96th Academy Awards: A Playful and Memorable Ceremony with Ryan Gosling Shining Bright

The Oscars ceremony always aims to achieve three main goals: recognizing the year’s best films and talent, promoting cinema attendance, and delivering an entertaining show for both the audience at home and the industry elite. In recent years, boosting movie theater attendance has become particularly crucial due to a decline caused by factors like the Covid-19 pandemic and the rise of streaming platforms. However, the 96th Academy Awards predominantly excelled in entertainment value, characterized by its playful tone and memorable moments, notably featuring Ryan Gosling’s captivating contributions.

While the ceremony succeeded in providing an enjoyable spectacle, the actual awards followed a predictable trajectory, culminating in “Oppenheimer” claiming the coveted best picture award, among its total of seven wins under director Christopher Nolan’s helm. The lack of suspense surrounding most categories, except for best actress, was notable. Emma Stone clinched the award for her role in “Poor Things,” offering a touching acceptance speech, although it meant Lily Gladstone missed out on a potentially historic win.

The predictability of the awards mirrored the extensive preparation and rehearsal time nominees had during the lengthy awards season, which kicked off in early January. Despite the show’s quality, there were concerns about its ability to improve television ratings, especially with its earlier start time and the concurrent shift to Daylight Savings Time. However, in today’s fragmented TV landscape, maintaining viewership can be considered a success in itself, as demonstrated by the recent record-low ratings of the Emmys, even with a well-executed broadcast.

Highlighting the evening’s notable moments, several factors stood out:

  1. Acting Testimonials: Previous Oscar winners introducing nominees in the acting categories added a warm touch, emphasizing the honor of being nominated. While there were emotional moments, such as Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s reaction, overall, it contributed to the celebratory atmosphere of the event.
  2. Ryan Gosling’s Performance: Gosling’s rendition of “I’m Just Ken” was a standout moment, living up to the anticipation with his spirited performance, including a humorous exchange with Emily Blunt. His contribution earned him the unofficial title of Oscars MVP for the year.
  3. Jimmy Kimmel’s Hosting: Jimmy Kimmel brought his trademark light-hearted approach to the hosting duties, effectively balancing humor with addressing industry challenges, such as the strikes affecting the entertainment sector.
  4. Efficient Timing: The ceremony managed to conclude within its allotted time, thanks to starting earlier and pacing the program effectively, allowing for meaningful tributes and performances without feeling rushed.
  5. Political Statements: While most of the evening focused on the awards, there were poignant political moments, including speeches by directors highlighting global issues, such as the conflict in Gaza and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  6. Diverse Recognition: Despite one film dominating the awards, several others received recognition, ensuring a more diverse spread of accolades among the nominees.
  7. International Representation: The awards reflected an increasingly globalized film industry, with winners from various countries, showcasing the diversity and talent beyond Hollywood.
  8. John Cena’s Appearance: John Cena’s playful nod to Oscar history by presenting the best costume design award in a humorous manner added a fun touch to the proceedings.

However, there were some shortcomings:

  1. Presenter Banter: While some presenter interactions were enjoyable, overall, the banter felt lacking, with only a few moments standing out amidst mediocrity.
  2. Honorary Oscars Oversight: The oversight of not showcasing clips from previously presented honorary awards felt like a missed opportunity to honor industry veterans.
  3. “Flamin’ Hot” Performance: While most song performances were strong, the rendition from “Flamin’ Hot” came across as overly theatrical and out of place.

Overall, the 96th Academy Awards succeeded in delivering an entertaining and memorable ceremony, albeit with some areas for improvement. Despite challenges in the industry and the broader television landscape, the Oscars maintained their position as a significant cultural event, celebrating the best in film while offering moments of reflection and entertainment.

Classical Musicians From India & North America Perform At The Chaar Prahar Indian Classical Music Festival For A Global Audience

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan USA, Sneh Arts, Kolkata Sitar School & Viewcy in association with the Consulate General of India & Dhwani Academy of Percussion Music presented the 2nd Annual Chaar Prahar Indian Classical Music Festival. Adapting to the challenges of the global pandemic, the festival was held online on November 29th & December 5th 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 concert was streamed in several time zones to accommodate audiences from around the world on both days. The festival was supported by our media partners : TV Asia, World BBTV, Radio Zindagi, Divya Bhaskar & The Indian EYE.


