NEW YORK (Diya TV) — Palpreet Singh Brar, a six-foot-eight power forward of Punjabi descent, and a penchant to dominate the post on a basketball court, has had one of the most unique basketball journeys in the world. As a teenager, he regularly went unnoticed by the established basketball community in India — that was until his breakout performance for the country’s junior squad at the U18 FIBA Asia Championship in Mongolia in 2012. Brar scored over 21 points-per-game, and became the tournament’s third leading scorer. Suddenly, he had the attention of Asian scouts, and had been labeled India’s next, and possibly first, breakout basketball star.
Just a matter of months ago, Brar’s opportunity multiplied, tenfold — the NBA, partnered with ACG Worldwide to launch the ACG-NBA Jump program, which searches out the best basketball talent India has to offer between the ages of 18-22. After rigorous searches produced a healthy amount of candidates, the national finals of the ACG-NBA Jump were held in Greader Noida. Brar, 21, emerged as the tournament champion, and with that, an opportunity to be trained by NBA level coaches and participate in NBA D-league tryouts later this year.
“I am thankful to ACG NBA Jump for this,” Brar said, “I will focus on becoming a stronger player now that I am going to compete with some of the best in the world.”
Three-time NBA champion, and former NBA head coach Brian Shaw was among the scouts in attendance at the ACG tournament. In his opinion, Brar stood alone as by far the best player he’d seen on the trip, where he also served as a judge.
“His feel for the game and understanding, I could tell he grasps it,” Shaw said, “Palpreet Singh, we all thought, was the guy who had the best chance to succeed.”
The tournament and outreach are just the latest in a growing trend from the NBA to expand its brand into other countries, and specifically into India. Yannick Colaco, NBA India’s Managing Director, said the league hopes to make the tournament an annual event, and hopes to foster its continued growth in the country.
“ACG-NBA Jump has given basketball playing youth in India a pathway to professional ranks,” Colaco said. “We are committed to growing the program in the years to come. While Palpreet Singh has been selected for a national tryout in the NBA D-League, the entire pool [the final 32] will be a part of Elite Talent Club and NBA will monitor their progress on a regular basis.”
Stateside, numerous NBA teams have begun a campaign of embracing their South Asian fans, and the culture they come from. As one of the country’s most progressive sports leagues, and with more than three million Indian Americans living in the U.S., teams such as the Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, and the defending champion Golden State Warriors this year continued their annual traditions of hosting Indian-Heritage Night at their games.
The Warriors Indian Heritage night — deemed Bollywood Night — will take place on Wednesday, and it’s sure to be a full house, just one game after Golden State claimed yet another record, winning 46 consecutive games on their home court. The previous record of 45 games was set by the 1996 Chicago Bulls.
TIBCO software founder Vivek Ranadive recently became the first Indian-American majority owner in NBA history, when he purchased the Sacramento Kings in 2013. His vision brought “Bollywood Night” to Oracle Arena, when he was a minority shareholder of the Warriors, and has since continued the tradition 90 miles up the road with the Kings.
Last month’s NBA All Star Game was held outside the U.S. for the first time in league history, and commissioner Adam Silver discussed the idea of expanding the game internationally as the NBA’s brand 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 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.
India’s mega blockbuster ‘RRR’ vies for the Oscars
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.
IFFLA celebrates 20 years with a focus to mentor the next generation
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.
Dive into the IFFLA’s virtual fest as you celebrate the 4th
LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — In the digital age of streaming services where you can play every movie ever made, festivals too are changing. While in person festivals are going to be a while away, Virtual Film Festivals are booming. IFFLA Over the Years is the festival’s response to the ongoing uncertainty in the film festival world. To that end, the previously announced 2020 lineup will be moved to 2021 so that filmmakers and audiences can join together and share the festival experience in person.
This year’s showcase is a special one, IFFLA Over The Years: 17 days celebrating 17 years of Indian cinema, is way of looking back all of those that have passed through the hallowed grounds. IFFLA brings you the best of yesteryear, with gems like Anurag Kashyap’s legendary godfather-esque Gangs of Wasseypur, the late Irrfan Khans shakespearean classic Maqbool, Lena Khan’s fresh immigrant tale The Tiger Hunter. The bulking roster ranges from narrative features, documentaries, to short films like Neha RT’s hilarious satire The Shailas, the oscar-nominated KUSH, the infuriating Bebaak. With 17 days to fly through the virtual festival will span form June 19th to July 5th leaving you just enough time to experience every joy, ache, bellowing laugh, and uncle-inducing cringe.
“We are beyond thrilled to be presenting this online showcase of alumni films,” said Christina Marouda, IFFLA’s founder. “Traveling through 17 years of programming has allowed us to reconnect with so many of our alumni with whom we share fond memories. We are excited with this opportunity to collaborate with them to offer new audiences worldwide the chance to discover some of the most visionary voices of Indian independent cinema in recent years. We also hope recent IFFLA attendees have a chance to catch up with films from our first decade, and early attendees who could not join us in recent years are able to discover some of the newer gems we’ve presented. There is literally a film for everyone’s appetite.”
“A Female Lens” features films made by and/or centering on women such as Karishma Dev Dube’s Devi (Goddess), starring Priyanka Bose (Lion); “This Is Not Fiction” presents award-winning documentaries including Faiza Ahmad Khan‘s hilarious Supermen of Malegaon; “Stories of Youth” highlights children and adolescence in films such as Rima Das’ festival favorite Village Rockstars, which was India’s Oscar entry for 2019, and Shubhashish Bhutiani‘s Oscar-shortlisted short film Kush. “Diaspora Windows” shares stories of Indian characters living outside of India with highlights including Lena Khan’s The Tiger Hunter and Ruthy Pribar’s The Caregiver.
Over 70 short films are included in “Keeping it Short” with Neha RT‘s uproarious satire The Shaila(s) and Jennifer Rosen‘s piercing Laksh, making their online premiere with this virtual showcase.
Finally, Richie Mehta‘s India In A Day, Shonali Bose‘s Amu, Devashish Makhija‘s Taandav, Tanuj Chopra’s Pia, and Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya’s The Hour of Lynching are new additions to IFFLA’s programming by alumni.
Beat edging towards insanity by filling your days with more stories of hardship, of bliss, more tales of life just beyond the door, of lives just next door, and if they can get through it, so can you.
With 2020 being such an unprecedented year it’s easy to get caught up in the turbulence and feel overwhelmed. But we’ll get through this like we always have. We’ve been through worse, our ancestors used to huddle together in the dark over bonfires in a fang and spear infested world speaking the first stories ever told. Wondrous adventures filled with heroes, villians, grim horrors, stunning beauty and everything in-between. These stories that brought us together, to feel safe around one another, these stories around the bonfire have transformed to become the projector and screens of today. A good story is what gets us through, inspiring us, enchanting us with dreams for tomorrow. So, feeling cooped up edging towards cabin fever?
We’re all right there with you so cancel your next Netflix binge there’s a long weekend of new movies ahead.
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