Brinda Muralidhar explores tangled ties in her debut film Knot Not!

Clash of values

Dilip Krishnamurthy (Mohan) and Jessica Seigner (Patricia) filming a scene of Knot Not! in Mississauga. The film recently made its Canadian debut.

The making of a movie

Theatre, acting, stage and spotlights are entrenched in Brinda Muralidhar’s DNA.

So, having her debut film, Knot Not! premiered recently to a packed house, was Brinda’s ultimate homage to her Indo-Canadian roots.

The 1 hour 44-minute film about values, parental pressures and seeking ones identity, boasts an impressive line-up of local artists, most of who are relatively unknown, but bursting with potential.

Knot Not! is about what happens to your family when the parents are not on the same page,” Brinda explains. “In so many cases, one parent is tied down to the rules while the other doesn’t give a damn.”

And that’s how the film’s title came about: one parent is committed to preserving the knot of the marriage, while the other is not.

The premiere in Brampton was a sold-out one. This shows there may be a yet-to-be captured market for entertaining stories told from a hyper-local perspective

Shot in the GTA, Knot Not! has original music scored by Vinayak Hegde and Deepak Sant. It’s produced by Brinda’s soul mate/husband – Gunny, who’s also the cinematographer. Incidentally, it was Gunny, who came up with the idea for the film. Since communication at the Muralidhar home is unconventional, Gunny enacted his idea in a short one-minute narrative. Brinda was sold. She took on multiple responsibilities: director/screenplay/dialogues/editor and watched the idea grow and grow.

Clash of values

Suniti Santosh (L) and Dilip Krishnamurthy in Brinda Muralidhar’s Indo-Canadian film Knot Not!

What’s Canadian film without a winter scene filled with snow, eh? Jessica Siegner told me one blustery winter day, Gunny and Brinda showed up at her Mississauga home after Ma Nature deposited some significant quantity of white stuff. They shot a particularly beautiful scene, framed against the beautiful backdrop of the Marilyn Monroe towers in Mississauga. I guess, it can’t get more Canadian than that.

The film showcases among other things, the stark contrast of family values from a desi’s perspective versus a Caucasian’s way of thinking.

Before this final version of Knot Not! there was an earlier one that was nearly 80 per cent ready, but Brinda and Gunny had to shelve the earlier version and re-shoot it all over again. Talk about teething troubles.

Initially, Knot Not! was supposed to be a 30-minute short film, but it took on a life of its own. This meant, the Muralidhars’ budget was shot to hell.

Brinda jokes the film’s finances are courtesy, “Bank of Muralidhar.”

The credentials

Brinda’s father­— Ramachandra Rao— was playwright and director, while her uncle (father’s older brother) M.V. Narayan Rao was a well-known stage and cinema artist/producer.

Canada however proved to be a fertile soil for Brinda’s artistic mindset because since she moved here, she has kept busy with more than a dozen stage productions in Kannada, English and Hindi. Brinda launched her film production company 1CanMedia Creations in 2013.

When the Muralidhars invited talent to audition for their film, they received dozens of responses. Brinda says she hated rejecting anyone because of a philosophy she inherited from her dad.

Her dad apparently would pluck an unknown, but eager artist from the neighbourhood to polish their rough edges and turn them into a brilliant theatrical gem.

Brinda says while shortlisting her actors to play Patricia’s role, Mississauga’s Jessica didn’t almost make it, but she had second thoughts and invited her to audition.

“As soon as Jessica walked into the room and said ‘hello’ to me, I knew that was the girl…” Brinda said.

Brinda said she started fleshing out the characters based on her actors as opposed to asking them to slipping into her vision. Dialogues and backstories were carefully crafted to include the artist’s mannerisms.

Clash of values

Jessica Seigner (Patricia) and Dilip Krishnamurthy (Mohan) in Brinda Muralidhar’s debut film Knot Not!

Knot Not! Who’s there?

The film is about Mohan (Dilip Krishnamurthy), a South India arrives in Canada as an international student. In school, he befriends Patricia Smith (Jessica Siegner) a Canadian who guides him through his search for his identity.  Mohan’s parents Srinivas and Padma want their son to wed Lakshmi (Suniti Santosh), the beautiful daughter of their friend Bhaskar (Nat Pennathur).

Mohan does not want to meekly follow the path paved by his father, instead with Lakshmi and Patricia’s help Mohan discovers himself.

The film journeys through many plots and subplots and through comedy, drama and insightful scenes unties the tangled web of human relationships.


