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DC South Asian Film Festival brings star power to independent cinema



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.


Pastor challenges yoga, Hinduism for having ‘demonic’ roots



SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (Diya TV) — A Missouri pastor criticized yoga for its ‘demonic intent’ because of Hinduism influences. John Lindell of the James River Church in Ozark, Mo., which serves over 10,000 people in its congregation, warned Christians to not partake in the activity.

“They were designed, they were created with demonic intent, to open you up to demonic power because Hinduism is demonic,” Lindell said during a sermon on Oct. 28 according to the Springfield News-Leader.

While yoga is a longstanding practice originating from India, there is no indication that it is based off religious values. According to India’s Ministry of External Affairs, it is stated yoga doesn’t adhere to any particular religion or belief system.

Yoga translates to “union” in Sanskrit, an ancient language of India. Given its broad meaning, the practice has varied locally and abroad. In addition, there are variations in certain disciplines — which can have a Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism influence — but it is dependent on the type of schools, practices and goals one is pursuing.

In the U.S., it’s become popular for various outcomes. Whether it be for physical, mental or spiritual pleasure, yoga has served as a peaceful outlet for many without it impacting their religious beliefs. While Lindell claimed it’s “spiritually dangerous,” many in the area have responded.

Heather Worthy, a Christian and yoga instructor in Springfield, only had four people attend her class following the sermon.

“It’s so frustrating,” Worthy told the Springfield News-Leader. “The whole thing is quite ludicrous to me.”

Worthy felt attacked, and she wasn’t alone.

With about a dozen yoga classes in the Springfield area, Amanda Davis has spent her last 12 years as an instructor.

“Yoga doesn’t prescribe to any religion, and I don’t think people understand that so they get false ideas about it,” Davis said, one week after a Florida gunman killed two people and injured five at a yoga studio.

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Arts & Culture

Donald Trump takes subtle jab at FCC Chairman Ajit Pai during Diwali ceremony



WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — President Donald Trump took time to appreciate and honor fellow South Asian members in his administration during a Diwali celebration, but he did also manage to throw a jab at Ajit Pai.

Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, was criticized by Trump earlier this year during the Sinclair-Tribune merger which halted the conservative local news giants.

The decision made by Pai, a conservative, infuriated Trump:

Fast forward to the Diwali celebration at the White House, the president managed to bring it up again. After raving about how “grateful” he was to have numerous Americans of Indian and Southeast Asian heritage in critical roles and who’ve done an “incredible job,” the remark was unfitting.

After singling out Pai, he reflected on some of that “incredible” and said the following:

“”I just didn’t like one decision he made, but that’s alright,” he joked, then he subtracted some of that “alright,” adding: “not even a little bit, but he’s independent.”

Pai, who is of Indian American descent, was designated by Trump in January 2017 — becoming the first Indian American to hold the office.

The Harvard and Chicago Law School graduate previously served as commissioner of the FCC after being appointed by former president Barack Obama.

Though Trump didn’t elaborate much after pointing him out, it has been noted that Pai carries a heavy load in how media is presented.

Pai’s decision to reverse Sinclair’s merger was based on his stance of the people’s interest and keeping media diverse throughout the country.

Along with first amendment best practices, Pai is focusing on issues relating to broadband, public safety and fiscal responsibility.

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Arts & Culture

Bollywood sweethearts Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh tie the knot in Italy



Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh getting married by Lake Cuomo in Italy. Seen here in there 'Konkani' Wedding Ceremony. Photo:
Bollywood superstars Deepika Padukone & Ranveer Singh tie the knot in Lake Como, Italy

LAKE CUOMO, Italy — Bollywood sweetheart couple, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh have officially tied the knot at a private villa against the scenic Lake Como backdrop, in Italy. The two-day ceremony included a ‘Konkani‘ style ceremony as well as ‘Sindhi‘ ceremony to bring these two Bollywood stars into matrimony.

The couple released two pictures on twitter, with a simple heart emoji

The newlyweds began their love story on screen, sharing intimate moments in films like ‘Ramleela’,’Bajirao Mastani‘ and Padmavat.

According to the Huffington Post, film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali said ‘cut’ during their kiss toward the end, but they continued their sizzling moment as over 50 crew members mesmerizingly watched. It was the start of a blossoming relationship, forging together a Bollywood power couple with chemistry on and off set.

The much awaited wedding ceremony left no stone unturned to celebrate this star couple in grand style with an intensely private and synchronized affair set against at Italy’s scenic Lake Como backdrop, at Villa del Balbianello.

Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh getting married by Lake Cuomo in Italy. Seen here in there 'Sindhi' Wedding Ceremony. Photo:

Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh getting married by Lake Cuomo in Italy. Seen here in there ‘Sindhi’ Wedding Ceremony. Photo:

An Indian Bollywood wedding without a celeb designer? I think not. The duo opted to go with veteran designer Sabyasachi Mukherji. ‘Sabya‘ as fans often call him, drew inspiration from the wedding ceremony theme and designed decadent outfits in shades of red, pink and all things ‘shaadi‘ for both the ‘Konkani‘ & ‘Sindhi‘ ceremonies. Deepika wore a veil with the words,”Sada Saubhyagyavati Bhava” embroidered along the hem draped over her head. This mantra translates to “be forever fortunate” is often a blessing given to newly weds, wishing them a ‘happily ever after’ life ahead.

Ofcourse no Bollywood wedding is complete without all the ‘Badhaai‘ or well wishes from fellow co-stars, most of who took to twitter to shower the newly minted couple.

A Bollywood wedding, without some ‘filmy’ elements is nearly impossible. According to Filmfare, Singh made his grand entry on Govinda’s hit song ‘Meri Pant Bhi Sexy’, continuing with ‘Chunari Chunari’ and ‘One Two Ka Four‘ as he reached the wedding venue with his family and relatives.

With heavy security for this intensely private ceremony, the couple remained sensitive to the plight of hundreds of fans & paparazzi gathered to capture a glimpse of their special event. They sent gift packs of sweets to the media, thanking them for their wishes.

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