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Mona Khan spotlights Bollywood in America

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Photo courtesy of Mona Khan Dance Company

Photo courtesy of Mona Khan Dance Company

 

HAYWARD, Calif. (Diya TV) — Mona Khan Company, which bills itself as “the Bay Area’s renowned Bollywood Dance & Fitness Company,” presented their annual showing of “America’s got Bollywood,” on May 2nd and 3rd—1,500 dancers and students came out in full force to display their talents, and celebrate the explosion of Bollywood’s culture in the United States.

The dancers varied in age—from age 3 to 60—and came from 10 cities throughout the Bay Area.

“We have about 1,500 dancers on the stage across all the shows, not just today, but over the weekend,” said Mona Khan Master Trainer Janani Chalaka. “It’s just a huge affair,” she added.

The performances were featured by the company’s highly acclaimed professional dance troupe, which landed a Top-50 spot on season five of NBC’s hit television show, “America’s Got Talent.” Also showcased were students from Mona Khan’s specialty program, such as the “Emerging Performers,” “Jollywood,” Khan’s senior citizen class, and “Jeena,” which is made up entirely of the company’s rockstar students with special needs.

Bollywood’s growing presence, and popularity, shares a connection in the community which draws folks from all over—participants in the performance ranged from software engineers, attorneys, and homemakers. They all united for Mona Khan’s fall showcase, which took eight weeks of planning, practice, and engagement. The scope of the Bollywood movement’s growth is important Anisha Babbar, who serves as a choreographer and instructor for the Mona Khan Company. Her intent is to form a marriage between the classic and modern forms of Bollywood, to make it enjoyable for all ages.

“We try to get a variety of content in our shows,” Babbar said. “Whether it be from Bollywood, to contemporary, classical, jazz, afro… We are always trying to push the envelope with our shows and bring something brand new.”

A dance is performed at Mona Khan's Fall showcase. Photo courtesy of Mona Khan Dance Company.

A dance is performed at Mona Khan’s Fall showcase. Photo courtesy of Mona Khan Dance Company.

 

The show lasts the entire weekend, with four performances, and as mentioned previously, it features dancers of all ages and skill levels. Parents and other observers appreciate the confidence and growth the event provides for those whom are just getting started in Bollywood, and even those who are served veterans.

“One of the things I like about [Mona Khan’s] this program in general is the confidence they get from going on stage and how it strengthens it,” said Rakhi Israni, whose four young children danced in the performance. Her children have been members of the program for four years, and she opined the lessons they’ve learned since joining will stay with them for years to come. Israni’s husband, Nitesh Singh, concurs, but also thinks it’s great for their children’s physical fitness. “It’s a great way for them to connect with their culture and keep in touch with Indian dance forms, and also stay fit and enjoy themselves.”

The Bollywood fever undoubtedly continues to spread within the Indian-American community, and throughout the rest of the American community, and this event fosters that growth for the further development.

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Redacted Mueller report, detailing Russian election meddling, released

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Redacted Mueller Report

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — A redacted version of the Mueller report is now public. The 448 page document is the result of a two year investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Democrats say the report shows President Trump tried to obstruct justice. But Trump’s campaign in a statement says otherwise.

Read the redacted report here.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said no Pakistani soldier or citizen died in the Indian Air Force air strike in response to the Pulwama terror attack in February, reversing claims made by other officials after the strike.

Anita Malik announced she is running once again for Arizona’s 6th Congressional District seat. She fell short last year. But this time, she will face additional competition, as fellow Democrat Dr. Hiral Tipirneni (Ti-per-neh-knee) as also running for this seat.

And Hasan Minhaj won another Peabody, his second in a row, for his work on “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj.”

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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U.S. and India conduct joint military drill on Diego Garcia in Indian Ocean

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Indian Ocean drill

DIEGO GARCIA, Indian Ocean (Diya TV) — The U.S. and Indian Navies went submarine hunting in the Indian Ocean, their first bilateral anti-submarine warfare exercise since a signing pact to work more closely together last fall.

