 3 years old, but a substantial part of my dance journey was filled with both physical and emotional hardships. When I was 12, I was diagnosed with a complete heart block. I had to get a pacemaker surgery. The average age of a pacemaker recipient is age 80. Cardiologists told me I could never dance again,” Shree had noted on her social media.

Instead of giving up, Shree Saini went back to dance class with her left arm tied up in a cast and practiced up to 6 hours a day in order to regain her strength. Saini noted on media that even though “dance is a very competitive, cut-throat, high stakes sport”, she wants to “encourage teachers, students, parents to always be uplifting, emphatic, especially when it’s difficult. Real Love takes courage.”

Saini, who has studied at Harvard, has been trained in acting at the Yale actors conservatory. The Punjab native, who moved to Washington State when she was seven, experienced hardships while in high school, where she was bullied. For years, she said, she felt like an outcast at school for being a person of color. Shree has created an app on emotional heath at Stanford University. She has given hundreds of presentations in over 80 cities and six countries and written about 400 articles in newspapers on emotional fitness, via her non-profit shareesaini.org.

Shree says, “The best award is knowing that YOU made a POSITIVE difference in someone else’s life. A girl recently approached me after a talk and started crying. She mentioned that she had followed my journey for a while and felt encouraged to pursue her dreams, despite obstacles. I gave her a big HUG and started to tear up as well. WOW. Your positive words and actions do make a positive difference. Keep being EXTRA LOVING AND ENCOURAGING.

Being uprooted from one’s culture and dear ones was undoubtedly a major challenge. She had to experience hardships while in high school, where she was bullied. Young Shree fought bravely a heart ailment which required her to use a pacemaker. Shree, who had a pacemaker implanted at the age of 12 and was told that she would never be able to dance, is an inspiration for all. “I practice dance almost every day for several hours,” Shree says, pointing to the pacemaker she carries with her all the time.

After doctors diagnosed her with a congenital heart defect at the age of 12, Saini recalls how she struggled to adapt to the life-changing situation of needing a pacemaker while still in middle school, especially when other students did not treat her kindly as a result. “I truly believe your legacy is defined by how you make others feel and the positive difference you make in your lifetime,” said Shree, who started her non-profit organization, when she was 15. Shree said it was her dream to compete for a world title, which was started when she was in the elementary school.

“I have been the target of brutal emotional bullying. I was ridiculed in the most subtle ways, which is why I so often talk about ‘nonverbal’ bullying. For example, there were many instances where I was left out of events or edited out of pictures, and daily ‘whispered about’ by others. As a result of this treatment, there were many times when I would cry in my school’s restrooms or come home in tears after dance class… yet I persevered.

“My family helped me endure,” she explains. “My mom said, ‘the way people treat you has nothing to do with you, but has everything to do with them.’ She empowered me to step up and be even more compassionate towards those who hurt me, and to never give up on my true belief in always being kind.”

In order to reprogram her brain towards more positive thoughts and reach an understanding of how she could find inner peace in spite of all the negativity, she read extensively. “I read books and essays on achieving a more powerful mindset, responding to acts of hate with compassion, and the true value of emotional fitness and what can be done to address the lack of education around it. From what I have learned, I have formed my personal mantra: ‘Giving powerful responses to life’s struggles while being a positive contributor to every situation.’”

After dealing with her own personal experiences, Saini penciled her thoughts in a journal, which she said helped change her from a victim to an empowered young woman. The journals in her diary turned to newspaper clippings in local papers in Washington. “In a society mainly obsessed with physical fitness, emotional problems are dismissed,” noted the young activist. “Emotional well-being is necessary to have a healthy body and mind,” she says.

These experiences did not deter young Shree from pursuing her life’s mission.  “My journey went from a silent sufferer to a bitter person and finally an enabled victor,” she says. “If anything, the physical challenges and social pressures fueled her – all the way to the Joffrey Ballet and beyond, including winning the title of Miss India USA.”

Shree gives credit to her parents, Sanjay and Ekta Saini, who have not only supported her dreams, but have gone beyond to help her succeed at every step of the way. Pointing to her mother, Ekta, Shree says, “My mother is my role model, who has been with me, supported me and have encouraged me to work hard and realize my dreams.”

Regarding her future goals and ambitions, Shree is candid about her choices. If good offers come her way, Shree is open to acting in movies, whether it be in Bollywood or Hollywood. Another effective way to showcase her talents and still more importantly, another way to champion and spread her message for a better, just and peaceful world. “Meanwhile, I want to continue working on my nonprofit and become an ambassador of emotional health by continuing to visit as many places as possible, spreading my positive message of hope,” Saini says.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im7eb8b68Ek

Oscar-Nominated Smriti Mundhra Gets DGA Award Episode On Homelessness

Oscar-nominated Indian-American filmmaker Smriti Mundhra took home the first award — for the best children’s program — at the 74th Directors Guild of America Awards (DGA Awards) on Saturday night (U.S. Pacific Time).

It was presented by Pamela Adlon, creator and star of the comedy-drama series ‘Better Things’ to Mundhra for the ‘Shelter’ episode of HBO Max’s series, ‘Through Our Eyes’, reports ‘Deadline’.

‘Through Our Eyes’ is an inspiring journey into the lives of American families, from the perspective of children as they navigate formidable yet all-too-common challenges along with parents and siblings.

The four-part gritty docu-series captures the innocence of childhood and the strength of perseverance in the face of parental incarceration, climate displacement, the wounds of war, and homelessness (the last being the subject of Mundhra’s award-winning episode).

To Indian viewers, Mundhra is better-known as the maker of the Netflix series ‘Indian Matchmaking’ presented by Sima Taparia.

Mundhra shared the Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival for her first feature documentary film, ‘A Suitable Girl’, with her co-director Sarita Khurana.

She and co-director Sami Khan got an Oscar nomination in 2020 for her documentary, ‘St Louis Superman’, on the activist, battle rapper and former politician Bruce Franks, Jr.

Mundhra, incidentally, is the daughter of the late Indian American filmmaker Jag Mundhra, who is still remembered for ‘Kamla’ (1984), starring Deepti Naval, Shabana Azmi and Marc Zuber, which centered around a celebrated journalistic expose, and the ‘Kama Sutra’ movies — ‘The Perfumed Garden’ and ‘Monsoon’.

SRK Announces Own OTTAPP

Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, who recently set the pulse raising with ‘Pathan’ first look is now coming up with his own OTT platform called ‘SRK+’. The actor took to his Twitter to share the news with his followers.

Sharing a creative where he is seen giving a thumbs up next to the font ‘SRK+ coming soon’, he tweeted, “Kuch kuch hone wala hai, OTT ki duniya mein.”

In a surprising turn of events, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, who is known as the flagbearer of independent cinema, quote-tweeted SRK’s tweet and announced his collaboration with King Khan’s OTT. Kashyap tweeted, “Dream come true! Collaborating with @iamsrk on his new OTT app, SRK+”.

Shah Rukh Khan had gone silent after his son Aryan Khan was involved in a controversy related to a drug bust case. Few days back, the Special Investigation Team of the Narcotics Control Bureau, had issued a statement saying that Aryan Khan was never in possession of drugs hence there was no need to take his phone and check his chats.

In addition, Aryan’s chats did not suggest that he was part of any international syndicate, NCB said.

Mindy Kaling Comedy Series ‘Never Have I Ever’ Gets Season 4

‘Never Have I Ever’, the comedy series co-created by Mindy Kaling and Lang, has been renewed for Season 4 at Netflix, which will also be the show’s last season, confirms ‘Variety’.

News of the fourth-season renewal comes before Season 3 of the series, whose star cast is led by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan and Poorna Jagannathan, even has a premiere date. Production on the third season recently wrapped and it will debut over the coming summer.

Ramakrishnan essays the lead character, Devi, a first-generation Indian American teenager juggling the pressures of her home life, including grief over losing her father, with a complicated love triangle, evolving friendships and inner emotional turmoil best expressed by narrator John McEnroe, notes ‘Variety’.

“Hey Crickets, we’ve got some morning announcements for you: Season 3 of ‘Never Have I Ever’ is gonna drop this summer! Plus we’ve just been renewed for a fourth and final season, which we are absolutely thrilled about,” Kaling and Fisher tweeted.

“We can’t wait to reveal all the steamy romance and hilarious adventures we have in store for you. Thanks to all our fans for your support — especially you #Bevi and #Daxton stans. We love you!” the co-created added.

In addition to Ramakrishnan, Jagannathan and McEnroe, the cast includes Richa Moorjani, Jaren Lewison, Darren Barnet, Lee Rodriguez, Jez and Ramona Young.

Commenting on the fourth-season announcement, Bela Bajaria, head of global TV at Netflix, said: “We are thrilled to have two more seasons of ‘Never Have I Ever’. It’s everything we want in a Netflix comedy series: authentic, specific, funny, and full of heart. I love that a story I relate to so deeply — about a young, Indian-American girl — hits on so many universal truths that resonate with just about everyone.”

Alia Bhatt Makes Global Debut With Gal Gadot: Joins Netflix’s Heart Of Stone

Alia Bhatt is set to join the cast of Netflix’s Heart of Stone as she makes her global debut opposite Gal Gadot. Bhatt is already one of the biggest movie stars in India, having won four Filmfare awards. Her recent Gangubai Kathiawadi directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali secured the third biggest opening in 2022 and the biggest non-holiday opening for a Hindi film since the start of the pandemic.  The film will release globally on Netflix this spring, and has received great reviews singling out her performance in the title-role, besides nearing the 100 crore mark in India—here second film as protagonist (after Raazi in 2018) to do so.

Her 2019 film Gully Boy, directed by Zoya Akhtar, premiered at that year’s Berlin Film Festival (and so did Gangubai Kathiawadi this year) and has become an international hit, grossing over $25M worldwide to date. The film is available to stream now on Amazon Prime and was India’s official submission for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2020 Oscars.

Recognizing her international appeal (including over 60M followers on Instagram), the Academy inducted her into its 2020 class.

Alia will be joining Gal Gadot and Jamie Dornan in the Hollywood movie produced by Skydance’s David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Don Granger with Mockingbird’s Bonnie Curtis and Julie Lynn. Gadot will also be producing with her husband ,Jaron Varsano through their production company, Pilot.

Alia, who made her debut in Student of the Year (2012), has streaked ahead of her contemporaries Shraddha Kapoor (debut in 2010), Sonakshi Sinha (2010), Parineeti Chopra (2011), Taapsee Pannu (2013) and Kriti Sanon (2014). The younger daughter of Mahesh Bhatt, with actress Soni Razdan as her mother, Alia has also given bravura performances in Highway, Udta Punjab and Dear Zindagi, besides being a part of hits like 2 States, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Badrinath Ki Dulhania and Raazi, in which her performances too were standout.

In Hindi films, she will be soon seen in RRR, Brahmastra (her first with beau Ranbir Kapoor), Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani, and her own maiden production, Darlings. She is said to be making a new film with Sanjay Leela Bhansali as well.

She now joins the ranks of Priyanka Chopra Jonas (Quantico on TV and Baywatch—The Movie +) and Deepika Padukone (xXx: The Return of Xander Cage) in making the cut in Hollywood. The sign ‘+’ indicates more than one film abroad.

Other Indian actresses who made the international cut:

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (The Last Legion +)

Aparna Sen (Bombay Talkie)

Deepti Naval (Lion)

Dimple Kapadia (Tenet)

Disha Patani (Kung-Fu Yoga)

Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire +, no film in India despite being Mumbai-born)

Huma Qureshi (Army of the Dead)

Leela Naidu (Man of the World in 1962 on TV +, followed by The Householder +)

Mallika Sherawat (Hisss +)

Mrunal Thakur (Love Sonia)

Nitu Chandra (Never Back Down: Revolt)

Persis Khambata (Kama Sutra in 1969 +)

Richa Chadha (Word with Gods +)

Shabana Azmi (Madame Sousatzka +)

Tabu (The Namesake +)

Mirchi Launches Streaming App For North American Audience Features Include Live Feed From 11 Cities And On Demand Audio Storie

Entertainment Network India Limited, the company that operates the Mirchi brand in the United States, today announced the launch of it’s streaming app.

The app is available on Apple and Android smartphones as well as Android Auto & Apple Car play systems. More countries will be added soon, the company stated.

The Mirchi app brings 12 live FM stations from 11 cities in India including Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad (Telugu and English), Kochi, Ahmedabad, Pune, Chandigarh, and Patna. More cities will be available shortly.

The city-wide local streams provide a convenient shortcut for the expat community living in the US as the feeds have been adjusted to mirror local day parts. For example, a listener hailing from Mumbai but living in San Jose, will be able to tune in at his morning time for the Mumbai morning show and so on. Besides providing nostalgic value, US based listeners get a feel of home via real-time to developments taking place in their home city in India in the areas of music, movies, traffic, the stock markets, and much more.

The app also has an on-demand feature that includes hundreds of hours of curated “audio stories” across multiple genres. Mirchi staples like like RJ Naved’s lighthearted Murga prank calls; “The Devdutt Patnaik” mythology show; “The Bhatt Show” hosted by Mahesh and Pooja Bhatt; Kareena Kapoor Khan’s “What Women Want” interview series with top Bollywood celebrities and “Manto” written by the legendary Saadat Hasan Manto and voiced by top personalities like Nandita Das, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and RJ Sayema will be available on the app.

The Mirchi App widens Mirchi’s reach from local terrestrial radio stations in USA to an “on-demand & always on App experience”. Mirchi’s social media presence has been prolific with viral videos and posts, the app now formalizes this listener relationship that allows marketers and advertisers to engage with their audiences through targeted online advertising opportunities.

Commenting on the launch, Mr. Vineet Jain, Chairman of the company said, “The Times of India group has always explored new horizons, pushed boundaries, and innovated to provide the best news and entertainment content to its consumers. We are now bringing the full Mirchi experience to every Indian and South Asian living overseas. With the launch of this app, we further cement our position as a multi-content, multi-format, and multi-lingual music and entertainment brand for desis everywhere.”

Prashant Panday, MD & CEO, ENIL says, “Mirchi, India’s leader in radio and one of its most-loved entertainment brands, is now embarking on a digital journey with the launch of its app. We’ve been leaders in FM radio in India for more than 20 years and now we are making all our radio stations and a lot more audio content available to our listeners outside the country. The app offers brands and marketers across geographies the opportunity to connect with diaspora audiences in the US.” The Mirchi app can be downloaded from MirchiUSA

“Writing With FIRE” Nominated For Oscars

“Writing with FIRE” has become the first documentary from Indian filmmakers to ever be nominated for an Academy Award. Directed by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, the film is executive produced by long-time Indiaspora Friend Anurima Bhargava.

The nominations were announced live on the Twitter and official YouTube channel of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences by Tracee Ellis Ross and Leslie Jordan. In a video posted on Twitter by Rintu Thomas, one of the creators of the film, she, co-creator Sushmit Ghosh and their families are seen watching the event live.

