RAVI: Hi everybody welcome to the Public Interest. I’m Ravi Kapur were joined by Shalabh Kumar, founder of the Republican Hindu Coalition, and Steve Bannon who is an adviser in the White House to President Trump and ran the Trump campaign.. thanks
STEVE BANNON: Thanks for having us
SHALABH KUMAR: Thank you
RAVI: So seeing you two together leads me to ask you so many questions – we don’t have enough time to that but let me ask you how did this alliance forge? I dont know that I wouldve thought that the two of you wouldve gotten together when I first met Shalli (Shalabh Kumar) at the Republican Hindu Convention a couple years ago. How are you guys together?
STEVE BANNON: I think its from 2013 and I was running at Brietbart and we had a big international operation and we felt that the Americans had a real interest in international news, particular news related to their lives, I met Shalli(Shalabh Kumar). He was the very first guy I knew who started talking about this guy Modhi in 2013- we started interviewing him and he was the first one to use the phrase that Modhi was the Reagan of India. So when Modhi won, we had a huge article he was quoted, we used to have him on our Radio show. He would actually come to New York, come to Sirius XM’s tower, right next to Howard Stern where he’d broadcast. I had a morning show also – we would have Shalli (Shalabh Kumar) on in studio and he was talking about economic nationalism and talking about Modhi and this was kind of, although, he positioned Modhi as the Reagan of India you could see back in 2013 and 2014 – he was a forerunner – Modhi was a forerunner for what the trump movement was. So we’ve had a relationship now for almost 6 years
SHALABH KUMAR: Yeah so it started back in 2013 in 14, 15 months before he was elected. Before, lets say, before he was nominated Gadkari BJP the Parliamentary of BJP to position him as the candidate for Prime minister of India. So-and then after he had won he had another broadcast and then, of course, as you know we had a continuing relationship. They printed- put out a lot of articles in Brietbart and Brietbart was heavily covering RSC.
STEVE BANNON: The base of brightbart loves Modhi. Because Modhi stands for what- they love people that stand up for their countries and loves people who stand up for their citizens and so Modhi became like – people like FARAJ – who kinda became almost like a cult figure as far as this nationalist movement. When I took the campaign over with about 88 days to go – so far behind – one of the very first people I reached out to was Shalli (Shalabh Kumar) I knew that the Republican Hindu Coalition was very important and I didn’t think it was as dialed into the campaign as it had to be and I felt if we could start to shift votes in some of these swing states-which Shalli had been talking about “Hey why do Hindu Americans vote Democratic” right? They’re the most capitalist people on earth, they came from nothing, they’ve really built something. So reached out to Shalli, he was a big individual contributor. Most importantly, he put the whole coalition together for, quite frankly, the best gathering event we had in the last 88 days- it was this huge event that Shalli put together and they did it around the billy bush weekend where many of the traditional republicans all ran for the exits, you know? And I said this later in the White House when we had Shalli in at the time. The Hindu republican coalition did not run for the exits they backed trump during his darkest days and I think that speaks a lot and i think its why the power of this organization has only-were just beginning at tapping it
SHALABH KUMAR: Actually there is another – theres an announcement which is going to be made but you get it early here. We – I asked in a small reception yesterday for Steve Bannon to become an honorary chair of Republican Hindu Coalition and it didn’t take him more than 5 seconds – maybe – 2 seconds to “yes I’ll be honored!” he says. So he is now on the board – advisory board of Republican Hindu Coalition.
STEVE BANNON: Heres one of the reasons I wanted to do it, remember today – this is an american story – today we’re in the rust belt we’re in central Illinois just south of Chicago. Talk about the headlines of american manufacturing and the unrestricted warfare China has done against american entrepreneurs and american workers and american industry in the de-industrialization of America. The very first example we’re using is Hindu Americans that have come over here with nothing, have come to engineering school, and have literally created an industry that was one of the most robust and vital industries in the United States – Printed Circuit Boards, PCB’s-
SHALABH KUMAR: and assemblies!
STEVE BANNON: and assemblies! That were essentially gutted, right? Because of Wall Street and because of policy out of Washington D.C. and one of the reasons I was really proud of this today on stage you’re going to see. One CEO after the other, one entrepreneur after the other that built businesses from nothing with nobody helping them- to build one of the most robust industries that just kind of went away. It went after because of the policies of the elites in our country and that’s why they’re such a shining example of what america can be. And I couldn’t be prouder to be the honorary chairman– named the honorary chairman today and also so to bring the Committee of the Present Danger here to Illinois to have our first meeting outside of Washington D.C
RAVI: and they were just apart of the whole program?
