Are you ready Toronto? Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif’s 2018 ‘Da-bangg’ tour is July events calendar’s highlight

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Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif

Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Jacqueline Fernandes and a host of Bollywood celebrities are coming to Toronto as part of their Da-bangg tour. Concert happening Sunday, July 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the FirstOntario Centre, Hamilton.

In what’s probably his last North American concert, Kathak icon Pandit Birju Maharaj will be seen here in Mississauga coaching Kathak students as part of Sanskriti Arts’ annual Dance Diaries. Check below for more information.

Wednesday, July 4

Event: Cardamom Kitchen

a picture of spices

Cardamom Kitchen


Details: This networking event for South Asian gay guys will take place in the spacious community kitchen of Bramalea Community Health Centre (40 Finchgate Blvd. Suite #224) in Brampton, where participants can take part in a meeting and chat they cook and eat desi food together. Hosted by Peel HIV/AIDS Network (PHAN), the event runs from 6 to 8 p.m.
Contact: Here

Friday, July 6

A woman with open palms

Event: Samarpanam: An Offering
Details: A traditional Bharatanatyam recital by Arrthami Siva-Kuruvinth will take place from 7 – 9 p.m. at the Yorkwoods Library Theatre, 1785 Finch Ave. W. Toronto. All proceeds from this event will be donated to the South Asian Autism Awareness Centre (SAAAC).
Contact: Here

Saturday, July 7

Event: Community Carnival Bazaar
Details: the Islamic Foundation of Toronto will celebrate its 8th Annual Carnival at the Islamic Foundation of Toronto, 441 Nugget Ave. Toronto from noon to 10 p.m.
Contact: Here

Sunday, July 8

 

 

Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj dancing

Pandit Birju Maharaj

Event: Dance Diaries Concert
Details: Well-known dance school Sanskriti Arts will host legendary Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj and his disciple Saraswati Sen at the Maja Prentice theatre, 3650 Dixie Rd, Mississauga at noon.
Contact: Here

Event: Da-bangg tour
Details: Hold on to your hearts! this much-anticipated concert featuring Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sonakshi Sinha and others is coming to Toronto, i.e. Hamilton. The concert will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the First Ontario Centre.
Contact: Here

Saturday, July 14

Event: Invisible Footprints 0.2 Deep Cuts Artist Toura photo of hands moulding clay
Details: This event by Community Arts Space: Recent Histories, aims to visualize and document the lived experiences of Toronto’s queer and trans East and Southeast Asians. There will be artist talks as well as tours. Exhibit happening at the Gardiner Museum, 111 Queens Park from 1 – 3 p.m.
Contact: Here

Friday, July 20-21

Aman Trikha

Aman Trikha

Event: BollywoodMonster Mashup
Details: The 8th BollywoodMoster Mashup makes a return to the Celebration Square with dance and music extravaganza. Concert headliner is Aman Trikha (Khiladi 786, Hookah bar) who will perform, Saturday, July 21. Khushboo Grewal, a Punjabi film actress, veejay and singer from Chandigarh will take the stage, Friday, July 20. This a two-day fun event with music, dance, and food.
Contact: Here

Saturday, July 22

Event: Sapta Swarangal and Margam 2018A Bharatnatyam dancer
Details: This event by South Asian Artistic Talent (SAAT) has two components, Saptha Swarangal (3 -5 p.m.) a Carnatic music concert by emerging artists and Margam, a two-hour Bharatnatyam performance happening from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. This South Indian event is taking place at the Yorkwoods Library Theatre, 1785 Finch Ave. W. Toronto.
Contact: Here

Friday, July 27/ 28

https_cdn.evbuc.comimages453813421420589783461originalEvent: Vibrant Brampton Festival
Details: This free two-day festival happening at Sheridan College (Davis Campus), 7899 McLaughlin Rd. celebrates various South Asian cultures through dance, music, and food. Festival kicks off from 6 – 11 p.m.
Contact: Here

Friday, July 27

Event: The Bollywood Masti Boat Cruise
Details: Get ready to set sail under the romantic full moon and dance to your heart’s content. This masti cruise will set sail from River Gambler, 333 Lake Shore Blvd. E. in Toronto at 8 p.m.
Contact: Here

 

 

 

 

 

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South Asian LGBTQ members to march loud and proud in Toronto’s 2018 Pride Parade

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Two male members of the South Asian LGBTQ community exchange traditional flower garlands as part of a photo shoot.