The heartwarming moment went viral on social media with fans and celebs both congratulating Rintu and sharing the video. Actor Ali Fazal shared Rintu’s original tweet and wrote, “This is HUGEEEE!!!!!! Congratulationsssssss.” Filmmaker Neeraj Ghaywan also shared the video on his timeline and tweeted, “Congratulations to the whole team! This is amazing!”

Lyricist Varun Grover replied to Rintu’s tweet congratulating the team. “So well done, so wholesome. Congratulations and best wishes for the journey ahead,” he wrote. Fans noted how wholesome the video was. One commented, “The sheer joy on the filmmaker’s face. Congratulations.”

Directed by Rintu and Sushmit, both debutants, Writing With Fire chronicles the rise of Khabar Lahariya, India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women. The film will compete against four other films in the category: Ascension, Attica, Flee, and Summer of Soul (Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised).

The film shares the story of Khabar Lahariya, the only news network in India run by women, a group of intrepid rural Dalit journalists.  Hailed as “the most inspirational journalism movie, maybe ever” (Washington Post), the film won the audience award and special jury award at Sundance, the audience award at IDFA (largest documentary film festival in the world) and nearly 30 awards globally.

Armed with smartphones and the courage and conviction one must be born with, they investigate the incompetence of the local police force, listen to and stand by victims of caste and gender violence, and challenge long-standing, harmful practices that lead to injustice and intimidation.

Other nominees in the category are: Ascension, Attica, Flee, and Summer of Soul (Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised).

Jane Campion’s gothic western The Power of the Dog led nominations to the 94th Academy Awards, where streaming services more than ever before swept over Hollywood’s top honours.

Campion’s film landed a leading 12 nominations, including nods for best picture, best director and all of its top actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

Rocketry: The Nambi Effect, Slated For Release On July 1st

The anticipation for R Madhavan’s much-awaited directorial debut is thick in the air! The larger-than-life trailer of his biographical drama Rocketry: The Nambi Effect already has the internet waiting with bated breath to watch the film on 70MM. Today, the actor-turned-filmmaker announced a new release date for his film.

Rocketry: The Nambi Effect is now slated for a worldwide theatrical release on 1st July 2022. The movie has been shot simultaneously in multiple languages including Hindi, Tamil and English, and will also be released in Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. While R Madhavan will be seen in the skin of the eponymous Nambi Narayanan, he has also directed, produced and written the film.

With a powerful ensemble star cast comprising of acclaimed international actors Phyllis Logan, Vincent Riotta, Ron Donaiche along with Simran, Rajit Kapur, Ravi Raghavendra, Misha Ghoshal, Gulshan Grover, Karthik Kumar and Dinesh Prabhakar, the movie will see special appearances by superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Suriya. Tracing the life of Indian scientist Nambi Narayanan, a former ISRO scientist and aerospace engineer who was caught in the throes of a spy scandal, the biographical drama will unveil the truth behind the mystery. The music has been composed by Sam CS in India.

The movie has already piqued the interest of the audience with its trailer taking the internet by storm. Touted to be Madhavan’s biggest movie yet, fans are awaiting his return to the big screen after three years, especially given his never-seen-before avatar. Staged on a mammoth scale, the film has been shot in India, France, Canada, Georgia, Serbia and Russia.

Rocketry: The Nambi Effect is being produced by TriColour films, Varghese Moolan Pictures and 27th Investments. The film is being distributed by UFO Moviez and AGS Cinemas in India and will be distributed internationally by Yash Raj Films and Phars Film Co.

Chalte Chalte: Lata Mangeshkar’s Melodious Journey Across Bollywood Epochs

Warbling her way into our hearts with the haunting and ethereal strains of “Aayega Aanewala” in “Mahal” (1949), Lata Mangeshkar became the definitive voice of several generations of Indian film heroines — from Madhubala to Madhuri Dixit, Kamini Kaushal to Kajol, Padmini to Preity Zinta, Sharmila Tagore to Sridevi, and countless others — in a wide range of melodic songs that will reverberate for all ages.

Filling the void left by singing superstars such as Noor Jahan and Suraiyya as a result of emigration or retirement, she overcame what Dilip Kumar once gently mocked as the “dal-chawal” flavour of her Urdu, to achieve perfect diction in that expressive language to fashion magic in the thousands of songs she rendered for scores of gifted music composers and inspired lyricists.

As the inevitable fate of humans stills the golden voice that was long an essential ingredient of a Bollywood film for seven decades, and helped many of these to be successful — Raj Kapoor, till the end of his life, was convinced that it was her absence that made his cherished “Mera Naam Joker” a flop — let us revisit Lata Mangeshkar through her songs for over the years, restricting it to one song per actress.

Even if we keep it to solos, leaving out the duets as far as possible, so as to focus on her superlative voice, which still makes it a tough task, not to mention highly subjective, given the range of her contribution.

Do we choose the pensive “Zindagi Bhar Nahi Bhoolegi Woh Barsaat ki Raat” or the daring “Pyar Kiya to Darna Kya” for Madhubala, the soothing “Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi”, the carefree “Panchi Banu Mast Phiru Mast Gagan Mein”, or even the redemptive “Jago Mohan Pyaare” for Nargis, the playful “Toone O Rangeele”, or the sparkling “Mere Naseeb Mein Tu Hai Ki Nahi” for Hema Malini?

Which one for Nutan, for Mala Sinha, for Rekha? Let’s try.

Madhubala: It was through “Aayega Aanewala…”, picturised on this actress, that Lata Mangeshkar’s voice came to the forefront, around seven years after her debut, and the Madhubala-Lata combine went on to produce magical melodies in classics from “Chalti Ka Naam Zindagi” to “Mughal-e-Azam”.

But, given Madhubala’s effervescent screen persona, let us choose the melody that shows her in a hapless and sombre situation, and shows the inclusive nature of Bollywood, and of India, the ‘hamd’ (a song composed in the Prophet’s praise) “Bekas par karam kijiye, o sarkar-e-Madina”, written by Shakeel Badayuni and composed by the illustrious Naushad.

Nargis: Raj Kapoor’s oeuvre had certain constants — himself as the star, Nargis as the heroine, Shankar-Jaikishan for music, Hasrat Jaipuri-Shailendra for the lyrics, and Mukesh and Lata as the voices. But Lata’s contribution to Nargis outspanned the RK banner. “Dil Ke Girah Khol Do, Chup Na Baitho, Koi Geet Gao” with the heroine, paired with the young and debonair Feroz Khan, in a challenging role in a film dealing with mental issues, is one worth listening

Meena Kumari: From “Mohe Bhool Gaye Sawariya” to “Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh”, the combination of Meena Kumari and Lata has given several unforgettable melodies to Bollywood. But their defining contribution comes in “Pakeezah”, the swan song of the gifted actress. It is difficult to choose between “Inhi Logon Ne” to “Chalte Chalte”, but it is the challenging “Thare Rahiyo” that showcases both at their best.

Vyjanthimala: While “Hothon Pe Daba Ke Aisi Baat” from “Jewel Thief” could be a strong contender, the success of Bimal Roy’s supernatural “Madhumati” owes a lot to its music, beyond the performances of Dilip Kumar, Vyjanthimala, Pran and Jayant. The duet “Dil Tadap Tadap Ke” is an evergreen melody, or “Chad Gaya Paapi Bichua” have their points, it is “Aaja Re Pardesi” stands out.

Sadhna: The heroine who popularised a new hairstyle had Lata Mangeshkar to thank for the songs that showcased her cinematic prowess, from the classical “O Sajna Barkha Bahar Aayi” to the haunting “To Jahan Rahega, Mera Saaya Saath Hoga”, but it is the haunting “Lag Ja Gale”, with the masterful music of Madan Mohan that will also evoke the impermanence of love and keep both in our memories

Nanda: The graceful actress with her endearing eyes also owes Lata Mangeshkar for the melodies that define her on silver screen, from “Kis Liye Maine Pyaar Kiya” to the “Allah, Ishwar Tero Naam”, but it is the sensuous “Yeh Samaa Yeh Samaa Hai Pyar Ka” that defines their collaboration.

Waheeda Rehman: Again a string of stirring melodies connect the elegant actress to the superlative voice from “Kahin Deep Jale Kahin Dil” to “Rangeela Re”, but it is the exuberant and carefree “Aaj Phir Zeene ki Tamanna Hai”, with that high-powered “Kaaton se kheench ke yeh aanchal” that begins it, seems a strong contender for their best.

Sharmila Tagore: From the soulful “Kuch Dil Ne Kaha” to “Chalo Sajna Jahan Tak”, the dimpled beauty found Lata as her ideal voice, but one of their best can be the full-powered, classical-tinged “Ab Ke Sajan Sawan Mein”, and the hidden affection it showcases.

Hema Malini: Again, from “Tune O Rangeele” to “Mere Naseeb Mein To Hai Ke Nahi”, Lata created magic in the musical sorties of the “Dream Girl”, but the one which stands out due to its setting, music and lyrics is “Ae Dil-e-Nadan” from “Razia Sultan”.

Rekha: While younger sis Asha Bhosle performed the best for Rekha in “Umrao Jaan”, Lata Mangeskhar was not behind for the diva as songs from “O Pardesiya” to “Yeh Kahaan Aa Gaye Ham” to “Aaj Kal Paaon Zameen Par” attest. But it is the rather challenging “Salaam-e-Ishq”, before the point where Amitabh/Kishore join in with that ‘alaap’.

Zeenat Aman: The vivacious, Westernised Zeenat was rather well served by Asha Bhosle (remember the rebellious “Dum Maaro Dam”), but Lata Mangeshkar was never behind as “Jiska Mujhe Tha Intezar” to “Shama Jale Ya Na Jale” show. It was, however, for a deglamourised, rural-dwelling Zeenat in the eponymous title song of “Satyam Shivam Sundaram”, which is a classic.

Dimple Kapadia: For this actress, who ventured into some rather off-beat movies after her comeback but performed with aplomb throughout, it is a toss-up between “Yaara Seeli Sili” from “Lekin” to “Dil Hoom Hoom Kare” from “Rudaali”, with their evocative music a perfect complement to that vigorous voice.

Madhuri Dixit: She was almost four decades younger, but still Madhuri Dixit found Lata Mangeshkar to be her perfect voice as “Didi Tera Devar Deewana” shows. But it is that exuberant “Dil to Paagal Hai” that shows Lata, nearly a septuagenerian then, still had an evergreen voice — as besides Madhuri, she sang for the even younger Karisma too

Kajol: “Yeh Dil Tum Bin Nahi Lagta” was Lata singing for Tanuja in 1968, and over a quarter century later, she was as fresh as she sang “Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye” for her daughter Kajol in the landmark “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge”. Take your pick from any song.

Preity Zinta: When you mix legends like A.R. Rehman and Lata, it will result in sheer enchantment. “Jiya Jale” is a song that stands out in “Dil Se”.

There are so many more — “Ghairon pe Karam Apno pe Sitam” picturised on Mala Sinha — which shows that Lataji could never be faulted on her Urdu pronounciation; “Dil to Hai Dil, Dil Ka Kya Aitbaar Kijiye” on Rakhee; “Tere Bina Zindagi Ko Shikwa Nahi” on Suchitra Sen; “Chori Chori Koi Aaye” on Poonam Dhillon; “Sheesha Ho Ya Dil Ho” on Reena Roy, and so many others that will remain testimony to her encompassing contribution to Bollywood.

Nitu Chandra Bags Two More Hollywood Films

Actor Nitu Chandra marked her Hollywood film debut with Never Back Down: Revolt last year. One of the female leads in the film, she was seen engaging in high-octane combat sequences. Currently being managed by late actor Irrfan’s team in Los Angeles, USA, she has bagged two more Hollywood projects. And she insists on playing parts that doesn’t represent Indians in a skewed manner.

S The actor says that she turned down Hollywood offers that represented Indians in a not so positive light; also talks about Indian actors appearing in blink-and-you-miss-it roles in international projects

he tells us, “I’ve denied two projects where Indians weren’t represented in a very positive light. I don’t want to do anything that maligns our identity. I want three billion global Indians to be proud of me.”

Indian actors, who have been a part of Hollywood projects over the last few years, have often been trolled for their blink-and-you-miss-it appearances in them. Talking about it, Chandra says, “There have been films where they’ve done a two-minute or a five-minute role. But they were hugely publicised and hyped, and the audiences were promised something big. And since we, Indians, are very emotional, we were disappointed after the watching those films.”

But the 37-year-old actor wants to change that with her choices: “I’ve been listening to interviews where Indian actors say that they’re happy to be a small part of a project, but I was very proud to be one of the main leads in a commercial Hollywood film.”

To focus on her career in the West, Chandra has bought a home in LA and is planning to buy a house in London, UK, too. “I want to work everywhere in the world, across languages. I did a Greek film (Block 12; 2016) too where I did a lot of action,” she says, adding, “I often thought why not go out and grab opportunities all over the globe? As women, we’re so strong, and I believe we can achieve whatever we aim for.”

Vineeth Sreenivasan’s ‘Hridayam’ Wins Many Hearts Around The World

Director Vineeth Sreenivasan’s Malayalam film ‘Hridayam’, which opened to rave reviews, is continuing its dream run, not just in the country but abroad as well.

The film, which has been garnering a lot of praise from film buffs and critics here in India, has started its second week abroad on a strong footing.

Film analyst Taran Adarsh tweeted, “Malayalam film opens big in Australia, New Zealand. Malayalam film ‘Hridayam’ springs a pleasant surprise in Australia-New Zealand.”

The film made around Rs 54.55 lakh from shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday on Week 1 in Australia and Rs 21.49 lakh in New Zealand for the corresponding period.

In the second week, the film made Rs 28.22 lakh in Australia and Rs 13.48 lakh in New Zealand from shows on Thursday and Friday alone.

The film is doing exceptionally well in the US and Canada as well. It opened the second week on a strong footing making a total of Rs 1.42 crore from just shows screened on Friday in the US and Canada.

Starring Pranav Mohanlal, Kalyani Priyadarshan and Darshana Rajendran in the lead roles, ‘Hridayam’ is also doing brisk business in the UK as well, where it has made Rs 65.13 lakh in the first week. (IANS)

Ayushmann: Cinema Can Become A Vehicle Of Inclusivity In Society

Ayushmann Khurrana, who was recently seen in ‘Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui’, feels that cinema can bring about a change in society and that he has tried to contribute towards the cause of inclusivity and equality through his work in films.

Talking about the purpose of cinema, the actor mentions, “I have always believed that cinema can serve a purpose to better society and I hope that such films have done their bit to affect change. I have played a small hand in harbouring a sentiment of equality among my countrymen because I have to credit my visionary filmmakers and script writers for doing the brunt of the work because it is their vision that has triggered the winds of change.”

In his opinion, a society gets reflected in its films and stories, the actor says, “Progressive films can only be made in a progressive society and the response that ‘Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui’ is getting is tantamount to the fact that people want to see more and more disruptive content.”

He thanks his audience for accepting his stories with open arms, “I am thankful to people for being open-minded to see films about a gay couple on screen in ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’ and also about a cis-het man and a trans-woman’s love story in ‘Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui’”.

He adds, “When we set out to make ‘Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui’, our aim was to start an important conversation on inclusivity and equality in India.”

