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

Standard

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.

 

Advertisements

Hey there, Atul Khatri, welcome to Toronto

Standard

Atul Khatri holding a kid's bullhorn.

Atul Khatri, a well-known standup comic from India, will be performing at Brampton’s Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Ln., Sunday, Aug. 19 at 5 p.m. This is Khatri’s first ever show in Canada. Photo courtesy of Only Much Louder

Ever wondered what would happen if a Sindhi aka Atul Khatri got hold of a calculator?

Quite simple, really. His fingers would fly over the buttons as he crunched the numbers; then he would quit his job (CEO of an IT company in Mumbai) to become a standup comic. What’s more, he will make this life-affirming decision at 45.

Midlife crisis or pure madness? who knows, but Atul Khatri, India’s famous comic, appears to be at peace having swapped the 9-to-5 rat race for the mic. And if his YouTube subscribers, Twitter, and Facebook followers are any indications, his calculated move has paid off.

“I am a Sindhi, so I had to calculate the risk of everything,” he deadpanned when asked about the switch in careers. “I realized I was making more money doing six months of standup than what I was earning at my job. The comedy scene is growing in India and I realized it would be foolish of me not to ride the wave.”

Today, Atul’s among the top 20 comics in India. And guess what? He’s coming to Toronto as part of his first-ever North American tour.

“Standup comedy is very personal and every comic has a unique voice,” Atul told Toronto Desi Diaries. “Making people cry is very easy, but making them laugh is difficult.”

After a couple of sold-out shows in the U.S., the “Horny Sindhi” as he refers to himself is coming to Canada.

Atul will be at Brampton’s Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Ln., Sunday, Aug. 19 at 5 p.m. Grab your tickets here or by visiting www.rosetheatre.ca or by calling the box office at 905-874-2800.

Atul Khatri holding a bullhorn

Atul Khatri, one of India’s most well-known comics will be performing at the Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Ln., Sunday, Aug. 19 at 5 p.m. Photo courtesy of Only Much Louder.

The Desi Family Guy

“I am Sindhi, married to a Punjabi, two of the hairiest communities in India,” he says in a hilarious sketch about meeting his wife. “It was a love marriage, we both had a common love for hair. We met a medical store while buying Gilette…”

And so it goes for the next hour with Atul poking fun at himself, his family and life as a middle-aged man.

In an exclusive chat with the Toronto Desi Diaries Atul gamely answered questions his upcoming visit to Canada and this and that.

Atul’s wife Shaguna, a professional hairstylist, traveled with him to lend him to lend him moral support during the U.S. leg of the tour.

He need not have worried. His packed shows in the U.S. brought the roof down.

Atul’s resolve to grab life (comedy) by its throat happened on Dec. 31, 2012, at the stroke of midnight.

“Everyone has this one friend that’s funny, so, growing up, I was that guy but I never imagined I would get into comedy,” Atul explains. “I think it was a mid-life crisis. That year (2012) my new year resolution was that I wanted to do something different with my life. I was 45-years-old. I signed up for an open mic, wrote a set, asked my wife to come along with me (in case I bombed terribly). But it went well and the audience voted me the winner of “CEO’s Got Talent,” I really enjoyed being on the stage and making people laugh. Within nine months I realized there was even money in it.”

In 2016, Atul quit his IT job to pursue comedy, but he tested the waters first. He was one of the early adopters of Facebook. His observations, wry sense of humour and apt take on the political happenings in India tickled people’s funny bone. Emboldened, he faced a live audience.

Is laughter the best medicine? Not to the Indian politicians

Atul’s routines are peppered with swear words and he’s unapologetic about the language.

“That’s the way I talk to my friends and I am who I am,” he says. “Yes, those words come out whenever they choose to, it’s not planned or rehearsed or written in the script. I think people laugh at the content, not the swear words.”

Taking offense to everything has become a national pastime in India. Anyone with a smartphone has an opinion, Atul observed.

The censorship has made Atul’s writing smarter and exciting because he’s able to deliver the message without stepping on the toes of the indignant netas (politicians and religious zealots).

