‘Why this Kolaveri Di’ actor Dhanush will test international waters in The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir

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The film based on Romain Puértolas’ best-selling novel, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe, will hit the theatres in Canada, June 21.

South Indian actor Dhanush’s upcoming film, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir, directed by Ken Scott, a Canadian filmmaker will hit the theatres in Canada including a few across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), June 21. Photo: Golden Ratio Films

South Indian superstar Dhanush plays Ajatashatru Lavash Patel or Aja in the soon-to-be-released, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir.
Directed by Canadian filmmaker Ken Scott and co-produced by France, India, and Belgium, the film also features Berenice Bejo, Barkhad Abdi, Erin Moriarty, and Abel Jafri as well as Gérard Jugnot, Ben Miller, Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse, and Stefano Cassetti.

Distributors A-Z Films will release the much-anticipated film in theatres across Canada, June 21.

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir won the audience award for “Best Comedy” at the Barcelona Sant-Jordi International Film Festival recently and was part of the 2019 IFFSA Toronto.

Scott adapted the film from Romain Puértolas’ best-selling novel, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe.

 In The Extraordinary Journey, Dhanush plays a goofy street hustler from Mumbai who embarks on an extraordinary voyage across Europe in search of his estranged father.

During the sojourn, he finds love in a Swedish furniture store in Paris, but danger ensues when he also finds trouble with Somalian migrants. Though other twists and turns, Aja ends up in London and stumbles upon some fortune in Rome.

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir by Canadian filmmaker Ken Scott features Indian superstar Dhanush. The film will be distributed by A-Z Films will be in theatres June 21. Photo: Golden Ratio Films.

“This film is a universal story that is a joy ride for every member of the family,” says A-Z Film’s Antoine Zeind. “Director Ken Scott has done a remarkable job bringing together many parts of the world and mixing in plenty of emotion through laughs, storytelling, and social commentary. I know Canadians will be very taken by The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir and I’m excited to bring this adventure to them.”

Here’s a bit of Dhanush trivia:

  • His first film was Thulluvadho Ilamai, a 2002 coming-of-age film was directed by his father, Kasthuri Raja.
  • Dhanush has starred in over 25 films and received the “Best Actor” award at the 58th National Film Awards for his performance in Aadukalam (2010).
  • In 2011, Dhanush received international attention for his song Why this Kolaveri Di

Read on as Dhanush speaks candidly to his fans and audiences about:

The screenplay


“It had a fantastic message to send out to the world, combined with irresistible humor. It was also the promise of a journey I hadn’t yet dared to take in my career. You rarely get the chance of being offered a role like that.”

On his character Aja

“He is a street magician. He is charming and can get out of sticky situations most of the time. But he is also a character who most viewers can identify with because he is truly philosophical about life – and doesn’t hesitate to take off on a mind-blowing adventure.”

Tamil superstar Dhanush (r) seen here with Canadian filmmaker Ken Scott during the making of the upcoming film, “The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir,” which will hit the theatres in Canada, June 21. Photo: Golden Ratio Films.

Film’s director Ken Scott

“He is an extremely pleasant director and at the same time, he has a very clear vision of what he wants. It’s fantastic to be directed by someone who knows how to take you exactly where he wants you to go, yet allows you to make the character your own. He encourages real teamwork; with him, I felt like we were building scenes together, getting inspiration from both his approach and mine. I learned a lot with him.”

Work method

“I didn’t have time to do readings or rehearsals, but in retrospect, I’m really happy about that. Because I was able to keep a certain freshness and spontaneity that I wouldn’t necessarily have had if we had rehearsed.”

Dancing

“It’s an art that is an integral part of Indian culture. I’ve done more than thirty films in India, and in most of them, I had dance scenes. Since I’m used to dancing on a regular basis, I didn’t really need to do any preparation for that.”

A different world

“Probably the most difficult thing for me was adapting to a world so radically different from what I am used to. I had to get accustomed to different work methods and a different shooting style. During the first week, it was pretty tough for me, but after that, I really had a blast!”

 You can check out a couple of tracks from the film including Jaadu Ka Pitaara and #Madaari song sung by Vishal Dadlani and Nikhita Gandhi and music by Amit Trivedi at https://youtu.be/-UPuJATvHmc.

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Eid Mubarak, Toronto! June ’19 events in Toronto offer something for everyone

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MonsterWorld Concert at the Garden Square, 1 Theatre Ln. Brampton will feature a variety of South Asian (desi) performers. The free concert is one of the many events happening in June ’19 across the Greater Toronto Area. Photo: Supplied.