“It is amazing to see that the film has engaged the nation, is entertaining people and also delivering a powerful message. This shows they are recognising the need for gender parity and inclusivity,” he concludes.

Ayushmann will be next seen in Anubhav Sinha’s ‘Anek’ which would mark their second collaboration after ‘Article 15’, Anubhuti Kashyap’s ‘Doctor G’ and ‘Action Hero’ directed by debutant Anirudh Iyer.

Salman Khan To Host IIFA 2022 In Abu Dhabi

The 22nd edition of the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Weekend & Awards will be held at the Etihad Arena on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi on March 18 and March 19, 2022, to celebrate the best of Hindi cinema. The awards night will be hosted by superstar Salman Khan.

Apart from celebrating and lauding cinematic excellence, the awards held in collaboration with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), will also commemorate the 75th year of India’s independence and the UAE’s year-long Golden Jubilee celebrations, marking its 50th anniversary, and strengthen the cultural ties between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as it will see global dignitaries, fans and film enthusiasts from across the world.

Talking about the highly anticipated awards, event host Salman Khan said, “I have always enjoyed being a part of the IIFA Family and travelling to some great destinations but this year I am super happy that we are headed to one of my personal favorites, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.”

Salman continued, “IIFA is always a memorable time and this year it will be an even bigger celebration as we celebrate the 75th year of India’s independence and UAE’s 50th Anniversary-Golden Jubilee celebration.”

“Over the last 21 years, IIFA has not only given Indian cinema an international platform, but it has created a wonderful opportunity to take us to our fans and connect millions of people globally. I am proud and excited to get ready to host the 2022 IIFA Weekend & Awards Yas Island, Abu Dhabi as we unite the world through cinema & celebration”, he added.

Saood Abdulaziz Al Hosani, Undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi, said, “India has long been one of Abu Dhabi’s top inbound source markets for tourists building on strong historic ties. Hosting the IIFA Awards underlines the key strategic position the Indian market occupies for the emirate.”

Saood further said, “In addition, we have enjoyed a great bond with India’s movie industry, which has for many years been attracted to the UAE capital by our high-quality infrastructure, so the addition of the IIFA to Abu Dhabi’s calendar of events aligns perfectly with our 5-year strategy to develop the cultural and creative industries.” (IANS)

Sidharth Shukla, Kareena Kapoor Are Most Searched Celebs On The Net

The ‘Year in Review 2021’ released by the web services Yahoo! reports that the late reality television star and actor, Siddharth Shukla, who breathed his last on September 2, 2021, has been the most searched male celebrity of the year that’s slowly drawing to an end.

Shukla is followed by Bollywood megastar Salman Khan, who is the host of the reality show ‘Bigg Boss’, which, incidentally, made the late actor famous in his lifetime.

Close on the heels of Salman Khan is the Telugu actor, Allu Arjun, followed by the late Kannada superstar Puneeth Rajkumar, another actor to meet with a premature end, and the celebrated thespian, Dilip Kumar, who passed away this past July.

Among the most searched female celebrities of 2021, Kareena Kapoor Khan grabbed the top spot. Her second pregnancy was the talk of the town for a part of the year and it was followed by the arrival and progress of her second son, Jeh.

With Kareena making it a habit of posting Jeh’s pictures, along with those of her elder son, Taimur, she managed to keep her fans hooked to her Instagram account.

Katrina Kaif, whose wedding with Vicky Kaushal now rules the headlines, secured the second spot, followed by Priyanka Chopra, Alia Bhatt and Deepika Padukone.

The Biggest Newsmaker list saw a new entrant: Shah Rukh Khan’s son, Aryan, who emerged as No. 2 in the ranking after his headline-grabbing arrest by the Narcotics Control Bureau for allegedly possessing drugs and being a part of an illegal rave party on a cruise ship.

“India Sweets And Spices” Available To Watch On-Demand

The award-winning comedy INDIA SWEETS AND SPICES has just been released today to on-demand platforms for audiences to watch at home. Starring Manisha Koirala and Sophia Ali, the widely acclaimed crowd-pleaser is now available on digital VOD platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, Apple, Google Play, Vudu, and others and is the perfect choice for movie night.

 Alia Kapur (Sophia Ali) returns to her family’s posh suburban New Jersey home after a year away at college and upends their well-ordered life with her brash independence. After befriending Varun (Rish Shah), the handsome son of the new owners of the local Indian grocery, she invites his family to a dinner party where family secrets are revealed. Alia’s surprise turns to rebellion when she uncovers secrets about both her parents that push her toward a daring and ultimately hilarious confrontation. INDIA SWEETS AND SPICES celebrates a young woman’s coming of age set against a lovingly framed glimpse of the life of an Indian American family.

VOD platforms can be found here: https://www.indiasweetsandspices.movie/watch-at-home/

Pan-India Epic ‘RRR’ To Release In Over 1,000 Multiplexes Across USA

Filmmaker S.S. Rajamouli, who is gearing up for the release of his pan-India epic ‘RRR‘ starring Jr NTR, Ram Charan, Ajay Devgn, Alia Bhatt and Shriya Saran, is all set to treat fans in the US with his upcoming film.

Apart from India, the makers are aiming to release the film in 1,000 plus multiplexes only in the US, bringing back the glory of Indian cinema to the overseas audience. Sarigama Cinemas and Raftar Creations are jointly distributing the movie in the US.

The anticipation among the audiences has been increasing day by day not just in India but worldwide as it is the biggest action drama to date.

The makers have shared multiple assets including posters and songs with glimpses of Ajay Devgan, Alia Bhatt, and Ram Charan, among others. The film’s trailer is also unveiled on December 9 followed by a grand event.

Post Baahubali’s success, Rajamouli became a nationwide household name, and he has now made another film on a grand scale and is set to break many records.

The movie includes a star-studded line up besides lead actors Ram Charan and Jr NTR. Ajay Devgn, Alia Bhatt, Olivia Morris will be seen in pivotal roles while Samuthirakani, and British actors Ray Stevenson and Alison Doody join in supporting roles.

Jayanti Lal Gada of PEN Studios has bagged the theatrical distribution rights across north India and has also bought worldwide electronic rights for all languages. Pen Marudhar will be distributing the film in the north territory.

The Telugu-language period action drama is produced by D.V.V. Danayya of DVV Entertainments. ‘RRR’ will hit the screens on January 7.

3rd Annual Chaar Prahar Indian Classical Music Festival Held

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan USA, Sneh Arts, Kolkata Sitar School & Viewcy in association with the Consulate General of India & TV Asia presented the 3rd Annual Chaar Prahar Indian Classical Music Festival. Adapting to the challenges of the global pandemic, the festival was back at the Romanti Auditorium to live in person performances and also streamed live on the digital platform Viewcy, which enabled us to reach audiences in Asia, Europe & North America. The artist lineup included some of the most recognized names in Indian Classical music as well as rising stars.  The festival was supported by our media partners : TV Asia, World BBTV, Radio Zindagi, Divya Bhaskar & The Indian EYE.

Listeners were treated to soul stirring music at this one-day music marathon that lasted for 9 hours and featured 13 musicians from both the Hindustani & Carnatic styles of music. Community of artists & music lovers gathered to enjoy instrumentalists & vocalists from various gharanas (school of music) showcasing their talents & mastery on the sitar, tabla, double neck electric guitar, violin, sarangi, mridangam, harmonium & vocals. As always, the festival team was particularly enthusiastic about giving a platform to the younger generation of Indian American artists who work very hard to pursue this art form.

Dignitaries from the music world & the community graced the occasion to bestow their blessings, not only to the young artists, but also to the organizers for continuing this special initiative. The Consul General of India in New York Amb. Randhir Jaiswal & Deputy Consul General Amb. Dr Varun Jeph, sent their congratulations to the entire organizing team and artsits. Vipul Dev, Consul – Press, Information & Culture, graced the occasion with his presence. He was thrilled to see so many music lovers who came to support the festival and hear some soulful music. He appreciated the work & effort put into presenting the rich music of India through this festival. Bhavan Chairman, Dr. Navin C. Mehta along with board member Megha Bhouraskar joined the festival commending the music community for coming together for such a special marathon of music. They were thrilled to see such a fantastic line up & engaging audiences that were enjoying this festival both in person and online.

There were countless comments of support & appreciation pouring in during the concert not only from the audience members but also from artists that were performing. There were rasikas that stayed until 3 am, which encouraged the artists & the organizers. The atmosphere created by the organizers gave the artists and the audience members the feeling of being back home.

The Chaar Prahar Music Festival team is extremely grateful to the artists, community partners, media partners, team members & everyone who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make this festival possible. They are extremely grateful to Dr Navin Mehta, Padma Shri Dr. H. R. Shah, Kenny Desai, Megha Bhouraskar, Kolkata Sitar School & Sneh Arts for their generous sponsorship. They look forward to even more support from the musicians & music lovers so they can continue to present such special events & give a continuous platform to the local talent. The team has announced that the next Chaar Prahar Festival will be in November 2022.

Superstars Mithun Chakraborty And Pallavi Joshi To Join “The Kashmir Files”

A 1st time road show of a feature film on a historic subject in fourteen cities across USA, leading universities and Impact events for leading policy makers is all set to take the country by storm. “The Kashmir Files” made by Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri is a landmark film on Kashmiri Hindu Genocide that took place in 1990 when hundreds of thousands of native Hindu Kashmiri were asked to leave Kashmir overnight or face the consequences, “death”. Kashmir has never been same since then. Pain, suffering and torture define the life of the community which was uprooted from their homeland which was always called a “Heaven on earth”.

“This story has to be shared, so the world knows the pain of uprooting. Its a story of genocide that inflicts unlimited pain on millions and on several generations”, said Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri. He is traveling with National award winning superstar Mithun Chakraborty who with co-star Pallavi Joshi, a national award winning actor will be present during screening in Long Isalnd and New Jersey on 27th and 28th November respectively. Superstar Mithun Chakraborty joins again in screening in Hollywood in end December and National award winning super actor and star, Anupam Kher will join in January 6th screening in Manhattan, NY.

The film will be privately screened in fourteen cities in cinema theatres for community leaders, policy makers and American community. The project initiated by Dr Surinder Kaul of Global Kashmiri Pandit diaspora was expanded with extensive support from Sunil Hali, a Kashmiri himself. Dr Kaul has been spearheading many Kashmir initiatives and is known to be the voice of Kashmiri community. “This project is very close to my heart which hurts when I thin of my motherland. I have worked closely with Vivek during its making and am excited to see it to fruition”, said Dr Surinder Kaul.

Sunil Hali brings the expertise in media and entertainment and marketing in USA, and with able help from Ken Naz, former CEO of EROS, have created this exclusive pre-release preview which launches on November 27 from Long Island in New York. Said Sunil Hali,”We have been working on this road show for two months. Dr Kaul took charge of building the national network of volunteers while I joined hands with Ken to build the theatrical network for screening, PR and marketing. The film is screened in Cinemas such as Regal, AMC, BIG Cinema(Edison), and Bombay Theatre(New York). Ken has done a stupendous job to get us the best with limited financial resources during the busiest period for films in USA”.

A core team that includes Mukesh Modi, a celebrated film maker and patriot from New York, an advisory team with Rakesh Kaul, Mohan Wanchoo to guide the vision, and a team of volunteers in each these cities has helped to take the project to next level. Ms Priya Samant has been key in building support from policy makers and universities. The film road shows travels from Long Island(NY), Edison(NJ), DC-MD-VA, North Carolina, Tampa(FL), Atlanta(GA), Boston (MA), Denver(CO), Chicago(IL), Austin(TX), Dallas(TX) Seattle(WA), Silicon valley and LA(CA), Houston(TX) and Manhattan(NY). The film will also be screened in leading universities such as Columbia, GWU and have Impact events in various cities for policy makers including Holocaust Museum(DC)

Vivek was in USA two years ago when he stayed with Rakesh Kaul, an authority on Kashmir and an author of two best sellers on Kashmir. He has been key to guiding the project all along. The tour has received a strong support from volunteers in each city, media across USA, supporters, sponsors, donors and encouragement from policy makers. Mohan Wanchoo, Dr Surinder Kaul, Dr Kiran Patel, Rajeev Kaul, Dr Nirmal Mattoo are leading amongst donors as of date and the support continues to grow every day.

The film is produced by Zee Studios, Tej Narayan Agarwal, Abhishek Agarwal, Pallavi Joshi and Vivek Agnihotri. The official worldwide release is on January 26, 2022.

The road show has received generous support in hospitality all across USA from Navika Group and Naveen Shah based in New York. Indian diaspora from every city has stepped forward and contributed generously to make this happen under the banner of United India Pragati Foundation, a 501c3 organization. Individual contributions as well as from businesses have helped in funding this 1st of its kind project in USA.  Fore details and information, please call Dr Surinder Kaul on (832) 494-7167; Sunil Hali on (917) 692-2326 and Mukesh Modi on (917) 215-1491

‘Jai Bhim’ Rated Among Top Rated International Classical Films

Critics have heaped praise on Tamil-language courtroom drama Jai Bhim that now outranks Shawshank Redemption as the highest-rated film on IMDb. Jai Bhim, a Tamil language film, has been rated the top film by users on IMDb, beating classics such as The Shawshank Redemption and The Godfather. It’s the latest in a line of hard-hitting Indian movies telling stories of repression against Dalits who are at the bottom of a rigid Hindu caste hierarchy, writes film journalist Aseem Chhabra.

Since its release, the film has garnered critical and commercial acclaim, and earned a 9.6 IMDb score – even higher than Frank Darrabont’s cult classic Shawshank Redemption that scored a 9.3 on the website.  Firstpost’s critic Ashameera Aiyappan wrote that Jai Bhim “beautifully shoulders the responsibility of being a decisively realistic, social, issue-based drama without being preachy” in her four-star review.

Directed by TJ Gnanavel, the film stars actors Suriya, Manikandan, Lijomol Jose, Rajisha Vijayan, Ramesh Rao, and as well as Prakash Raj whose body of work spans Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and Kannada-language movies.

Jai Bhim is part of a new movement in Tamil cinema where a number of young filmmakers are narrating stories of repression against Dalits, BBC wrote in a review.  “In the last 30 years, beginning with the observance of Ambedkar’s centenary in 1991, the Dalit movement has been growing in Tamil Nadu,” said film historian S Theodore Baskaran.

“Forgotten Dalit ideologues of the 20th Century were redeemed from history. The ideas of [social activist and politician] Periyar and Ambedkar spread through the writings of many Dalit writers. In the last decade, some of the writers moved to cinema and made films. But they used the usual ingredients like songs, fights and melodrama,” Baskaran added.

Released on November 2nd, Jai Bhim follows the trials of a pregnant woman from an oppressed tribe as she seeks justice for her husband who was arrested, brutally tortured, and murdered after being implicated in a false case.  The film is set in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and based on a true incident that occurred in 1993.

At the beginning of Jai Bhim, police officers are shown separating a group of suspects based on their caste. Those who are from the dominant castes are asked to leave, while others who are Dalits (formerly untouchables) or belong to tribal communities are asked to stay back. Later, police file false charges against those in the second group.