SHALABH KUMAR: Yes, yes, yes
STEVE BANNON: He’s actually giving the video introduction at the very beginning. Newt is somebody – that’s why hes such a visionary – Newt got this years ago, right? Newt Gingrich has been a great visionary for the Republican party I have tremendous admiration for him and he would actually talk to me – It’s one of the reasons I know Shalli from being on Brietbart – I really didn’t have a feel for the Hindu Republican Association Coalition. It was only after we’d joined the campaign I saw the power of this and I said “Why are people not reaching out to these people more? We need to be able to shift these votes from the democratic party” I happen to think if you back through and look at the math its not an insignificant amount of reason that Trump won is because of the coalition of where the votes were in these key swing states. For Trump to win in 2020 Trump has to also get this coalition – you know – get it robust, get it going, get people motivated. One of the things today, is hopefully people come out of this and they’re very focused and very motivated that to get the beating heart of american manufacturing back, you need to back trumps tariffs, you need to back Trumps non-trade barriers. So I think this is going to be a very important kickoff we need today.
RAVI: So having you both here though, alot of people, when I mention casually “Hey I’m coming to Chicago to do this interview Steve and Shalli” they say “Well first of all how did this alliance get forged? and second of all I know Steve bannon”….Lets face it, your reputation has taken a beating through mainstream media and I dont know whats in your heart, it seems like one big issue in the foreground that needs addressing
SHALABH KUMAR: Very good question, infact, I sort of addressed it. I asked everybody to shut off their cameras, yesterday, I addressed that. I know that those types of questions are going to get asked. So here it is, just look at the overall facts: I approached him with Modhi.. 2013.. and hes all for it. He is supporting Republican-
STEVE BANNON : — and the first publication to make Modhi a star in the United States to a working class audience saying “hey this guy is an important guy”. Hes an important guy because national – this was before trump was even on the scene-
SHALABH KUMAR: — Thats right! Now is that a profile of somebody who has a racial bias or whose anti immigrant? You know, it doesn’t stand to logic at all
STEVE BANNON: Heres why it happens: What the elites in the country and the mainstream media are afraid of, they’re afraid of economic nationalism, they’re afraid of the entrepreneurs today — you’re going to see here — that made it that they didn’t stand up for. You know, all the mainstream media and the elites in this country and all the guys that say “hey Bannon’s this and Bannon’s that”. Where were they when the Indian entrepreneurs came to America with nothing, went to these engineering schools. and created these great companies, when this got eviscerated who stood up for them? I’ll tell you something nobody. One of the things we’re going to talk about today is how this industry essentially got gutted within 5 to 6 years right? Not by the Chinese people, the Chinese people are some of the best in the world but the Communist Chinese party with a very focused strategy saying “we need the printed circuit board business the manufacturing assembly in china okay? we need those apart of our industrial policy” So nobody stood up for the Hindu Americans you know. This is one of the reasons I’m on the committee for the Present Danger one of the reasons I’ve head the Rule of Law Society for China — is that in China you see theres no rule of law. One of the things that makes India, I think, so great is that its our largest democracy, and I know as messy as it looks sometimes particularly for people in India, it is actually something that is awe-inspiring you have the rule of law you have democracy and so I can tell you the preach of economic nationalism and here you’re seeing Hindu American entrepreneurs right? They have assimilated into american society who still bring all the great attributes of India to america to make america even greater. You see and whose fighting them at time? The Wall Street, the money interest, the corporate interest that have no interest — 0 interest — in having Hindu Americans be successful here
SHALABH KUMAR: So you know, many people might think it was my contribution, the romance with president Trump and hes the one who adopted the India coalition and got into this campaign. But not very many people know that the CEO of the campaign was our biggest proponent, whatever we asked for, he delivered on behalf of the Hindu Republican Coalition except for one little thing, the garb.
