Wishing you a very Happy Diwali, Toronto!

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A copper idol of Goddess Lakshmi in midst of red flowers

Hindus worldwide will celebrate Diwali on Nov. 7. The festival is marked by prayers to Goddess Lakshmi.

Friday, Nov. 2

Event: Diwali Dhamaka

Details: Celebrate Diwali Dhamaka with the KC Group. Celebrations are happening at the Bombay Palace, 200 Advance Blvd. in Brampton at 6 p.m.
Contact: For tickets to Diwali Dhamaka visit here

Saturday, Nov. 3

Event: Diwali Dance Night

Details: Head to the party room at the Greenbriar Recreation Centre, 1100 Central Park Dr. at 7:45 p.m. Organizers are promising music, food, and fun to celebrate the Festival of Lights.
Contact: For more information visit here

Event: Hindu Heritage Month Celebrations

Details: November is Hindu Heritage Month. Commemorate the month at the International Centre, 6900 Airport Rd. on Saturday, Nov. 3.
Contact: For more details visit here

Event: Anokhi Media anniversary event

Details: Anokhi Media will celebrate its 15th anniversary in a two-day event taking place at the Sheraton Centre, Toronto Hotel at 123 Queen St. W. on Saturday, Nov. 3.
Contact: For more information visit here

Friday, Nov. 9

Event: Standup Comedy Live

Details: Indian comics Rahul Subramanian and Kunal Kamra will perform at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, John Bassett Theatre, 255 Front St. W. Toronto at 7 p.m.
Contact: For tickets visit here

Saturday, Nov. 17

deepavali

Hindus and Sikhs in Toronto will celebrate the festival of lights, Diwali, Nov.7.

Event: Music Festival

Details: The Vraj Canada Intercultural Music Festival will celebrate Canada’s multiculturalism through performances by several artists. The event will take place at the Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr. Toronto at 6:30 p.m.
Contact: For tickets and more visit here

Sunday, Nov. 18

Event: The Kishore Kaka Show

Details: Kishore Kaka aka Smit Pandya is an actor, radio jockey, comic and YouTube sensation with more than 100,000 subscribers. The well-known standup will be performing at the SVBF, 80 Brydon Dr. Etobicoke at 6 p.m. Sanjay Raval is the special guest.
Contact: For tickets and more visit here

Event: SOCH workshop

Details: Supporting Our Community’s Health (SOCH) an initiative aimed at educating and creating awareness about mental health will be hosting its workshop, “Addictions- A Rising Concern in the South Asian Community,” at the Cyril Clark Library (20 Loafers Lake Ln.) in Brampton at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18
Contact: For more details visit here

Wednesday, Nov. 28

Event: Mental health conference

Details: Supporting the Mental Health of South Asian Youth and Families: Navigating Intergenerational Challenges within the South Asian Community, a one-day conference will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the YWCA, 87 Elm St.
Contact: For more information visit The Collaborative for South Asian Mental Health

All month-long

Event: Plays/workshops

Details: Under Artistic Director Ravi Jain, Managing Director Owais Lightwala and Executive Producer Kelly Read, Why Not Theatre presents a season of award-winning, pioneering, and thought-provoking theatre, created in Canada and around the world, for 2018/19.

In November, Mouthpiece will begin the final leg of its international tour. The award-winning play recently premiered as a feature film at the Toronto International Film Festival, and the 2018/19 theatre tour begins in Halifax and ends in Berkeley, CA!
November sees a new incarnation of Like Mother, Like Daughter, a funny and emotional show where real mothers and daughters create and perform it, using their own lives and stories in an improvised format. Originally conceived in Montreal by Why Not Theatre and Complicité London UK, Like Mother, Like Daughter is being produced all over the world with local mothers and daughters. There will be eight performances of Like Mother, Like Daughter at the 918 Bathurst Centre, each one culminating in a communal meal, presented by the Koffler Centre of the Arts.

For more information visit Whynot Theatre, visit here.

 

 

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Thanks to SOCH, South Asians in Toronto, are now talking about their mental health

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First off, apologies to Toronto Desi Diaries readers, for my inconsistent posts lately.

I was juggling at least half-a-dozen projects and these blurred my priorities and tested my resilience. Suffice to say, I did not emerge from it all unscathed. I am emotionally exhausted.

Which brings me to the conversation I had with a remarkable woman a few months ago.

Photo of Jasmeet Chagger and Maneet Chahal, two Brampton nurses who co-founded SOCH, a mental health initiative for South Asians in Toronto.