October’ 16 events in Toronto are filled with Navratri and Diwali celebrations


Dhamal Masti Group (DMG) will host a Navratri event, Oct. 1 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. Photo by Bryon Johnson/The Brampton Guardian

Saturday, Oct. 1

Event: Dandiya Dhamal

Details: DhamalMasti Group (DMG) will host its annual Navratri celebrations at the Hershey Centre, 500 Rose Cherry Pl. in Mississauga from 7 p.m. until midnight. Cost of tickets is $20/person and can be purchased at the door.
Contact: Here

Event: Mere Sung Gaa
Details: Head to Cineplex Entertainment, 110, Courtney Park Dr., Mississauga for a karaoke contest. Championship open to South Asians between 11 to 60+ (There are various categories.
Contact: Here

Event: Navratri Gujju Garba
Details: Ami Modi and Pratik (vocalists) will perform at David Suzuki Secondary School, 45 Daviselm Dr. at 7 p.m. for a garba/dandiya event hosted by Suravali Musical Group. Cost of tickets is $12/person (advance) and $15 at the door.
Contact: Here

Sunday, Oct. 2

Event: Sadhana
Details: Pratibha Arts will be collaborating with Harbourfront Centre’s NextSteps Dance Series for this performance series, taking place at the Studio Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto.
Contact: Here

Friday, Oct. 7

Event: Monster Rock Orchestra
Details: With the far-out sounds of a rock band and classical instruments of an orchestra, the unconventional Monster Rock Orchestra (MRO) will deliver rock and pop hits from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and today at a spectacular free concert at Yonge-Dundas Square at 7 p.m.
Contact: Here

Friday, Oct. 14

Event: Diwali Raazmataaz
Details: Indo-Canada Arts Council is bringing Diwali celebrations to the “Square.” Event will have elements of Dandiy, Dusherra and Diwali and takes place at the Celebration Square in Mississauga at 5 p.m.
Contact: Here

Saturday, Oct. 22

Event: Kardoon Kamaal
Details: A Diwali dance/dinner concert featuring many local artists will take place at Shingar Banquet Hall, 2084 Steeles Ave. E. Brampton at 6 p.m.
Contact: Here

Thursday, Oct. 27

Event: Piya Behupriya
Details: Soulpepper Theatre, will present Company Theatre’s (India) Piya Behupriya (Twelfth Night) Oct. 27 to 29. Amitosh Nagpal has translated the work of Shakespeare into Hindi. Since it was introduced at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, England, this Hindi musical adaptation about romance, mistaken identity, love and unrequited love has wowed the audience world over. Show will take place at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane, Toronto.
Contact: Here

Note: This is just a few of Navratri and Diwali events happening in the Greater Toronto Area this year. There are lots of others happening, unfortunately, given the resources, It was impossible to list them all.


Ayaz Virani has the voice and the heart to become Canada’s top crooner


So, when the presser about North York’s Ayaz Virani found me, I read it with more than cursory interest.

It’s not everyday a South Asian singer wins a coveted prize for his original work, a mellow pop/soul number with undertones of R&B.

Before, I ramble on, let me introduce the man whose song–Take it From me– strikes more than a chord with listeners. It has a “It” factor.

I am about to make this entire blog irrelevant by suggesting people hit play on the video now.

Recently, a panel of musicians and music industry experts chose Ayaz as the 2016 recipient of the Emerging Artist Music Mentorship Program, courtesy, a Canada’s Walk of Fame initiative.

Ayaz will receive $25,000 worth private studio recording time, introduction to an already established artist, face time with executives and get couple of opportunities to perform.

Here’s where his win gets more impressive. The panel received more than 350 hopefuls from coast-to-coast.

Music, not soccer makes my heart, beat


North York resident Ayaz Virani is scaling the ladder of success after he won the 2016 Emerging Artists Music Mentorship program from Canada’s Walk of Fame. Photo courtesy Canada’s Walk of Fame

Ayaz grew up listening to a medley of musical styles as a result of Toronto’s multicultural vibe: Bollywood, ‘70s soul music, hip-hop and more

“The passion for music was always there, but I ignored it,” he said. “I am happy, I am now taking charge of my life.”

Yes, this story, like others narratives featured in this blog is about to meander down a predictable path: a young man (Ayaz), brimming with potential, abandons his artistic interests to pursue a profession worthy of his immigrant ancestors.

Childhood was all about playing soccer, attending math programs (outside of school) and performing at myriad cultural shows South Asian parents invariably drag their kids to.

