Brinda Muralidhar explores tangled ties in her debut film Knot Not!

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Clash of values

Dilip Krishnamurthy (Mohan) and Jessica Seigner (Patricia) filming a scene of Knot Not! in Mississauga. The film recently made its Canadian debut.

The making of a movie

Theatre, acting, stage and spotlights are entrenched in Brinda Muralidhar’s DNA.

So, having her debut film, Knot Not! premiered recently to a packed house, was Brinda’s ultimate homage to her Indo-Canadian roots.

The 1 hour 44-minute film about values, parental pressures and seeking ones identity, boasts an impressive line-up of local artists, most of who are relatively unknown, but bursting with potential.

Knot Not! is about what happens to your family when the parents are not on the same page,” Brinda explains. “In so many cases, one parent is tied down to the rules while the other doesn’t give a damn.”

And that’s how the film’s title came about: one parent is committed to preserving the knot of the marriage, while the other is not.

The premiere in Brampton was a sold-out one. This shows there may be a yet-to-be captured market for entertaining stories told from a hyper-local perspective

Shot in the GTA, Knot Not! has original music scored by Vinayak Hegde and Deepak Sant. It’s produced by Brinda’s soul mate/husband – Gunny, who’s also the cinematographer. Incidentally, it was Gunny, who came up with the idea for the film. Since communication at the Muralidhar home is unconventional, Gunny enacted his idea in a short one-minute narrative. Brinda was sold. She took on multiple responsibilities: director/screenplay/dialogues/editor and watched the idea grow and grow.

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Suniti Santosh (L) and Dilip Krishnamurthy in Brinda Muralidhar’s Indo-Canadian film Knot Not!

What’s Canadian film without a winter scene filled with snow, eh? Jessica Siegner told me one blustery winter day, Gunny and Brinda showed up at her Mississauga home after Ma Nature deposited some significant quantity of white stuff. They shot a particularly beautiful scene, framed against the beautiful backdrop of the Marilyn Monroe towers in Mississauga. I guess, it can’t get more Canadian than that.

The film showcases among other things, the stark contrast of family values from a desi’s perspective versus a Caucasian’s way of thinking.

Before this final version of Knot Not! there was an earlier one that was nearly 80 per cent ready, but Brinda and Gunny had to shelve the earlier version and re-shoot it all over again. Talk about teething troubles.

Initially, Knot Not! was supposed to be a 30-minute short film, but it took on a life of its own. This meant, the Muralidhars’ budget was shot to hell.

Brinda jokes the film’s finances are courtesy, “Bank of Muralidhar.”

The credentials

Brinda’s father­— Ramachandra Rao— was playwright and director, while her uncle (father’s older brother) M.V. Narayan Rao was a well-known stage and cinema artist/producer.

Canada however proved to be a fertile soil for Brinda’s artistic mindset because since she moved here, she has kept busy with more than a dozen stage productions in Kannada, English and Hindi. Brinda launched her film production company 1CanMedia Creations in 2013.

When the Muralidhars invited talent to audition for their film, they received dozens of responses. Brinda says she hated rejecting anyone because of a philosophy she inherited from her dad.

Her dad apparently would pluck an unknown, but eager artist from the neighbourhood to polish their rough edges and turn them into a brilliant theatrical gem.

Brinda says while shortlisting her actors to play Patricia’s role, Mississauga’s Jessica didn’t almost make it, but she had second thoughts and invited her to audition.

“As soon as Jessica walked into the room and said ‘hello’ to me, I knew that was the girl…” Brinda said.

Brinda said she started fleshing out the characters based on her actors as opposed to asking them to slipping into her vision. Dialogues and backstories were carefully crafted to include the artist’s mannerisms.

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Jessica Seigner (Patricia) and Dilip Krishnamurthy (Mohan) in Brinda Muralidhar’s debut film Knot Not!

Knot Not! Who’s there?

The film is about Mohan (Dilip Krishnamurthy), a South India arrives in Canada as an international student. In school, he befriends Patricia Smith (Jessica Siegner) a Canadian who guides him through his search for his identity.  Mohan’s parents Srinivas and Padma want their son to wed Lakshmi (Suniti Santosh), the beautiful daughter of their friend Bhaskar (Nat Pennathur).

Mohan does not want to meekly follow the path paved by his father, instead with Lakshmi and Patricia’s help Mohan discovers himself.

The film journeys through many plots and subplots and through comedy, drama and insightful scenes unties the tangled web of human relationships.

 

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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.