STEVE BANNON: The garb! He tried to swing big! Heres something important about Trump. Look at Trump he’s beaten up everyday for being a racist, for being a nativist, for being a xenophobe. Immediately, when I introduced him to Shalli and the coalition he loved it and they talked about this big event Trump was there “I’m going to be on stage right?” It was also of the great rallies we had, because it brought a Bollywood excitement element to it, it was by far the greatest thing we had
RAVI: But you do understand, President Trump for all the great qualities, I mean he has good qualities and bad qualites. I mean, he’s brusque, his language is harsh. We’ve never had a President, if you want to call him direct, you may want to call him mean, you may want to call him other words
STEVEN BANNON: I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of that. He’s got a house style as you said but look at what he done, lets talk about the big issues of the day, the confrontation with china and the bringing together, I think, of our most important strategic alliance; Japan, India, and the United States to have a free indo-pacific. We do not have a free indo-pacific if we don’t have free navigation — and right now in world affairs as this show will be broadcast in the next week or so. The two hotspots in the world are the North Arabian Sea in the Straits of Hormuz, the Persian gulf and the Straits of Malacca in the South China Sea — they border India. The central Geo-strategic issue of our time is the free navigation of that and really having this radical cadre this sort of totalitarian surveillance dictatorship that controls china and the Chinese people — of the coming together in the strategic interest of India, Japan, and the United States for this new, really, alliance of the 21st Century and that’s what I think — and we’re not always going to agree on everything you know — Pompeii, the secretary of the states, going to India this week. Modhi and Trump are talking about — they’re going to have a side meeting in Osaka to work out the Bilateral Trade Agreements right? The trade relationships. This is very important, the United States and India must become significant strategic partners in the 21st Century or the world is going to have a very tough world to hoe. When you have the worlds largest democracy and the worlds most robust democracy work together particularly in Asia it’s going to have great benefit and I tell you 50 years from now when the Chinese people are free they’re going to say “Hey we owe it to the people in India and we owe it to the people in the United States, we owe it to the people in Japan that all worked together in unison to help free us from this radical dictatorship that controls and enslaves the Chinese people today”
RAVI: One of the Criticism we have today about president trump..the heavy turnover, you were on the staff, you are no longer. Literally everyone is turn over. President Trump has a house style but calling the media the enemy of people. I remember the Media I feel as though we are trying to do our jobs
STEVE BANNON: I think he was saying the mainstream media. He’s attacked and insulted– and Shalli (Shalabh Kumar) should jump in here, he’s seen it everyday, he’s said to me ” I dont know how you guys take it”. Let me talk about the staff and he can talk about the media. Look President Trump has a house style, he’s an entrepreneur, the way he read, the way he basically ran the Trump Organization I think is the way he’s evolving into his presidency, right? He wants the information, the Iran situation is a perfect example he had a number of people in some conflicting information. We now know from the media in the last 24 hours that the uniform services did not want to have strike that maybe people in the national security counsel did, President Trump weighed and measured that and he waved off at the last minute. He’s got a house style it’s not traditional he is a disrupter, I think, people — I call it the signal and the noise. The noise everyday is the tweets, the noise everyday is sometimes the bruss language, the noise everyday is all the turmoil looks like in the White House but the signal is quite strong. If you look at the signal, particularly, how hes rejuvenate NATO, how hes got allies now in the Persian gulf, and particularly the most important thing, he’s confronted this radical cadre of the CCP, okay? Which through one-bought-one road, made in china in 2025 and the 5G roll-out is coming right through — I mean their thing is never to let India rise to become the industrial democracy it can be. Its to make sure that Japan and the United States are deindustrialized and take all advanced manufacturing — all high value manufacturing to china. The reason why we’re here today, the printed circuit board manufacturing business and assembly business was really the canary in the mine-shaft that’s what we went after first, that’s why we’re here and remember the title is American Manufacturing, right? and you know Trumps style is really a house style but when you really look at what he’s really trying to accomplish, it’s quite powerful.
SHALABH KUMAR: You see, actually, if you just look at the facts. You know, media wants to pick on words just a few words here and there but they dont really focus on what all has happened. Even I would say Indian media…
RAVI: President Trump is not a dummy he can convey a message in a more cerebral way a more polished way and he could get more, I mean you can get more bees with honey. Hes radical about Mexicans, hes radical about the border, I don’t know any American who wants to have an open border but why not have compassion for the folks that are suffering, that are looking for a better way of life. Why is the tactic; To hell with these guys?