Making his grandpa proud

After high school, he put his music away in cold storage and switched tracks with a B.Sc. in human kinetics from University of Ottawa. This path, he hoped would lead to him becoming a physician. Three tries later, Ayaz managed to pass the stringent MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), but was told, he was eligible to pursue medicine in Ireland, not Toronto.

That sobering news woke him from his reverie and self-imposed musical exile.

“I finally came face-to-face with my reality,” Ayaz told Toronto Desi Diaries on his lack-lustre interest in medicine. “Music is all I wanted.”

His parents surprisingly were supportive.

“South Asian parents want us to take these classic routes because of all that they sacrificed to bring us to this country and the opportunities they let go,” he said. “To them, that (engineering, medicine, accountancy) degree is about stability. My grandfather was an accountant back home (Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania), who brought his family to Canada in 1972 and worked as a janitor here for pretty much the rest of his career…”

The perfect storm of emotions

Take it From me, is a pure sublime melody wrapped in insightful words. Ayaz’s voice oozes pure Maple syrup. The guitar accentuates the singer’s velvety cadence and is just right, not overwhelming, nor too timid. In this song, Ayaz serenades the listener. He observes, he muses and questions love.

It’s always a broken heart that sings, right?


North York resident Ayaz Virani. Photo courtesy Canada’s Walk of Fame

“This song in particular poured out of me,” he admits. “Sometimes you feel something so intensely that there’s nothing else you can do, but release it.”

The girl that broke the floodgates of the artist’s creative energy happens to be Ayaz’s current girlfriend, who at that time, decided to get back with her “ex.”

“I got off the phone, quite heartbroken and couldn’t sleep,” he recalled. “I got out of the bed at 2 a.m., pulled my guitar out and by 5 a.m., I had a full song…”

The rest, is still unfolding.

Follow Ayaz on Instagram


You can catch Ayaz as he opens for Juno-nominated Matt Dusk with jazz/blues artist Florence K, Sept. 21 at Mod Club, 722 College St. Tickets are $30/person.

Then, on Saturday, Sept. 24, he along with other finalists from Canada’s Walk of Fame’s emerging artist music mentorship, will perform noon to 2 p.m. at Yonge-Dundas Square.


September ’16 events elevate Toronto as a Mecca for artists


Janak Khendry Dance Company will be hosting a dance/drama Ganga at 3 p.m. at the Sir Fredrick Banting Secondary School, 125 Sherwood Forest Square, London, Ont. on Sunday, Sept. 25. Photo courtesy of the Janak Khendry Dance Company

Thursday, Sept. 1

Event: Salim-Sulaiman Concert
Details: The Kidney Foundation of Canada wants GTA residents to experience a musical evening with Bollywood composing duo- Salim and Sulaiman. Event is happening at Mississauga Living Arts Centre. 4141 Living Arts Dr. in Mississauga at 7:30 p.m.
Contact: For tickets visit, Here

Saturday, Sept. 3

(Please note, this event has been cancelled)

Event: Kalangan Series
Details: Samprada Dance Academy will welcome Aditya Prakash Ensemble for its signature, Kalangan Series at the Samprada Theatre, 4-3250 Rideway Dr. at 7:30 p.m. The concert will blend traditional Indian vocals/ragas with western musical instruments. Tickets cost $20 (adults) $15(students). Check out the accompanying video to get a sample. The sounds are magnificent.
Contact: Here

Saturday, Sept. 10

Event: Rung De’ One
Details: Since its launch few years ago, the Holi-inspired event has been adding colour to the social scene in the GTA. This year, the action shifts to Scholars’ Green (outside Sheridan College Campus), 275 Prince of Wales Dr. from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Contact: Here

rung de 0000

Rung De ONE, an event inspired by the Indian festival of Holi made its debut in Toronto. Organizers invited not just South Asians, but everyone to sample the culture of India. Supplied photo

Saturday, Sept. 17

Event: Swayamvar
Details: Dubbed as one of the largest singles events in the GTA, the evening, kicking off at 3 p.m. at Tich Restaurant, 2314 Lake Shore Blvd. W. Toronto combines an exhibition portion as well as some components of speed dating. So, if you’re sleepless in Toronto, head there. Tickets are $35/person.
Contact: For more, visit Here

Saturday, Sept. 24

Event: Bhangra/Reggae concert
Details: Small World Music Festival and Dhol Foundation are bringing a wonderful concert at  noon featuring sounds of Bhangra, infused with reggae as part of in/future – an 11-day festival of arts and music at Ontario Place, 955 Lakeshore Blvd. W.
Contact: Here

