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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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Indian Ambassador, Shringla speaks to U.S. Congress about Kashmir

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AMB. Shringla speaks to congress about Kashmir | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Harsh Shringla met with members of Congress at a private roundtable briefing, hosted by Southern California Congressman Brad Sherman. Sherman, who has been a supporter of India, took to Twitter recently to share his concerns about Kashmir and said serious questions about Kashmir were asked at the briefing.

President Trump is being urged to fix the H1-B visa process and do away with country-specific limits, with the latest effort for reform being spearheaded by 60 U.S. business school deans and CEO’s.

In an earthquake, seconds matter. So on the anniversary of the deadly 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that rocked Northern California, state officials announced the launch of America’s first statewide earthquake early warning system.

Tabla Maestro Zakir Hussain will be coming to Boston next month to perform at the Berklee India Exchange, where he will also be conferred with an honorary doctorate by the esteemed music school. A Zakir Hussain Scholarship at Berklee is also being established.

And we have incredible video of three kids from India rescuing their dog from a snake that’s equal parts courageous and nuts.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Gandhi 150th birth anniversary noted around the world

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Birth Anniversary

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) —  Celebrations for Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary have been ongoing for the past year, but culminated with a ceremony in New Delhi featuring Prime Minister Modi and another in Washington at the Library of Congress. And France’s government worked with the Indian Embassy there to issue a stamp in honor of his birth anniversary.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal are meeting this week to continue the US-India discussion on trade and investment.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb came to New Delhi to strengthen ties between the Hoosier State and India. Infosys has already made a large commitment there. Holcomb is part of a large delegation of Americans now heading Mumbai to take in the first-ever NBA preseason games in India featuring the Indiana Pacers and the Sacramento Kings.

Bollywood turned Hollywood actor Anupam Kher came to the Bay Area to keynote the Akshay Patra annual fundraising gala that helps feed children in India a hot meal during the school year.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Celebrity Chef, Vikas Khanna’s ‘The Last Color’ to open 10th annual CSAFF

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Celebrity Chef, Vikas Khanna's 'The Last Color' to open 10th annual CSAFF

CHICAGO (Diya TV) – Celebrity Chef, Vikas Khanna’s lastest film venture, ‘The Last Color’ will open the 10th annual Chicago South Asian Film Festival (CSAFF). And if that didn’t get your attention, the Michelin-starred chef will also cater the opening night reception. With a densely-packed and competitive lineup of over 50 films ranging in scope from documentary, features and shorts the fest promises a weekend full of entertainment for Chicagoland.

The Festival will showcase films from and about South Asia, spanning countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan. Through this extensive array of cinema, audiences will be able to take a deep dive into these rich cultures and experience the intimate complexities and stories within them. 

Vikas Khanna’s ‘The Last Color’ to open the 10th annual Chicago South Asian Film Festival

The Opening Night Film: The Last Color is produced, written, and directed by Michelin-starred chef, Vikas Khanna, and stars veteran actor Neena Gupta. The film tells the story of 9-year old Chhoti, a tightrope walker, struggling to survive and make ends meet while she dreams of attending school. In the midst of her toils Chhoti meets Noor, a widow who struggles a life of abstinence and isolation, together their friendship must stand the test of taboos and age-old beliefs that perforate Varanasi, India. Festival manager, Jigar Shah said, “This Opening Night film will shed light on both the complexities and the beauty of certain areas of South Asian Culture.”

The centerpiece for this year, award winning director Hardik Mehta’s Kaamyaab – a story about a washed up side actor from the hey days of Bollywood, who realises that he ‘retired’ on the verge of a rare milestone – he had featured in 499 Hindi films!

Hardik Mehta’s Kaamyaab will be the centerpiece film at the 10th annual festival with Rohena Gera’s Sir as the closing night film.
A Destruction follows the life of 11-year old Humera as she grows up in a village in Pakistan

In this broad palette of emotions and themes are films that are fearless on speaking about social issues within the community, stories about women’s empowerment, social justice and more. Nagarkirtan, tells the story of a boy growing up in rural Bengal who soon realizes he is a woman with the physique of a man forcing him to flee to a world that will accept him for his inner truths. The documentary A Destruction focuses on 11-year old Humera growing up in a coastal village near Karachi, Pakistan, as she dreams of one day becoming a doctor. However, when tensions spill into the village and threaten the only school to shut down, she must face the intense pressure of foregoing her dreams for an arranged marriage.

Another influential gem, at this fest this year, is the film Kaifinama, which details the life and art of Kaifi Azmi, an Urdu progressive poet who became one of the foremost lyricists in the Hindi Film industry out of meager beginnings. His daughter, veteran actress, Shabana Azmi is slated to be in attendance for the fest.

Providing bursts of levity and grace between the full length features are the stellar and bite-sized shorts such as Rahul Chaturvedi’s hilariously quirky Forbidden Tikka Masala, Nirav Bhakta’s HBO APA winner Halwa. Another must-see screening would be Nikhil Singh Rajputt’s Blood Buddhas – a documentary about India’s quest to repatriate cultural, historical artifacts, that “purloined during colonial times,”.

From traditional wide-screen theaters to Virtual Reality booths, Documentary features to short features; Afghanistan to Bangladesh, Nepal to Sri lanka, CSAFF aims to be a conflux of cultures, and ideas, as well as an examination of challenges and change.

Alongside post-film Q&A discussions, award ceremonies, the 10th annual CSAFF promies to be the best ever yet! If a glamorous Red Carpet, a chance to rub shoulders with film makers, actors and cinephiles wasn’t enough, CSAFF knows how to throw down, Chi-town style! The Festival after party will be headlined by celebrity musician DJ Karsh Kale.

It all takes place from September 19th through the 22nd at the VENUE SIX10 in the Spertus Institute. With more than 50 other films that will be screened throughout the weekend at the Showplace ICON Theater and DePaul University.

Diya TV is a proud media partner for the event, and will be onsite covering the fest. For tickets and information: https://www.csaff.org/tickets/

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