Saturday, June 1

Event: MonsterWorld Concert

Details: The MonsterWorld concert happening at the Garden Square 1 Theatre Ln., in Brampton is bringing a slew of high-energy urban musicians (Parichay, The Band Destiny, Flower City Bhangra, etc.,). This annual event has become the staple of summer. The Concert is free.
Contact: For schedule and performers visit here

Sunday, June 2-4

Event: Eid Bazaar (Chaand Raat)

Details: PGA International will be hosting its annual Eid Bazaar again this year at the Swagat Banquet Hall, 6991 Millcreek Dr. in Mississauga from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. The bazaar will feature an array of goods such as food, jewelry, beauty products, etc.
Contact: For more information visit here

Friday, June 7

Event: 5th annual Sansar Gala

Details: This celebration of Bollywood cinema is to support new research study for the deeper investigation of heart disease in South Asians. The black-tie gala will take place at the Paramount Eventspace, 222 Rowntree Dairy Rd., Woodbridge, ON. From 6:30 p.m. onward.Contact: For tickets and more visit here

Thursday, June 13

Event: Toronto Desi Soiree

Details: This event for South Asian (desi) singles by DeskiKnot is happening at Midtown Gastro Hub, 1535 Yonge St. Toronto from 8-10 p.m.
Contact: For more information about tickets, etc. visit here.

Saturday, June 29

Event: Rang Raatri

Details: Brampton Soccer Centre at 1495 Sandalwood Pkwy. E. is the place to be to enjoy an evening of Garba and sangeet with Achal Mehta. The event will start at 6 p.m. Cost of tickets is $20/person.
Contact: For tickets and other information, visit here.

Saturday, June 29-30

Event: A World of Culture

Details: Diversity Tour presents, A World of Culture, a two-day extravaganza taking place at the David Pecaut Square, 215 King St. W. in Toronto. The event will feature music, dance, a global food village and more.
Contact: For more information visit here

Tap dance will meet Kathak in Toronto when this award-winning dance duo stir up magic through their feet

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An artist’s vision should be as limitless, flexible enough to accommodate new ideas, and have the ability to elevate the art itself in new and exciting ways.

Seema Mehta, a well-known Kathak dancer, and Emmy-award-winning tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith check off all the above-mentioned boxes.

In their upcoming show, Rhythm Rewritten, happening in Toronto and other cities in Canada, the duo combines the timeless grace of Kathak with the intricacies of tap dance without diluting the sanctity of either.

You can watch their incredible chemistry and footwork, Thursday, May 16 at the Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr. Toronto at 8 p.m.  This show is a must-see for everyone that loves dance, art, culture, and music.

“Our performance is all improv,” says Seema, who was trained by the renowned Chitresh Das and with whom Jason created the award-winning ‘India Jazz Suites.’”

Seema Mehta, a renowned Kathak dancer, and a disciple of the late Chitresh Das has been carrying on the legacy of her guru. Photo courtesy of Seema Mehta

“What is incredible about Jason’s dance is his ability to focus and really listen to what’s happening around him which he absorbs and recreates through his body,” she continued. “Even though (the energy), is coming out of the tap shoes, it’s, in fact, going through his whole body. Jason’s dance decisions are made in a split second…”

Sounds intriguing, no? Check out the video.

Witness the battle of the feet in Toronto

The staccato sounds produced tap shoe complement the musical cadence of the Ghungroo (bell anklet) in a mesmerizing way. A fact that the world was able to witness because Chitresh Das, a jazz aficionado, imagined Kathak as a force that could easily blend with other forms.

In 2004, the American Dance Festival in North Carolina invited Chitresh Das to be part of the line-up. The event also featured a Flamenco company as well as three tap dancers including Jason.

When Jason and Chitresh Das jammed, they both experienced an incredible connection, both personally and as artists.

“That was my first exposure to Kathak and I was fascinated by the rhythms, energy, storytelling and the precision of the dancers,” Jason recalled with nostalgia. “Dada (as Das was known) was a larger-than-life personality. He had an incredible desire to preserve his style and promote it to the world. I admired that because in tap dance too, we strive for the same thing.”

And thus, began a friendship and collaboration that continues.

Emmy-award-winning tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith will bring his energy and tap shoes to Toronto for Rhythm Rewritten, a show where Samuels Smith collaborates with Kathak dancer Seema Mehta for a scintillating performance. Photo courtesy of Matthew Murphy.

