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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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Upcoming filmmaker Divyansh Sharma aims to reinvent cinema

From Street Play performer in remote rural India to turning heads in Los Angeles Divyansh Sharma has come a long way in a short time and hes only getting started.

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LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — “Reinventing the cinematic standard” one story at a time might sound like a ambitious undertaking for some but for Divyansh Sharma it’s only the beginning.

Sharma’s roots stem from New Delhi where he discovered his fascination for storytelling. At 16, he began performing street plays in remote rural India, educating people on social issues such as equal rights, education for all, and child marriage. He finished High School and went on to take a scholarship offered by the American Musical and Dramatic Academy where upon he graduated from their BFA Program which focused on acting and directing.

Studded from the AMDA degree in Acting for Film, Theatre and Telvision, Divyansh Sharma went on to shoot award-winning commercials from Apple and Google each amassing thousands to millions of views globally. Still feeling the urge to create more he decided he wanted to “re-invent the cinematic standard one film at a time” and began writing his own short film that would use techniques unseen in short-film storytelling such as Breaking fourth wall, plot jumps, interconnecting plot-lines.

The result was “Graffiti” which made a world premiere at the Chinese Theaters in March 2019 for the Golden State Film Festival. The story revolves around Michael Dawson, played by Divyansh Sharma, a grieving spoken word artist trying to come to terms with the loss of a loved one. The 30-minute short which Sharma wrote, directed, acted, and edited went on to amass more than 30 awards across the world at film festivals like New York Film Awards, Los Angeles Film Awards, Delhi International Film Festival and more.

Without skipping a beat, Sharma wrote, co-directed, starred and edited his next project “Cigarettes in December”. In this upcoming film Divyansh Sharma portrays Russ, a sexual assault survivor who attends court ordered support group therapy and enters a graduation isolation from the world. Sharma is currently in the final stages of Post Production and will be the first project to be completely done in-house by his own Production Company “Origins Productions”. Sharma is looking forward to a successful run in the festival circuit for Cigarettes in December as he begins to shift his gaze on Pre-Production for next his project he co-wrote called “a Dream in Frames” whose script has already gone to win a Screenwriting award at Los Angeles Film Festival.

From performing Street Plays in rural India to turning heads with his debut in Los Angeles Divyansh Sharma is on a path that continues to deliver. From starring in Award- winning commercials to creating his own Award- winning features his footprint is firm and felt and his message is clear: “Re-invent the cinematic standard one film at a time”.

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Arts & Culture

Tulsi, Kamala tussle on night 2 of Detroit Democratic debate

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Tulsi Kamala Dem Debate

DETROIT (Diya TV) — In another otherwise straightforward affair, night two of the Democratic debate in Detroit, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Senator Kamala Harris took jabs at one another, as they both aim to capture attention and move up in the polls.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues to tout the U.S.-India relationship, saying on a tour to the Indo-Pacific region that America is “working hard with the Indian government to provide them with opportunities to grow their economy.”

A 60-year-old Sikh priest was attacked at his home near a Sikh gurdwara in Hughson, California. Amarjit Singh says the suspect broke several windows, punched him in the back of his neck, and then yelled ‘go back to your country,’ before fleeing.

Indian rapper Badshah broke the record for most views of a YouTube video within 24 hours of its premiere. His new video “Paagal” received a staggering 75 million views, topping a mark set by Korean boy band BTS.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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US India trade talks resume after G20 summit, in New Delhi

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US-India Trade Talks

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — India and the U.S. will resume bilateral trade talks in New Delhi next week. These talks continue the dialog established by Indian Prime Minister Modi and President Trump at the Osaka G20 Summit last week.

Sikh activists launched a petition asking Presidential candidate and California Senator Kamala Harris to apologize for supporting employment discrimination against a Sikh job applicant in 2011 during her tenure as California’s attorney general.

A report by Bloomberg says Boeing turned to Indian-based subcontractors who were paid as little $9 per hour for work on the U.S. planemaker’s beleaguered 737 Max aircraft.

Mahmud Jamal is now a Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, becoming the 4th ever South Asian federal appellate judge in Canada.

A group of South Asian filmmakers including Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap and actors like Anupam Kher and Archie Panjabi are among the 842 people invited to become members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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