Maneet Chahal, 28, (L) seen here with her best friend Jasmeet Chagger, 28. The two nurses co-founded SOCH (Supporting our Community’s Health), an initiative to educate South Asians in the GTA about the resources and mental health system. Photo courtesy SOCH.

Jasmeet Chagger, 28, is a nurse working with the Canadian Mental Health Association Peel Dufferin’s Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team.

In 2015, Jasmeet and Maneet Chahal, 28, a nurse as well, started SOCH (Supporting our Community’s Health), an initiative to educate the South Asian community in the GTA about mental health.

Jasmeet and I talked about self-care, and how it was important for folks— caught in the frenzy of life—to take time to recharge, refuel and reset their emotional wellbeing.

“SOCH has a lot to do with our passion for mental health,” Jasmeet told Toronto Desi Diaries. “When Maneet and I work on SOCH stuff, it doesn’t feel like we are working. It’s something that we really want to do. What SOCH has taught us was; we preach self-care but we need to practice it ourselves. So, in a sense, it has been a learning curve for both of us…”

Let’s rewind this story and start from the beginning, shall we?

SOCH: Two nurses/BFFS wearing many hats

“Soch” in Hindi and Punjabi means, “thought.” An apt name for a mental health initiative that has strived to tirelessly untangle complex layers about mental wellbeing to the South Asians in Toronto by demystifying terms such as counselling, psychology, depression, physical health and its connection to mental health and more.

The two advocates—who live in Brampton—carve time from their hectic life to host workshops and events while managing full-time jobs and studying for their master’s degrees.

Maneet and Jasmeet, who are childhood BFFs, said SOCH was borne from the realization that even after being in the system for five, 10 or more years, many South Asians had no clue about the resources available to them or tools they needed to manage their symptoms. Worse still, there was no culturally relevant information available to family members, who helplessly watched their loved ones suffer.

“SOCH started because growing up both Maneet and I have seen mental health issues within our families and friends,” Jasmeet explained. “As teens and young adults, we struggled on how we could help people navigate the system. And when we became nurses, we thought about how we could help both individuals and families.”

“We wanted to use our knowledge to educate the community on the basics: what’s the difference between mental health and mental illness, how do you access the system? How can you get help? etc.”

The Brampton duo were the proud recipients of the Brampton Board of Trades’ 40 Under 40 for 2018 for their work.

Jasmeet Chagger and Maneet Chahal stand next to the signage.

In this photo, Maneet Chahal, 28, and Jasmeet Chagger, 28, (R) co-founders of SOCH celebrate Maneet getting a nursing research award for her thesis. SOCH (Supporting our Community’s Health)is an initiative that educates South Asians in the Greater Toronto Area about mental health through workshops and events. Photo courtesy SOCH.

So, what does SOCH do?

SOCH hosts monthly workshops in Punjabi at community centres and Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) in Brampton and surrounding areas.

When they first launched, they wanted the topics to resonate with the South Asians as well as the general population. With some help from LAB-B co-founder Harman Grewal, Maneet and Jasmeet found a physical address (LAB-B) from which they could host the information sessions.

The workshops are designed to be more facilitator- style than lectures.

In Feb. 2017, SOCH did its first South Asian-focused event and took the conversation into the Gurudwaras. Since then, the sessions are held in Punjabi/Hindi.

“Instead of presenting a deck, we try and get the audience engaged by asking questions, listening or having them discuss a topic or issue amongst themselves first and we fill in the gaps,” Maneet explained.

  • SOCH’s main mandate is to offer linguistically and culturally-appropriate information.
  • SOCH acts as a bridge or conduit connecting and educating individuals from the South Asian community to information and resources available in the community.
  • More importantly, SOCH has been instrumental in getting people (South Asians) to openly talk about mental health.

 “There’s a negative connotation with mental health,” Maneet explained. “Through SOCH we are trying to promote that everyone has a mental health and you can take steps to take care of your mental health and by practicing self-care, people can prevent themselves from reaching the rock-bottom.”

Some takeaways

Maneet and Jasmeet shared a few insights they had learned as mental health advocates.

“Change takes time and it’s not going to happen overnight,” Jasmeet said. “We noticed, the community does want to talk about mental health. For example, we did a One Brave Night initiative where we partnered with the Sikh Heritage Museum. We had over 100 South Asians. People were telling their stories, crying and supporting each other. The key thing to remember is people do want to talk about mental health, they just need a platform.”

One Brave Night, an initiative by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) happens during April. Participants stay up all night to experience what someone with mental health challenges is going through.

