The 2019 MuslimFest, Shreya Ghoshal, Phalguni Phatak concerts and the Jaipur Literary Festival are highlights of September ’19

Bollywood crooner Shreya Ghoshal will be performing at the Paramount Fine Foods, 5500 Cherry Pl. on Sunday, Sept. 8 at 6 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 30 to Sunday, Sept. 1

Event: MuslimFest

Details:  This is undoubtedly one of the biggest events happening in Mississauga this weekend. The 2019 MuslimFest featuring an array of performers, vendors, artists, etc. will take place at the Celebration Square in Mississauga for three days.
Contact: For schedule and more, visit here

Monday, Sept. 2

Event: Kal, aaj aur kal with Tushar Shukla

Details: Tushar Shukla, a poet, radio personality and author, and Kaajal Oza Vaidya, author and screenwriter will be at the Michael Power-St. Joseph High School, 105 Eringate Dr. in Etobicoke at 5 p.m. for an intellectual conversation.

Contact: For details contact here

Thursday, Sept. 5 – 15

Event: Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)

Details: One of North America’s biggest film festivals kicks off Sept. 5-15 this year across various venues. Each year, the festival welcomes several Bollywood actors, directors and industry stalwarts. The Sky is Pink, starring Priyanka Chopra and Farhan Akhtar is part of this year’s offering.

Contact: For schedules, red carpets, etc. visit here

Saturday, Sept. 7

Event: Falguni Pathak in Toronto

Details: The dandiya queen of India Falguni Pathak will be at the International Centre, 6900 Airport Rd., Mississauga at 7 p.m. for Dandiya Dhoom.

Contact: For tickets and more visit here

Garba queen Falguni Pathak

Event: Guelph Ratri before Navrathri 2019

Details: This event featuring traditional Ras Garba with Darshana Thaker and Vishnu Joshi will take place at the Evergreen Senior Community Centre, 683 Woolwich St. in Guelph, Ont. starting at 6:30 p.m.

Contact: For tickets, etc. visit here

Event: Dharma Samvadam Family Retreat

Details: Shrishti Foundation will host a two-day spiritual retreat at the Guruvayurappan Temple of Brampton, 2580 Countryside Dr., in Brampton Sept. 7-8. The event will be guided by Swami Chidananda Puri, Muktananda Yati and Divakaran Nambudiri and feature, discourses, discussions, Q&A, meditation, etc.

Contact: For more details visit here

Event: Stree Shakti: Celebrating Women in Music

Details: This classical music event by Raag Mala will take place at the Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr. in Toronto at 7 p.m. It will feature Shubada Joshi-Athawale (harmonium), Vidushi Arati Ankalikar (vocalist), Mukta Raste (Tabla). This event is part of our 2019/20 Performing Arts season, Listening to Each Other, which pays tribute to the role of the performative arts in connecting communities, preserving culture, and spurring social change.

Contact: For tickets, visit here

Arati Ankalikar Tikekar (above) along with, Shubhada Joshi–Athawale (harmonium) and Srimati Mukta Raste (Tabla) will perform at Stree Shakti: Celebrating Women in Music, Saturday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr. Toronto  

Sunday, Sept. 8

Event: Shreya Ghoshal Live

Details: Bollywood crooner Shreya Ghoshal will entertain audiences in Toronto as she takes over the stage at 6 p.m. at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre, 5500 Rose Cherry Place in Mississauga.

Contact: For tickets, contact here

Event: Trijjan 2019

Details: This Punjabi cultural event is taking place at the Speranza Hall, 510 Deerhurst Dr. in Brampton at noon. Artists include Gurnam Bhullar, Rajvir Jawanda, Mankirt Aulakh, Harjit Harman and others.

Contact: For tickets, contact: Gift Emporium (Airport and Morningstar) or call 905-677-8686                            

Saturday, Sept. 21


Details: This is the first year for the Brampton-based event hosted by PGA International. The 905FEST featuring performances by local artists, food, activities for children, etc. will take place outside the Sheridan College, Davis Campus, 7899 McLaughlin Rd. in Brampton between 2-10 p.m. This year’s proceeds will benefit SHIVAS (Shining Hope in Vital Autism Society) a not-for-profit organization.   

Contact: For more details visit here

Sunday, Sept. 22

Event: Energy Flow Recital

Details: Pure Soul Energy Bollywood Dance will present a dance recital of its students at noon at the Hindu Heritage Centre, 6300 Mississauga Rd.