Atul Khatri, wearing underwear with a Superman logo and carrying dumbbells

India’s well-known comic Atul Khatri. Photo courtesy Only Much Louder.

If you are ready to be shocked, awed and entertained, you might want to buy those tickets, pronto.

This lineup of South Asian events in Toronto will make you forget the heat and humidity

Standard

Photo of two dancers

The Masala Masti Boat Cruise sailing forth on Aug. 4 from 242 Cherry St. at 1 p.m. features live music, dancing, food and more. Photo courtesy PGA International

Saturday, Aug. 4

Event: Masala Masti Boat Cruise

Details: Head to 242 Cherry St. Toronto and then jump onto a boat for a family fun-filled cruise with music, food, and dance. Boarding time is 1 p.m.
Contact: Visit here for more information about Masala Masti Boat

Event: Swayamvarswayamvar

Details: Swayamvar, a singles event for South Asians seeking their soul mates is happening at the Novotel Hotel, 3670 Hurontario St. in Mississauga at 1 p.m.
Contact: To find out more about Swayamvar, visit here.

Event: Raja Rani Night 2018

Details: This is an event showcasing the talents of Tamil youth. It’s taking place at the Tamil Isai Kalamandran 3-1120 Tapscott Rd. Scarborough M1X IE8 at 5:30 p.m. Also, the evening will feature Sanjeev and Manasa of “Raja Rani” a Tamil show airing on Vijay Television.
Contact: For more details about Raja Rani Night visit here.

Sunday, Aug. 12

Event: Hindustani Classical Music Concert

Chintan

Chintan Upadhaya

Details: Well-known Drupad vocalist Chintan Upadhaya will perform at the Rogers Theatre, 4141 Living Arts Centre at 5 p.m. The concert is brought to you by Swar Sadhana Music Lovers Club.
Contact: For tickets and more visit here.

Saturday, Aug. 18

Event: Festival of South Asia

Details: Gerrard Street East from Coxwell to Greenwood will be filled with music, food, vendors and more at the 2018 Festival of South Asia kicks off. The festival—hosted by Gerrard India BIA— runs Aug. 18-19 from noon (on Aug. 18) and 11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 19.
Contact: For all the other details visit here.

Aga Khan

A ring from the Mughal dynasty

Event: Emperors & Jewels

Details: The Aga Khan Museum at 77 Wynford Dr. Toronto, will feature the exquisite jewelry collection dating to the Mughal era. The exhibit, which opens in August will run until Jan ’19 and includes exquisitely crafted pieces of men’s jewelry, once owned by the Mughal emperors who ruled India from the 16th to 19th century.
Contact: For the museum, location and hours visit here.

Sunday, Aug. 19

Event: Atul Khatri Live

Khatri.jpg

Atul Khatri

Details: Atul Khatri, Indian CEO/standup comedian, and winner of the CEO’s Got Talent will be gracing the stage at Brampton’s Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Ln. at 5 p.m.
Contact: To buy tickets or for more information visit here.

 

 

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

A booklet featuring IFFSA Toronto schedule
Standard

The 2018 IIFSA Toronto taking place has a mix of commercial as well as arthouse films.

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

Did you know?

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

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

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

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

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

      Film poster of the movie The Song of Scorpions showing the faces of a man and a woman across a dessert.

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

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

      A silhouette of a woman in profile

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

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

      A woman wearing a blue veil

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

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

      A painting of a woman or mother staring sadly

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

Events, masterclass, and workshops

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

    A young Sikh boy wearing a turban has his face painted.

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

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

A booklet featuring IFFSA Toronto schedule

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

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

Nova Bhattacharya’s contemporary Bharatnatyam blurs cultural lines in Toronto

Standard

Photo by John Launer

Toronto-based contemporary Bharatnatyam dancer Nova Bhattacharya, will be presenting a show, Decoding Bharatnatyam, Feb. 14-17 at The Citadel: Ross Centre for Dance, 304 Parliament St., Toronto. Photo by John Launer.

Tucked away inside rehearsal studios and embedded among stellar theatre/dance productions around Toronto, few “artistic gems” have raised the status of their craft beyond narrow definitions of culture and language.

