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DC South Asian Film Festival brings star power to independent cinema

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The South Asian Film festival featured a stellar list of stars, including yesteryear Bollywood star Zeenat Aman.
The South Asian Film festival featured a stellar list of stars, including yesteryear Bollywood star Zeenat Aman.

The South Asian Film festival featured a stellar list of stars, including yesteryear Bollywood star Zeenat Aman.

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Award-winning Indian actress Zeenat Aman was the headliner at the sixth annual South Asian Film Festival. Aman, who was a prolific film star in the 70s and 80s, was one of many stars featured in the three-day festival held in Washington, D.C.

The 66-year-old starred in a plethora of films, including Hare Rama Hare Krishna in 1971, Yaadon Ki Baaraat in 1973, Warrant in 1975, Satyam Shivam Sundaram and Don in 1978, Insaaf Ka Tarazu, Qurbani and Dostana in 1980 and Lawaaris in 1981.

“I have worked in about 80 films as a main female protagonist and in about 8-10 others where I have played important character parts,” she said at an opening kickoff event for the Festival.

Attracting some of the best and brightest from the world of art cinema, the three-day event is organized by Manoj and Geeta Singh.  Acclaimed guests included: Aman, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, Delegate Aruna Miller (now running for Congress in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District), directors Anant Mahadevan, Vinay Pujara, Indira Somani, Azaan Khan, Mehreen Jabbar, Harjant Gill, and local artists Meera Narasimhan and Rajiv Paul, who served as emcees.

Oscar Winning Director and Producer Jeffrey D. Brown (Sold, 2016; Molly’s Pilgrim, 1985 – Oscar, Best Short Film, Live Action; Dream with the Fishes, 1997 plus TV shows such as L.A. Law and The Wonder Years) praised the event in a statement on the event website: “DCSAFF was amazing!  The films, the community and the love we felt was profound and nourishing for the soul.”

Geeta Singh remarked how the event gives considerable prominence to women-centric films, those which highlight issues affecting women and girls such as Deepa Mehta’s documentary, Anatomy of Violence.

There is also a charitable component, with appearing directors supporting a non-profit organization which helps victims of domestic violence in the South Asian community.

Held on Montgomery College’s Rockville campus, the event boasted a wide variety of independent films.

Well respected director, Anant Mahadevan talked with attendees at the opening gala. His film, Doctor Rakhmabai (120 minutes, Marathi with English subtitles), about India’s first practicing woman doctor was screened at the event. Other films included a trilogy of films starring Adil Hussain — Hotel Salvation, The Violin Player and Mantra; Punjabi films — The Black Prince by Kavi Raz, starring renowned actress Shabana Azmi and singer Satinder Sartaaj, Moh Dia Tandhaa directed by Priyanka Gill, Sent Away Boys by Harjant Gill; works of Pakistani independent cinema – Lala Begum by Mehreen Jabbar, Saawan by Farhan Alam, and the 100 Steps documentary by Shahnawaz Zalli.

The festival also included several selections by U.S.-based filmmakers: Clash of Morality directed by Vinay Pujara; Five O’Clock Shadow; Birds in Flight; Surrogate; Stalking Shadows; The Valley and Bretton Place.

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India-China strike détente over border issues

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India

Ladakh, INDIA (Diya TV)  — Just days after Indian Prime Minister Modi visited the frontlines in Ladakh to encourage his troops and honor those lost in a recent battle with China, India and China jointly announced both countries will disengage, pulling back in a limited manner at separate key points. A two-hour frank conversation between both nation’s foreign ministers led to the breakthrough. While both sides claim their sovereignty had been violated, India made some major economic moves against China in recent days, banning investment, stopping Chinese participation in freeway developments and blocking 59 apps including TikTok. TikTok announced they would lose up to $6 billion because of India’s ban.

In a statement on his agenda for Muslim Americans, presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden said he was disappointed with the Indian government’s implementation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam, the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act and recent actions in Jammu and Kashmir. Biden has a long list of agendas he plans to implement if he is elected President, but there is no listing as of yet for Hindu and Sikh Americans.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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COVID-19 explodes: 50,000 cases in one day, 10,000 in Florida

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COVID19

AUSTIN, Texas (Diya TV)  — Fears of a COVID19 spike have been realized, as the caseload around the nation continues to set records daily. On Wednesday, 50,000 new cases were reported around America, 10,000 in Florida alone. Texas Governor Greg Abbott is now mandating masks in his hard-hit state and states that were starting to open up are now reworking their plans in order to combat COVID19.

As Indian and Chinese military commanders held a third round of talks on disengagement, the Indian government made another move against business and investment from China, announcing Chinese companies will not be allowed to take part in India’s highway and transportation projects, among other sectors. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi deleted his account on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.

President Trump though White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany made his strongest remarks to date on the India-China conflict, saying “China’s aggressive stance along the India-China border fits with a larger a pattern of Chinese aggression in other parts of the world and these action only confirm the true nature of the Chinese Communist Party.”

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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California lawsuit alleges caste-based discrimination at Cisco

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Cisco

OAKLAND, Calif. (Diya TV)  — California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Silicon Valley titan Cisco Systems and two of their former employees alleging discrimination against an Indian-American Dalit employee. The man claims harassment by two men who are Indian Americans of a higher caste, former Cisco engineering managers Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella. Cisco denies the charges.

On the heels of India banning 59 Chinese apps from being distributed, the FCC designated Chinese telecom companies Huawei and ZTE as threats to national security, saying money allocated by the government for broadband and other 5G related products cannot be used on equipment by those vendors. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lauded India for their ban of Chinese apps.

And in a new letter to Secretary of State Pompeo, 20 Senators are urging the Trump Administration to grant emergency refugee protections to Hindu and Sikh communities that have been long persecuted in Afghanistan.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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