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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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.

The maverick behind the Bollywood Monster Mashup reveals the secret sauce

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

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

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

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

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

 Sound castles in the air:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The three elements of BMM festivals:

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

For more information visit here.