Haran Vijayanathan (L) and Humza Mian (not partners) are both members of the South Asian LGBTQ community in Toronto. The two recently participated in a photo shoot directed and styled by Saira Hussain from Breath of Henna & The Sai Lens. The initiative was a joint collaboration with Must be Kismet Bridal Show & Magazine. Photo by Banga studios

Happy Pride Month

In this guest post, Mita Patel, a blogger for Must Be Kismet, a South Asian Bridal Show and Magazine, in Toronto, talks to two desi gay guys who gamely became models for a photo shoot celebrating LGBTQ members in Toronto

Guest blog post by Mita Patel

Every once in awhile a project comes along that shakes up our ideas of what a traditional wedding looks like.

Sons of Roses is a bold and inspiring project that brings to light themes of love, union, marriage, and inclusivity.

Haran Vijayanathan and Humza Mian (who are not together in real life), agreed to participate in the photoshoot as two grooms in a traditional, yet non-denominational, South Asian wedding.

The stunning shoot was directed and styled by Saira Hussain (Breath of Henna) & The Sai Lens and was a joint collaboration with Must be Kismet Bridal Show & Magazine and other artistic vendors. Abhirami Balachandran and Angel Glady, two members of the South Asian LGBTQ community, also participated in the project, portraying friends of the grooms on their wedding day. Check out the entire shoot at www.mustbekismet.com.

Two men wearing traditional Indian wedding clothes surrounded by two women wearing flowers in their hair

Models Haran Vijayanathan (sitting in the front) and Humza Mian are members of the South Asian LGBTQ community in Toronto. They participated in a photo shoot by Must Be Kismet, a desi bridal show, and magazine. Also seen in the photo are Abhirami Balachandram and Angel Glady. Photo by Banga Studios.

A desi wedding set in Toronto worthy of the divine

Traditionally in the South Asian LGBTQ community, marriage hasn’t always been an option, due to stigma or lack of family support. Thankfully this is changing, and there are plenty of examples of parents supporting their children who wish to get married and come out to the broader community.

Haran, who is the executive director of the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention and an outspoken advocate, says that coming out was difficult but that he is grateful for all the support he received. “My mom and sisters were accepting and still are,” he says. “I am blessed to be accepted by family and all the support they give me for who I am and what I do.”

This Saturday, June, 23 Haran will be the first Sri Lankan, Tamil speaking man to be a grand marshal at Toronto’s Annual Pride Parade. He will be marching alongside his mother and sister. His hope is that others in the community who are struggling with reconciling their religious or cultural identities with coming out will feel more supported and a little less alone by seeing someone similar to them represented.

On the topic of marriage, Haran says that his preferred wedding would be a simple affair without a lot of pomp and pageantry.

“My wedding would entail some great Indian/Sri Lankan food stations in a huge outdoor field with lots of mini lights lining the perimeter on stakes with a dome of lights as well,” He said. “Lots of music, very few speeches, and people just having a great time with us and us with them. People would be dressed in simple Indian outfits and just have nature bless all of us with the stars shimmering in the sky, the slight breeze of the wind rustling the leaves in the trees and gently cooling all our guests.”

two women wearing pink floral dresses

Abhirami Balachandram and Angel Glady, members from the South Asian LGBTQ community seen here in a photo shoot – Sons of Roses. Photo by Banga Studios

Manghoe Lassie in the land of Maple trees

Humza, who identifies as queer, is a veterinary technician by day and a popular drag queen by night. His followers on social media know him as Manghoe Lassie, and his vibrant personality and love of his craft radiate through his pictures and videos.

He is partially out to his family – his sisters and cousins know and support him; his parents and aunts and uncles do not yet know. He believes that coming out is an ongoing process and not the same for everyone. Above all, individuals should feel safe and emotionally prepared in their choice to come out.