India’s exports to China are up in 2019, while imports declined, leading to a $10 billion reduction in India’s trade deficit with China. Analysts say the current Washington-Beijing trade war has also opened things up for India.

The Jallianwala Massacre 100 years ago that left hundreds dead and 1200 injured at the hands of British troops is considered a key turning point towards a free India. British prime minister Theresa May marked the occasion by expressing “deep regret”, but there are still no apologies.

An effort by an American and British companies to help Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal save the airline from collapse dissolved after Etihad Airways and TPG Capital threatened to walk away themselves if Goyal was part of the deal.

And comedian Hasan Minhaj, who won a 2017 Peabody Award, received another Peabody nomination in the entertainment category for his Netflix show, “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj.”

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Women filmmakers shine at the 2019 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles

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IFFLA staff with the 2019 festival winners

LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — The 17th annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) concluded Sunday night with the zany slice-of-life film, The Odds, directed by Megha Ramaswamy. Complete with a glamorous closing night red carpet, and an awards ceremony, the festival ended with an after party at the Spice Affair in Beverly Hills.

(From Left to Right) Praveen Morchale, Christina Marouda, Shazia Iqbal, Anand Patwardhan, Nitin Sonawane , Divya Kohli Courtesy: Javeed Sheikh Photography

IFFLA was only four days this year (compared to five days in previous years), but there was still so much to see during that time. In addition to the curated set of films, there was an incredible panel discussion, Breaking in Brown: Making it to Series in TV’s Golden Age, that featured panelists working in various fields in the television industry and their struggles to rise up through the ranks in the Hollywood while being brown.

Panel Discussion Breaking in Brown. Courtesy: Javeed Sheikh Photography

This year’s film lineup boasted five world premieres, two North American premieres, two U.S. premieres and eleven Los Angeles Premieres, with films presented in nine different languages. The overall atmosphere was very relaxed, even with films that tackled difficult subject matters. Roughly fifty percent of the films were directed by women. Filmmakers and staff alike hoped for a future where it will be normal to have women and men equally making films.

Kicking off the awards ceremony, Director of Programming, Mike Dougherty, announced the winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature, Widow of Silence.

“We present the Grand Jury prize to a film that illuminates a condition that most of the world doesn’t get to see and shines a light on the characters that live through it everyday…This filmmaker’s civic disobedience illustrates their love and compassion for their country and their people, and the craft of their film-making was beautifully wise and refined.”

Director Praveen Morchhale was visibly surprised as he walked up to receive his award. The film he said was about those, “that nobody talks about and nobody treats them as a human.” Even though it was Morchhale’s first time at IFFLA, he felt as if he had been coming here for many years. He credited his win to the women in Kashmir the film portrayed.

The Audience Award for Best Feature went to Reason. Director Anand Patwardhan received a standing ovation when he went to collect his award. Patwardhan said, “most of the time our film is getting thrown out of festivals, I wasn’t expecting this.” He added that it meant a lot for the film to be well received at IFFLA and how that will hopefully impact its reception in India.

Shazia Iqbal’s Bebaak was a crowd favorite winning the Audience Award For Best Short Film. The jury mentioned how she almost gave up on filming because she was getting thrown out of mosques. Iqbal spoke about how when people think of Muslims, they only think of Muslim men and not women, many of whom experience tremendous misogyny. She hopes people will be able to “see beyond what misogyny and religion does to people.” Iqbal added, “a director is nothing without their team.”

“a layered portrait of a woman determined to pursue her needs and impulses,” the Grand Jury awarded their prize for Best Short to The Field from director Sandhya Suri. “the film takes images that normally evoke a sense of fear and flips the narrative on its head redefining a new more empowered world for the female protagonist and exploring an often unseen story of a woman’s drive and agency over her own body and life,” the jury added.

After the awards, Dougherty introduced the closing night film, The Odds by saying the film was the “perfect way to close IFFLA on a celebratory note.”


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