When Seema and Jason are on stage, each feeds off the energy of the other as well draws strength from an enthusiastic crowd.

Case in point. Students across various IIT Campuses in India gave Seema and Jason rousing feedback when the duo performed in their campuses. The audience was loud, energetic and enthusiastic.

So, what can you expect at Rhythm Rewritten concert?

Simple, an hour-and-half performance, from two stellar artists that understand music and dance and communicate without a word.

The show will feature two solo acts with Seema showcasing her Kathak IQ and Jason exhibiting his outstanding abilities. Then, the two will jointly perform together.

“It’s kind of like a concert but it’s also a conversation between individuals and styles (of dance), between cultures, time, generation, etc,” Jason explains. “We both build bridges within our art forms without changing it. Unlike a fusion act where the lines get so blurry that you don’t know what’s what, we use a traditional vocabulary to express a current conversation.”

Rhythm Rewritten concert features Debashis Sarkar (vocals), Jayanta Banerjee (Sitar), Satyaprakash Mishra (Tabla), Ian de Sousa (bass), and Theo Hill (piano). For tickets, visit here.

IFFSA-Toronto brings dozens of films and filmmakers

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Well-known Hindi film actor Manoj Bajpayee was in Toronto for the 2019 IFFSA-Toronto.
Well-known Hindi film actor Manoj Bajpayee was in Toronto for the screening of his film Bhonsle which was part of the International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) – Toronto. Bajpayee participated in a Q&A with Jake Dheer, a member of IFFSA-Toronto advisory board. Photo by Toronto Desi Diaries.

If you’re a serious film buff, not the Bollywood song-and-dance kind, but of cinema whose characters and storyline end up connecting with you on a personal level, albeit through subtitles, then, the International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) — Toronto, may be just what you need. The festival running until May 20 at multiple venues across the Greater Toronto Area, kicked-off Thursday, May 9.

Well-known actor Manoj Bajpayee (Satya) was among those in Toronto for the screening of his acclaimed film Bhonsle. The film follows the unusual friendship between Ganpath Bhonsle, a retired cop (Bajpayee), and a pair of Bihari migrants; a young woman and her brother.

Bajpayee—who also co-produced the project— talked about how the movie almost didn’t happen.

Migrants and migration are hot potato issues in India (across the globe too). At least half a dozen producers passed it because they feared the film’s sympathetic premise would step on the toes of some stridently anti-migrant political leaders.

When the shooting was finally underway in 2017, the Devashish Makhija directed film, ran out of money on the 10th day, forcing a desperate, but determined Bajpayee to reach out to an old producer friend of his and ask for $50,000. The friend came through. The rest is, Bhonsle.

“My basic nature (since childhood) is that I am very stubborn,” Bajpayee told the crowd. “If I decide to do something, I go for it whether I fail or succeed. I was passionate about this film (Bhonsle).”

“An artist is nothing without the vision of a director,” Bajpayee continued. “The director can have 25-years of experience or five or no experience at all. There was this director (Devashish Makhija) who had talent, a great script and a story to tell. This story is about a burning topic (migrants). And what’s unique about this story is that we’re talking about people who’re immigrants in their own country. Producers were wary of the subject and no one wanted to produce it…it was then I decided, no matter what this film will be made.”

Wikipedia pages are not exactly literary sources, but Bhonsle’s Wikipedia page is surprisingly well-written and detailed. It offers some never-published facts including one that says the director shot several scenes “in closed narrow spaces as Makhija wanted to ‘create a sense of suffocation.’”

Poster of Bhonsle, a Hindi film showcasing the issue of migrants
Bhonsle, a Hindi film which tackles the issue of migrants and migration through sensitivity, was screened at IFFSA-Toronto, May 9. The film’s lead actor Manoj Bajpayee was on hand for a talk.

Gurinder Chadha’s Blinded by the Light wows the audience in Toronto

Gurinder Chadha is imminently likable.

Dressed in a fiery tangerine and cream coloured salwar-kameez and sporting a cheery smile, Gurinder talked about her yet-to-be-released film, Blinded by the Light in Toronto recently.

The film was Inspired by a true story, based on Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir, Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll.

Gurinder took on the helm as a director. The screenplay duties were shared by Manzoor, Gurinder and Paul Mayeda Berges (Gurinder’s husband). The film, set to the music and lyrics of Bruce Springsteen, captures the racial climate of the ‘80s in Britain.