Humza envisions a wedding in his future, that may not be traditional or in line with his Islamic faith, but one that includes his friends and family.

“I would love to have a traditional wedding, however, this will likely not happen,” says Hamza. “The process of coming out for queer people of color is ongoing and for some of us, it will never be a reality. I have come to accept this and I am actually OK with it (no really, I am!) and will make the best of my wedding with my friends and chosen family.”

A gay prayer: just as powerful

Both Haran and Humza consider themselves religious and take great solace in the tenets and practices of their faith.

Haran, like many Hindus, has a mandir in his home and does pooja twice a day in honour of the deities. He appreciates the many gods and goddesses in Hinduism and the way in which this ancient religion considers people and spirit and life as fluid and ever-changing.

Humza, a practicing Muslim of Pakistani descent, enjoys attending Khutbah, a formal occasion where an Imam preaches and conveys the teachings of Islam. He says that the principles of his faith that are most important to him centre around being a good person and service to others.

Sons of Roses aims to spark more discussion about queer weddings and help to create healthy conversations at home. It is one thread in the fabric of our collective stories of union and marriage that shows how love moves us to transcend all differences.

two men seen reflecting with their eyes closed and hands folded in a namaste

Haran Vijayanathan and Humza Mian, both members of the South Asian LGBTQ community seen here as models for a photo shoot Sons of Roses. Photo by Banga Studios

Must be Kismet team involved in the photo shoot included:

Art Director, Stylist: Saira Hussain from Breath of Henna & The Sai Lens Photographer: Banga Studios Decor: Rose Events and Floral Beauty (makeup and hair team): SS Glam Studios, Daniela Suppa, and Makeup by She. Jewelry: Jaya and Co. Wardrobe Vendors: Chandan Fashion, Sahiba Fashions, Lotus Bloom Official, Live the Collective

 

Sathish Bala who founded desiFEST, shares the story of how it all started

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We all have moments when our life’s work needs validation.

For desiFEST’s founder/ artistic director Sathish Bala, the moment came five years ago, albeit with a price.

The 2018 desiFEST takes place Saturday, June 2 at Yonge-Dundas Square from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

For years, Sathish—the rebel/disruptor—had resisted the path his family hoped he would chase (Engineering). Instead, he struck out and decided to kick-start a free music concert in Toronto (Yonge-Dundas Square). This music was far cry from the classical Carnatic ragas that courses through the vein of every South Indian.

Manjeet Rai aka Manj Musik sits on a white platform against a green backdrop.

Manjeet Rai, aka Manj Musik, an internationally-renowned singer/songwriter/composer known for his Bhangra and Hip-Hop infused music will perform at the 2018 desiFEST, June 2. Supplied photo

It was Hip-Hop, Reggae, rock, Bhangra-fusion, and other genres that his traditional South Indian family did not understand.

Sathish’s dad was an engineer. The apple turns out fell far away from the tree. Disappointment festered between father and son over his career (music).

Time went by and the strained relationship continued. Over time, desiFest found its feet in the multicultural cauldron that is Toronto. As Sathish’s name began to appear in the media, his father slowly came around. The critic became his son’s cheerleader. Then, five years ago, one day after that year’s desiFest, Bala Sr. breathed his last.

The genesis of desiFEST

Sathish came to realize the therapeutic as well as the addictive power of music in his teens when he became a DJ.

“Early in 2000, I joined a club called Bombay Martini where I would spin Punjabi, Bollywood and English music together,” he recalled. “Learning to connect to other cultures through music was a great lesson. From there on, I learned to negotiate with venues and do marketing and advertising…”

All he needed was to connect all of the pieces to a bigger purpose. And that’s how desiFEST happened.

Photo of Tamil rapper set against the backdrop of high-rise buildings

Lady Rolex Rasathy, a Sri Lankan rapper is among those scheduled to perform at the 2018 desiFEST, June 2 at 4:35 p.m. The free music festival runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at the Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto. Supplied photo

“I come from a generation of South Asians whose teenage years were influenced by urban music,” Sathish said. “Our original music was fused and we faced challenges trying to find space to display this music. We were by name and sound ‘ethnic’ so mainstream wouldn’t book us either.”