SHALABH KUMAR: No no no, you see, who is there for people who break the law? First, we should take care of all the people, you know there are 1 million people in the backlog who pay taxes we have been here for the past 15 years, 20 years, the brightest people from India and we need to actually accommodate them first. So again I was going to take you back to what President Trump has actually done from a Hindu-American perspective. Number 1, we wanted – and actually he told us that he would do it – call Pakistan what it is, okay? Declare them – hes the closest any president has come – to declare them as a terrorist state, okay?
STEVE BANNON: At least say they’re double dealers
SHALABH KUMAR: Thats right
STEVE BANNON: No more games. He’s the first time an American President said “Hey, no more games and we’re not going to allow you to become a terrorist state and we understand the problems you’ve had with India” but that took tremendous courage to say “we’re not going to play this game anymore you’re not going to have it both ways”
SHALABH KUMAR: So second, again going on immigration. Immigration side, we have been wanting merit-based immigration and not this illegal immigration. You know about this Dalka issue, deferred actual legal childhood arrivals, so look at the action. Finally, when he announced his policy he essentially gave 670,000 we were only asking 396,000 out of 1 million — 1.1 million green-cards that get issued. He even went a lot further ahead and based it on merit based, so you know, he delivered on that, he delivered on Pakistan, he delivered on this immigration and now hes also delivering on — you know hes the first president to take on China — that also is a huge big factor for Hindu-American businesses.
STEVE BANNON: This is the signal. What you talked about in the language, I say, is the noise. I do agree that sometimes it comes across as brusque, as blunt, as etc. I think he’s looking at the american people that bear the burden, for the illegal immigration. Remember, its working class people,\ in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California and now up in the Upper-Midwest we have the Opioids, the drugs, the gangs, here in Chicago. The Chicago Crime Commission for the first time since Al Capone they named public enemy number one — it was El Chapo the head of a cartel in the mountains of mexico was public enemy number one in Chicago because of the importation of drugs, its destroying working class America.
RAVI: But wasn’t that message lost when he gave tax cuts to billionaires but working class Americans people who are making 40,000 – 60,000 a year they didn’t get any taxes breaks.
STEVEN BANNON: Look as you know in the oval office, the Wall Street Journal covered it, I was very much against the individual — I want to raise the taxes on the wealth and give a bigger tax cut on the middle class, although, I think it worked out the key part of the tax bill was exactly about manufacturing what he tried to do was get the corporate rates — I think Shalli (Shalabh Kumar) can speak of this as an entrepreneur — to get the corporate rates so we could be competitive with Germany and China the central part of the tax bill was the repatriation of tax overseas and the corporate tax to — and that was to make it bring back American capital and American Manufacturing jobs.
RAVI: But the democrats spin to say “Look the fat cats gotten fatter and the corporations aren’t trickling down into regular folks“
STEVEN BANNON: I think we got to make a much —
SHALABH KUMAR: — Look Ravi, you were not born in India I was born in India okay? We had a tax rate of 85% percent. Was anybody paying it? It’s their fault.
STEVE BANNON: It’s what choked off India’s development for so many years right?
SHALABH KUMAR: I totally believe — I’m a Reaganite, way before I became a Trumpite — I learned that pretty quick the Laffer Theory. The lower the taxes there is a certain percentage, you raise the taxes over that – revenue will come down, productivity will come down, and so that’s what the President did.
STEVE BANNON: Lets go to the signal and the noise. What you’re talking about is the Democrats, the noise. Heres the signal; Stock Market all time high – bond market, dollars strongest its ever been — you’ve got lowest unemployment, lowest Hispanic unemployment in 50 years, lowest African-American unemployment in history, you’re finally getting wages to rise in the working class. The economies on fire, the 3.2% growth in the last quarter it was only supposed to be 2.2, 1 entire percentage point – a third of it was directly attributable to what he’s been doing on tariffs. Remember the Republican party on Wall Street their heads are blowing up about tariffs. One of the central things we have here today in the american manufacturing discussion is Hindu-American entrepreneurs talking about a business mans realistic — not some think-tank in Washington — but guys who put their capitol on the line right? Who put their careers on the line to grow businesses to say “Hey heres what we need” against a mercantilist society. I don’t care what the think-tanks in Washington to say on some theory. The reality is we’re against a mercantilist society that has essentially gutted some high tech industries. If we’re to fight and bring the jobs back and we can bring it back this is the power. I came out here last night and had 10 or 12 entrepreneurs we had dinner with, every one of them said “don’t think its the second law of thermodynamics that those jobs that went away can’t come back, these jobs can come back and we can bring them back” and these are guys, remember, the 20 billion dollars in capitol equipment got sold for pennies on the dollar. These guys were eviscerated, no one stood up for them, nobody came to their defense they got eviscerated. Here they’re prepared, they’ve struggled along for 10 years, they’re prepared to do it again.