 

 

Toronto desis celebrate 2018 Navratri with Garba, Golu and so much more

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Navratri

Saturday, Oct. 7

Event: Disco Dandiya Dhamal

Details: Sonal Vala will belt out foot-tapping Garba tunes in this event taking place at the Brampton Soccer Centre, 1495 Sandalwood Pkwy. E. at 7 p.m.
Contact: For tickets and other information, visit here

Event: Brampton Robotics Disco Dandiya Fundraiser

Details: Team Disco Bots is organizing a Dandiya fundraiser in Brampton at the Harold M. Braithwaite Secondary School, 415 Great Lakes Dr. at 7 p.m.
Contact: For more information, visit here

Sunday, Oct. 8

Event: Mahaloya 2018

Details: Bangladesh Canada Hindu Cultural Society will be hosting its Maholoya 2018 at 16 Dohme Ave East York, Ont. M4B 1Y9 at 7 p.m.
Contact: For more details

Thursday, Oct. 11

Event: Odissi dance recital

Details: Odissi Dance, is a temple dance style, performed in honour of Lord Jagannatha. In this concert taking place at the Downward Dog Yoga Centre, 735 Queen St. W., GuruJi Devraj as well as well as Malini Guha will perform Shyameshwari. There’s a special debut solo performance by Meenakshi.
Contact: For more information

Friday, Oct. 12

Event: Diwali Razzmatazz

Details: Indo-Canada Arts Council will present its 4th annual Diwali Razzmatazz at Mississauga’s Celebration Square, on Friday, Oct 12 and Saturday, Oct. 13. The event includes Bollywood dance performances, food vendors and kids’ bazaar.
Contact: For more information, visit here

Saturday, Oct. 13

Event: Brampton Navratri Festival

Details: Friends of Gujarat will be hosting a Navratri/dandiya event at the Brampton Soccer Centre, 1495 Sandalwood Pkwy. E. at 6 p.m. with well-known singer Nilesh Parmar.
Contact: For tickets contact here

Event: Parmesh Nandi’s Raas Garba

Details: This dandiya/Garba event is taking place at the Trio Sportsplex (Turf grass), 01 Cityview Boulevard Kleinburg, Woodbridge, Ont. 4H 0T1 at 7 p.m.
Contact: For information about this

Friday, Oct. 19

Event: JSK Cricket Camp

Details: Do you love cricket? Well, then head to the Brampton Sports Centre Oct. 19 – 21 for the JSK Cricket Camp. You can get professional coaching and tips from yesteryear cricket star Mohammad Azharuddin and others.
Contact: For more information, visit here

Saturday, Oct. 20

Event: Thoda Saaf Bol (Stand-up Comedy)

Details: Abishek Upmanyu will be performing a stand-up routine at the John Bassett Theatre (Metro Convention Centre), 255 Front St. Toronto at 7 p.m.
Contact: For tickets visit here

Saturday, Oct. 27

Event: Hindustani Classical Music Recital

Details: Raag-Mala Music Society of Canada will be hosting a classical music concert with Josh Feinberg (sitar) and Manjiri Asanare (vocal), Ashok Dutta (table) at the Glen Gould Studio, 250 Front St. W. Toronto at 7 p.m.
Contact: For more information

Tuesday, Oct. 30

Event: Speed dating

Details: This Mississauga Speed Dating event s geared towards young professionals with an Indian / South Asian background looking for a classy and fun way to meet other like-minded individuals within their culture. It will take place at The Port House Social Bar & Kitchen, 139 Lakeshore Rd. Mississauga from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Contact: For more information

For a complete list of Dandiya events happening in the GTA, visit here.

Wait, it’s only September, but how is it that there’s Garba in Toronto already?

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garba dance

Saturday, Sept. 1

Event: Rahat Fateh Ali Concert

Details: Paramount (formerly Hershey) Centre, 5500 Rose Cherry Pl. Mississauga is the place to be with well-known singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The Pakistani singer (nephew of Nusrat Ali Fateh and son of Farrukh Fateh Ali) is known for several chartbusters such as Jag Ghoomeya, Tere mast mast do naain and more. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m.
Contact: For tickets to Rahat Fateh Ali concert, visit here.

Sunday, Sept. 2

Event: Krishna Janmashtami Festival

Details: Celebrate Lord Krishna’s birthday at the Shree Jagannath Temple, 9893 Torbram Rd. Brampton at 6 p.m.
Contact: For more details on Janmashtami, visit here.