Contact: For more details visit here

Pure Soul Energy will present a dance recital at the Hindu Heritage Centre, 6300 Mississauga Rd. Sunday, Sept. 22

Thursday, Sept. 27 – 29

Event: Jaipur Literary Festival

Details: This high-profile literary event whose roots are planted in India will be making its Canadian debut this year to take place at Toronto’s Distillery District.

The 2019 JLF – Toronto will feature a lineup of award-winning writers, actors, culinary stars. You do not want to miss it.

Contact: For full roster visit here  

The Jaipur Literary Festival will make its debut in Toronto’s Distillery District, Sept. 27-29.

Judging by this long list of Aug ’19 events, South Asians Toronto have some great entertainment choices

Flower City Bhangra will be presenting its annual competition, Saturday, Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. at the Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Ln. Brampton. This popular event attracts teams from North America. Photo: Flower City Bhangra

Thursday, Aug. 1

Event: Red Carpet, Mosaic International South Asian Festival (MISSAF)

Details: The Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival (MISAFF) returns for its 7th year from Aug.1–4. This year, the festival will showcase women-centric films as well as stories of familial struggles, love, etc. The red carpet/opening gala will take place at Cineplex, 309 Rathburn Rd., Mississauga at 6 p.m.

Contact: For the full schedule, visit here.

Friday, Aug. 2

Event: Thyaga Panchakam

Details: Head to the Toronto Public Library – Fairview Branch, 35 Fairview Mall Dr., North York at 6:30 p.m. to listen to Nrutha Kala Kendra’s Thyaga Panchakam, a dance odyssey inspired by the Pancharatna kritis. This dance and music extravaganza celebrates Saint Thyagaraja and will take the audience on a spiritual journey.

Contact: For more information visit here.

Sunday, Aug. 4

Event: Taste of India

Details: “You have around 10,000 tastebuds, kill them all,” says the teaser for this sumptuous food festival taking place at the Nathan Phillips Square. The event will run from noon to 10 p.m.

Contact: For more details, visit here.

Thursday, Aug. 8

Event: Berklee Indian Ensemble

Details: the Berklee Indian Ensemble, along with Grammy-winning vocalist Vijay Prakash will perform at the Long & McQuade Performance Hall, 4 Pardee Ave. Toronto, for an intimate and interactive live to Air performance on Thursday, August 8 at 7 p.m.
Contact: For tickets and more contact 1-800-811-2400 or email

The Berklee Indian Ensemble will be in Toronto to perform a couple of shows. On Thursday, Aug. 8 the ensemble along with Grammy-winner Vijay Prakash will perform at the Long and McQuade Performance Hall at 7 p.m. The artists will also perform at the TD Mosaic Festival, Aug. 9-10. Photo: Submitted

Event: Qaawali

Details: The Qaawali Music in Contemporary Pakistan with Umair Jaffar will take place at the Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr., Toronto at 1 p.m. Umair will explore the changing face of qawwali, a devotional genre of music thought to have originated in Sufi shrines. Is the soul of qawwali fading? Umair delves into these questions and unravels the various interpretations of qawwali music in contemporary Pakistan.

Contact: For tickets and more, contact here.

Friday, Aug. 9-10

Event: Eid Bazaar

Details: There will be an Eid Bazaar at Pearl Banquet Hall, 1638 Aimco Blvd, Mississauga, ON L4W 1V1, with food, music, jewelry, clothing, etc. The event runs from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Contact: For more information visit here.

Event: TD Mosaic Festival

Details: The 14th Annual Mosaic Festival is taking place at the Celebration Square, 300 City Centre Dr., in Mississauga at 7 p.m. This year’s performers include: Ali Sethi, Vijay Prakash from India, Berklee College of Music Indian Ensemble from Boston, Shiamak Toronto Dance, Irshad Khan ensemble. and more. The festival runs from 5-10 p.m. on both days.

Contact: For the full festival schedule, visit here.

Saturday, Aug. 10

Event: Flower City Bhangra

Details: Dubbed as one of the most popular events in North America, the Flower City Bhangra is taking place The Rose Theatre in Brampton. The festival is hosted by Saath Foundation, a registered not-for-profit whose aim is to raise awareness about social problems. The competition will kick off at 1 p.m.

Contact: For tickets, contact here.

Event: Mississauga’s Tamils Got Talent

Details: The Positive Youth Development Committee and Mississauga Tamil Association will be hosting this talent show at the Meadowvale Theatre, 6315 Montevideo Rd. at 5 p.m.

Contact: For more details, contact here.