Sathish decided to bridge the musical void.

What now?

Even though Sathish did not opt to become an engineer, he had a natural flair for entrepreneurship. In 1999, while at the high school, he launched his first company, which he later sold. Since then, he has set up several digital marketing and tech enterprises later scooped up as acquisitions.

Sathish Bala wearing a salmon-coloured shirt with a blue bow-tie.

Sathish Bala, the founder of desiFEST, hopes the festival will serve as his legacy for the future generation of artists. Supplied photo.

“Our mission at desiFEST is to have a 12-hour conversation with the community through music,” says Sathish, the Indian-born transplant to Canada who came here via Singapore in 1989. “For desiFEST, we look at what are the different reactions we can create within a diverse community. 25 per cent of our audience is not South-Asians, so that’s important as well because they get to experience our culture and learn about our food, music and not just Bollywood, but the version of the next generation.”

There is a bit of Bollywood in desiFEST. The rationale is to display the talents of young artists who have incorporated Bollywood music into their own arrangements and melodies.

Having artists like Abhithi aka Amitha Mundechira a dancer/singer and a physician perform at the concert (1:55 p.m.) is Sathish’s not-so-subtle message to desi parents. He wants to tell them pursuing art alongside a profession doesn’t have to be an either-or situation. When the passion is powerful enough, it will pull you.

The desiFEST is Sathish Bala’s legacy to the next-generation of desis/South Asians in Toronto and elsewhere in the world. He wants them to take it and run with it.

Artists at this year’s desiFEST include Parichay, Divine, The Roach Killa, The Prophec, DJ Prodiigy and dozens of others. Check out their website for schedules. Also performing at the concert is Manj Musik, a singer/songwriter whose Bhangra and Hip-Hop infused work has been creating ripples around the world.

 

 

June is when all music moves outdoors and Toronto desis finally ditch their toques

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Haviah Mighty performing

The 2018 MonsterWorldMashup is a two-day festival of music, comedy, and art happening in Brampton June 1-2. Hip-Hop artist Haviah Mighty is one of the performers at the concert taking place June 2 at the Garden Square in Brampton.

Friday, June 1-2

Event: MonsterWorld Mashup

Details: The folks that bring the #Bollywood Monster Mashup each year are offering a two-day festival of music, art, spoken word and more in Brampton. The MonsterWorld Mashup runs Friday, June 1, an exclusive ticketed event will feature series of comedy acts, an art show and yes, a secret concert. The action takes place at The Den, Sheridan College, Davis Campus, 7899 McLaughlin Rd. Brampton at 6 p.m.

Saturday, June 2 has the heavyweights such as Movin’ Cool, Stay Out Late, Los Poetas and HANHAN performing on stage at the Garden Square (outside Rose Theatre) at 5 p.m.

“We’re presenting unique acts who represent the changing voices and faces of the GTA,” says Vikas Kohli, executive director, MonstrARTity. “The June 1 launch party will be a unique experience for the audience with Brampton’s first-ever sofar secret concert and side-splitting comedy acts with comedians like Amish Patel, Keesha Brownie, Nitish Sakhuja, Crystal Ferrier, Chris Robinson and Paul Thompson. Most of all, it will be a great time, so join us.”

Contact: MonsterWorldMashup

Saturday, June 2

Event: desiFEST

Details: Now in its 12th year, desiFEST is a free event and is the largest South Asian Music Concert, taking place on Saturday, June 2 at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Contact: 2018 desiFest

Event: Vande Janani (A Tribute to Motherhood)

Details: Keralite Art Lovers Association (KALA) is hosting this dance concert by Divya Unni at the Erindale Secondary School, 2021 Dundas St. W. at 5:30 p.m.
Contact: Keralite Art Lovers Association

Saturday, June 9

Event: EID bazaar

Details: PGA International will be putting together its annual Eid Bazaar June 9 – 14 at the Swagat Banquet Hall, 6991 Millcreek Dr. Mississauga from 1 p.m. to midnight.
Contact: PGA’s EID bazaar

