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NBA eyes further growth in India

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(DIYA TV) — Sports are undoubtedly an important faction of American culture — more folks tune into the Super Bowl each year than vote. With more than three million Indian Americans living in the United States, one of the country’s most progressive professional sports leagues is taking notice. Last month, three NBA teams — the Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers — continued annual traditions of hosting Indian-themed heritage nights. During the league’s all star weekend festivities in Toronto, commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA plans to start putting more effort into developing basketball in India.

The decision and attention could be shining brighter than ever because of Sacramento Kings owner, Vivek Ranadive —the TIBCO software became the first Indian owner in the league’s history, after he sold his ownership stake in the Golden State Warriors to buy a majority share 90 miles north in Sacramento. Before his arrival in Sacramento, Vivek began hosting annual ‘Bollywood Night’ themed games with the Warriors — in 2011, fans received commemorative t-shirts with the phrase, “Got Curry?” in honor of their franchise player, Stephen Curry.

Sacramento Kings' shooting guard Ben McLemore poses with Kings shirts in Hindi

Sacramento Kings’ shooting guard Ben McLemore poses with Kings shirts in Hindi

Though he’s moved on, the culture is much different now at Oracle Arena than when Vivek was part of the team — the waitlist for season tickets exceeds double-digits in the amount of years. Golden State are of course the defending NBA champions, and carry with them the now well known and reigning league MVP, Stephen Curry. This year’s edition of Bollywood Night will take place against the Utah Jazz on March 9.

When Vivek and the Kings hosted their Bollywood Night last month, Indian-origin Miss America Nina Davulari was in attendance. Players’ names were announced in Hindi during the pre-game ceremonies, and a scintillating introduction video to reach out to fans from Mumbai to Sacramento. The team’s dance team also donned Indian-themed attire, and even the Kings’ mascot, Slamson the lion.

Sacramento Kings' Bright Bollywood Night and Hindi Jerseys

Sacramento Kings’ Bright Bollywood Night and Hindi Jerseys

During the league’s first all star game to ever be held outside of the United States, commissioner Adam Silver said he was open to the idea of expanding the game internationally as its popularity continues to grow.

“The billion followers of the NBA on social media include many millions of our fans in India as well,” Silver said. “We have about a 10-person office in Mumbai, and we even have an owner, Vivek Ranadive, who was born in Mumbai. We have a relationship with the Reliance Foundation to work on grassroots basketball for boys and girls. We have a terrific television arrangement with the Sony Broadcasting Company in India, and we have plans to do even more.”

The NBA has traveled overseas in the past — in 1978, an exhibition game was played in Israel, and the league has since conducted 160 games internationally. “We continue to look at expanding the number of regular season and preseason games we play overseas. We just want to be very careful on how we approach it,” Silver said. “I certainly think it’s worked very effectively to play regular season games in London, building some time off for the players once they return. I think our preseason schedule has worked out very well in Asia and Europe.”

Silver recognizes the NBA is in a unique position to share its product — it is the only North American professional sports league which carries a significant following in Asia. League executives have already begun exploring the possibilities of playing exhibition games in Asia, Silver said.

Arts & Culture

India’s mega blockbuster ‘RRR’ vies for the Oscars

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LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — Legendary Indian director S.S. Rajamouli, of the Baahubali fame is back with yet another box office mega hit. ‘RRR’ (Rise,Roar, Revolt), the Telugu language epic, is set in 1920’s colonial India and has already broken many box-office records internationally. With nearly 300 days of shooting, thousands of hours in post production and an international team of VFX team, RRR is now making the waves among film critics in the United States.

Grossing over $175m worldwide, with nearly $2.5m from Japan alone, this film has garnered global appeal with its Bollywood style dance numbers, epic action sequences and high-end visual effects. 

As the film is gaining momentum in the film critics society, after winning the Atlanta & New York Film Critics Circle awards, ahead of the Oscars, we sat down with the key team members behind the scenes. Check out what they had to say:

With an astounding level of commitment and an inherent pride, the team worked tirelessly to bring the director’s vision to life.