Viewers were treated to soul stirring music at this 2 day, 12 hour – festival, which featured 26 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, sarod, esraj, santoor, violin, veena, mridangam, harmonium & vocals. 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 alongside those based in India.
Dignitaries from the music world & the community graced the occasion online 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. Shatrughna Sinha, who graced the occasion, appreciated the work & effort put into presenting the rich music of India through this festival. Bhavan Chairman, Dr. Navin C. Mehta, joined the festival on both days, commending the music community for coming together for such a special marathon of music. He was thrilled to see such a fantastic line up & engaging audiences that were enjoying this online festival.

There were countless comments of support & appreciation pouring in during the live streaming of the festival, which encouraged the artists & the organizers. Dibyarka Chatterjee wrote, “What a treat these past 6 hours have been! Congratulations once again to the organizers, not only for being able to continue the festival despite these trying circumstances, but for such a high-quality production. Deepest gratitude to all the performers for bringing light & joy into our homes!” Vineeta Khanna wrote, “Much gratitude to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Sneh Arts, the brilliant artists & all the folks instrumental in making this event happen! You all are doing great service to the Arts!”

This year’s festival had a very special significance to the organizing team of Chaar Prahar, which consists of Minesh Patel, Managing Director of Bhavan USA, Indro Roy Choudhury, Bhavan Sitar guru & Director of Chaar Prahar Festival, and Sunny Thakkar, Founder of Sneh Arts.  It was dedicated to the former Executive Director of Bhavan USA, Shri Deepak Dave, who left this world too soon; it was his vision that motivated the team to continue this festival. It was also dedicated to one of the board members, Megha Bhouraskar’s father, Shri Digambar Bhouraskar. He was a long time Bhavan supporter & an ardent lover of Indian Classical Music. Long time vocal guru at Bhavan, Smt. Sanjukta Sen & her daughter Shruti Sen, performed the opening invocation for the festival.

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 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 local talent. The team has announced that the next Chaar Prahar Festival will be in November 2021. More info on bhavanusa.viewcy.com

Karan Johar’s ‘Fabulous Lives’premiers On Netflix

Filmmaker Karan Johar’s Netflix series ‘Fabulous Lives Of Bollywood Wives’ streamed on November 27, 2020. Shortly after the release of the first eight episodes on Netflix, Twitter was flooded with reviews, with some liking it while others bashing it down.

Several users called the show cringe-worthy and ridiculed it for being insensitive. While a few still jumped to its defence saying that it truly is a good show highlighting the problems the celebrity families face and even claimed that the show is good for entertainment.

The ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai,’ actor marked the premiere day of the show by posting a picture of himself with the four-star wives that have been featured in the show. The picture features Johar with actors Sohail Khan’s wife Seema Khan, Sanjay Kapoor’s wife Maheep Kapoor, Chunky Pandey’s wife Bhavana Pandey, and Samir Soni’s wife Neelam Kothari.

He then went on to pen down an emotional note on the “friendship” that he shares with the four-star wives and their husbands and expressed his excitement for the show.

“A friendship spanning over two decades….we have loved and lived through frivolous fights, emotional breakdowns, party times, morale lows and also so much happiness,” the 48-year-old filmmaker wrote. “The fact that the four of them are on a @netflix_in show makes me so excited and exhilarated for them! Love us! Troll us! But we know you won’t ignore us! Here we are #fabulouslives of these gals,” he added.

Madhur Bhandarkar recently shared that the title of upcoming reality TV series Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives is similar to what his project is named. He requested makers Karan Johar and Apurva Mehta to change their Netflix show’s name.

The director wrote that Johar and Mehta had requested him to use the title Bollywood Wives for a web show. After Bhandarkar refused, they went ahead with their project with a modified title, Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives. “Please do not dent my project. I humbly request u to change the title,” Bhandarkar wrote in the tweet while requesting a title change.

The new Netflix based show is a reality series that will give a glimpse of the “fabulous lives,” that the four-star “Bollywood wives,” have been living. The light-hearted show began streaming on Netflix on November 27.

Human Rights Film Festival in NYC & New Delhi

Showcasing 50+ shorts, documentaries and feature films from South Asia, Canada, Britain, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, Argentina, Australia, Turkey/Syria, Iran and Thailand, the I-View World Film Festival kicks off on International Human Rights Day, Thursday, December 10, 2020, at the DLF CyberHub in Gurgaon, Haryana, with a socially distant red carpet, COVID-conscious screening and intimate panel discussion around Deepa Mehta’s FUNNY BOY, the film Canada has submitted as its official entry for the 2021 Academy Awards.