RAVI: You both were instrumental in President Trumps victory and I saw first hand. No one thought the Indian Community was relevant but I saw it and certainly Shalli saw it. All over the country Indian Americans who were liberal went out and voted for Trump. I even went to Robby Mook, the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, and said, “Hey I’m seeing a trend and he completely —
STEVE BANNON: –Blew you off, Blew you off!
RAVI: He did blow me off
STEVE BANNON: You know why? You know why? You know why? You know why? These are the elites that took Hindu-Americans for granted and what they saw in Trump was somebody that said “Hey, out of the room out of the deal. I will have your back and I will be a voice for you.”
SHALABH KUMAR: Yes
RAVI: Steve are you going to join campaign?
STEVE BANNON: The answer is absolutely no. I do so many things independently I think they help the president drive his agenda with all the organizations. I’m going down to the border wall to help build, I have the populist nationalist group, I work with Shalli, I’ve got the committee of the Present Danger, I’m much more effective on the outside. But most importantly, you just talked about many of the liberals you know voted for president trump in ’16 it is incumbent upon President Trump to continue to do what he said he was going to do. If we don’t get every one of those votes it is going to be a very late night on November 3rd of 2020. He’s got to reform the coalition that we had hes got to drive that forward, hes got to pick up some additional votes okay? But the key thing is to reunite that coalition we had. One of the most key parts of this is the Hindu-American Coalition, the Hindu-Republican Coalition, with Shalli (Shalabh Kumar). He’s got to bring particularly people that said “I looked at Clinton, I looked at Trump, I’ve seen what the democratic elites have done which is nothing, taken my vote for granted, I’ll give trump a chance”. Trump, I think, he’s delivered hes got to have more outrage, more engagement, and they’ve got to drive this if he’s to win and I think he will win. This is going be a nasty, grinded out campaign that I don’t think until late in the evening on the 3rd of November we’re going to know who the winner is, Trump can win but he’s got to do what he did in ’16.
RAVI: Shalli briefly tell us the ground game of what the RHC (Republican Hindu Coalition) is going to deploy in 2020.
SHALABH KUMAR: Well pretty much the same as 2016 and you know we want to have rallies, have Trump — President Trump and his family – also be out there, again do the same thing which we did in 2016. Rally and then visit to temples in Orlando and in Virginia and so forth. The most important thing was the townhalls which we did, we did, I personally attended 200 townhalls and where we would take lets say, roughly, a group of 200 people and coming in we would take a vote: Who are they for? Hillary or for Trump. Typically, it is was anywhere from 60 to 90% for Hillary by the time they would leave the 2 and half hour session with us 90% will sign up to campaign for Trump. The biggest power there was the town halls we did.
RAVI: Well, I’ve seen the impact both of you have had with my own eyes. Thank you for your time I really appreciate it. I hope to continue the conversation-
STEVE BANNON: Yeah we’d love to come back and drill down on this. Thank you very much.
RAVI: Thank you so much, Shalabh Kumar and Steve Bannon. I’m Ravi Kapur for the whole team. Thanks for joining us, we’ll see you again next week.
OPINION: 11 things you might have missed about this years OSCARS
I’ve watched darned near every one of The Academy Awards since the early 1980s. Here goes.