A man named Rajakannu from the Irular tribe was falsely framed in a theft case. The horrific death of Rajakannu due to the custodial torture was a challenging and landmark legal battle for K Chandru when the victim’s wife Sengani (real name Parvathi) came to the lawyer for help.

On several occasions, Chandru admitted that the police involved in the case had tried to bribe him as well as the victim’s wife for an out of court settlement.  Choosing to take up a legal career was an accident for Chandru to be active in student politics. A leader during the Left Movement, Chandru wanted to be in community service and help people.  It was during the emergency years in the ’70s, he felt that the law should be a tool to win the rights of people. In his long stint as a judge, Chandru has disposed of 96,000 cases, a feat that he achieved only because of meticulous planning, organisation and classification of cases.

It’s a stark, disturbing scene, with frightened men standing in the corner, somewhat aware of their fate – a reminder that such activities occur routinely, and how precarious are the lives of the marginalised, especially Dalits, in small towns and rural India.

Dalits make up about 20% of India’s population, and despite laws to protect them they continue to face discrimination and violence. Jai Bhim’s title translates to “Long Live Bhim”, a slogan made popular by the followers of BR Ambedkar, a Dalit scholar and leader, who was the chief architect of India’s constitution and also the country’s first law minister.

Directed by TJ Gnanavel, and backed by Tamil star Suriya, the film tells the true story of a crusading lawyer – played by Suriya – who fought for a petition filed by a pregnant woman whose husband was placed in police custody and later declared missing.

Now, Dalit narratives have also found space in independent or indie films in other Indian languages, including Anhey Gorhey Da Daan (Punjabi), exploring the lives of Dalit Sikhs; Masaan (Hindi), a romance between a young man from a family of crematorium workers and an upper caste girl; and Fandry and Sairat (both in Marathi). The last two films were directed by Nagraj Manjule, a Dalit himself.

The directors include veteran filmmaker Vetrimaaran, who made Visaaranai, a 2015 film about the plight of Tamil migrants in neighboring Andhra Pradesh, and Asuran, a plot inspired by a massacre of Dalits. Mari Selvaraj and Pa Ranjith, both in their late thirties, are two key directors who have created narratives where the Dalit man is the central character.

“The representation of Dalit characters was painful,” Dalit filmmaker Ranjith, often referred to as the Spike Lee of the Tamil film industry, told The Wire in a 2020 interview, referring to earlier Tamil films. “Either they were written out, or just their inclusion in the story was considered ‘revolutionary. In this context, I had to reflect on what my stories could say,” he added. “I wanted to show that my culture itself is based on discrimination and violence…Today, directors are more conscious when they write Dalit characters.”

As ‘Jai Bhim’ celebrates the success of its release following unanimous positive reviews from both critics and audiences through word of mouth, the focus now shifts to how filmmaker TJ Gnanavel came up with a movie of this scale and what prompted him to make a movie rather than showcase it as a documentary of former advocate and Madras High Court Judge K Chandru who fought for the downtrodden bringing about a change at the administrative and judicial level. The film is inspired by the true incident that happened way back in 1993.

When Chandru first watched the film ‘Jai Bhim’, he said the scenes portraying actor Suriya as the advocate kept reminding what he was 30 years ago.  With a few sequences that have cinematic liberties, the former Judge says ‘Jai Bhim’ has been truthful to the story without exaggerating custodial violence and government’s apathy towards human rights violation.

Qaisar Nizami From Kashmir Nominated For Prestigious Grammy Award

In a first for the beauteous valley of Kashmir, renowned Kashmiri singer-musician Qaisar Nizami has been nominated for the prestigious Grammy award for his song ‘Nazninay’ (O Beauty), joint collaboration and part of US-based music composer and santoor player Ehsaan Matoori’s multinational ‘The Voice and Bridges’ project.

While the formal announcement of the nominations for the 64th Grammy Awards will occur at an event that will be live-streamed on November 23, upon receiving the nomination Nizami shared the statement saying, “It is a matter of joy that the famous composer Ehsaan Matoori in collaboration with the greatest musicians of the world brought out an album in which many countries lend their voices and the voice of Qaisar Nizami, the legendary singer of the Valley, also is included in the album titled ‘The Voices and Bridges’, which speaks in itself about the music and poetry.”

In the history of Grammy awards, this is the first time that a Kashmiri singer has been featured in the list of nominations. Nizami urges all Kashmiri music patrons to vote online saying, “Never before has any singer of the Valley had the privilege of having had any of his songs chosen for the Grammy Awards.” The first-round voting for the nominations ended on November 5, with the next round scheduled any time between December 6, 2021, and January 5, 2022, while the event is slated for January 31, 2022.

The singer-musician connected with Matoori when he found himself stranded in the US, where he had arrived to perform in a concert at the University of North Texas College of Music, Texas after the first Covid-19 lockdown in India was announced. A professor at the university, Sadaf Munshi, introduced him to Matoori, who was working on ‘The Voice and Bridges’ project since 2019. ‘Nazninay’ has lyrics in both Kashmiri and Farsi; the Kashmiri lyrics are by beloved Kashmiri poet Ibrahim Miskeen’s ‘Pur Mah’ (meaning Full Moon) alternating with the late Iranian poet Fereydoon Moshiri’s ‘Beneshin Mara’ (Stay With Me) Farsi lines.

Arjun Mehta Named By Variety As Music’s “New Leader”

Arjun Mehta, the co-founder of Moment House, a platform for live-stream music performances and other online events, has been named by Variety Magazine as one of the New Leaders of Music. The company, Mount House was founded in 2019, and already has over 50 employees and hosted Clive Davis’ private virtual Grammy gala this year as well as various artists’ web concerts.

The young budding artist said in a recent interview: “I had always been fascinated with how just an abstract idea in someone’s head can manifest over time into a massive living, breathing thing that can affect people globally. I felt like that process was so magical and special, that I just had to do it for the rest of my life. In parallel, I’ve been an Eminem fan for as long as I can remember and having devoured his Wikipedia page, I’ve known exactly who Jimmy Iovine (and of course Dr. Dre) was and admired them all, since like 4th grade. So when I found out about the program, I felt like it was fate.”

Every year Variety seeks to identify the next generation of leaders in the entertainment business who represent the creative community of film, TV, music and the digital space. The 2021 music industry group has among its ranks hip-hop label Empire’s COO, online event innovator Moment House’s CEO, the manager for Normani and Anitta, a marketing VP for Sony Nashville, an exec-manager whose dual roles include representing Megan Thee Stallion and Young Thug, the CEO of the Kluger Agency, the founder of Milk & Honey Management, a social media SVP for Warner Music, a top songwriter manager, and the agent who signed Billie Eilish at 14.

In 2019, Mehta started Moment House — a platform for high-concept live- stream music performances and other online “elevated ticketed performances” — right out of USC, where he’d proven himself a prodigy in the Jimmy Iovine/ Dr. Dre music business program. Backed by investors including Scooter Braun, he built a company with more than 50 employees that hosted Clive Davis’ private virtual Grammy gala this year as well as presented web concerts by Tame Impala, St. Vincent and Kygo.

As Moment House has taken off, Mehta says the pandemic was “absolutely an accelerant” of people being willing to pay for quality web shows, but it would have happened anyway: “Concerts and livestream exist hand-in-hand.”

KJ Yesudas, With “Divine Voice” Marks For 60 Years As Playback Singer

KJ Yesudas’ voice has seeped into the collective conscious of the Malayali, infusing melody into every emotion and mood. For nearly 60 years, he has been regaling music buffs with his mesmerising music, a voice that is every Malayali’s pride. Not a day passes in Kerala without one getting to listen to him somewhere.

Yesudas, Dasettan to his admirers, spanning generations, has worked with the pioneers of the film music industry and the new-gen music directors with equal felicity. His voice lends itself well to both Indian classical, devotional and popular songs. He has recorded more than 40,000 songs in many languages, including Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Bengali, Gujarati, Oriya, Marathi, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tulu, Russian, Arabic, Latin and English through his long career.

He has witnessed the digitalisation of the music industry and the rise and fall of trends and fads. But that voice has never faltered. Whether it be in expressing his concern over an issue or an appeal, his is the voice that the Malayali listens to.

Scores of music fans, including Malayalam superstar Mohanlal, greeted and wished one of India’s most enduring talents, K.J. Yesudas, on Sunday, on the occasion of the latter completing 60 celebrated years as a playback singer.

Mohanlal, in fact, went beyond just wishing the living legend and paid tribute to the master musician by posting a video of him singing some of the songs that Yesudas had sung in his films. Posting the video titled ‘Kalpadukal: A humble tribute to Dasettan’s 60th year in music’ on YouTube and posting its link on Twitter, Mohanlal said, “Here goes ‘Kalpadukal’ along with my most sincere wishes on the continued legendary journey of yours.”

The actor did not stop with that. He even wrote a handwritten letter and posted it on Twitter. In his video tribute to Yesudas, Mohanlal said he considered the brilliant singer to be a ‘Manasa Guru’ (teacher of all humanity) and shared that he would see many of Yesudas’s concert on VHS cassettes, not to sing or imitate him, but to look at his body language and his facial expressions while singing a number, and learn from them.

Such lessons had helped him, Mohanlal said, when he was doing films such as ‘Bharatham’ and ‘His Highness Abdullah’, and if people appreciated him for his work in these films, the credit must go to Yesudas.

  1. J. Yesudas was born in Fort Kochi, Kerala, to Augustine Joseph and Elizabeth. His father, who was a well-known Malayalam classical musician and stage actor, was his first guru. Later, he joined the Music Academy in Thrippunithura and underwent training.For a brief period, he was with Sri Vechur Hari Hara Subramania Iyer, after which he took training from Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar, a maestro of classical music. Although he is a Carnatic music expert, he mastered in Hindustani music as well.
    Career
    Yesudas began his career in playback singing in Kollywood in the early 60’s; and by mid 70’s, he entered Bollywood. He has bagged seven National Film Awards for the best singer category in the Indian film industry. In 2006, he sang 16 film songs in four South Indian languages on the same day at AVM Studio, Chennai.

    Yesudas has performed in many major cities around the world. In his music concerts in the Middle East, he sings Arabic songs in the Carnatic style. He frequently dons the role of a cultural ambassador of India through his numerable performances abroad by promoting Indian music.

    He is the only singer who has been accorded the title Asthana Gayakan (official singer) of Kerala state. He has been awarded the Padma Sri (1973) and Padma Bhushan (2002).

    In 1965, he was invited by the Soviet Union government to perform at music concerts in various cities in the USSR and also sang a Russian song over Radio Kazakhstan. In 1970, he was nominated to head the Sangeetha Nataka Academy of Kerala and was the youngest person ever to occupy that post.

    In 1971, Yesudas with his musical troupe travelled all over Kerala to raise funds for the Indian Prime Minister’s National Defense Fund during the Indo-Pakistan War. He also became the senate member in the International Parliament for Safety and Peace.

    He has taken the words of Sree Narayana Guru, “One Religion, One Caste for all humans” to heart. On November 14, 1999, Yesudas was presented with an honorary award by the UNESCO for “Outstanding Achievements in Music and Peace” at the “Music for Peace” event in Paris, a concert held to mark the dawn of the new millennium and whose attendees included artistes such as Lionel Richie, Ray Charles, Montserrat Caballé, and Zubin Mehta.

    His unparalleled record of winning state awards for best singer in five regional languages of India and winning National awards for best singer seven times in three languages places him among the most versatile singers India has ever seen.

    Role Models

    Shree Narayana Guru’s great message, “One caste, One religion and One God for all Humans”, influenced young Yesudas in his dealings with his fellow men. He had his own heroes among the musicians too. Mohammed Rafi, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar and Balamurali Krishna are the ones he admired the most.

    Scholarship

    He completed the Ganabooshanam course at R.L.V. Music Academy, Thripunithura, Cochin. And he graduated from the Sree Swathithirunal Music Academy, Trivandrum. Trained under well-known musicians like K.R. Kumaraswamy (former principal of the Music College, Kochi), Kunjuvelan Aasan (a disciple of Nagaswera Vidwan Rajaratnam Pillai), Augustine Joseph, Ramakutti Bagavathar, Sivaraman Nayar, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar, Yesudas was the audience’s favourite from day 1.

    Personal Life

    Yesudas is married to Prabha for more than 30 years. They have three sons, Vinod, Vijay and Vishal. The second son Vijay Yesudas, is a budding musician. The family is currently settled in Chennai and Kerala. He also owns estates in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA, and Flower Mound, TX, USA, for personal and business reasons.

    Music Company

    In 1980, Yesudas established the Tharangni Studio at Trivandrum. In 1992, the office and studio were moved to Chennai and the company was incorporated in the US in 1998. Tharangni Studio and Tharangni Records became a recording center in Kerala which, for the first time, brought out audio cassettes of Malayalam film songs in stereo. The record company also had a voice mixing studio in Chennai, Studio27. The studio continues to produce and present events of Yesudas, both for film and Indian classical music concerts throughout the world.

People Magazine Names Paul Rudd As 2021′S Sexiest Man Alive

Paul Rudd has been crowned as 2021’s Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. Rudd, known for his starring roles in Marvel’s “Ant-Man” films, “This is 40” and “Clueless,” was revealed as this year’s winner Tuesday night on CBS’ ”The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” The actor tells the magazine in an issue out Friday that some will be surprised by him receiving the honor.

“I do have an awareness, enough to know that when people hear that I’d be picked for this, they would say, ‘What?’” he said. “This is not false humility. There are so many people that should get this before me.”

But of course, Rudd won’t turn down the honor. He jokingly hopes the new title will grant him an invitation to “those sexy dinners” with George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Michael B. Jordan — all recent winners. Other past honorees include John Legend, Dwayne Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Idris Elba, Adam Levine, Channing Tatum and David Beckham.

“I figure I’ll be on a lot more yachts,” Rudd said. “I’m excited to expand my yachting life. And I’ll probably try to get better at brooding in really soft light. I like to ponder. I think this is going to help me become more inward and mysterious. And I’m looking forward to that.”

Rudd’s first major breakout performance came in the 1995′s “Clueless,” a cult classic starring Alicia Silverstone. He also made his mark in several comedies such as the “Anchorman” films, “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “This is 40,” a spin-off from the comedy “Knocked Up.”

The actor reached superstar status in a slew of Marvel superhero films including “Ant-Man,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Endgame.” He’ll star in the upcoming “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and appear alongside Will Ferrell in the new Apple TV+ series “The Shrink Next Door,” which premieres Nov. 12.

Rudd, 52, said his wife was initially “stupefied” after he told her the news. The couple has two kids, 17-year-old Jack and Darby, who is 12.

“But you know she was very sweet about it,” he said of his wife, Julie, of 18 years. “After some giggling and shock, she said, ‘Oh, they got it right.’ And that was very sweet. She was probably not telling the truth, but what’s she going to say?”

Rudd expects his circle of friends to give him “so much grief.” He won’t blame them, because he would do the same.

“I mean, I’m going to lean into it hard. I’m going to own this,” he said. “I’m not going to try to be like ‘Oh, I’m so modest.’ I’m getting business cards made. But all of my friends will destroy me, and I expect them to, and that’s why they’re my friends.”