Based on Shyam Selvadurai’s book by the same title, the film, about Love and War, Conflict and Sexuality, is set amidst a background of Tamil oppression and resistance and narrates the story of Arjie, who is exploring his sexuality and comes of age at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in Sri Lanka. “For me, FUNNY BOY is a quintessentially Canadian story and could have only been written by a Sri Lankan who had emigrated to Canada,” says Mehta, whose work challenges traditions and stereotypes and is always daring, fearless and provocative.  “The objectivity that Canada provides, through which we can look at our respective homelands, is, I think, this country’s greatest gift. It’s what I hope will give us a global understanding of the nature of the ‘Other’.” Watch trailer HERE.

The centerpiece programming is director Nathan Grossman’s critically-acclaimed documentary, I AM GRETA​, an extraordinary journey of a teenage climate change activist on her international crusade to get the world’s attention towards environmental issues. The documentary chronicles Greta Thunberg’s ‘School Strike for the Climate’ every Friday outside the Swedish parliament to a global movement over the years. Watch trailer HERE.

The closing night feature is Pakistan’s official entry to the Oscars, Sarmad Khoosat’s family drama ZINDAGI TAMASHA (Circus of Life) about a patriarch whose single act of self expression wrecks havoc on the lives of his immediate family in Lahore. Watch trailer HERE.
“The one thing that these extraordinary times have brought is a sense of shared crisis across humanity, and while these times are challenging, there are all kinds of new possibilities that have emerged,” said Myna Mukherjee, founder and director of Engendered, “We are able to reach out across the globe through these films, which are the perfect gateway to open up universal conversations around identity/marginalities, gender/sexuality, climate change/justice, class/caste and oppression/migration in contemporary culture. By utilizing the cinematic lens, we aim to create global awareness of issues that become heightened in the midst of a global pandemic.”

*Starting in 2020, I-View World will merge with the NYC South Asian Film Festival (NYC SAFF), produced by JINGO Media, to alternate its human rights programming between New Delhi and New York City every other year. “We have a decade-long, symbiotic, dynamic relationship with Engendered,” said Jitin Hingorani, founder and festival director of NYC SAFF, “and we are joining forces to increase our global reach by curating world-class content that will question the representation of “other” and help find their place in our politically and socially-divisive cultures, all in an effort to bring us closer together as global citizens.”

Global Programming Spotlights @ I-View World 2020:

Conversation on “Archetypes of Justice” with Richie Mehta (director) and Shefali Shah (lead actor, in attendance) of DELHI CRIME, the International Emmy Award Winner for “Best Dramatic Series”

Virtual Screening of Argentina’s official entry to the Oscars, Paula Hernandez’s THE SLEEPWALKERS (LOS SONAMBULOS). Watch trailer HERE.

Visual Culture Section, featuring the India Premiere of short film OCTOBER RUMBLES by  two time Cannes Winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul and documentary CAN ART STOP A BULLET: WILLIAM KELLY’s BIG PICTURE by Mark Street. Watch trailer HERE.

Women in independent cinema, feature narrative MAADHATY by Leena Manimekalai, docu-fiction EBANG BEWARISH and IF YOU DARE DESIRE by Debalina Majumdar and short film AYESHA by Ambarein Alaqdar.

Two screenings of Sweden’s critically-acclaimed, AND THEN WE DANCED, the passionate coming-of age tale set amidst the conservative confines of modern Georgian society. Watch trailer HERE.

Virtual Screening of Teddy Award Winner for Best LGBTQ film at Berlin Film Festival, BRIEF STORY FROM THE GREEN PLANET. Watch trailer HERE.

In conversation with the cast of CHURAILS, a series that was banned in Pakistan for its bold representation of gender roles in Muslim society

Virtual Screening of NASIR, part of the New York Film Festival & New Directors/New Films Series at MOMA. Watch trailer HERE.

Animated documentary short HALF A LIFE, by Dutch filmmaker, Tamara Shogaolu, a timely story of activism and hope, set in the increasingly dangerous, oppressive and unstable social climate of Egypt today. Watch trailer HERE.

Three extraordinary film sections curated in association with British Film Institute and presented by the British Council of India. The films are an intersection of climate change, migration, disability, homelessness and sexuality.

*I-View World’s 2020 programming, which includes premiere screenings, industry panels, in-depth discussions and debates, will be available exclusively on www.plexigo.com/IViewWorld2020/, an OTT platform created by UFO Worldwide, from December 10, 2020 to January 24, 2021. All screenings and panel discussions will be FREE and available to cinephiles all over India, New York City and worldwide (in some cases). For the complete festival lineup, trailers, synopses and images, please go HERE.