Eid events and urban desiFEST take over June 2017 in Toronto

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11th Annual Desi Fest

The 11th annual Desi Fest is happening Saturday, June 3 at the Yonge-Dundas Square. Photo by Shahaab Sheikh

Saturday, June 3

Event: DesiFest 2017
Details: Canada’s # 1 urban desi festival, the 2017 desiFEST is a 12-hour entertainment bonanza running from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. at the Yonge-Dundas Square. Hosted by Sathish Bala/CEO/founder. This year’s line-up includes Mizz Taj, Raj and the Martin Express, Hash, Lady Kash and others.
Contact: Here

Sunday, June 4

Aroha

Anjali Patil

Event: Aroha Arts Workshop
Details: Anjali Patil is hosting a fine arts workshop: Emotions and expressions in Dance at The Citadel, 304 Parliament St. at 2 p.m. Class is open to professional and pre-professional dancers 18 and above.
Contact: Here

Saturday, June 10

Event: Eid Festival

Details: OK, so, the largest Eid Festival in the GTA is a two-part, 11-day affair. On June 10-11 the event is at the Sagan Banquet Hall, 7180 Edwards Blvd. from 1 p.m. till 12 a.m. (midnight). There will be a fashion show, food, henna and more.
Contact: Here

Saturday, June 17

Event: Eid Festival 2017

Details: Organizers are calling this, “the largest Eid Festival” and inviting you to Maple Banquet Hall, 1325 Eglinton Ave. E. Food, fashion, entertainment and music are all in the cards. Runs from June 17 to 25.
Contact: Here

Tuesday, June 20

Golf flyerEvent: Indo-Canadian Golf
Details: The Indo-Canadian Golf Association Charity Tournament will take place, Glencairn Golf Club, 9807 Regional Rd. 25 in Milton at 10:30 a.m. This year is the 20th year. Proceeds will support Trillium Health Partners.
Contact: Here

Friday, June 23

Event: Eid Bazaar

Details: PGA International will be hosting an Eid Bazaar at the National Banquet Hall, 7355 Torbram Rd., in Mississauga from 2 to 11 p.m.
Contact: Here

Chhakka

Event: Chhakka
Details: “Fire up your femme and fierce, because you’re about to get blessed,” reads the blurb on the website. Chhakka is Canada’s biggest queer Bollywood event and a fitting start to the Pride weekend. It’s all happening at Club 120 at 120 Church St. from 10 p.m. onward.
Contact: Here

Saturday, June 24

Event: Yugpurush

Details: A Hindi play chronicling the life of Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi will be showcased at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 190 Princes’ Blvd. Toronto at 3 p.m. Play has been directed by Rajesh Joshi.
Contact: Here

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Documentary peels off the taboo surrounding sex and sexuality

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Ask_the_Sexpert_PosterOne film featured in the 2017 Toronto Hot Docs Fest that caught my eye was Ask the Sexpert.

Produced by Mridu Chandra and directed by Vaishali Sinha, Ask the Sexpert, chronicles the life of the 93-year-old Dr. Mahinder Watsa, a gynecologist/advice columnist and sex expert for the Mumbai Mirror.

The blurb featured “India” and “sex” in the same sentence, so I decided to see for myself Vaishali’s treatment of the subject. As I watched the film, I was struck by Dr. Watsa’s inimitable and wry sense of humour and his honest diagnosis of the dilemmas posed to him.

Mind you, some questions were so outrageous I almost choked on the tea I was sipping. Then, it hit me: In India, sex and sex education are both relegated to tawdry corners of the Internet and sleazy magazines. Understandably there’s this vacuum. This chasm, to me, has unleashed several horrifying consequences such as rape, the objectification on women in Bollywood films and this whole taboo around sex.

Dr. Watsa’s role in de-mystifying the human sexuality should be applauded instead we are told there are at least half-a-dozen lawsuits filed against the good man and the daily he writes for.

In the nine years he has been doling advice, Dr. Watsa has tackled some 40,000 letters. He started his career as a columnist in the 60s as a medical columnist for several women’s magazines. He quit that when one of the editors insisted on censoring the questions.

Dr. Watsa_Couch

Dr. Mahinder Watsa, 93, a sex columnist for an English daily in India, was the subject of the documentary, Ask the Sexpert. The film featured in the 2017 Toronto Hot Docs festival. Supplied photo.

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Toronto Desi Diaries (TDD) chatted with Vaishali Sinha, 37, director, Ask the Sexpert

TDD: Tell me about yourself?
VS: I’m Mumbai-born filmmaker currently living in Brooklyn, New York. Filmmaking is what brought me to the U.S. This is where my independent show-making career flourished, simply, because in the U.S. there is more support for the arts than in India. The U.S. still has a ways to go in supporting the arts, especially in these times.

TDD: What drew you to the subject of Dr. Watsa?
VS: I was interested in exploring a film on sex and sexuality in urban India especially through the lens of therapist because talking about sex is such a taboo.

TDD: Once you became interested, how did you envision you would tackle the issue of sex considering India’s a prude?
VS: I wanted a character-driven story to be a lens into larger society tackling issues of sexuality. Dr. Wasta and his work went above and beyond my expectations.

TDD: Every film/story has one point/element that changes the trajectory of the narrative, what was yours with this project?
VS: I was fortunate that I ended up with finding characters I was hoping to find to be able to tell the story I was hoping to tell. To find so many people speak candidly and openly about these controversial issues was a pleasure.
What I did not prepare myself for was the enormous personality of Dr. Watsa. The depth and breadth of his work is astounding. Telling the story through his lens allowed me to bring in another element, another character.

VaishaliSinha_Director_Producer

Vaishali Sinha, director, Ask the Sexpert

TDD: What were some of the challenges?
VS: The topic of Sexuality is an ever-growing one in India and I want to make sure my film speaks to the timeless aspects of it. Finding a balance between topical and timeless elements was hard work.

TDD: Who funded the project and how long did it take you to make it?
VS: Funding trickled in over the course of three and a half years. Early funders include:  Catapult Fund, MacArthur Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute and the iTVS (co-production partner).

TDD: Were you hoping to ruffle feathers with this film?
VS: Stylistically, character-driven stories are my forte.I wanted to make a film that would push sex education and sex positivity to the forefront of the conversation.
Dr. Watsa is such an iconic personality in India and this is the first ever film on him. I’m happy those two interests, of character and sexuality, were able to come together in Ask the Sexpert.

TDD: Anything else?
VS: Ask the Sexpert is an universal story even though it’s situated in India, I hope this opens a conversation in a positive manner not just in our community, but other communities too.

TDD: Is the film screening anywhere in India? Where can people watch, if they are interested? VS: Not yet, but keep your eyes and ears open.