Blinded by the Light is about how Javed (Viveik Kalra), a British teen of Pakistani descent, discovers Springsteen’s music, and in the process finds his own voice.

Well-known filmmaker Gurinder Chadha (R) was in Toronto for the International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA)-Toronto. Here she’s in conversation with Jake Dheer, member of IFFSA’s advisory council and senior manager, OMNI TV. Photo Toronto Desi Diaries.

Gurinder’s strength as a director is unmatched when it comes to telling stories of the South Asian diaspora. In Bend it like Beckham, she wove a rich and deft narrative using two large strands: culture and soccer, and in Light, she replaces soccer with music.

“It seemed as if presently there’s a common thread (of racism) and a lot of divisions around the world,” Gurinder observed. “This film will hopefully bring us together as humans and show there are more things that connect us than those that divide us.”

Gurinder’s face lights up when she talked about how Springsteen chuckled during the film. When it ended, he hugged and kissed her on her cheek.

“He loved it,” she said. “He loved it because he knew it wasn’t about him…”

Blinded by the Light is slated for release on August 14 and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The stage production of Bend it like Beckham, a musical, will make its North American debut in Toronto at the Bluma Apple Theatre, in downtown Toronto, from December 7 to 24.

For information on films screening during IFFSA-Toronto, visit here.

The May ’19 events calendar for South Asians in Toronto is packed with music, spirituality and more

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  • Gulzarish is a show that will showcase the poetry of well-known Bollywood lyricist and filmmaker Gulzar. The show is happening, May 16 at the Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr. Toronto. Photo: Gulzarish.
  • IN5: Experium is an interactive and immersive exhibition featuring the Golden Temple. It’s installed at the Bramalea City Centre, 70 Peel Centre Dr. until June 16. Photo courtesy of IN5: Experium
  • Rhythm Rewritten with Jason Samuels and Seema Mehta featuring Emmy Award-wining tap-dancing phenomenon Jason Samuels Smith and acclaimed classical Indian kathak dancer Seema Mehta will take place at the Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr. Toronto at 8 p.m.
  • A sketch of a South Asian man wearing an orange turban

Toronto Desi Diaries is back!

Thank you for your patience.
ICYMI: This blog will regularly feature news, stories, and events about the desis aka South Asians of Toronto. Sit back, relax, grab a cup of piping hot tea and allow us to take you down the alleys of the city.
Are you interested in guest-blogging for us? Do you have an event or concert coming up? Drop us a line or two at Toronto.desidiaries@gmail.com. Oh, it might be a good idea to subscribe to the blog.                                                            

Thursday, May 2-5

Event: Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD

Details: This event is for all things to do with books, authors, workshops and more. The Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) will kick-off in Brampton (across multiple venues). This event celebrates diversity in literature by shining the spotlight on authors of colour. There are more than 30 unique sessions happening at FOLD.
Contact: For tickets and schedule, visit here

Saturday, May 4

Event: Self-love & Self-care Conference

Details: Womxn Offering Wisdom (WOW) is inviting South Asian girls/women between the ages of 12 – 21 to join them for a day of workshops, discussions, activities, networking and more. The event will take place at Bill Hogarth Secondary School, 100 Donald Sim Ave. Markham, L6B 0R1 at 9 a.m.
Contact: wowyorkregion@gmail.com for tickets and information

May 9-20

Event: International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA)

Details: This 12-day film festival will showcase predominantly South Asian films and regional cinema including short films, documentaries, and music films. It takes place at multiple locations/cities across the GTA.
Contact: For itinerary/schedule, etc. visit here

Saturday, May 11

Event: Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega

Details: This charity musical concert benefitting Creating Hopes Canada will take place Century Gardens Recreation Centre, 340 Vodden St. E. in Brampton at 5:30 p.m. The evening will pay tribute to well-known music composers O.P. Nayyar and Shankar- Jaikishan. Cost of tickets is $20/person.
Contact: For tickets

Thursday, May 16

Event: Rhythm Rewritten with Jason Samuels and Seema Mehta

Details: This captivating new cross-art form, featuring Emmy Award-winning tap-dancing phenomenon Jason Samuels Smith and acclaimed classical Indian kathak dancer Seema Mehta will take place at the Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr. Toronto at 8 p.m.
Contact: For tickets and more visit here

Wednesday, May 22

Event: Firangi Rang Barangi with Artist Meera Sethi

Details: Meera Sethi, a contemporary artist, who works in a variety of mediums explores the relationship between identity, dress, and hybridity, especially in relation to South Asian-Canadian histories and communities. She will speak at the Richmond Hill Public Library, Room A (second floor), 1 Atkinson St. Richmond Hill, ON L4C 0H5, at 7 p.m.
Contact: For more information/register, visit here