Thursday, June 14

Event: Through Her Lens

Details: A photo exhibit celebrating women of colour will take place at the Chinguacousy Library and Civic Centre, 150 Central Park Dr. in Brampton at 8:30 p.m.
Contact: Through Her Lens

Sunday, June 17

Event: SOCH workshop on coping with anxiety

Details: Supporting Our Community Health (SOCH), an organization host a series of mental health workshops, Sunday, June 17, at Chinguacousy Library and Civic Centre, 150 Central Park Dr. in Brampton from 1 to 3 p.m.

The idea is to increase awareness and education about anxiety and how it can be treated. These interactive workshops will take place in both English and Punjabi.

Contact: Supporting Our Community Health (SOCH) 

Tuesday, June 26

Event: Speed Dating

Details: This Mississauga speed-dating event for South Asians will take place 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at The Port House Social Bar & Kitchen, 139 Lakeshore Rd. E. Mississauga, ON L5G 1E5.
Contact: Mississauga Speed Dating

Event: Toronto Curry Awards

Details: Pukaar News UK will be hosting the first-ever Toronto Curry Awards from 6 p.m. until midnight at the Holiday Inn Toronto International Airport, 970 Dixon Rd., Toronto, ON M9W 1J9.
The awards will celebrate this rich heritage of curries to highlight the finest examples of South Asian cuisine and praising the restaurateurs dedicated to serving up our beloved curries.
Contact: Toronto Curry Awards

10 things you should know about the 2018 International Film Festival of South Asia (IIFSA) Toronto, May 10-21

A booklet featuring IFFSA Toronto schedule
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The 2018 IIFSA Toronto taking place has a mix of commercial as well as arthouse films.

This year’s festival will include some 150 films in 15 languages, 50+ events across the 7 cities in the GTA over 12 days. Whew! That’s something.

Did you know?

Sunny Gill, the founder/president of International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) Toronto was not an avid fan of films or music until five years ago?

Fate—and opportunity—threw Gill into taking on the helm at what he says is “one of the biggest film festivals in North America and the “voice of South Asians in Toronto.”

“I have always considered myself as a non-filmi person,” said Gill, an engineer/MBA professional. “I had not attended any film festival anywhere when we launched the IIFSA. So, when drew the blueprint, we did it from an audience perspective, but over the years now, we have learned that festivals are not just about a song and dance but they have to give certain values to the stakeholders and so that’s why we have the ‘seriousness’ of a festival.”

Here’s a curated list of 10 things from the 2018 IFSSA that will likely appeal to the desi audience here in the GTA

    1. Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi, The Lunchbox) starrer the Song of Scorpions will have its North American premiere in Toronto. The film also stars Waheeda Rahman (Guide, Pyaasa, and others) as well as Iranian actor Golshifteh Farahani (About Elly, Patterson). The film directed by Anup Singh will make its North American premiere at IIFSA Toronto. Screening happening on Thursday, May 10, at Cineplex Odeon Orion Gates Cinemas, 20 Biscayne Ave. Brampton at 6:30 p.m.
      Film poster of the movie The Song of Scorpions showing the faces of a man and a woman across a dessert.

      Anup Singh directed film starring Irrfan Khan, Waheeda Rahman and Iranian actor Golshifteh Farahani will have its North American premiere at the International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) Toronto, May 10 at the Cineplex Orion Odeon Cinemas at 6:30 p.m.

    2. A Letter to the President: Screening on Saturday, May 12 at the Cineplex Odeon Orion Gates Cinemas at 1 p.m. is Soraya’s story. She’s a low-ranking government official, is imprisoned when she defends a woman from village lords. She writes a letter to the Afghan president asking for help from behind bars.
      A silhouette of a woman in profile

      Afghani film A Letter to the President by Roya Sadat will have its North Amerian premiere at the International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) Toronto May 12 at the Cineplex Odeon Orion Gates Cinemas at 1 p.m.