Akshay-Katrina’s Sooryavanshi Breaks Records With Highest Earnings

The much-awaited Sooryavanshi movie starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif was released on Friday. A lot of money was earned at the box office with Suryavanshi’s release breaking past records in India and around the world.

After earning the whopping amount of Rs 26.29 crore on its opening day, one of the much-anticipated films of the year ‘Sooryavanshi’ maintained its charm on the second day as well and minted Rs 23.85 crores on the second day of its release. On the 3rd day, it is expected that the film will do business between 25 and 28 crores on the third day.

Although there was a slight dip in the movie’s second-day collection, it managed to enter the Rs 50 crores club at the box office on the second day of its release. Film critic and movie trade analyst Taran Adarsh took to Twitter and shared a breakdown of the first two-day earnings of the film. He also said that the movie has the potential to touch Rs 80 crores on Day 3.

Sooryavanshi crosses Rs 50 cr… SUPER-STRONG HOLD on Day 2… Slight dip in night shows vis-a-vis Day 1… Expect a BIGGG SCORE on Day 3, should comfortably cross Rs 75 cr, may even touch Rs 80 cr [+/-], PHENOMENAL… Fri 26.29 cr, Sat 23.85 cr. Total: Rs 50.14 cr. #India biz,” he tweeted.

After facing several hardships, filmmaker Rohit Shetty’s ‘Sooryavanshi’ was finally released in theatres on Friday. On Thursday night, Rohit took to Instagram to share that his cop drama is ‘releasing across all multiplexes and single screens all over the country.’ The film was held back for almost two years due to restrictions imposed by the Corona epidemic. The film’s release in theatres seems to be reaping tremendous benefits for Rohit Shetty.

For the unversed, the advance bookings were not opened for the Akshay Kumar-starrer till Thursday night due to a tiff between the producers and exhibitors on revenue sharing. Reportedly, the producers of the film demanded a 60 per cent revenue share in the first week and also wanted theatre owners to provide a maximum number of shows to ‘Sooryavanshi’.

Thankfully, the stalemate between multiplex chains and the producers of ‘Sooryavanshi’, Reliance Entertainment finally ended. The cop drama was originally slated to release on March 24 last year but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the shutting down of cinema halls.

‘Sooryavanshi’ is a continuation of the cop action ‘Singham’ universe, which began with the Ajay Devgn starrer ‘Singam’ and ‘Singham Returns’, then expanded with ‘Simmba’, starring Ranveer Singh and Devgn, and now is going forward with Akshay Kumar’s character. Apart from Akshay, ‘Sooryavanshi’ also features Katrina Kaif in the lead role.

With the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai as the starting point, Rohit Shetty’s ‘Sooryavanshi’ traces the terrorist activities of a militant group whose chief, Omar Hafeez (Jackie Shroff), remote-controls their actions from Pakistan.

How DCP Veer Sooryavanshi (Akshay Kumar), chief of the Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad, along with his team, prevent Hafeez’s sons and the sleeper cells based across India, who are galvanized into action to destroy India, particularly Mumbai, forms the crux of this film that extends to two hours and a half.

While the narrative is strongly reminiscent of Rohit Shetty’s earlier films in terms of flavour and feel, this one is unadulterated entertainment with action, drama, and even a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. There are trite moments when the unity of India and its secular fabric are forced down one’s throat, courtesy of DCP Sooryavanshi’s sermons.

The film, expectedly, belongs to Akshay Kumar, who with his commanding screen presence, credible action, and charisma, hooks the viewers as Sooryavanshi. He may not be offering anything new by way of histrionics, but there is comfort in his familiar style and his action scenes are a treat to watch.

The scene where he is chasing Sikander Kher and lifts him onto a flying helicopter from a speeding motorboat is superbly choreographed.

Akshay Kumar is ably supported by an ensemble cast of actors which includes Kumud Mishra as Bilal Ahmed, Vivan Bhatena as Vivan and Gulshan Grover as Kadar Usmani, all of whom perform well, enhancing the quality of the film. Abhimanyu Singh as Riaaz Hafeez, the key leader of the mission and Jackie Shroff’s son, delivers a strong performance. Katrina Kaif as Sooryanshi’s wife, Dr Ria, merely adds to the glamour quotient.

Sleek action and daring acts with cars overturning and structures being blown off characterize the film, in Rohit Shetty’s inimitable style. Of course, one must not stop to analyse or seek rationale, else disappointment sets in.

The dialogues are powerful, hard-hitting, and seem real in the given context, and at times even succeed in arousing a patriotic fervor.

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Ajay Devgn, Ranveer Singh, Jaaved Jaaferi, Gulshan Grover, Abhimanyu Singh, Jackie Shroff, Sikandar Kher, Nikitin Dheer, Vivan Bhatena and Kumud Mishra.

“Fortunate that I have a song sung by Arijit Singh so early in my career!:” Siddhant Chaturvedi

Bollywood Actor Siddhant Chaturvedi wowed everyone with his brilliant acting as rapper MC Sher in Gully Boy. Siddhant followed up on his success by landing his first role as the quintessential masala Hindi film hero in Yash Raj Films’ rib-tickling family entertainer Bunty Aur Babli 2.

He plays the big city slick con-artist – the New Bunty in this comedy. Siddhant has also got the first-ever romantic track of his career, Luv Ju, in Bunty Aur Babli 2 and he is overwhelmed that he has got the chart-busting sensation Arijit Singh’s song so early in his film career.

Siddhant says, “I think Arijit Singh singing Luv Ju that I’m lip-syncing to in the film is a milestone moment of my career. Having grown up listening and loving Arijit’s songs right from ‘Phir Le Aya Dil’ in Barfi!, I was in disbelief when YRF told me that he was singing a song to be picturised on me in Bunty Aur Babli 2!”

He adds, “Arijit Singh is a generation-defining superstar singer. He has sung for all the top stars of my generation and delivered evergreen chartbusters! I’m fortunate that I have a song sung by him so early in my career! He is just phenomenal in Luv Ju. It’s a romantic song that will just hook you in and keep growing on you. I haven’t stopped listening to Luv Ju and I’m sure there will be many like me when this breezy romantic track drops.”

Bunty Aur Babli 2 also features Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukerji as the original Bunty and Babli. Gorgeous debutant Sharvari plays the new Babli who is hot, intelligent, and tech-savvy. This comedy will pit two sets of con artists, from different generations, against each other as they try to prove who is the better con couple!

Yash Raj Films’ Bunty Aur Babli 2, which is set to release worldwide on November 19, 2021, has been directed by Varun V. Sharma, who has worked as an Assistant Director in YRF’s biggest blockbusters Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai.

Rajinikanth, Dhanush, Kangana Ranaut, Manoj Bajpayee Honored At 67th National Film Awards

Superstar Rajinikanth received a standing ovation by the audience while he was conferred with Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India’s highest film honor, by Vice President of India, Shri Venkaiah Naidu in New Delhi on October 25, 2021. The veteran star was felicitated with a Swarna Kamal (Golden Lotus) medallion, a shawl, and a cash prize.

Actors Manoj Bajpayee and Dhanush were conferred with the Best Actor Award for their films ‘Bhonsle’ and ‘Asuran’ respectively at the 67th National Film Awards, which took place on Monday. Bollywood star Kangana Ranaut received her fourth National Film Award, as she was awarded the Best Actress Award for her performances in ‘Manikarnika: Queen of Jhansi’ and ‘Panga’.

While accepting the award, Rajinikanth took a stroll down memory lane to thank one of his old friends, who saw acting talent in him and encouraged him to try his luck in films. “I am extremely happy to receive this prestigious award. My heartfelt thanks to the central government for honouring me with the Dadasaheb Phalke award. I would like to dedicate this award to my guru K Balachander. Today, I remember him with great gratitude. I also want to thank my friend who saw this talent in me and suggested me to do acting while I was working as a bus conductor,” he recalled.

Rajinikanth also dedicated his win to all the producers, directors, members of the film industry and fans. “Thanks to everyone for their support… press, media, directors, distributors, producers and fans… my heartfelt thanks to everyone. Also, a special thanks to Tamil people… without them I am nobody,” he expressed his gratitude.

Rajinikanth attended the presentation ceremony along with his wife Latha, daughter Aishwarya, and son-in-law Dhanush. Born as Shivaji Rao Gaekwad on December 12, 1950, to Ramoji Rao and Jijabai, Rajinikanth worked as a bus conductor before embarking on his film journey about 45 years ago.

He recalled his days of struggle. “When I was the bus conductor, he identified the acting talent in me and encouraged me to join the cinema. All my producers, directors, co-artistes, technicians, distributors, exhibitors and the media, press and all my fans. Tamil people – without them I am no body. Jai Hind!”

For the special occasion, Kangana chose to wear a traditional silk saree. “All set to receive the highest honor for an artist in the country today …. National Award,” she captioned the post. Earlier, she had won Best Supporting Actress for her role in ‘Fashion’ and Best Actress Awards for ‘Queen’ and ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’. After receiving the prestigious award, Kangana took to the photo-sharing application to thank her parents for being her support system.

“We all grow up with a deep desire to be worthy of our parents love, care and sacrifices…After all the troubles I give my mummy papa such days seem to make up for all those mischiefs ..Thank you for being my mummy papa I wouldn’t want it any other way,” she wrote.

Manoj, who has previously won the National Film Award twice, Best Supporting Actor in ‘Satya’, and Special Jury Award for his feature film ‘Pinjar’, was felicitated at the in-person ceremony for his performance in the Devashish Makhija directorial ‘Bhonsle’. The movie saw the ‘Family Man’ star portraying the titular character who is a retired policeman and is living a non-interfering life in a colony dominated by locals, diagnosed with stage 4 brain tumour.

Manoj, who was dressed in a black shirt and trousers for the award ceremony, spoke about receiving the award and said, “The National Award for ‘Bhonsle’ means a lot because this was a film which we wanted to make but we were not getting money from anyone to make it, it took us four years to make this film, so definitely it means the world to all of us. It’s kind of a poetic justice that has happened to ‘Bhonsle’ and I share this award with the director and the entire team.”

Dhanush received the Best Actor Award for his role in ‘Asuran’, which also won the Best Tamil Film award. It’s a period action drama film written and directed by Vetrimaaran, based on Poomani’s novel ‘Vekkai’. The film’s plot was influenced by the real-life Kilvenmani massacre that occurred in 1968. At the ceremony, Dhanush was joined by Aishwarya R Dhanush, his wife and superstar Rajinikanth’s daughter.

One of the country’s most eminent awards in entertainment, the 67th version of the National Film Awards, which were handed out to the awardees by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, was initially going to be held in May last year but had to be delayed due to the COVID pandemic.

“Chhicchore” director Nitesh Tiwari and producer Sajid Nadiadwala dedicated the Best Film Award to late Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput, who passed away in 2020. Vijay Sethupathy was awarded the Best Supporting Actor for his performance in “Super Deluxe.”

The Malayalam film, “Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham” (Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea), received the National Film Award for Best Feature Film. The film has been written and directed by Priyadarshan, and stars Mohanlal. The actor was also present at the awards show. “The Tashkent Files” won two awards – Best Supporting Actress, which went to Pallavi Joshi and for Best Dialogue Writer.

Tamil Film ‘Koozhangal’ To Compete At Oscars 2022

Debutant director PS Vinothraj’s Tamil film Koozhangal (Pebbles) has been announced as India’s official entry to the Oscars 2022. If selected, the film will compete for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film next year.

Actor Vicky Kaushal congratulated producers of the Tamil film “Koozhangal,” Nayanthara and Vignesh Shivan, as their movie became India’s official entry to the Oscars 2022. Taking to his Instagram handle, Kaushal wrote, “Congratulations Vignesh Sivan, Nayanthara, and Team #Koozhangal! Go for glory!!!”

Shaji N Karun, the chairperson of the 15-member selection committee, set up by the Film Federation of India, made the announcement. The 94th Academy Awards will be held on March 27, 2022, in Los Angeles. On a related note, Kaushal’s latest film “Sardar Udham” along with Vidya Balan’s “Sherni,” Yogi Babu’s Tamil movie “Mandela,” and Martin Prakkat-led Malayalam film “Nayattu” were also shortlisted for India’s official entry to the Oscars. However, only “Koozhangal” (Pebbles) could make the cut.

Presented by Nayanthara and Vignesh’s Rowdy Pictures, “Koozhangal” has been helmed by debutant director PS Vinothraj. The movie follows the journey of an alcoholic father and his son who are on their way to bringing back their wife-mother, who has left home. It stars actors Karuththadaiyaan and Chellapandi in the lead roles.

Elated about his film becoming India’s official entry for the 94th Academy Awards, Vignesh tweeted, “There’s a chance to hear this! And the Oscars goes to…. Two steps away from a dream come true moment in our lives. #Pebbles #Nayanthara @PsVinothraj @thisisysr @AmudhavanKar @Rowdy_Pictures Can’t be prouder, happier & content.”

The film, released in 2021, is also the recipient of the prestigious Tiger Award, the top honor at the 50th edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2021. The other films in consideration to be India’s official Oscars 2022 entry included Amit Masurkar’s Sherni and Shoojit Sircar’s biopic Sardar Udham. India’s submissions to the Oscars in recent years include Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu and Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy.

No Indian film has ever won an Oscar thus far. The last Indian film that made it to the final list of nominations in the Best International Feature category was Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan in 2001. Mother India (1958) and Salaam Bombay (1989) are the other Indian films to have made it to the final nominations.

‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ On Broadway

Western musical theatre and Indian films are two long lost lovers separated in time’ : says biggest Indian film-maker Aditya Chopra, who is set to make his Broadway debut as a director with his record-setting worldwide blockbuster, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ)*

Yash Raj Films is the biggest Indian studio and it’s Chairman and Managing Director, Aditya Chopra, has directed and produced some of the biggest blockbusters in the history of Indian cinema. His debut directorial, the historic romantic film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, which released in 1995, is still running in theatres. Popularly called DDLJ, it is one of the highest grossing movies in the history of Indian cinema and the biggest IP of the country’s rich and diverse movie industry.

After 26 years, Aditya Chopra is set to direct DDLJ again and it will mark his debut as a director on Broadway. He strongly feels Broadway and Indian films are ‘two long lost lovers separated in time’ because of their intrinsic similarities as both celebrate heart-warming stories and human emotions through music and dance. Aditya has been working on this passion project for the past three years and has roped in a stellar, extremely diverse team, comprising some of the best talents of Broadway and India for the same.

Come Fall in Love – The DDLJ Musical is being produced by Yash Raj Films. Based on an original story by Chopra, the musical will feature book and lyrics by Laurence Oliver Award-winner Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde, Mean Girls), top Indian songwriters Vishal Dadlani & Shekhar Ravjiani will serve as composers. Tony and Emmy winner Rob Ashford (Frozen, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Boys from Syracuse) will choreograph with associate choreographer Shruti Merchant. The design team will also include set design by Emmy and Tony Award winner Derek McLane (Moulin Rouge!, Hairspray Live!, 33 Variations) and music supervision by Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award-winning Bill Sherman (In The Heights, Sesame Street, Hamilton). Adam Zotovich is the Executive Producer for the project.