Sunday, Aug. 18

Event: Panorama India Festival and Grand Parade

Details: This annual event commemorating India’s Independence Day will take place at the Nathan Phillips Square from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Panorama India is hosted with the support of Consul General of India. Bollywood actress Lara Dutta will be the parade grand marshal.

Contact: For more details, visit here.

Event: Teeyan East End Diyan

Details: Navjot Thakural present Teeyan East End Diyan at The Brighton Convention & Events Centre, 2155 McNicoll Ave., Scarborough at noon.

Contact: For tickets visit here.

Thursday, Aug. 22-26

Event: Idol Ke Diwane Cruise 2019

Details: Enjoy five days and four nights of the cruise on a private chartered ship from Palm Beach, Florida to Grand Bahama and Nassau Bahamas. The cruise will feature Bollywood music, a meet-and-greet with artists and more.

Contact: For tickets and more visit here

Friday, Aug. 23

Event: Jonmashtomi

Details: Celebrate Jonmashtomi, birth Tithi of Lord Krishna at the Bangladesh Canada Hindu Mandir (Bangladesh Hindu Temple in Canada) at 16 Dohme Ave., East York at 7:30 p.m.

Contact: For more information, visit here.

Saturday, Aug. 24

Event: Sairam Dave live in Toronto

Details: International folk artist Sairam Dave will perform at the Sringeri community centre, 80 Brydon Dr. Etobicoke, at 6 p.m.

Contact: For tickets and more contact here.

Sunday, Aug. 31

Event: Maithry Onam

Details: Maithry’s Onam 2019 will be held at the Campbell Community Centre, 1050 Sandalwood Pkwy. W. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Here’s a sneak peek at the highlights of the 2019 Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival (MISAFF) running Aug. 1-4 in Mississauga. Video courtesy, MISAFF

Bollywood crooners Nikhita Gandhi and Yasser Desai will perform at the 2019 Bollywood Monster Mashup concert in Mississauga

Bollywood singer Nikhita Gandhi will headline the Bollywood Monster Mashup concert, July 19 at the Celebration Square in Mississauga. The event will start at 4 p.m. with a host of other local artists and performers. Photo courtesy of Bollywood Monster Mashup

The good folks at the Bollywood Monster Mashup (BMM) not only orchestrate a couple of great outdoor concerts in Brampton and Mississauga with A list performers, each year, but they have always given Toronto Desi Diaries access to the artists. So, here’s a big shout out to all the behind-the-scenes wizards handling social media, PR, stage, and all the promotional duties. You guys, rock.

But, before you dive right into my Q&A with Nikhita Gandhi, here’s what you need to know about the July 2019 concerts:

What: The 9th Bollywood Monster Mashup

When: July 18-20 with back-to-back concerts happening at Mississauga’s Celebration Square

Who: Nikhita will take on the stage on Friday, July 19, and on Saturday, July 20, enjoy the soulful melodies of Yasser Desai with the man himself. You may have heard of Yasser’s voice belting out (Pallo Latke) and my absolute favourite Naino ne baandi from the Akshay Kumar starrer, Gold.  Friday’s show will also feature performances by Reign Yash Academy, Parichay, Waris Virse De, Peace & Love and R&B United Band.

Saturday evening witness The Shiamak Showkids, The Band Destiny, Nick Ft. Vedik Vibez Orchestra, Ankita Music, Desi Muziko Band, and Mehboob Orchestra, plus, the annual #BollywoodMonster Orchestra ( Vikas Kohli) will be teaming up with Univox Choir to perform hit songs from Bajirao Mastani, Agneepath and other films with over 20 voices on stage.
How’s that for a monster celebration, eh?

Yasser Desai, a Bollywood playback singer, will perform at the 2019 Bollywood Monster Mashup concert happening Saturday, July 20 at the Celebration Square in Mississauga. The evening will include performances by other local artists and bands including the Bollywood Monster Orchestra. Photo courtesy of Bollywood Monster Mashup.

“Nine years in, and we keep upping the ante on the free concerts and free activities for families in Mississauga, the GTA, across Ontario, and beyond,” noted Vikas Kohli, artistic director, MonstrARTity. “From Bollywood stars with their debut Canadian performance, to brilliant dance performances, KidZone crafts and games, food, shopping and more. Come on out and join us as we sing, dance and eat all weekend long.”

In conversation with Nikhita Gandhi

Pursuing her musical dreams meant, Nikhita, 27, had to ditch her plans to become a dental surgeon (she was in her fourth year of school) when fate staggered and took an unexpected turn, leading her into the world of music.  Nikhita’s idyllic childhood in Calcutta was spent in hours of riyaz (practice). Whether it was classical Hindustani music, Odissi dance or hitting the textbooks, this self-professed nerd appears to have mastered it all.