    3. The Hungry: Naseeruddin Shah and Tisca Chopra play central roles in this film that follows Tulsi Joshi, a single mother and bride-to-be who comes to her own wedding seeking revenge for the brutal murder of her first-born son. The film is “a macabre fairytale set in the elite circles of north India.” It runs May 12 at 3 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Orion Gates Cinemas.
      A woman wearing a blue veil

      Naseeruddin and Tisca Chopra star in this thought-provoking film screening as part of the International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA)Toronto May 12 at 3 p.m. at Cineplex Odeon Orion Gates Cinemas.

    4. Ajji: Sushma Deshpande, Sharvani Suryavanshi, and others are part of this acclaimed film by Devashish Makhija. Screens, Saturday, May 12 at 5 p.m. at Odeon Orion Gates Cinemas.
      A painting of a woman or mother staring sadly

      This acclaimed film by Devashish Makhija. Screens during the International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA), Saturday, May 12 at 5 p.m. at Odeon Orion Gates Cinemas.

Events, masterclass, and workshops

  1. Masterclass: Anurag Kashyap (Dev D, Bombay Velvet) and Hansal Mehta (Shahid, Simran, Omerta) two renowned filmmakers are hosting a masterclass at the Courtyard Mariott Brampton, 90 Biscayne Ave. Tickets cost $50/person
  2. Director’s Workshop: Anup Singh will lead this workshop aimed at young filmmakers taking place at the Courtyard Mariott Brampton, 90 Biscayne Ave. at 10 p.m. on Sunday, May 13.
  3. Fest in the Park: A lively outdoor concert happening at the Sheridan College, Davis Campus, May 19 at 3 p.m.
    A young Sikh boy wearing a turban has his face painted.

    The International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) Toronto will host a Fest in the Park, an outdoor concert at the Sheridan College, Davis Campus, May 19 at 3 p.m.

  4. Sounds of South Asia Concert will kick off at the Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Ln. in Brampton at 5:30 p.m. on May 21 with a live concert by Bilal Saeed, a Pakistani singer/songwriter
  5. There are several after-parties in and around Brampton. Check out the IFFSA Toronto Schedule
  6. The IFFSA Toronto Gala is happening at Mississauga Convention Centre,
    75 Derry Road West, Mississauga, Ont. On Friday, May 11 (invitation only).
A booklet featuring IFFSA Toronto schedule

IFFSA Toronto runs May 10 to 21 across the GTA and celebrates more than 150 films in 15 languages.

For schedules, venues and ticket prices, visit the IFFSA Toronto website.

Concerts take over the Toronto Desi events calendar in April ’18

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Pritam

Sunday April 1

Event: Illairajah Live Concert
Details: He’s a living giant among composers from the South Indian films and he’s stopping by for an exclusive concert at the Air Canada Centre (ACC), 40 Bay St. Toronto at 6:30 p.m. The musical maestro will be performing with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra from Hungary and Indian classical musicians.
Contact: Here 

Friday, April 6

Event: Everlasting Melodies
Details: Presented by Amaya Entertainment, this evening taking place at Symphony Banquet Hall, Mississauga, 959 Derry Rd. E. at 8, will feature 10 artists and musicians. Concert will be hosted by Simply Shayan, a comic.
Contact: Here

Saturday, April 7

Event: Hemang Mehta Concert
Details: Gujju singer Hemang Mehta will perform at the Castlebrooke Secondary School, 10 Gardenbrooke trail, Brampton at 6 p.m. Concert presented by Swar Sadhana Music Lovers Club.
Contact: Here 

Sunday, April 8

Event: Pritam Concert
Details: Well-known Bollywood composer responsible for hits like Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Dhangal, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and more will be coming to Richoh Coliseum, 45 Manitoba Dr. Toronto along with a troupe of artists: Harshdeep Kaur, Shalmali Kolgade, Nakash Aziz and more. Concert kicks off at 6:30 p.m.
Contact: Here

Saturday, April 14

Event: Jay Vasavada (Author/Speaker)
Details: Shabd Prarthana will host Jayvasavada at the Port Credit Secondary School Theatre, 70 Mineola Dr. Mississauga at 6 p.m. Vasavada is a popular young author, well-known among theGujarati communities across the world. His versatile columns, books and speeches cover various aspects of society and culture
Contact: Here