1. BROADCAST: Compared to most Oscars broadcasts this millennium, this one was “pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.” Of course, it runs long. By the time Billie Eilish finished singing “Yesterday,” it was practically yesterday when the ceremony began. Her rendition of the world’s most covered song ever was decent. It’s hard for that song not to sound good. And by reaching back to 1965, she more than made up for not knowing who Van Halen is… something far more understandable than it seems at first glance. (Subject of a future post.) Pretty cool that Tom Hanks announced the new Academy Museum at Fairfax and Wilshire, though that intersection rings ominously to us hip-hop heads. #RestInPeaceToMyMFBiggieSmalls
2. DIVERSITY: Perhaps it cannot be stated enough that when society swings too far one way, the response to the shift isn’t great, either. Not to kick things off with politics (since movie stars never include that in their speeches) but one of the most insightful lines I read in the last year is that Donald J. Trump has made everything worse. The Republican Party is in bad shape, but so are the Democrats, since they’ve collectively chosen to veer so far left to counterbalance the swing to the right. Similarly, when the Academy nominates almost all white people, Oscar Night itself feels it must overcompensate by giving people non-award stage time. It’s good that there’s diversity up there, but then you end up with weird, inane choices like Janelle Monáe’s opening number. I’ve long enjoyed her acting and her singing; I’ve heard first-hand that she’s incredible live and I can hardly take my eyes off of her because she’s so beautiful. But showcasing a relatively obscure film… dressing people up like Jokers and as soldiers… awkwardly putting (mostly white) people on the spot to sing along… this was just strange. Let’s showcase women of color for their talents onscreen so we don’t have to put us all in this uncomfortable position, including the anxiety I’ll now feel for critiquing (not even criticizing) a WoC.
3. GLUE: Bring back a host. Even if one host did the first half and another the second or two people co-host, having that anchor is key. Sure, they largely disappear after their opening monologues, but they’re the through-line. This procession of one person’s introducing the next who sometimes even introduces a NEXT made for a weird chain of events. Beyond the functional value, there’s a strong case to be made for jokes. We can evaluate them immediately. I think a lot of us had no idea what to make of Monáe’s opening. Most people just go, “OK, I guess that was good.” But with comedy, at least you know where you stand.
4. NOSTALGIA: The longevity of stars who made their debuts as far back as the ’80s is incredible. Brad Pitt’s speech was a nice romp down Memory Lane to remind us of how lucky we are to have these people in our lives. Or at least on our screens. I don’t feel the same about most actors who’ve debuted post-2000. Although I loved Marilyn Manson as lead actor in Marriage Story.
5. SINGING, PART I: I looked up whether this was the worst year for Best Original Song. Maybe there was an exception in there, but collectively, they were atrocious. Even Elton John’s was so boring. And don’t get me started on Randy Newman. Once upon a time, he served a purpose. His voice is etched into my memory from many eighties movies but this man did not need to continue lulling us to sleep in yet another decade.
6. SINGING, PART II: The Oscars and Emmys face a unique challenge: they’re rewarding recorded acting, whereas the Tonys and the Grammys reward live performance. You can’t exactly make actors go up and act out a scene… though actually, I would like to see that. So, Elton and Randy notwithstanding, keep the live performances AND keep at least two montages: In Memoriam and some kind of themed glance-back. We movie-goers are suckers for nostalgia and investing a few minutes in this provides a substantial emotional ROI. (Remember when I talked about nostalgia…?)
7. SHADY AFTERMATH: Eminem killed it. I found all of the snarky online dialogue infuriating. Indeed, the fast news cycle has ruined things. You used to read Oscars reviews all week, but if you don’t put out your thoughts within 24 hours, the world has moved on. There may be some upsides to that (though the lack of mentions of Australia show another downside), but one clear negative is that people go for the quick kill instead of even a shred of circumspection. It took me a long time to get into Eminem — I loathed him when he first debuted in 1999 — but then he quickly became one of my favorite all-time musicians. I’d still say JAY-Z is the greatest (even if the best is a Biggie/2Pac tossup) but Eminem is a close second. #TossItUp So, given that the man has more fame and success than most of the actors in that hall, yes, I think he’s the kind of evergreen personality we’re lucky to see anywhere, anytime… even if it is random. But it’s not random. He dropped a new album last week and became the sixth artist in history to debut 10 albums at #1. Dude’s a legend — and his performance was arguably the highlight of the evening. If you read the reviews, the Fake News would have you believe he bombed. In fact, most people of all ages, races, and genders were bobbing their heads and many were singing along to “Lose Yourself,” arguably the song of the 2000s. Again, it seems easy to throw shade at a straight white man… why is HE here? Well, why the hell was Blac Chyna there? Sure, she was on the Red Carpet and not onstage, but all she did was marry and divorce a Kardashian. The reaction to that? “You go, girl. Get it.” No. Divorcees of any gender shouldn’t be punished but that doesn’t mean we need to reward it, either. Sure, Eminem used the Other F-Word far too much early in his career, but he reconciled with Elton John (whose song from last night I do NOT want to hear 18 years from now). Joaquin Phoenix hit the nail on the head when he said that we’re at our best not when we cancel each other but when we help each other grow. Like how Janelle Monáe makes me grow.