Since her debut in 2015, Nikhita has delivered a string of chart-toppers include Raabta, Qaafirana from Kedarnath, Ullu ka patha with Arjit from Jagga Jassos, Madaari from the Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir, and dozens of others including some regional hits.

Nikhita shares some details of her life including some surprising talents (hint: let’s say she’ll be more than at home at the Home Depot or Lowe’s).

Toronto Desi Diaries (TDD): How did you became interested in music?

NG: I am a “quintessential Bong.” My family (Bengali/Punjabi) is from Calcutta. Culture is huge in Bengal and so, that’s something I imbibed.

TDD: How was your life in Chennai?

NG: I moved to Chennai to do my bachelor’s in dental surgery. It (Chennai) is where I met Rahman sir (AR Rahman) and it was where I recorded my first song as a professional musician (Ladio).

TDD: Was there an ‘aha’ moment for you when your path as a singer became clear?

NG: When I started working with Rahman sir, I was still in college. I took everything that came my way as an experience and a new chapter.

The ‘aha’ moment was when I met Rahman sir after my first song and he asked me what my plans were. I told him, “Sir, I am in my final year and my plan is to finish this (dental surgery) and maybe do my master’s.”
He looked at me and said, “Are you serious? You’re now a singer. This is your life, now.”

And that was a defining moment.

TDD: What’s the life of a playback singer like?

NG: I am fairly new and just getting used to the rhythm out here in Mumbai. A typical day could be one that starts at 4 or 5 a.m. all the way until 3 a.m. the following morning. Or it could be one when I have nothing to do, so I am rehearsing or doing my own shows and cultivating my art. I am also a composer and songwriter. It’s all very unpredictable. I am a workaholic and love to keep busy.

TDD: What does an aspiring singer need to do in order to make it in the cut-throat music industry?

NG: There’s no formula, so, I can’t speak for everybody. But one thing I have been clear about is that; I always want to be true to myself. Whatever I do, I do what’s right. I don’t do things because it will position me in a certain way. I believe in hard work. I have enjoyed the journey because I think if you have a positive outlook, it makes things so much fun and interesting.

TDD: Who are your favourite singers, composers?

NG: I have been blessed to be able to work with the crème de la crème in my nascent years in the industry. Composers such as A.R Rahman, Pritam da, Sachin-Jigar, Amit Trivedi, Vishal Bhardwaj, Vishal-Shekhar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, etc. I am really excited at some of the stuff that’s in the pipeline.

Singers? I sang my first Bollywood song with Arjit Singh.. he’s so fabulous. I love Sasha’s voice. I am a person who loves textures. I am a die-hard fan of Abida Parveen and other singers with amazing unique sounds.

TDD: What’s your most favourite thing to do?

NG: My most favourite thing to do is to dance to some song that’s been stuck in my head. I love dancing alone. When I have a chill day to myself, I play the tune that I have been listening to in a loop and dance. It’s the most liberating thing…

TDD: Who’s on your playlist?

NG: There are a lot of artists I have been tripping on – Post Malone, Kehlani (Ashley), Daniel Caesar(R&B) and others.

TDD: One thing no one knows about you?

NG: I am a real nerd. I also love fixing things and making furniture. At home, I am an electrician, painter and what not. I have a tool kit with drills, hammers, etc.

TDD: What can we expect from your upcoming performance at Bollywood Monster Mashup?

NG: I am really excited about performing at the Bollywood Monster Mashup. This will be my first public show in Canada. I am going to perform all of my songs including some of my regional stuff. So, please do come, whatever community you belong to. I am going to give a little something to everybody. It’s going to be super versatile and interesting.

This Tamil song from the movie Kalyana Smayal Saadhum by Nikhita Gandhi shows the singer’s prowess. Gandhi will perform both her Hindi as well as regional hits on July 19 at the Celebration Square in Mississauga.