Thursday, April 26

Event: South Asians with Style
Details: The SAPNA Toronto team will present ‘South Asians With Style Part Deux’ at the Thompson Toronto, 550 Wellington St. E. at 6 p.m. The event offers the opportunity to network with the finest professionals across Ontario.
Contact: Here 

Saturday April 28

Event: Atif Aslam and Neha Kakkar
Details: Pakistani singer/songwriter and actor Atif Aslam (Dil diyan gallan) and Neha Kakkar, Bollywood songstress will rock the Hershey Centre (oops, Paramount Centre), 5500, Rose Cherry Place, Mississauga at 7 p.m.
Contact: Here

Sunday April 29

Event: Phir Le Aaya Dil
Details: Hrishikesh Ranade, Prajakta Joshi-Ranade and Nihira Joshi will present an evening of soulful Bollywood hits at the Glenforest Secondary School, 3575 Fieldgate Rd. Mississauga at 5 p.m.
Contact: Here

YouTwoTV creators on cloud 9 as channel hits 1 million subscribers

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YouTwoTV's Jaz and Harjit pose in a goofy shot.

YouTwoTV creators Harjit (top) and Jaz have a million reasons to celebrate. The talented and funny YouTube creators have more than 1 million subscribers to their channel. Photo by YouTwoTV.

It’s Toronto Desi Diaries’ 100th blog and it’s fitting we commemorate our centennial blog post with two high-flying, super famous YouTubers—Jaz Saini and Harjit Bhandal (drumroll, please).

These YouTwoTV creators, it so happens, have a million reasons to rejoice. Their channel, launched two years ago, recently blew past 1 million subscribers. Wow! Congrats guys. Not surprising then that Jaz and Harjit’s careers have taken off like Elon Musk’s rocket launches.

“We’re really lucky that we have each other,” said Jaz. “I am grateful that I don’t have to do this alone. It’s a lot of work, it’s not easy, but it’s so worth it…”

The talented duo has fashioned a neat niche in the highly competitive YouTube space, a commendable feat, considering how many wannabes are jostling for attention in the crammed social-media platform.

No wonder then their fans break the Internet every time they drop a new video (weekly).

How’s it that these two desis from Toronto (Brampton) are able to deliver hit after hit? Their video, Back to School: Types of Students boasts 33 million views. Ditto, Types of girlfriends guys hate. Their lifetime YouTube views so far? 265.7 million. These numbers are jaw-dropping.

So, what’s the secret sauce?

It’s easy. Jaz and Harjit are a couple and the camera captures their sizzling chemistry, easy camaraderie, mutual affection and respect. Now to add to this potent mix some witty banter, a topic every individual between 18 to 34 years can relate to, voila! You have an award-winning team.

I met the superstars during their “giddy with success” phase. They had just won the iHeartRadio MMVA “Fan Fave Much Creator” award; had their names and faces splashed across various media platforms and were being courted as brand ambassadors for several well-known companies.

And yet, they were humble and untouched by the noise. It was so easy to love these two.

“I still feel like we’re just regular people, just living our dreams,” Jazz says. “It is a little hard having your whole life on the internet and people commenting about every little thing you do. We’re lucky to have a really awesome family of viewers that support what we do. It’s cool knowing what we’re doing is impacting all of these people.”

Harjit: “I feel like nothing really has changed, my views and the way I handle things are relatively the same.”

Papa kahte hai…

Initially, both their families did not understand how the whole YouTube phenomenon could be a viable career. Jaz had a diploma in marketing and her parents wanted her to opt for a 9 to 5 job, one that came with a consistent paycheck.

“There was no way to talk to them about it, but show them,” Jaz said. “When we launched our YouTwoTV, we never told our parents and cousins that this could blow up, instead we decided we would tell them of our success through articles in the newspaper, interviews on TV…”

Harjit’s parents too were clueless and questioned his decision.