While many expected this to be India’s official entry into the Oscars, that didn’t happen, but RRR will likely compete with films such as Avatar 2 and Top Gun Maverick in the VFX category. If it were to win, it would be the first ever film made in India to win that category at the Oscars. 

We, at Diya TV will be paying close attention, so like, follow & subscribe to get all your diaspora news as it happens.

UPDATE 12/12/22 : RRR has been nominated for Best Picture: Non-English Language & Best Original Song ‘Naatu Naatu’ for the Golden Globes.

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IFFLA celebrates 20 years with a focus to mentor the next generation

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IFFLA celebrates 20 years with a trip down memory lane

LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — IFFLA celebrated their 20th anniversary with familiar faces, overwhelming excitement and new additions to Southern California’s largest Indian and South Asian focused film festival.

Pan Nalin opened the festival with his film Last Film Show, a love letter to cinema and loosely based on his childhood.

“I think IFFLA over the years, it has been like a home in Hollywood. So I was always able to come here and invite people from the industry to see these movies,” said Nalin. “There are producers who usually don’t go to see Indian cinema. So I feel that it’s really important.”

Director Anurag Kashyap returned to host a MasterClass — a way to give back to the festival and fellow filmmakers.

“It is always good to be back here because for me this is where it all started from. And it’s amazing to see that this festival has grown so much and has been sustaining for so long,” said Kashyap.

New filmmakers were honored to be part of the lineup this year, especially after no in-person IFFLA for the last two years.

Hena Asraf, Director of The Return, shares “it feels a little unreal. It feels great! I think especially to be at a festival in person, after over two years.” 

“The community is amazing. The welcome is very warm. It feels just so honoring to be a part of this festival and amongst these filmmakers. I can’t wait to see all the other films,” said The Return Editor Esther Shubinski.

It’s that family feeling that makes IFFLA special and keeps filmmakers, attendees, and staff keep coming back.

Actor and director Ravi Kapoor is “just so grateful for this festival. It has been such a supporter of me. And they’ve helped bring the South Asian diasporic community here in LA together as well. Thank god they’ve lasted 20 years.”

Actor & musician Monica Dogra points out “what’s wonderful about IFFLA [is] it’s super niche, South Asians in LA of all places. [And] it’s small enough so you actually see people anyway.”

Actor Pooja Batra added, “I think they’ve always been eclectic with their mix of selection that they bring around here — smaller budget, smaller sort of productions also need a shout out.”

One of the new additions this year is the Spotlight on South Asia.

Festival founder Christina Marouda added this vertical to present films from different countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal. “We’re putting a spotlight on projects we want to support,” said Marouda.

The other major new change this year was a live table read of IFFLA alum Kahlil Maskati’s feature script, Alim Uncle, rather than a closing night film. Fawzia Mirza directed the piece.

These changes reflect IFFLA’s commitment to supporting filmmakers while giving audiences more than a viewing experience. In fact, they are able to be part of the filmmaking process.

Marouda says after 20 years, this is IFFLA’s direction moving forward — a full effort to mentor budding filmmakers, while showcasing new films.

Ravi Kapur and Deepti Dawar contributed to this report.

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Festivals

Garcetti’s ambassadorship to India in limbo

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Garcetti's ambassadorship to India in limbo | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON DC (Diya TV) — Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has lifted the “hold” on the Senate confirmation of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has been nominated by US President Joe Biden as the country’s next ambassador to India. Initially, Grassley planned to object to the nomination, saying Garcetti failed to properly investigate sexual assault allegations and harassment by a close advisor.

Protesters in Sri Lanka have burned down homes belonging to 38 politicians as the crisis-hit country plunged further into chaos, with the government ordering troops to shoot anyone caught destroying property. Even the former Prime Minister had to be evacuated from his home. Angry Sri Lankans continue to defy a nationwide curfew to protest against what they say is the government’s mishandling of the country’s worst economic crisis since 1948.

Internationally recognized Indian American energy expert Arun Majumdar will head the new Stanford University Doerr School of Sustainability, which aims to tackle urgent climate and sustainability challenges,

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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