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Not enough roles for diverse actors? Find out what this mom did to change that

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Nikki Shah stars as a woman out for revenge in the indie film “Paid in Full,” which will show Sunday and next week at the Riviera Cinema in Farmington Hills. (Photo: Nipa Shah)

Nikki Shah stars as a woman out for revenge in the indie film “Paid in Full,” which will show Sunday and next week at the Riviera Cinema in Farmington Hills.
(Photo: Nipa Shah)

DETROIT (Diya TV) — When Nipa Shah came to America from India following an arranged marriage at age 21, she never pictured her future 30 years later as an actress and sex trafficking activist.

Her first film, “Paid in Full,” was created in an effort to give her adult daughter, Nikki Shah, a job, she said. Nikki had been tirelessly looking for work in the film industry for a decade in Michigan and New York.

“She wasn’t getting good roles,” said Shah of her daughter. “Most Hollywood films won’t have any major roles for non-Hollywood people. All of the roles are puny, or crappy, or they’re roles that are pretty much degrading and exploiting women. We were 110 percent behind our daughter wanting to get into films, but we didn’t want her to take any roles that exploited her.”

“We were in New York on the subway and I asked her, ‘Do you really want to do this?’ ” said Shah. “And I said OK then, I’ll make a movie for you. Sometimes you say these things and the universe makes it happen.”

Operating as the film’s executive producer, Shah cast her daughter as the lead role of Rani Chopra, a vengeful woman looking to avenge the life of her sister, who was forced into sex trafficking and killed in the process. Her son, Jay Shah, was also listed as a production assistant for the film.

The film also stars Jonathan Bennett, the actor known for playing Lindsay Lohan’s love interest in the film “Mean Girls.” James Russo and singer Ginuwine also starred in the film. “Paid in Full” was directed by Lance Kawas and written by Marc Prey. In all, the film carried a 40-person crew.

Next week, Shah’s film will premiere at a local cinema in Farmington Hills, MI. She rented the theatre for a sold-out red carpet premiere, and the crime drama will continue to be shown at the theatre for a one-week run. Shah is also working on distribution, hoping to promote it through multiple platforms such as Amazon, Hulu and other video-on-demand outlets.

“I spent so much more money than originally planned … my husband calls it an expensive learning experience,” said Shah.

The underlying theme of the film, as mentioned previously, is sex trafficking, “a story that needs to be told,” she said.

“When we talk about sex trafficking, we think India, Nepal, eastern Europe, but this is domestic sex trafficking where these girls have fallen into a situation and they’re imprisoned by these pimps. It’s not just runaway girls … these girls can come from affluent families.”

Arts & Culture

Indian CEO’s meet with President Trump in London

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Indian CEOs and Trump

LONDON (Diya TV) — A number of prominent Indian CEOs from the US and the UK met with President Trump during a breakfast roundtable on his visit to London. Members of the American cabinet were also in attendance, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, as well as the president’s daughter, Ivanka.

The Punjab government announced free education for girls in government schools and colleges from Nursery school to the PhD level. They also announced free Wi-FI for 13,000 schools and all 48 government colleges.

Rayna Gokli McIntyre will be a new District Court Judge in Colorado, becoming the second South Asian member to the bench in that state.

In New Jersey, Zahid Quraishi was named a U.S. Magistrate Judge, becoming the first Asian American federal judge in that state.

And Karamjit and Karawjit Singh took danger to new heights with this coconut and melon smashing display on America’s Got Talent, all while wearing a blindfold.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Trump ends $5.6B GSP trade preference for India

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WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — President Trump is ending $5.6 billion worth of trade concessions for India under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences program effective this week, saying India failed to assure the U.S. that it would provide ‘equitable and reasonable access to the markets of India.

Bay Area Congressmembers Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo reintroduced a bill to save work authorization visas for H-4 holders whose spouses are on track to get a green card. Many of those eligible are Indian American women.

Oklahoma’s State Board of Education released new social studies standards, which for the first time include Sikhism. Nearly 700,000 students in Oklahoma public schools will now learn more about the Sikh community, in this effort spearheaded by the Sikh Coalition.

The Golden State Warriors played through two more injuries to rotation players to beat the Raptors in Toronto 109-104 to even the NBA Finals at a game a piece.

Diya TV’s Ravi Kapur and Jonathan Choe are on-site and will have more courtside.

And we talk to the stars of Netflix’s newest romantic comedy ‘Always Be My Maybe,’ a feature that offers a story & characters Asian Americans will find relatable from some of the most talented names in Hollywood.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Campaigning stopped in West Bengal due to violence

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West Bengal violence

KOLKATA, India (Diya TV) — For the first time in India’s electoral history, the Election Commission ordered campaigning to stop a day early in West Bengal because of violence between political factions in Kolkata.

SAALT released an overview of the growth in the South Asian demographic around America and it shows the community is increasing exponentially.

SAALT says the South Asian population in the U.S. grew a stunning 40% in seven years, from 3.5 million in 2010 to 5.4 million in 2017.

The first ever Sikh American mayor of a large city, Ravi Bhalla, was portrayed by a New Jersey-based website in a photoshopped image as an Arab dictator. Supporters of Bhalla, who is the mayor of Hoboken, are denouncing the image as racist and want the “Hudson Mile Square View” to take it down.

And the Indian government held an event at the Cannes Film Festival to promote the world’s largest film industry.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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