“It makes sense our parents wanted us to be successful and not go through the struggles they did when they immigrated to Canada,” he said. “I think they became comfortable when they saw us becoming successful.”

Winning the coveted iHeartRadio MMVA was a turning point for these two Bramptonians whose talents came into sharp focus in the mainstream media. It was surreal.

“I see ourselves in L.A, in TV shows and movies,” Harjit said when asked about the path ahead. “We have big dreams and it’s not about ‘what-if-we-fail’ instead, we’re always thinking of what we can do next to make it even bigger.”

The pit of despair:

Last year, Jaz filmed a video, “Dear Mom” in which she talked about her mother’s struggle with depression and her death by suicide. It was a raw and poignant conversation that underscores the fragile mother-daughter relationship, the unanswered questions, the pregnant pauses and the shadow of darkness.

Jaz, like her mother, lives with a depression and is struggling to find answers about the darkness that occasionally envelopes her.

The video ( below) is a brave voice of a woman who in telling her story has made it easy for others in the South Asian community to do so.

Here’s a conversation Toronto Desi Diaries had with the YouTwoTV couple.

TDD: YouTwoTV has crossed the 1-million subscriber mark, how does this make you feel?

Jazz: It’s actually so surreal that in less than two years, we’ve somehow managed to convince 1 million people that we’re entertaining. It feels awesome to know that our hard work is paying off!

TDD: How many videos do you post per week and what’s the creative process? Do you write down the sketches, dialogues, decide location…?

Harjit: We make one video a week on YouTube and try to make 2 to 3 small skits on Instagram a week.

Jazz: As for the creative process, it’s different every week, sometimes we have an idea in our head and we spend a full day scripting and two days filming.

Harjit: Sometimes, we have no idea and spend 2-3 days thinking of a topic and have to cram filming into one day.

Jazz: We take an approach to every video differently, which keeps us on our toes.

TDD: “YouTube Stardom” is a millennial/ “Gen Z concept, how did your parents reconcile that neither of you were going to end up in a conventional profession?

Jazz: I’ve always been super independent and have done things differently than anyone else in my family, or just in the Indian culture and what my parents were used to. My Dad wasn’t really surprised when I went this route, he trusted that I knew what I was doing, but kept his distance and watched from afar.

Harjit: Up until last year, my parents were still telling me to “get a real job.” It wasn’t until I started getting awards and I was in the news that they finally supported my dreams. Now they know how many subscribers we’re at before I even do!

TDD: What topics do you avoid when it comes to the content you produce?

Jazz: We try not to limit ourselves or even censor ourselves. I feel like people can tell when you’re not being genuine or when you’re trying to be someone you’re not. We try to avoid just being fake or even copying someone else’s work. It’s hard to be original with so much content out there, but we try and make sure we’re giving something fresh and new to our viewers every week.

Harjit: That’s the most important thing to us (being ourselves), and we definitely try not to offend anyone, ha,ha.

TDD: Anything in your childhood prepared you for facing the camera so effortlessly?

Jazz: – Nothing at all

Harjit: We don’t belong here, haha!

TDD: Were you a couple when you started the show? Or did love saunter in slowly?

Jazz: –We were already madly in love before we started YouTwoTV.

TDD: Which one of your videos is closest to your heart, and why?

Jazz: “Dear Mom” is a video that we made a few months ago, it’s different than anything we’ve ever done and talks about my relationship with depression and suicide and it was the first time I’ve ever publicly spoken about how my mom passed away.

Harjit: “Dear Mom” lies really close to my heart as well for pretty obvious reasons. I’ve never really seen Jaz let herself be that vulnerable and we focused so much on the videography in that video.

TDD: Who are your role models and why?

Jazz: Harjit! He’s one of the most positive and hardworking individual I know. I’m really lucky to have found him.

Harjit: Besides Jaz, Eminem and Shah Rukh Khan are definitely my biggest role models.

Jaz and Harjit pose in front of a wall.

Super funny and super talented duo Jaz(left) and Harjit of YouTwoTV are enjoying taste of success with one million subscribers. Photo courtesy YouTwoTV.