8. PAIR: “I’m seeing Red.” — Rudolph. Give it up for Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig. Not sure why Wiig’s comedy career hasn’t continued to skyrocket. Bridesmaids is arguably the last great comedic movie; she and Rudolph both killed it in that as well as last night. Granted, they’ve worked together much more than Rock & Martin, but they had comedic chemistry in all the ways the men didn’t.
9. LAMESAUCE: Shame on whoever’s decision it was to include the line, “All women are superheroes!” I turned to Harsha, winced, and said, “Dude, that is SO patronizing.” Lo and behold, I read this online: “… immediately after making Brie Larson, Sigourney Weaver, and Gal Gadot stand onstage and say things like, ‘All women are superheroes!’ All women should not be forced to participate in pandering, infantilizing bullish!t!” I don’t know who forced whom and don’t know if it’s infantilizing, but it’s pandering… and patronizing… and demeaning. And it’s not true. No group of people is a bunch of superheroes. Not women, not men, not straight, not gay, not trans, not cis, not whites, not Indians, not Eskimos. Well, except the Justice League. And the people next to me on the plane who sit for six hours without getting up to go to the bathroom. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? They’re superheroes. Offer up something empowering like, “All women who go out there everyday and work and try to make this world a better place — whether you’re a bus driver or a Hollywood actor — even when you’re not being recognized and you have to work twice as hard as a man… you’re superheroes and we see you.” Maybe I didn’t nail the wording, and in typical Rajiv fashion, it’s longer, but at least make sure what you’re saying is true.
10. BROWN TOWN: South Asians performances weren’t featured onscreen, either, but it was dope to see Utkarsh Ambudkar’s freestyling. Dude once took a dump at my house. For more on that and more of his freestyling (including cutting me up pretty well), check out WatchRajiv.com. Fitting coincidence that Mindy Kaling handed out the award for Hair Love. Moments earlier, Chris Rock had appeared to “not-host”; it was his documentary, Good Hair, that told the world most black women’s extensions come from India. Dope to see some Ohio representation, too, with American Factory. OH-!
11. ENDING: Congratulations to Parasite! Loved 1917 (thought it would win) but Bong Joon-ho is this year’s Roberto Benigni. And that Asian auntie… my wife: “This is like having your Mom onstage.” What a way for the Oscars to remain relevant, address #OscarsSoWhite, and surprise us all… 92 years in. I heard Koreatown was going off last night… I can’t even imagine the parking situation. (No, that’s not an Asian joke… it’s a local LA joke.) In conclusion, we had no host but we did have a Parasite. A little biology humor for you.
And… just as I was about to hit Post, a news notification told me this year’s ratings fell to a record low. “That’s Life.” — Joker
Rajiv Satyal is a comedian and claims to be the world’s best movie quoter. He resides in Los Angeles.
Promising to be the film fest for “woke desis”, NYC SAFF to debut this November
NEW YORK (Diya TV) — Promising to be the fest for “contemporary, aware, woke desis”, NYC SAFF is set to make its debut this fall at the Altman building in New York City. After the roaring success of the 5th annual Dallas-Fort Worth South Asian Film Festival (DFW SAFF), JINGO Media presents its second film festival in the United States, the New York City South Asian Film Festival (NYC SAFF), gearing up to make its debut in mid-November at various venues around Chelsea in Manhattan. The first ever New York South Asian Film Festival (NYC SAFF) opens with a collection of gut-punches, knee slappers, and laughing gags. Running over 3 days, be sure to bring out your inner cinephile.
Opening the fest is Rohit Karn Batra’s directorial debut ‘Line of Descent a white-knuckled cop thriller starring Brendan Fraser, and Abhay Deol. The story follows a mafia family dispute caught in the crosshairs of a police officer who guides their tragic downfall, and an arms dealer with a spy on the inside. The centerpiece film is the painstakingly painted ‘Bollywood Rose‘ based on true events, it tells the story of a forbidden love in a ruthless city. ‘Kaamyaab‘ which as recently screened at the the Chicago South Asian Film Festival(CSAFF) makes its way into NYC SAFF followed by other festival favorites like Ephemera, Khejdi, and Agency bolstering an already stellar line up. Expect to meet indie stars Tannishtha Chatterjee & Nawazuddin Siddiqui at the closing night film, Roam Rome Mein, a story that follows Reena who has run away to Italy in order to escape her overly strict parents, however, her brother, Raj in the turmoils of his own awakening sets out on a journey to find her.