Sunday, Sept. 25

Event: Ganga (dance/drama)
Details: Janak Khendry Dance Company is hosting a dance-drama Ganga at 3 p.m. at the Sir Fredrick Banting Secondary School, 125 Sherwood Forest Square, London, Ont.
Contact: Here


Janak Khendry Dance Company will be hosting a dance/drama Ganga at 3 p.m. at the Sir Fredrick Banting Secondary School, 125 Sherwood Forest Square, London, Ont.on Sunday, Sept. 25. Photo courtesy Janak Khendry Dance Company



Here’s a list of desi events happening in Toronto Aug ’16



The Mosaic South Asian Heritage festival will take place at Celebration Square in Mississauga from 4 to 11 p.m. Supplied photo.

Thursday, Aug. 4
Event: MISAFF 16
Details: The Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival (MISAFF) kicks off next week in Mississauga with a line-up of films. The festival will launch Aligarh, a story about a homosexual professor directed by Hansal Mehta. The four-day festival will wrap up on Aug. 7. All films will be screened at the Cineplex Cinemas Mississauga, 309 Rathburn Rd. W.
Contact: Here

Saturday, Aug. 6
Event: Star Festival
Details: The 2016 Star Festival for Tamilians is taking place at the Markham Fair Grounds, 10801 McCowan Rd., Unionville at 10 a.m. Canadian Tamil Radio organizes the event.
Contact: Here

Saturday, Aug. 613631568_1034318399936725_1468422956695359984_n

Enjoy Krishna, a Kathak dance/drama at Flato-Markham Theatre, 171 Town Centre Blvd. Markham at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $30/person. Supplied photo.

Event: Krishna
Details: Hemant and Vaishali Panwar both of whom are choreographers/composers are inviting the community to enjoy Krishna, a dance/drama, told through a Kathak performance. The show will take place at Flato-Markham Theatre, 171 Town Centre Blvd. Markham at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $30/person.
Contact: Here

Sunday, Aug. 7
Event: Panorama India
Details: Celebrate India’s Independence Day with a parade and festival at Yonge-Dundas Square, 1 Dundas St. W. from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Contact: Here

Friday, Aug. 12 to 13
Event: Mosaic Festival
Details: The Mosaic South Asian Heritage festival will take place at Celebration Square in Mississauga from 4 to 11 p.m. There will be entertainment, food, music and more. The festival continues on Saturday, Aug. 13 from noon onward.
Contact: Here

Saturday, Aug. 13
Event: Cultural Festival
Details: Celebrate India’s Independence Day with a fundraiser for Fort McMurray Relief. The event is happening at Meadowvale Theatre, 6315 Montevideo Rd. In Mississauga at 4 p.m.
Contact: Here


Raj Girn, founder, Anokhi Media

Thursday, Aug. 25
Event: Anniversary
Details: Anokhi Media will be celebrating its 13th anniversary in pomp with an awards/fashion/entertainment event at 11 Polson St. Toronto from 6 p.m. onward. Celebrities in attendance will include: Arjun (singer/songwriter), Gingger Shankar (composer/musician), Jus Reign (YouTube celebrity, comic). A limited number of tickets are available as this is an “by invite” event only. There will also be a release of limited edition coffee-table book on prominent South Asians.
Contact: Here

Saturday, Aug. 27
Event: Mohammad Rafi Nite
Details: Head to Don Bosco Catholic School, 2 Andrews Blvd. Etobicoke at 6:30 p.m. for a musical tribute to Mohammad Rafi. The evening is courtesy Mehboob Shaikh Musical Night. Tickets cost $15 to $25/person.
Contact: Here



The maverick behind the Bollywood Monster Mashup reveals the secret sauce


Vikas Kohli (centre) with the Bollywood Monster Orchestra. Photo by Jamie Espinoza

Have you noticed how animated some folks become when describing the antics of their child or a pet?

Picture that enthusiasm and multiply it with an outrageously high number to understand how invested Vikas Kohli is with the Bollywood Monster Mashup (BMM), an annual three-day festival in Mississauga, that he started six years ago.

(Wow, did I just use a Math metaphor?).  He also owns and runs FatLabs, a recording studio in Mississauga.

“I couldn’t have predicted how popular this festival has gotten in six years,” Vikas told TDD recently. “We continually have first-time performers in Canada, in fact, we’re at a stage where we’ve multiple headliners talking to us about wanting to be at BMM. People in Bollywood actually know about the festival now. How cool is that?”