Come Fall in Love – The DDLJ Musical is set to be on stage in the Broadway season of 2022-2023, with a World Premiere at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego September 2022. A global casting search begins shortly headed by Duncan Stewart of Stewart/Whitley casting and Yash Raj Films casting head Shanoo Sharma.

ADITYA CHOPRA’s NOTE ON HIS BROADWAY DIRECTORIAL:

Summer 1985. I was 14 and on a holiday in London. My parents took my brother and me for our first musical theatre experience. The lights dimmed, the curtains lifted and what unfolded in the next 3 hours left me speechless and stunned. Now, till then, I was a kid who was an avid movie watcher and what I loved the most was big screen Indian blockbusters. But that day what I saw on stage blew my mind. I couldn’t believe that this kind of spectacle could be created live on stage. But the most significant aspect that resonated with me was how similar musical theatre was to our Indian films. It was just not the fact that both use songs to tell the story, it was much more than that, it was the feeling they evoked which was exactly the same. The burst of colours, the heightened drama, the passionate singing, the unabashed dancing, a classic story, a happy end. It filled me with the same joy and emotions that a good Indian film does. I ealized then, that worlds apart, languages apart, western musical theatre and Indian films are two long lost lovers separated in time.

Autumn 2021… I’m embarking on my most ambitious project till date. I’m reuniting two long lost lovers, Broadway Musical and Indian Films. 26 years back I started my career with a film called Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ, what it is more famously known as). The film created history and changed my life and many others forever. But what many don’t know is that I never intended to make DDLJ in Hindi. As a 23 year old young man greatly influenced by Hollywood and American pop culture, I thought I would make a couple of Indian films and then I would be off to Hollywood and make DDLJ for a worldwide English speaking audience with Tom Cruise as my leading man. That obviously didn’t happen. DDLJ released in 1995 and became the longest running film of Indian cinema. It gave me my identity and kickstarted an amazing journey for which I’ll always be grateful.

26 years later I’m going back to my original vision of the story of DDLJ, a love story of an American boy and an Indian girl, a love story of two cultures…two worlds. But this time the medium is not cinema but theatre. 26 years later I will be directing DDLJ all over again but this time as an English language Broadway Musical for a worldwide audience.

I’m terribly nervous and incredibly excited. I’m a hardcore cinema guy, I have never done theatre in my life and here I am trying to pull off the craziest ambition of my life. But what is giving me confidence is the fantastic team that I have. Each one of them are masters of their field and their brilliance and expertise is going to make this a fantastic show. The past 3 years as we have developed this passion project, I have learnt so much from them and discovered the unbelievable talent that the Broadway community has. I feel 23 again, the same age I was when I directed DDLJ. I’m once again a student, each one of my team members is more experienced than me in the world of theatre, I’m the rookie and I’m loving every moment of it. I’m all set to learn, explore, create and enjoy with these wonderful theatre artists and the magical world of Broadway Musicals.

Nell Benjamin wrote: “DDLJ was my introduction to Indian filmmaking before I even knew who the amazing Aditya Chopra was, and the movie had such joy and heart that I fell in love with it. I was so happy to be approached to do the musical and I hope my work helps everyone fall in love with Simran and Rog and their journey across multiple cultures to love. The world can always use a little more cultural understanding, and I can’t wait to sit in a theater with an audience sharing the joy and surprise of Come Fall in Love – The DDLJ Musical.”

‘It’s A War Between The Ogs And The New Bunty Babli’

Yash Raj Films Bunty Aur Babli 2, which is set to release worldwide on November 19, 2021, is a rib-tickling comedy that will pit two sets of con artists, from different generations, against each other as they try to prove who is the better con couple! The makers are setting up this rivalry through a super innovative hilarious teaser video that DOESN’T have ANY film footage! In the video these two pairs of con artists mercilessly troll each other. The video has also revealed that the trailer of Bunty Aur Babli 2 will be out on Monday, 25th October.

Saif Ali Khan, who plays the OG Bunty aka Rakesh, reveals, “Bunty Aur Babli 2 is a game of cat and mouse between the OG con couple and the New con couple trying to prove that they are better than what the originals were in their prime. This will spark the rivalry and it’s just hilarious because of how intelligently the script has been written to show this madness.”

Rani Mukerji, who reprises the role of Vimmy aka Babli in this completely rebooted franchise film, adds, “The video is a true reflection of what the film has to offer to audiences which is non-stop entertainment and non-stop comedy. Though in the unit, we play ourselves and not the characters in the film, it has been smartly written with trolling humour as Saif and I go after Siddhant and Sharvari and vice versa.”

Gully Boy heartthrob Siddhant Chaturvedi is playing the New Bunty. He says, “It’s a war between the OG’s and the new Bunty Babli and it has been brilliantly captured in the video. Both parties stake the claim to be intellectually superior. While the OGs feel that the New con artists are mere usurpers, the new con couple feels that they are way too cool and smart than the OGs! That’s the premise of the film and you will see us going after each other right from this video and all through the entire marketing campaign!”

Gorgeous debutant Sharvari plays the role of the New Babli. She says, “It was super fun to shoot this because here we were being trolled by Saif sir and Rani ma’am for being fake Bunty Babli and we had to prove it to them saying how we are way, way superior con artists because we are children of the tech boom. It was just a laugh riot shooting this unit with the team and we are confident that this will entertain you thoroughly.” Bunty Aur Babli 2 has been directed by Varun V. Sharma, who has worked as an Assistant Director in YRF’s biggest blockbusters Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai.

Sukriti And Prakriti Kakkar Light Up Iconic Times Square Billboard In New York

Singing sisters Sukriti Kakkar and Prakriti Kakkar have rendered absolute magic to many melodies turning them into dreamy affairs with their ethereal voices. And now, the twins have made it to the famed New York Times Square billboard. The appearance comes as a part of an initiative that supports equity for women in music on the global canvas.

The two took to Instagram to share the news with their fans. They captioned the post, “YA GIRLS MADE IT TO A BILLBOARD IN TimesSquare ???? This day will always be remembered. #SuPraInNY ?? Thank you @spotify and @spotifyindia for making this possible! Big love to our @vyrloriginals fam and @bandbaaja ????”

Sukriti and Prakriti’s rendezvous with international acclaim happened earlier this year when the sisters collaborated with global musical sensation Dua Lipa. Their track, the Hindi remix version of ‘Levitating’ with Dua Lipa turned out to be an absolute blockbuster and topped the charts for several months.

Continuing the streak of international fame, the singing twins featured on the most coveted billboard. They featured alongside names such as Vladivojna La Chia, Maria Jose Llergo making them the only Indians to be a part of this list which comes across as a huge honour not just to both of them but also for the country and the Indian music fraternity.

Talking to IANS, an extremely elated Sukriti said, “There are dreams that one always sets out with, especially at the start of our careers. The Times Square billboard was surely always a part of that dream for us and seeing it come to life, it is a surreal moment for us.”

She adds that the fact they got featured on the billboard for an important cause is what makes it all the more special. “Apart from pinching ourselves, and actually seeing the image of us on the billboard, the fact that it is for a cause that is to encourage equity for women in music globally, makes it even more special”, she added.

For Prakriti, it’s about making a difference through their voice both literally and metaphorically, as she says, “Representation of women in music, locally as well as globally has reached an all new platform of equity. Women deserve to be paid as much as men, given the same treatment as male singers and this association was just to empower that.”

“It has made it to the most viewed billboard in the world, Times Square and we are so proud to be a part of this. As Indian artistes, and also as young women, it is important for one to always believe in equity in order to see it becoming our reality,” Prakriti concluded.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Next Thriller Is “Knock At The Cabin”

Renowned Indian American filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan’s next movie, produced by Universal Pictures, “Knock at the Cabin” is planned to be released on Feb. 3, 2023.

As per The Hollywood Reporter, “Knock at the Cabin” continues the prolific partnership between Universal and Shyamalan. Universal partnered with the Indian American filmmaker’s last four films, “Old” (2021), “Glass” (2019), “Split” (2017) and “The Visit” (2015).

In August, the director teased fans about the upcoming release, posting a picture on his Twitter handle showing off an unlabeled binder that allegedly held the script. “The next one. On third draft. Super tight. Under a 100 pages,” he tweeted at that time. Shyamalan’s most recent offering, “Old,” earned $90.1 million at the global box office amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

After fumbling with his move towards bigger blockbusters with the likes of The Last Airbender and After Earth, Shyamalan has seemingly returned to the smaller, more intimate movies of his earlier output, and this is something that the director is clearly enjoying. “I’m loving this approach from The Visit on where they’re minimal, contained, I own them, we take big tonal risks and try to hit that note of absurd-but-grounded, that dark humor moment and deal with some complicated things and not necessarily take the audience where they’re comfortable, both during or even at the end,” Shyamalan shared back in 2019.

Old continued this trend, and follows a small group of people who discover an idyllic cove filled with rock pools and sandy shore, encircled by green, densely vegetated cliffs. Unfortunately, the picturesque spot is not what it appears to be, and suddenly everybody starts growing older every half hour, reducing their entire lives into a single day. While Old received mixed reviews from critics, it’s hard not to be curious about what Shyamalan plans to do next.

Knock at the Cabin will be the second movie in M. Night Shyamalan’s two-movie deal with Universal Pictures, the first being Old. The filmmaker has teased that the movies could be connected in some way, and while they may not be straight-forward sequels, there could be something continual in their themes, particularly the exploration of time.

“I just had two movie ideas I felt very strongly about,” Shyamalan revealed. “For me, there are ideas and they’re in journals sometimes and they don’t quite have the meat yet or whatever that thing is that makes it so I’m ready to commit two years of my life to making this-to writing and directing this-some of those ideas don’t have that yet. They have to gestate a little bit. But there were two ideas where right away I was thinking about making them. And, interesting enough, there might be a third thing that came to me that might end up going in between these two. So there might be three.” Well, what do you think Knock at the Cabin will be about?

Anuradha Palakurthi To Release “Durga Maa Elo Re” Bengali

Award-winning Indian American singer Anuradha Palakurthi “Juju” will release her first Bengali video song on Oct. 8, 2021, just before the start of the festive Durga Pooja and Diwali season. The song is produced in collaboration with Bollywood singer Mika Singh and Bappa B. Lahiri.

Here are details about the upcoming song: Durga Maa Elo Re is a Bengali dance number and the first in that language for Juju. The song is a tribute to the Goddess Durga and celebrates the joyful Dussehra season. In addition to Juju’s melodious singing, the song is a visual treat, featuring Bengali actress Tina Dutta.

Singers: Mika Singh and Anuradha Juju Palakurthi

Music: Bappa B. Lahiri

Percs: Shivmani

Featuring: Tina Dutta

Video: Ravi and Yashika in Mumbai

Video: Deepa Jacob and Jaison Jose, Cocoon Media in Boston

Director of Photography: Abhishek Basu

Lyrics: Lipi

“For many centuries Bengal blended tradition and modernity to perfection. This amalgam is in full splendor during Durga Pooja and is celebrated across the world,” said Juju, who is also the founder of Boston-based Juju Productions. “I’m excited to have sung my first Bengali song and with Mika Singh. Our dear friend Drummer Shivamani’s magic added to Bappa B. Lahiri’s composition. Bengali actress Tina Dutta acted in the Abhishek Basu’s directed song-video.”

Ms. Dutta said the song took her down memory lane of Durga Puja and the streets of Kolkata. “I’m excited as this is my first music video and it is very different. The song took me back to my own memories of Durga Puja and Kolkata and hence I was all the more excited when I heard the track,” said Ms. Dutta. “I’m glad that my first music video happens to be one in my native language and the team is fabulous. From Mika Singh, Anuradha Juju to Bappa B. Lahiri, each and every person associated with the project has a wealth of work but each of us had the hunger to do something new and different. I am really excited and looking forward to this one.”

On a personal level, Juju said that she was excited to have sung her first Bengali song.

“This song is happy, vibrant and captures the essence of Durga ‘Poojo’. I hope you all enjoy it and may the Goddess Durga bless us all this Vijayadashami.”

Juju is known for her versatility, as no genre is beyond her vocal range- be it a Film Song, Classical, Bhajan, Sufi, Ghazal, or Pop. She has sung in numerous languages and recently added Bengali to her repertoire.

The video will release on Oct. 8, 2021.

Juju Productions is a Boston-based music and video production company, where artists and singers work with Anuradha Palakurthi-Juju work to produce creative, innovative musical endeavors. It creates music that attracts global audiences, transcends national and cultural boundaries while rooted in evolving Indian traditions.

Navatman’s First Feature Film, The Mahabharat To Be Released In November

Navatman, the critically acclaimed NYC-based cultural hub for classical Indian dance and music, is bringing The Mahabharata to film in the first-ever retelling that is driven by young, immigrant artists hailing from across the United States. Through a stunning blend of classical Indian music and dance, and years of extensive academic research into the epic, Navatman’s Mahabharata proves why the Mahabharata matters in 2021.

Mahabharata, the largest epic in the world, by producer Navatman, Inc. Navatman, best known for its live theater productions, will be venturing into film for their first feature film – at 2 hours and 10 minutes – on the Mahabharata. Combining traditional Indian arts with film, this feature is part movie, including spoken word to help audiences understand the story, part dance and music using mudras and hand gestures in place of props and music and character storytelling methods from dance to help create emotional understanding of these stories.
This film includes many “firsts” – the first feature film told from the narrative of Indian classical dance and music traditions, first American/Indian diaspora film interpretation of the Mahabharata, a first feature film of the Mahabharata written solely by female scriptwriters, and a feature film that switches gender roles as actors and actresses. It is a story that is driven by sounds and images that are not an attempt to assimilate, but a story driven to help create cultural understanding for the next generation of Indians.

As quoted by Sahasra Sambamoorthi, the Artistic Director of Navatman’s Mahabharata – “It is our work to create space in a world that does not acknowledge the Mahabharata as a great piece of literature, a reclamation of a text by those whose heritage revolves around it.” The film will premiere at a gala event slated to be held at the SVA theater in Manhattan, NYC, on the evening of Nov 6. While this is an exclusive, invite-only event, the general public can access the film online on Navatman’s video rental app. Tickets are currently priced at $49.99 and the video can be rented for 2 days to be watched anytime, anywhere before it expires.

This two-hour feature film abides by the principles of theater in some ways, like actors playing multiple characters and music, movement & using mudras (hand gestures) to tell the story. It also includes lines for female characters, an addition to the critical edition of the Mahabharata (a compilation of hundreds of texts) where women are often seen but do not have a voice. “Our version allows us to work within gender norms differently – while very traditional to see Indian artists play male and female roles on the stage, putting this into a film version of the Mahabharata puts a twist on who gets to play what roles in this world, and allows a space for arts organizations like ours to tell stories in a novel format. Yes, the pandemic forced us to explore digital means of doing our work – we started rehearsing for a stage production and then had to change gears to be on-camera – but I am glad that it did. Our Indian dance & music based film is going to be epic!”.