The short film selection features Eliezer Vergaras ‘Fractured Souls‘; a baffling self revelation that unfolds as one mans frustration leads him into cascading tragedies. Vick Krishnas ‘Freak‘, a father must cope with unexpected news on his daughters surprise birthday. The feature lineup has a cup for everyone be it feature, documentary, fiction, or nonfiction. ‘Namdev Bhau‘ a man so flustered by the noise of Delhi vows to not speak and undertakes a pilgrimage of silence until a young boy decides to tag along. The disturbing ‘Mai Ghat’ is based on the true story of two police officers who wrongly arrest a boy and tortured him to death. Its a powerhouse film exploring the violent act putting to question our personal and social conscience. It wouldn’t be a proper a film festival without films that challenge us and make us question ourselves.
Discussing topics that are too often swept under the rug like LGBT, womens rights and the societal oppression. ‘The Last Letter‘ follows Mohan, a 70-year old gay man who has remained in the closet, that is, until the comfort he built for himself comes tumbling down. ‘The Unexpected‘ tells the story of a woman who despite achieving everything in life cannot conceive a child. Through its range of films, NYCSAFF aims to challenge, entertain, inspire and enrich.
Presented by Toyota and produced by JINGO Media, a NYC and Dallas-based events and public relations company, the inaugural, three-day festival boasts world, U.S. and New York City premieres of more than 25 shorts, documentaries and feature films focused on the unique stories of the South Asian Diaspora and those of our brothers and sisters back home. JINGO Media is also the parent company of DFW SAFF, which was conceptualized and created in 2015.
“We are so proud to create yet another platform for world-class independent cinema from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan and the Maldives,” said Jitin Hingorani, CEO/Principal of JINGO Media, a public relations company that launched in New York City in 2010. “We’re coming full circle with this festival because Manhattan is where it all began for us almost 10 years ago. We are certain that the community-at-large will embrace us and celebrate our joyous homecoming.”
NYC SAFF has also partnered with The India Center Foundation (ICF), a New York City-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the study of the Indian subcontinent, the promotion of its cultural life and the unique relationship between India and the United States. “To partner with NYC SAFF means that ICF is reaching the audience we wish to serve: contemporary, aware, woke desis and lovers of Indian and Diasporic creativity and storytelling. As a filmmaker whose film was so lovingly received at DFW SAFF, I know we are working with a staff who is dedicated and eager to give New Yorkers the film experience they deserve when it comes to screening South Asian cinema. We are looking forward to partnering on great conversations and panels around the films we see together,” said Priya Giri Desai, Founding Director of ICF.
Complete with an opening night red carpet , a curated set of film screenings and a closing night after party, this New York debut of an indie fest, is looking to leave you bruised with heartache, emotional bliss and a belly full of laughter, gasping for more. The first ever New York South Asian Film Festival promises one for the books!
It all goes down from November 15th though the 17th at The Altman Building. With the film screenings occurring throughout the weekend at AMC 34th street 14.
Diya TV is a proud media partner for the event, and will be onsite covering the fest. For tickets and information: https://www.nycsaff.com/tickets
Gandhi 150th birth anniversary noted around the world
NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — Celebrations for Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary have been ongoing for the past year, but culminated with a ceremony in New Delhi featuring Prime Minister Modi and another in Washington at the Library of Congress. And France’s government worked with the Indian Embassy there to issue a stamp in honor of his birth anniversary.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal are meeting this week to continue the US-India discussion on trade and investment.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb came to New Delhi to strengthen ties between the Hoosier State and India. Infosys has already made a large commitment there. Holcomb is part of a large delegation of Americans now heading Mumbai to take in the first-ever NBA preseason games in India featuring the Indiana Pacers and the Sacramento Kings.
Bollywood turned Hollywood actor Anupam Kher came to the Bay Area to keynote the Akshay Patra annual fundraising gala that helps feed children in India a hot meal during the school year.
Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.
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