 Sound castles in the air:

For some months now, Vikas, the artistic director of BMM and an award-winning composer, has been furiously working on arranging the music scores for the orchestra portion of BMM Finale concert.

The orchestra will deliver fusion sounds that combine old Bollywood songs with western influences.

“People often ask me, where can they find the band that played at BMM and I tell them, it doesn’t exist,” Vikas said adding, each and every musician that’s part of orchestra was handpicked and invited to perform at the concert.


The string section of the Bollywood Monster Orchestra will play several Bollywood hits fused with other influences. Photo by Chris Scaini

On Saturday, July 23, the Bollywood Monster Orchestra and Mississauga Pops wind orchestra will deliver a number of retro Hindi songs with powerful string section and blend it with original scores created by Vikas’ musical sensibilities.

Vikas’ influences range from rock ‘n’ roll to jazz to hip-hop, metal and of course Bollywood. So, the sounds you hear will be unlike anything you’ve heard before.

Imagine arranging dozens of scores for a single event and then as the evening ends, the notes too disappear, never to be heard again.

“We create signature acts every year and no other festival does this,” Vikas said. “It takes six months of work and rehearsals to do this. I not only pick the songs, but also decide what kind of instruments to have on the stage. Then, I sit down and make musical charts for all the musicians.”

Once the band is assembled, they run rehearsals. That’s a lot of work for a free event.

The BMM Orchestra (Symphony Nights) on the main stage will include a traditional, classical European-string section delivering rich and beautiful sounds built on some evergreen Bollywood hits. We’re talking a 55-piece wind orchestra and 13-piece string one.

The three elements of BMM festivals:

  1. Artist debut in Canada: So far, all the headliners of the BMM for the past six years have admitted to Vikas afterwards about how bowled over they were by the euphoria and the vibe of the crowd. For these artists making their Toronto debut, that’s a big deal.
  2. Cross-cultural offerings: The BMM has done an exceptional job of fusing South Asian culture with mainstream, whether it’s tap dancing, orchestra or performances by dance ensembles. This year, Culture Rock, a Toronto group will wow the crowd with Bharatnatyam, waacking, hip-hop and more.
  3. Comedy Show: For the past couple of years, humour has been a staple of BMM. This year’s event in Brampton was just what the doctor ordered, a barrel of laughs.

For more information visit here.


Aishwarya Nigam to headline the Bollywood Monster Mashup Concert


Monster Finale

What: Bollywood Monster Mashup Finale
When/Where: Saturday, July 23 from 2 p.m. onward at Celebration Square, Mississauga. Finale events begin at 6:30 p.m.
Who: Aishwarya Nigam (headliner), Mississauga Orchestra, Culture Shock and more
What else: KidsZone, food vendors, Laser Show


Here’s a prophecy:

I can predict with eerie precision when the masses taking in the Bollywood Monster Mashup’s (BMM) Finale concert will likely go berserk.

It will be a Nano second after the opening bars to Munni Badnam Hui (Dabangg) hits the ether.

I am not a Bollywood movie buff. In fact, my quota to watch a Hindi film is one every few years, but I am an avowed Hindi music fan. The streaming app on my phone is the only thing that keeps me sane during my brutal commute each day.

So, I know Aishwarya will bring the crowd to its feet more than few times. What’s interesting is his other chartbusters: His rendition of Lut Gaye Tere Mohalle (Beshraam) that is incidentally on my playlist will be another crowd favourite.

Let’s get to Aishwarya’s bio

He won the Sa Re Ga Ma Pa in 2006, in addition to participating and winning other reality music crowns: Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, Ek Se Badkar Ek, IPL Rockstar and more.


Aishwarya Nigam

Aishwarya has performed at more than 500 shows in India and abroad. The BMM will be his first in Canada. He has a debut album Ek Main Aur Ek Tu.

Highlights of the BMM finale:

  • KidZone: This activity-filled portion of BMM includes mini-car racing, kite/mask making workshops and more and will start at 2 p.m. onwards
  • Mississauga Monster Orchestra: Starting at 6:30 p.m., a string/wind orchestra, under the artistic direction of Vikas Kohli will perform a variety of retro songs with a new and fresh twist
  • Culture Shock: will showcase a fusion piece with Bhartnatyam, Bollywood, waacking (underground dance style) and hip-hop
  • What’s on? Tap! : This Mississauga group, a festival favourite, will tap dance to Bollywood numbers
  • A stunning Laser Show, food vendors and more

The festival is absolutely free. For information about parking, getting there etc. visit here.