Jazzy B, Nikhita Gandhi, Yasser Desai, and others to perform at free outdoor concerts across the Greater Toronto Area, July’19

Jazzy B, the King of Bhangra and his band, will headline Vibrant Brampton Festival’s free outdoor concert, Sunday, July 28 at the Garden Square. Photo: Vibrant Brampton Festival

Happy Canada Day! Here’s your South Asian event calendar for July’19

Monday, July 1

Event: Canada Day

Details: Dancing Damsels Inc. will be hosting a Canada Day celebration at the Albert Campbell Square, 150 Borough Dr. Scarborough from 5-8 p.m. This free event will include participation from Canada’s truly multicultural cauldron.
Contact: For more information visit here

Tuesday, July 2-6

Event: Toronto International Dance Festival Workshops

Details: A series of dance workshops in preparation of the Toronto International Dance Festival will take place at the Albert Campbell Square, 150 Borough Dr. in Scarborough. Participants will be introduced to different dance forms by different instructors.
Contact: For information about the workshop, contact here

Thursday, July 4

Event: Rath Yatra

Details: A Lord Jagannath Dev’s Rath Yatra will take place at the Bangladesh Canada Hindu Mandir, 16 Dohme Ave. East York at 7:30 p.m.
Contact: For more information, contact here

Saturday, July, 6

Event: Tabla recital

Details: Toronto Tabla Ensemble will present the 2019 Student Recital at the Westedge Community Church, 157 Lakeshore Rd. W. at 6 p.m. The concert will feature performances by students from across the GTA. Cost of tickets is $20/person.
Contact: For more information visit here

Event: Standup by Kanan Gill
Details: Kanan Gill, a well-known comic will perform at the Ryerson Theatre, 43 Gerrard St. E, at 7 p.m. as part of his solo show Teetar.
Contact: For tickets and more visit here

Saturday, July 13-14

Event: Festival of India

Details: Toronto’s 47th Annual Festival of India will launch with a spectacular parade that will cruise down Yonge Street, beginning at Yonge & Bloor, and make its way down to the lake. During the parade, three ornate, 40-foot tall floats will be hand-pulled by participants amidst ecstatic singing, drumming, and dancing creating a wondrous, carnival-like atmosphere.
Contact: For information about the festival, visit here

Event: Festival of South Asia

Details: Gerrard St. E. between Glenside and Coxwell Avenues is “Little India.” On July 13-14, the streets will come alive for the Festival of South Asia, a multi-disciplinary arts and food festival showcasing a slice of South Asian culture. Festivities run from noon to 11 p.m. on both the days. Contact: For more details visit here

Monday, July 15 – 28

Event: Visual Arts of South Asia Festival

Details: V.A.S.A. – Arts Festival and exhibition’s aim is to introduce the unique flavour of South Asian art with an underlying objective of bringing together Canadian artists from different cultures. The event showcases South Asian culture as it evolves in this country and integrates with Canadian values. The exhibition will take place at Beaux-Arts Brampton, 70 Main St. N. Opening reception is taking place on July 18 from 6-9 p.m.
Contact: For gallery, hours visit here

Monday, July 15-18

Event: Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) in Toronto

Details: She’s known as the “hugging saint” and she will be at the Delta Hotel by Marriott- Toronto Airport, 655 Dixon Rd. Toronto, ON M9W 1J3. There are morning as well as evening programs, retreats, and Devi Bhava.
Contact: For more information visit here

Thursday, July 18-20

Event: Bollywood MonsterMashup

Details: This three-day family event is a celebration of all things music and Bollywood and its influence in Canada. On Thursday, the popular festival will kick-off the #BollywoodMonster launch party & comedy night showcasing a lineup of hilarious standup comedy acts and a silent disco. This is a by-invite-only event.

The public can take in two free concerts at Celebration Square in Mississauga July 19-20. This year’s performers are Bollywood crooners Nikhita Gandhi and Yasser Desai. Nikhita (“Qaafirana” from the movie Kedarnath) will perform Friday, July 19, whereas Yasser (‘Naino ne baandhi” from Gold) will take the stage, Saturday (July 20).
Contact: For more details visit here

Saturday, July 27-28

Event: Vibrant Brampton

Details: Organized by the non-profit group Arts and Culture Initiative of South Asia (ACISA,) the 4th annual Vibrant Brampton will bring two fun-filled days of music and dance. On Saturday, you may want to head to the Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Ln. in Brampton at 6 p.m. to listen to the Indian Idol winner Sreerama Chandra. Sunday’s outdoor concert bring Jazzy B to the Garden Square in Brampton.
Contact: For more details visit here

Toronto’s 47th Festival of India (Rath Yatra) will take place July 13-14.

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


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.”


“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

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

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


An artist’s vision should be limitless.

It should be flexible, resilient and be able to reinvent 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 combine 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 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 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 as 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 on their campuses. The audience was loud, energetic and enthusiastic.

So, what can you expect at the 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

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

  • 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 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: 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