Sunday, Sept. 9

Event: Seerat Fashion Show + Expo

Details: A global fashion show + expo featuring Indian as well as international designers is taking place at the Galaxy Grand Convention Centre, 200 Advance Blvd. in Brampton from noon to 6 p.m. Highlight will be a special ramp walk endearing bijis (Grandmas) will walk with their granddaughters in threads by Dinesh Ramsay, Anshul Mathur, Kesaj Couture and more. The event is by Laadliyah.
Contact: For tickets to Seerat, visit here.

Saturday, Sept. 15

Event: SNA ONAM Celebrations

Details: Sree Narayana Association (SNA) Toronto will be hosting its annual multicultural event to support Kerala Relief Fund. Festivities will take place at Chinguacousy Secondary School, 1370 Williams Pkwy. At 5 p.m.
Contact: For tickets and more visit here.

Event: 6th Annual Arohi Festival

Details: Malhaar Group Toronto is hosting an evening of classical music and dance at 4 p.m. at the Salvation Army Meadowlands, 187 Church Rd. Ancaster.
Contact: For more details on the Arohi Festival, visit here

Sunday, Sept. 16

Event: Gujarati Jalso

Details: Swar Sadhana is hosting a jalso at Castlebrooke Secondary School, 10 Gardenbrooke trail, Brampton at 5 p.m. The event will feature Gujarati folk music, sugam sangeet as well as Navratri/Dandiya.
Contact: For tickets to the jalso, visit here

Saturday, Sept. 22

Event: Garba Dhamaal 2018

Details: Sur Prem Entertainers are taking over Brampton Soccer Centre, 1495 Sandalwood Pkwy. E. starting at 7:30 p.m. for the Garbaa Dhamaal 2018.
Contact: For tickets to the Garba Dhamaal, visit here.

Wednesday, Sept. 26

Event: South Asian Speed Dating

Details: Single in the City is hosting a speed dating event for South Asians at the Duke of Somerset, 655 Bay St. Toronto at 7:30 p.m.
Contact: For tickets and other information about the South Asian Speed Dating, visit here.

Sunday, Sept. 30

Event: Must Be Kismet wedding show

Details: Must Be Kismet, a South Asian wedding show is happening at the Universal EventSpace, 6250 Hwy. 7 in Vaughan from noon to 6 p.m.
Contact: For details about the wedding show, visit here.

Sathish Bala who founded desiFEST, shares the story of how it all started

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We all have moments when our life’s work needs validation.

For desiFEST’s founder/ artistic director Sathish Bala, the moment came five years ago, albeit with a price.

The 2018 desiFEST takes place Saturday, June 2 at Yonge-Dundas Square from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

For years, Sathish—the rebel/disruptor—had resisted the path his family hoped he would chase (Engineering). Instead, he struck out and decided to kick-start a free music concert in Toronto (Yonge-Dundas Square). This music was far cry from the classical Carnatic ragas that courses through the vein of every South Indian.

Manjeet Rai aka Manj Musik sits on a white platform against a green backdrop.

Manjeet Rai, aka Manj Musik, an internationally-renowned singer/songwriter/composer known for his Bhangra and Hip-Hop infused music will perform at the 2018 desiFEST, June 2. Supplied photo

It was Hip-Hop, Reggae, rock, Bhangra-fusion, and other genres that his traditional South Indian family did not understand.

Sathish’s dad was an engineer. The apple turns out fell far away from the tree. Disappointment festered between father and son over his career (music).

Time went by and the strained relationship continued. Over time, desiFest found its feet in the multicultural cauldron that is Toronto. As Sathish’s name began to appear in the media, his father slowly came around. The critic became his son’s cheerleader. Then, five years ago, one day after that year’s desiFest, Bala Sr. breathed his last.

The genesis of desiFEST

Sathish came to realize the therapeutic as well as the addictive power of music in his teens when he became a DJ.

“Early in 2000, I joined a club called Bombay Martini where I would spin Punjabi, Bollywood and English music together,” he recalled. “Learning to connect to other cultures through music was a great lesson. From there on, I learned to negotiate with venues and do marketing and advertising…”

All he needed was to connect all of the pieces to a bigger purpose. And that’s how desiFEST happened.

Photo of Tamil rapper set against the backdrop of high-rise buildings

Lady Rolex Rasathy, a Sri Lankan rapper is among those scheduled to perform at the 2018 desiFEST, June 2 at 4:35 p.m. The free music festival runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at the Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto. Supplied photo

“I come from a generation of South Asians whose teenage years were influenced by urban music,” Sathish said. “Our original music was fused and we faced challenges trying to find space to display this music. We were by name and sound ‘ethnic’ so mainstream wouldn’t book us either.”