In other ways, it is a feature film with its 4K video shots and surround sound, powerful film editing and meaningful sets across New York and New Jersey. “It’s an incredible feat to have captured a massive story like the Mahabharata like we have. Our artists are not film actors, not theater actors, but professionally trained dancers & musicians who are great at their craft. I can proudly say that Navatman self produced and created this opportunity using its own resources, a feat that will allow dancers and musicians around the world to embolden their cultural and artistic heritage,” says co-founder of Navatman.Sridhar Shanmugam Navatman is a performing arts organization that empowers the individual to nurture his or her personal evolution through interactions with the Indian classical arts. Founded with an eye towards creating a home for the Indian classical performing arts in NYC, Navatman is best known for their Manhattan based and online classes, critically acclaimed productions, dynamic dance company, stellar music ensemble, and Drive East – a week long collaborative festival celebrating their mission. Broadcast on: www.navatmanvideobroadcasting.uscreen.io
Tickets: $75 early release, $50 December release; Info/purchase: www.navatman.org/mahabharata; Email: [email protected]; Phone: 732.580.2093

Disney Cancels Broadway Performance of ‘Aladdin’ Due to COVID Cases

Disney’s “Aladdin” has once again canceled performances of the Broadway musical due to breakthrough COVID-19 cases, with the show announcing additional cases just one night after it reopened. The curtain finally rose at the hit show Tuesday after 18 months in the dark due to the pandemic, but Wednesday’s performance was canceled after members of the company tested positive. The show resumed Thursday before the new cases Friday.

In a tweet posted by the production, they wrote, “Through our rigorous testing protocols, breakthrough COVID-19 cases have been detected with the company of Aladdin at The New Amsterdam Theatre. Because the wellness and safety of our guests, casts, and crew are our top priority, tonight’s performance, Wednesday, September 29th, is canceled.” “We will continue to provide support to the affected Aladdin company members as they recover,” the tweet added. Producer Disney Theatrical Productions will be announcing the status of future performances. As per The Hollywood Reporter, this marks the first Broadway cancellation due to COVID-19 since shows resumed. Theaters began reopening there this summer, and larger musicals including “Chicago” and “Hamilton” returned earlier this month.

All performances will be canceled for roughly the next two weeks. “Although negative PCR testing allowed us to move safely forward with last night’s performance of Aladdin at The New Amsterdam Theatre, additional breakthrough COVID-19 cases were detected within the company today,” the production said in a statment. “Because the wellness and safety of our guests, cast, and crew remain our top priority, we feel the prudent decision is to cancel performances starting tonight, Friday, October 1st through Sunday, October 10th. Our next planned performance is Tuesday, October 12th at 7pm.”

The reopened “Aladdin,” based on the hit 1992 Disney animated film and featuring songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin, stars two new leads – Michael Maliakel, making his Broadway debut as the title character, and Shoba Narayan as Jasmine – as well as Michael James Scott as Genie and Jonathan Freeman as Jafar.

The show also features principal cast members Milo Alosi, Zach Bencal and Brad Weinstock, JC Montgomery and Don Darryl Rivera as Iago, as well as numerous ensemble performers. According to Deadline, in addition to the cast, others present at the Sept. 28 reopening performance were Menken and Beguelin, director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw, and guest Kristin Chenoweth.

The stage production opened on Broadway to critical acclaim at the New Amsterdam Theatre in March 2014. According to an earlier media report, Maliakel recently toured the country in the 25th anniversary production of “The Phantom of the Opera.” His previous credits include “NYC: Anything Can Happen,” “The Songs of Maury Yeston,” Mira Nair’s “Monsoon Wedding” at Berkeley Rep and the CBS shows, “Bull” and “FBI.”

Narayan made her Broadway debut with “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” at the time becoming the first South Asian female in a principal role on Broadway in over a decade. She previously starred as Eliza in “Hamilton” (national tour) and as Nessarose in “Wicked” (Broadway). Her TV/film credits include “Growing Up Smith,” “Quantico,” “Halal in the Family,” “Gossip Girl” and “Mistress America.”

She is a prize-winning Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher, having performed throughout the U.S. and India. On the first day of rehearsal Aug. 23, Narayan took to Instagram to share that she was struggling to find the right words to capture what this moment feels like. “Sometimes words just can’t do justice to emotions,” she wrote. “…I am so unbelievably grateful I get to do what I love most. I am grateful I get to be in the room where it happens, with the most brilliantly talented community of individuals, creating art that makes people feel deeply and think critically…Jasmine, I’m all yours girl.”

Ananya Birla Announces Debut Album, ‘Bombay Basement’

Singer-songwriter Ananya Birla announced her debut album ‘Bombay Basement’. Ahead of the full release of the album, Ananya released the music video of the lead track ‘When I’m Alone’ on Tuesday night. The video also marks her maiden innings as a music video director Recently Ananya teamed up with AR Rahman for the official Cheer4India song of the Indian contingent for the Tokyo Olympics, ‘Hindustani Way’.

Elaborating on how the album shaped up, Ananya informed, “Bombay Basement’ was borne out of a jam session in the basement of my Bombay residence, with a couple of friends. I had a lot I wanted to write about and share and it all just kind of clicked.” Including the lead track, there are six songs in the album – ‘Give Me Up’, ‘Deny Me’, ‘Do It Anyway’, ‘Tu Hi Mera Ghar’ and ‘Old Me’. “The range of the songs take you through multiple shared emotions but through the lens of my individual experiences.”

The entire album which was conjured up during the pandemic, hints at themes such as self-love, racial discrimination and toxic relationships in a nonconformist manner. Weaving in influences of breakbeat, pop, jazz, blues and R&B, the catalogue of radio-ready jams showcases Ananya’s sonic evolution whilst attempting to break free from the confines of language and genre.

“Over the last few months, I’ve witnessed a number of life-altering experiences that nudged me to retrospect on the experiences that have shaped me. Life is a series of transactions, some that occur to shape you and some that teach you how change is the only constant,” she expressed.

Elaborating further, what the other music videos from the album have in store, she said, “In the accompanying music videos I’ve tried to lend a more personalized touch and give my fans a slightly unrestricted access into my personal space. I’m excited to see what my fans think of it.” The self-taught santoor and guitar player has been propelled from low-key gigs around London to performing at some of Asia’s biggest music events including Global Citizen, Oktoberfest and Sunburn, and opening for artists like Wiz Khalifa and Coldplay.

Her songs, ‘Let There Be Love’ and its remix version, ‘Day Goes By’ with Jamaican-American Sean Kingston, was well-received around the world. The other hit songs to her credit are ‘Hold On’, ‘Meant To Be’, ‘Circles’, ‘Livin’ the Life’ (remixed by Afrojack), ‘Better’. Her first EP ‘Fingerprint’ with UMG and Island Records, included the single ‘Blackout’ featuring Nigerian hip-hop singers Vector and WurlD. ‘Bombay Basement’, will be released on her YouTube channel and across all major streaming platforms every week throughout October 2021.(IANS)

Intrusion,’ A Freida Pinto Movie Is A Manipulative Home-Invasion Thriller

After having just moved from Boston to their newly built, palatial villa in secluded New Mexico, the seemingly, perfect couple Henry and Meera Parsons soon find some intruders in their house who disrupt their lives forever. The house was designed and built by the caring and attentive architect, husband Henry to provide him and his lovely wife Meera a new lease of life, especially after her difficult recovery from breast cancer. One night, when they return home after dinner, they discover that their house is ransacked. It initially appears like an innocuous burglary.

On the advice of the local police, Henry soon upgrades their home security with an alarm system and remote locking. But soon, a second break-in happens while the couple is sleeping at home. Meera is shocked to learn that Henry has a gun which he does not hesitate to use. In the scuffle between the couple and the intruders, the intruders get injured, and the police present a few suspects whom the Parsons identify. It so happens that the suspects are from the other side of town, and they happen to be from one family whose daughter has been missing for nearly a year.

What follows is the crumbling of the perfect couple image, with Meera and Henry tracking each other and also Meera doing her own bit of investigation. Events soon escalate to something more devious which culminates during their housewarming party. While the plot appears promising, the writing seems laboured with poorly etched characters, and the tale appearing like a manipulative and shallow derivative of a home-invasion thriller. Also, the pacing of the film is slack. It fails to serve as a gripping thriller and the motive of the devious deed which is revealed in the climax is hardly dwelt upon. The performance of the lead pair is far from impressive. Both are simply mechanical and stereotypical in their disposition.

On the production front, with moderate production values, the Parsons’ home built in the wilderness, designed by Brandon Tonner-Connolly and Matt Hyland is magnificent but at the same time insipid and cold. Overall, the entire proceedings appear implausible and amateurishly mounted.

Film: Intrusion (Streaming on Netflix)
Duration: 94 minutes
Director: Adam Salky
Cast: Freida Pinto, Logan Marshall-Green, Robert John Burke, Megan Elisabeth Kelly, Sarah Minnich and Hayes Hargrove.

An Animated Film To Chronicle Life Of ‘Sikh Captain America’ In Aftermath Of 9/11

(RNS) — Vishavjit Singh is publicly known for his Captain America persona — a Sikh man equipped with his turban and beard — fighting against bigotry, intolerance and perceptions of what an American should look like. But Singh, the only member of his family born in the U.S., didn’t always feel he could embrace his identity this way. Singh took off his beard and turban and gave up his Sikh identity while in college after experiencing bullying and stereotyping when he moved back to the U.S. from India.

Now, an animated feature, “American Sikh,” is set to chronicle his life, from his time in India, where his family survived the 1984 anti-Sikh bloodshed, to his move back to the U.S., where he rediscovered his Sikh identity, only to be tested once again while working near New York City after the Sept. 11 attacks

Singh, on his website, said that while in college in California, he fell in love with reading about Eastern philosophy, especially Buddhism and Taoism. “That finally led me to the faith of my parents, the Sikh path,” he said. In a dream, Singh’s grandfather visits him with the Sikh holy book, reminding him of his family’s heritage. Singh, in 2001, tied his turban for the first time in 10 years.  Then 9/11 happened, which Singh said, “profoundly altered the course of my life.” It was in this aftermath that Singh, who was working as a software engineer, started drawing cartoons focusing on Sikh experiences and contradictions, and from that emerged the turban-wearing Sikh Captain America.

“American Sikh” is being created in partnership with Singh as the producer and Los Angeles-based director Ryan Westra. It will be animated by Studio Showoff, a Melbourne-based production house founded by Ivan Dixon and Sean Zwan that has produced work for Childish Gambino, HBO and Cartoon Network. “There is not a lot of representation of people who look like me in the American entertainment landscape. Because that story hasn’t been told, it leads to a persistent level of ignorance,” Singh said in the Kickstarter video. “So that negative impact on fellow American lives can be countered by telling stories of Sikhs in America.”

The film also highlights the violence Sikhs experienced in the aftermath of Sept. 11. Sikhs are commonly mistaken for Muslims because of their turbans and often experience anti-Muslim discrimination. The animated film depicts Sikhs being physically beaten, having their turbans lit on fire and being shot and killed. “That is a story that is not very well known,” Singh said in the Kickstarter video. Singh recognizes these images are painful, but, he said, “These are our experiences.”“We have to tell these stories,” Singh added.

Michael Maliakel, Shoba Narayan To Play Lead Roles In ‘Aladdin’ On Broadway

The Disney hit, “Aladdin,” will soon return to Broadway, with Indian American actor Michael Maliakel in the title role and Indian American actress Shoba Narayan taking over the role of Princess Jasmine. The musical will resume performances at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York Sept. 28.The stage production, based on the beloved 1992 animated hit, opened on Broadway to critical acclaim at the New Amsterdam Theatre in March 2014. The ensemble cast includes Michael James Scott as Genie; Jonathan Freeman as Jafar; Zach Bencal as Babkak; and Milo Alosi as Kassim.

Maliakel makes his Broadway debut after appearing on the 25th anniversary national tour of The Phantom of the Opera. His previous credits include “NYC: Anything Can Happen,” “The Songs of Maury Yeston,” Mira Nair’s “Monsoon Wedding” at Berkeley Rep and the CBS shows, “Bull” and “FBI.” Narayan made her Broadway debut with “Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812,” at the time becoming the first South Asian female in a principal role on Broadway in over a decade. She previously starred as Eliza in “Hamilton” (national tour) and as Nessarose in “Wicked” (Broadway). Her TV/film credits include “Growing Up Smith,” “Quantico,” “Halal in the Family,” “Gossip Girl” and “Mistress America.”

She is a prize-winning Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher, having performed throughout the U.S. and India. On the first day of rehearsal Aug. 23, Narayan took to Instagram to share that she was struggling to find the right words to capture what this moment feels like. “Sometimes words just can’t do justice to emotions,” she wrote. “…I am so unbelievably grateful I get to do what I love most. I am grateful I get to be in the room where it happens, with the most brilliantly talented community of individuals, creating art that makes people feel deeply and think critically…Jasmine, I’m all yours girl.”

In a previous post, she wrote that as a little girl Princess Jasmine was the only character she saw in popular American media who looked like her. “As artists we all have that story, that moment, that character that inspired us to go down this wild, creative path. Disney played a huge role in that inspiration for me. The princesses were role models of strength, courage and intellect. Then of course there was Princess Jasmine.”She continued: “Princess Jasmine was special to me. She stood out as a Princess with a self-determination, progressive mindset and a desire to lead a kingdom traditionally ruled by men…. At a time when there was little representation in our media, the film gave audiences a glimpse of the vibrant South Asian and Middle Eastern cultures and those who inhabit them. Getting to portray her now feels full circle. I am beyond honored to tell her story as we usher in a new Broadway.”

Mindy Kaling, Sudha Reddy Stun at Met Gala 2021

Fashion’s biggest extravaganza, The Met Gala 2021, made a comeback with a vengeance after a skip in 2020 due to the pandemic. The theme for this year’s gala was ‘In America: A Lexicon of Fashion’, and as usual in attendance were a long list of celebrities including actors, musicians and sportspersons. Many fashion houses and celebrities chose to dazzle with the dark side of fashion as capes, leather, face masks and all kinds of drama unfolded at the event, with black ruling the red carpet with its darker vibe. Met Gala regulars like Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Sharon Stone, Emily Blunt, Irina Shayk, Gigi Hadid and the Kardashian-Jenner siblings were spotted alongside debutantes like 18-year-old British tennis star Emma Raducanu who recently won the U.S. Open, Rose Leslie from “The Game of Thrones,” gymnast Nia Dennis and Justin and Hailey Beiber who walked the Met carpet together for the first time.

Indian American producer, actress, director Mindy Kaling also walked the Met carpet, wearing a Tory Burch-designed elegant silk dress with a high-low hemline, deep V-neck and cinching leather waist belt, according to vogue.in  The event, hosted by Vogue’s Dame Anna Wintour, is held annually at The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York City. At this year’s event, also known as the “Costume Institute Benefit,” there was Indian representation once again. Joining the megawatt celebrities was philanthropist and business tycoon Sudha Reddy. Wife of billionaire Megha Krishna Reddy of Hyderabad, this was Sudha Reddy’s maiden outing at the glamorous soiree. As a supporter of the fine arts and widely known for her charitable disposition, her presence at the 2021 Met Gala came as no surprise.