Sunday, May 26

Event: SOCH

Details: SOCH, a grassroots mental health initiative aimed at empowering the community of Brampton with mental health knowledge and awareness, will be hosting its monthly workshop on mental health at the Cyril Clark Library Theatre, 20 Loafers Lake Ln. from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Contact: SOCH on Facebook

Friday, May 31

Event: Gulzarish

Details: Aga Khan Museum this May. Gulzarish, an artistic display of soulful poetry and captivating music of renowned lyricist and film director Gulzar is happening at the Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr. at 7 p.m.  The unique combination of music, drama, and dance will be accompanied by superb narration. The event has been organized by Indian Women In Canada (iWINC).
Contact: Mini (416-727-9550) or Taran (647-887-2533)

April 16 – June 16

Event: IN5 Experium: The Golden Temple

The Ek Onkar symbol. This symbol represents the core of Sikkism. An interactive exhibit of the Golden Temple is here in Brampton until June 16, 2019.
The IN5- Experium, an interactive, one-of-a-kind exhibit presently running at the Bramalea City Centre, 25 Peel Centre Dr., will take the viewer on a tour of the Golden Temple and introduce them to the core tenets of the Sikh philosophy. The exhibit will run until June 16. Photo courtesy INS: Experium

Details: This immersive, multi-media exhibit uses multiple projection screens and music to create a world of make-belief, giving the viewer an immersive experience on Amritsar-located Golden Temple and the core tenets of Sikh philosophy. It’s currently showing at the Bramalea City Centre, 70 Peel Centre Dr. in Brampton.
Contact: For more information, visit here

Merry Christmas Toronto Desis. Here’s a list of Dec. ’18 events happening in your city

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Toronto Desi Diaries wishes you all a Merry Christmas and a dhamaka year ahead. Check out these Dec. 2018 events curated just for you.

A photo of a blue autorickshaw

Gerrard India Bazaar will be hosting a walking/food-tasting tour, Saturday, Dec. 22.

Saturday, Dec. 22

 

Event: Gerrard India Bazaar Walking and Food Tour

Details: This one-hour tour will start at 5:30 p.m. outside the Dollar Tree entrance doors near Coxwell and Gerrard Streets in the neighbourhood known as “Little India.” The walkers will get fascinating insights about the area’s history as they stroll down the lanes dotted with storefronts displaying colourful items such as clothing, jewelry, art, religious artifacts and more. The tour will also include a sampling of Indian and Pakistani food.
Contact: For more information visit here 

Monday, Dec. 24

Event: AR Rahman: A spiritual Music Experience

Details: Indian maestro AR Rahman’s name is synonymous with numerous chartbusters but what many people don’t know is that the legendary singer/composer has a spiritual side. This will be at the forefront at the Metro Convention Centre, 222 Bremner Blvd. at 5:3- p.m. The concert will also feature Javed Ali. The audience will be able to listen to Sufi compositions and Bollywood hits such as “Khwaja mere Khawaja, maula and others.
Contact: For tickets visit here

“The philosophy and teachings of Sufis brought a change in my life,” Note Rahman. “It has influenced my music. It has made me look at my inner self and meaning of my existence in more depth.”

 

Tuesday, Dec. 25

Event: My Jolly Bolly Christmas

Details: Once you have unwrapped the presents and tucked into a hearty lunch, afterward, why not head to 866 Bloor St. W. at 7 p.m. to celebrate, “My Jolly Bolly Christmas” with The MAD Band as they belt out some cheery Bollywood and Christmas classics, then laugh as Zain Ali, a standup comic performs his sketches, all this while enjoying delicious food and drinks.
Contact: For more details visit here.

Thursday, Dec.27

Event: One Mic Nights

Details: This event hosted by Broadening Horizons is happening at the Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Ln. in Brampton at 7 p.m. It will feature Brampton’s dynamic artists, musicians, changemakers and trendsetters. The evening will feature hard rock, hip-hop, R&B and more.
Contact: For tickets and other information, visit here.

Monday, Dec. 31

Event: PGA International: NYE 2019

Details: You may want to head to Bovaird Banquet Hall, 190 Bovaird Dr. W. for this New Year bash by PGA International.
Contact: For tickets and other information here.

**There are several NYE happening in and around the GTA*** it wasn’t possible to list them all here.