Case in point: Nova Bhattacharya. An award-winning Bharatnatyam dancer, choreographer and artistic director of Nova Dance.

Nova strapped on the traditional dance anklet (ghungroo), a heavy musical belt sewn with tiny brass bells, worn by classical Indian dancers at age 7. Metaphorically, she hasn’t taken them off since.

“Bharatnatyam as an art form has a rich history of repertoire and an amazing potential to say new and different things,” Nova explained. “Watching artists (from different genres) gave me the desire to use the paint box I had to paint a new and different picture. Instead of painting it as a ‘varnam’ or ‘padam,’ I wanted to create something the audiences can experience even if they don’t understand the language…”

If you’re imagining a dance performance where the dancers are garbed in brightly-coloured Kanjeevaram sarees with their hair plaited and adorned with flowers and their eyes accentuated with dark kohl, you’ll be wrong. So wrong.

Imagine then, a dancer dressed in distressed jeans and a crimson-coloured sleeveless t-shirt or a flowing black gown with thigh-high slits swaying to the beats of techno-music combined with Carnatic music ragas. Sounds exotic? It’s mesmerizing (watch the video below).

“In Decoding Bharatnatyam, I, a Bengali-Canadian will be performing a Bharatnatyam dance choreographed by a Venezuelan-Canadian, proficient in the Cunningham dance technique that isolates body parts, believes in simplistic movements set to the background of complicated scores,” Nova explains.

Broken-Lines Ed Hanley

Neena Jayarajan and Atri Nundy will perform Broken Lines, an award-winning dance, Feb. 14-17 at The Citadel: Ross Centre for Dance, 304 Parliament St., Toronto. Photo by Ed Hanley.

The tug of dance

At age 7, renowned Bharatnatyam dancer Menaka Thakkar, accepted Nova as her student (incidentally, Nova was the first graduate of the Nrytyakala Dance Academy, Thakkar’s Toronto dance school).

And thus, began a journey fraught with ups and downs, headaches and heartaches, awards and accolades.

In her teens, Nova briefly shoved away her dreams and headed to Carleton University to pursue journalism. She dropped out after a year and was joyfully reunited with her passion when Menaka’s sister invited her to perform at a dance festival she was hosting.

Not one to remain boxed within the confines of prescribed norms, Nova broke free once she had mastered the nuances.

“I call the work I am doing as contemporary Bharatnatyam,” Nova says. “When I say contemporary, I mean the technique of Bharatnatyam, but using the tools of the art form in a different context.”

The Torontonian’s dance catalogues are experiments of the psyche woven together with compelling music, minimalistic set production and clean lines. It’s abstract storytelling. Take for instance, Infinite Storms (2017), a performance where Nova internalizes the debilitating pain of migraines into a dance routine or Akshongay for which she received a Dora nod for outstanding choreography.

Decoding Nova

Nova’s upcoming show, Decoding Bharatnatyam, unravels several layers of classical dance fused with modern sensibilities. Visualise the complex, but rigid footwork and hand movements of Bharatnatyam, flawlessly melding into the fluid moves of contemporary dance.

The show, hosted by Citadel + Compagnie (C+C) will feature three performances: Broken Lines, an award-winning duet by Neena Jayarajan and Atri Nundy; Alaap by Lucy Rupert and Calm Abiding, executed by Nova and choreographed by Venezuela-born, Montreal-based contemporary choreographer, José Navas.

“In (Broken Lines) Neena and Atri will delve deep into their (Bharatnatyam) training and improvise it,” Nova explained. “Instead of giving the artists a set choreography, I gave them a set of tasks to complete on the stage so that even if the audience does not know anything about Indian mythology, they are still able to connect to the dance through the performance of two skilled dancers.”

Decoding Bharatnatyam runs, Feb. 14-17, 2018 at The Citadel: Ross Centre for Dance, 304 Parliament St., Toronto, M5A 2Z6. Cost of tickets is $25/person and $20 (artists) and can be purchased by calling: 416-364-8011 ext. 1 or by visiting here (citadelcie.com).