Sathish decided to bridge the musical void.

What now?

Even though Sathish did not opt to become an engineer, he had a natural flair for entrepreneurship. In 1999, while at the high school, he launched his first company, which he later sold. Since then, he has set up several digital marketing and tech enterprises later scooped up as acquisitions.

Sathish Bala wearing a salmon-coloured shirt with a blue bow-tie.

Sathish Bala, the founder of desiFEST, hopes the festival will serve as his legacy for the future generation of artists. Supplied photo.

“Our mission at desiFEST is to have a 12-hour conversation with the community through music,” says Sathish, the Indian-born transplant to Canada who came here via Singapore in 1989. “For desiFEST, we look at what are the different reactions we can create within a diverse community. 25 per cent of our audience is not South-Asians, so that’s important as well because they get to experience our culture and learn about our food, music and not just Bollywood, but the version of the next generation.”

There is a bit of Bollywood in desiFEST. The rationale is to display the talents of young artists who have incorporated Bollywood music into their own arrangements and melodies.

Having artists like Abhithi aka Amitha Mundechira a dancer/singer and a physician perform at the concert (1:55 p.m.) is Sathish’s not-so-subtle message to desi parents. He wants to tell them pursuing art alongside a profession doesn’t have to be an either-or situation. When the passion is powerful enough, it will pull you.

The desiFEST is Sathish Bala’s legacy to the next-generation of desis/South Asians in Toronto and elsewhere in the world. He wants them to take it and run with it.

Artists at this year’s desiFEST include Parichay, Divine, The Roach Killa, The Prophec, DJ Prodiigy and dozens of others. Check out their website for schedules. Also performing at the concert is Manj Musik, a singer/songwriter whose Bhangra and Hip-Hop infused work has been creating ripples around the world.

 

 

Concerts take over the Toronto Desi events calendar in April ’18

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Pritam

Sunday April 1

Event: Illairajah Live Concert
Details: He’s a living giant among composers from the South Indian films and he’s stopping by for an exclusive concert at the Air Canada Centre (ACC), 40 Bay St. Toronto at 6:30 p.m. The musical maestro will be performing with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra from Hungary and Indian classical musicians.
Contact: Here 

Friday, April 6

Event: Everlasting Melodies
Details: Presented by Amaya Entertainment, this evening taking place at Symphony Banquet Hall, Mississauga, 959 Derry Rd. E. at 8, will feature 10 artists and musicians. Concert will be hosted by Simply Shayan, a comic.
Contact: Here

Saturday, April 7

Event: Hemang Mehta Concert
Details: Gujju singer Hemang Mehta will perform at the Castlebrooke Secondary School, 10 Gardenbrooke trail, Brampton at 6 p.m. Concert presented by Swar Sadhana Music Lovers Club.
Contact: Here 

Sunday, April 8

Event: Pritam Concert
Details: Well-known Bollywood composer responsible for hits like Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Dhangal, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and more will be coming to Richoh Coliseum, 45 Manitoba Dr. Toronto along with a troupe of artists: Harshdeep Kaur, Shalmali Kolgade, Nakash Aziz and more. Concert kicks off at 6:30 p.m.
Contact: Here

Saturday, April 14

Event: Jay Vasavada (Author/Speaker)
Details: Shabd Prarthana will host Jayvasavada at the Port Credit Secondary School Theatre, 70 Mineola Dr. Mississauga at 6 p.m. Vasavada is a popular young author, well-known among theGujarati communities across the world. His versatile columns, books and speeches cover various aspects of society and culture
Contact: Here

Thursday, April 26

Event: South Asians with Style
Details: The SAPNA Toronto team will present ‘South Asians With Style Part Deux’ at the Thompson Toronto, 550 Wellington St. E. at 6 p.m. The event offers the opportunity to network with the finest professionals across Ontario.
Contact: Here 

Saturday April 28

Event: Atif Aslam and Neha Kakkar
Details: Pakistani singer/songwriter and actor Atif Aslam (Dil diyan gallan) and Neha Kakkar, Bollywood songstress will rock the Hershey Centre (oops, Paramount Centre), 5500, Rose Cherry Place, Mississauga at 7 p.m.
Contact: Here

Sunday April 29

Event: Phir Le Aaya Dil
Details: Hrishikesh Ranade, Prajakta Joshi-Ranade and Nihira Joshi will present an evening of soulful Bollywood hits at the Glenforest Secondary School, 3575 Fieldgate Rd. Mississauga at 5 p.m.
Contact: Here

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.