An avid connoisseur of art and fashion, Sudha Reddy is considered amongst the well-heeled jetsetters of South India. In the past Indian celebrities like Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Isha Ambani and Natasha Poonawala have graced the event. Sudha Reddy has moved from ‘check philanthropy’ to ‘hands-on philanthropy’, as the Sudha Reddy Foundation has socially and economically empowered hundreds of people in Telangana. When she’s not spearheading the Megha Group of Industries and TruJet Airlines, she’s working towards affordable healthcare and accessible education. Widely celebrated for her charitable disposition, she was the only Indian to be invited to the Global Gift Gala and nominated for The Global Gift Empowerment of Women Award. With a commitment and vision to continually pledge out of her personal wealth, she handed over grants to two charities: ‘Action Against Hunger and Fight Hunger Foundation’ and ‘Breast Cancer Research Foundation’ in Paris with Elizabeth Hurley in attendance.

Normally held on the first Monday in May, for the first time since its inception, the Met Gala included two exhibitions. The first exhibition was held Sept. 13 at the Met, timed to coincide with the close of New York Fashion Week. Held annually to support the Met’s Costume Institute in New York City, the second half of the event will take place in May 2022. Each year, the Met Gala has a specific dress code that ties into the museum’s latest fashion exhibition theme. “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” was the first exhibit’s theme and will open in the Anna Wintour Costume Center on Sept. 18; the second exhibit, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” in May 2022, will illustrate through style 300 years of historic narratives, both personal and political.

Keeping up with the year’s theme, Reddy donned her haute couture look by Indian designer duo Falguni Shane Peacock, who have dressed the likes of Beyonce, Madonna, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Kim Kardashian, and Lady Gaga. Inspired by the American Revolution, the metallic gold body-hugging gown with its ‘au courant’ cuts entail a shimmering 4-meter flared trail that imbibes a medley of hues borrowed from the American flag and varnished with refined 3D adornments of Swarovski crystals, sequins and bugle beads. Falguni Shane Peacock, who has dressed Sudha Reddy on multiple milestone celebrations in the past, said, “It took us numerous sessions and more than 250 hours of labor to put together this spectacular statement work of art for our dear friend Sudha. We have focused on a lot of detailing and we employed the services of our skilled atelier artisans in order to ensure the outfit does full justice to Sudha’s eclectic persona. We have created a novel edgy military-inspired look that blends well with the overall theme of the Met Gala.”

Jewelry designer and gem maestro Farah Khan designed a custom-designed statement ear piece called ‘Dreamy Decadence’ to complete Reddy’s red-carpet look.Elaborating further about her eclectic creation, Farah Ali Khan added, “Drawing inspiration from the stars in the American flags that symbolize the 50 glorious independent states of America, I designed a sensual ear cuff with diamond-encrusted stars. I wanted to highlight Sudha’s expressive eyes and the contours of her face so I created this bejeweled piece that starts from her cheek and extends to her hair, culminating as a string of scintillating bezel set diamonds. It is crafted in 18-kt gold with 35 carats of VVS diamonds.”

Priyanka Chopra’s Show, ‘The Activist’ Changes After Criticism

Priyanka Chopra Jonas has apologised over her role on upcoming TV show The Activist, after the series received criticism online. Following the backlash, CBS announced this week that The Activist would be changing format from a reality show to a documentary special. Now, Priyanka, who was originally set to be a judge and co-host on the show along with Usher and Julianne Hough, has responded to the criticism herself. In a statement shared on Instagram, Priyanka apologised for her involvement in the series, saying, “The show got it wrong, and I’m sorry that my participation in it disappointed many of you,” telling critics, “You were heard”.

According to Variety, the makers of the upcoming project have shifted its five-episode format to a one-time documentary special. For the unversed, “The Activist” aims to pit several activists and public figures against each other in order to promote their causes on social media with the goal of securing the highest amount of funding to win the game. Many social media users have called out the competitive series, which has Chopra, Usher, and Julianne Hough as hosts. They slammed the show for being tone-deaf and insensitive. Amid the ongoing criticism, CBS and producing partners Global Citizen and Live Nation issued a statement announcing the change in the show’s format.

“‘The Activist’ was designed to show a wide audience the passion, long hours, and ingenuity that activists put into changing the world, hopefully inspiring others to do the same. However, it has become apparent the format of the show as announced distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day. The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort,” the statement read. “As a result, we are changing the format to remove the competitive element and reimagining the concept into a primetime documentary special (air date to be announced); it will showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in. Each activist will be awarded a cash grant for the organization of their choice, as was planned for the original show,” the statement continued.

Global Citizen has apologized to people for hurting their sentiments. “Global activism centers on collaboration and cooperation, not competition. We apologize to the activists, hosts, and the larger activist community – we got it wrong. It is our responsibility to use this platform in the most effective way to realize change and elevate the incredible activists dedicating their lives to progress all around the world,” the organization said in a separate statement. The documentary version is expected to focus on the same activists but without the challenges or evaluations.

A.R. Rahman And Gulzar Join For Subrata Roy Biopic

Oscar-winner AR Rahman has created mellifluous music that has made international headlines and Padma Bhushan and Oscar winner Gulzar has written unforgettable lyrics defining India over the decades. Now, Sandeep Singh under his banner Legend Global Studio has brought both these legends together for his upcoming prestigious project – the biopic on business tycoon Subrata Roy. News of the Subrata Roy Biopic first broke last month when it was announced that Sandeep Singh had acquired the rights of the film. The film is reported to be one that will span several continents and traverse the tycoon’s journey over the decades. Title and cast of the biopic is expected to be announced shortly.

Rahman said: “Gulzar Saab’s soulful lyrics are extremely inspiring for a musician and I hope I can do justice to the lyrics and the story. I am looking forward to this collaboration.” Gulzar added: “It will be wonderful to collaborate with Rahman again. Subrata Roy’s life is enigmatic and inspiring. Rahman is a wonderful artist and musician and I look forward to this collaboration.” Subrata Roy is the Chairman of Sahara India Pariwar. He and his two companies were barred by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in 2010.

According to reports, the regulatory body made accusations against the group that they had raised several crores through optionally fully convertible debentures (OFCDs) that SEBI considered wrong. Roy was then jailed for over two years. Roy has been out on parole since 2016. News of the Subrata Roy biopic came out last month when it was announced that Sandeep Singh had acquired the rights of the film, which is being produced by Sandeep Singh. The movie is reported to be one that will span several continents and traverse the tycoon’s journey over the decades. The title and cast of the biopic is expected to be announced shortly.

Singh states, “It gives me unbelievable joy to bring these legends of lyrics and music together for a project that is extremely close to my heart. I have been an ardent admirer of the work of Rahman-ji and Gulzar-saab. Their contribution to cinema cannot be measured and I am humbled that they are a part of my project. Subrata Roy-sir’s life is a tremendous story of grit, determination and success and it needs the support of these two geniuses to realize this dream. I am humbled and overwhelmed.”

A.R. Rahman-Gulzar films:

“Dil Se…” (1998)

“Saathiya” (2002)

“Guru” (2007)

“Slumdog Millionaire” (2008)

“Yuvvraaj” (2008)

“Raavan” (2010)

Jab Tak Hai Jaan” (2012)

“OK Jaanu” (2017)

Zoya Afroz Crowned As The Miss India International 2021

Twenty-six-year-old Zoya Afroz from Mumbai was crowned as the Miss India International 2021 during a glittering pageant, organized by Glamanand Supermodel India on August 21 at Kingdom of Dreams, Gurugram, Haryana, India. Zoya also bagged three sub-titles, namely ‘Best in Evening Gown’ and ‘Miss Glamorous Eyes’ and ‘Top Model’. Zoya Afroz, who promotes Girl child education and financial independence, and wants women to acquire basic knowledge and the right to opportunity, will now represent India at Miss International in November 2021 in Yokohama City, Japan.  Zoya Afroz’s journey in showbiz started early. She started working as a child artiste in the television series Kora Kagaz in 1998 and went onto do hit films such as Hum Saath Saath Hain (1999), Mann (1999) and Kuch Naa Kaho (2003).

The 24 stunning national finalists from different parts of India who had competed at the prestigious pageant included Zoya Afroz, Archana Ravi, Aishwarya Dikshit, Naina Vijay Sharma, Tanya Sinha, Sejal Renake, Himani Gaikwad, Megha Shetty, Megha Julka, Deeksha Narang, Shivani Tak, Saachi Gurav, Asmita Chakraborty, Tanu Shree, Shweta Shinde, Hannah Tamalapakula, Susang Sherpa, Disha Shamwani, Isha Vaidya, Annu Bhati, Arushi Singh, Divija Gambhir, Shalini Rana, Anisha Sharmathe. Divija Gambhir was crowned Miss India Multinational 2021 and Tanya Sinha was crowned Miss India Globe 2021. Asmita Chakraborty and Anisha Sharma were crowned as the first and second runner-ups, at the end of the event, respectively. Divija Gambhir is a 21-year-old who started her own community which helps the stray dogs find shelter and food. She aims to become the voice of the voiceless, is a trained dancer and enjoys modelling. Tanya Sinha will represent India at Miss Globe International. She’s 23-year-old from Jharkhand and holds the advocacy of addressing the issue of untouchability especially in rural areas.

Glamanand Supermodel India is one of the three major pageants of India having one of the Big four franchise under the national pageant. Glamanand is a national preliminary to the biggest International pageants in the world, including Miss International, Miss Multinational, Miss Earth, Miss Grand International, Miss Intercontinental, Miss Globe International, Miss and other international pageants. The competition was judged by Editor-in-Chief of TMM Magazine Kartikya Arora, Businessman Yash Raj Tongia, Amit Karkhanis, Miss India International 2019 Simrithi Bathija, Miss India Multinational 2019 Tanvi Malhara, Rekha Vohra and Varun Katyal.

Zoya Afroz was born in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India to her parents, Shadaab Afroz and Saleha Afroz. She studied at R N Shah High School in Mumbai and earned her bachelor’s degree in commerce from Mithibai College in Vile Parle, Mumbai, India. Zoya started her career from Indian commercials, films and television series. In 1999, she starred in the films “Hum Saath Saath Hain” and “Mann.” In 2000, she starred in the TV series “Jai Mata Ki.” Along with that in 2001, she played Mukta in the Hindi film “Sant Gyaneshwar. Continually in 2003, she played Aarya in the Hindi film “Kuch Naa Kaho.” In 2004, she played Dimples in the TV series “Son Pari.”In 2005, she played the title role in the English film “From Tia With Love.” In 2012, she played Channo in the Punjabi film “Sadi Gali Aaya Karo.”

She was Femina Miss Indore in 2013 and at Femina Miss India 2013, s he was second runner-up. She was named Beauty Queen of the Year at the 2013 Bharat Ratna Dr Ambedkar Awards. Joining the Miss International pageant has always been dream of Zoya. In fact, she has been waiting for this opportunity since 2013. Zoya took to her social media to share her crowning news as she wrote, “Proud to announce – I will be representing INDIA at the 60th Miss International. So grateful for this opportunity to live my dream. Thank you Glamanand Supermodel India.”

“Bromance To Breakup” On ZEES Global

ZEE5 Global, the world’s largest platform for South Asian content, is all set to bring the intriguing and untold Lee-Hesh Bromance to Breakup story to your screens. ZEE5 Global has partnered with award-winning filmmaker duo Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and Nitesh Tiwari to helm ‘BREAK POINT’, a 7-part series based on the iconic on-court partnership between living legends, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi and their off-court lives.   The makers revealed the first poster of the ZEE5 Original series and looks like the many questions that fans had regarding the Lee-Hesh relationship and breakup will soon be answered!  Commenting on helming ‘BREAK POINT’, Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and Nitesh Tiwari in a joint statement said, “It’s great to bring to screen a series like this on a home-grown video streaming platform like ZEE5. Working with icons like Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes has been surreal and to bring their untold story to screen is something that we will cherish forever.”

Leander Paes shares, “I enjoyed this walk down memory lane shooting for ‘BREAK POINT’ with wonderful storytellers like Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, Nitesh Tiwari in collaboration with ZEE5.  While Mahesh and my on-court partnership was widely covered, and our off-court chemistry was largely speculated. This is the first time that our fans will get to see and hear it all, first-hand. Mahesh and I worked really hard to put India on the top of world tennis and we are glad that we are getting a chance to present our story to the world, like never before. Enjoy our journey.”  Mahesh Bhupathi shares, “It is no secret that I am reserved when it comes to communicating, so this is a big step for me to relive the journey and put it all out there in the most candid and honest manner. But, at the same time, I am happy that our fans will get to see our journey which was a mix of sweat, perseverance, brotherhood and at times blood and tears as well. This is surely going to be a treat for all, and I am thankful to Ashwiny, Nitesh and ZEE5 for giving it everything.”

For decades, Indians have celebrated the country’s biggest tennis heroes who made India proud by winning many iconic matches and have also speculated about their much public split. However, for the first time, the speculations will be put to rest as Paes and Bhupathi get candid and honest about their bromance and breakup and tell the world – what happened, how it happened and why it happened! ‘BREAK POINT’ will not only construct their epic tennis matches but also deconstruct their relationship, both on and off the court.  ‘BREAK POINT’ is a telling narrative on their friendship, brotherhood, partnership, belief, hard work and ambitions which made them one of the most feared doubles pair during the late 1990s, and even ranked world number 1 in the year 1999. But it also throws light on their bitter breakup and how they couldn’t hold on to their meteoric rise. Above all, it’s a tale of two friends who had planned for success but not for life after success.

‘BREAK POINT’ marks ZEE5’s first partnership with filmmakers, Ashwini Iyer Tiwari and Nitesh Tiwari under their banner Earthsky Pictures who are known for their exceptional movies such as Dangal, Panga, Chhichhore, Nil Battey Sannata, and many more. This is also the first time that Ashwini Iyer Tiwari and Nitesh Tiwari will be co-directing a project. The seven-episode series will be exclusively available on ZEE5 soon.   Users can download the ZEE5 app from Google Play Store / iOS App Store, on Roku devices, Samsung Smart TVs, Apple TVs, Android TVs, and Amazon Fire Stick. ZEE5 is also available on www.ZEE5.com.

ZEE5 is the digital entertainment destination launched by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL), a global Media and Entertainment powerhouse. The platform launched across 190+ countries in October 2018 and has content across 18 languages: Hindi, English, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Oriya, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Punjabi, including six international languages Malay, Thai, Bahasa, Urdu, Bangla and Arabic. ZEE5 is home to 130,000+ hours of On Demand Content. The platform brings together the best of Originals, Movies and TV Shows, Music, Cineplays and Health and Lifestyle content all in one single destination. ZEE5 offers key features like 15 navigational languages, content download option, seamless video playback and Voice Search.  Users can download the ZEE5 app from Google Play Store / iOS App Store, on Roku devices, Samsung Smart TVs, Apple TVs, Android TVs, and Amazon Fire Stick. ZEE5 is also available on www.ZEE5.com.

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