 

Anarkali’s lead actor Kiran Rai basks in the show’s success

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Kiran Rai

Kiran Rai, who plays Anarkali, the lead actor in hit web series by the same name, also edits the episodes. Photo by Baljit Singh.

Behind the scenes of Anarkali

Through the making of two seasons of Anarkali, Rakhi and Kiran learned a ton of lessons.

Their guerrilla-style filmmaking: shooting each episode, spending hours editing it and then uploading the edition on YouTube, though not terribly efficient, was effective.

So, after the success of the first season, Rakhi and Kiran Rai (KayRay) decided on a more organized approach. Instead of flying by the seat of their pants, they shot and edited all of the episodes of season two in advance. Then, they confidently announced a date for the season opener.

Except, few weeks before the D-day, the hard drive crashed.

So, they scrambled, yes, guerrilla style, to meet the deadline. Ah well.

KayRay as Anarkali

Kiran Rai or KayRay has studied film, theatre and television and film making and was doing this and that, when Anarkali catapulted her into the stratosphere of success.

This Bramptonian incidentally also happens to be social media celebrity. Her video blogs (kayray) have more than 1 million views and she has racked up some 37,000 followers on Instagram.

Kiran believes the web series’ success can be traced to its honest narrative. We all know truth has its own unique taste, but telling it needs a bit of chutzpah.

“There was a lack of images and stories in our community about the truth behind brown women’s lives. We told it honestly and that’s why it’s a success,” Kiran says. “Even in Bollywood, the stories are more in the realm of fantasy than a reality. The stories told in Bollywood are not authentic to our experiences…”

“People are hungry and they want more (content that reflects their lives),” she continued. “People that watch Anarkali are not just young women, but men, queer folks and everyone else as well.”

Kiran’s stock as an actor appears to have risen exponentially with the show’s success. People are now offering her roles that have a bit of meat whereas, before, she relied on making her own films and starring in them to show off her versatility.

A trip to L.A. some years ago, convinced Kiran, she should dive into the deep end of acting, instead of dabbling in it.

“There weren’t enough people my age doing it (acting),” she said on why she was hesitant before. “Everyone around me said, acting wasn’t realistic and that I wouldn’t be able to make a livelihood, instead, I should do it as a hobby…”

Once she decided to pursue acting, Kiran signed up at an acting academy in Toronto to learn the trade.

Armed with all her knowledge, she then decided to make short films and start her own YouTube channel – kayray.

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Some cast members of Anarkali, a popular web series. L-R: Mandy KayBee, Gavan Anand, Kiran Rai and Seth Mohan. Photo by Baljit Singh

So far, this year, Kiran has been trying something new in front of the camera every day as part of her “Never Have I” series.

But, Anarkali has and will continue to have its own special place in her life.

“I have so many similarities with Anarkali,” she says. “Anarkali is a beautiful character who’s trying to find herself and she (like me) lives in a diaspora where two different cultures are constantly clashing. It’s nice to be able to resonate with someone that’s so much like the women around me.”

Kiran often gets ambushed on the streets by hard-core fans demanding she give up her foolish fantasy of getting together with Prince. It’s almost as if they have no clue that the web series is a work of fiction.

“I guess fans want to know why Anarkali is so hesitant to make the right decision (when it comes to her true love),” she said. “I think it’s almost as if they are asking themselves the same question, but through me…”

This is the conclusion of our two-part series.

 

Ramadan Kareem! Plenty to do in July ’16 in Toronto

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Popular Indian stand-up comedian Vasu Primlani will be the co-host at the TD Festival of South Asia taking place July 16-17 at Gerrard India Bazaar.

Friday, July 1

Event: Legends of Bhangra
Details: Celebrate Canada Day at Pearson Convention Centre, 2638 Steeles Ave. E. at 6:30 p.m. The U.K. band features: Balwinder Safri, Johal Premi, Apna Sangeet, Heera and others, all of who are putting on the show for the first time in Toronto.
Contact: Here

Wednesday, July 6

Event: MacEid Festival
Details: Dubbed one of the biggest Eid celebrations to hit Toronto, Muslim Association Canada’s (MAC) annual event will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Enercare Centre, 100 Princes’ Blvd #1, Toronto. Highlights include a carnival with fun-filled rides, shows, sport tournaments and a variety of international cuisines.
Contact: Here

Sunday, July 10

Event: Concert
Details: Two of Bollywood’s biggest crooners–Sunidhi Chauhan and Ayushman Khurana–will perform a live concert at the Hershey Centre, 5500 Rose Cherry Place in

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Mississauga. Doors open at 6 p.m. (Hope, it’s not one of the IST events). Tickets cost from $45/person to upwards of $100.
Contact: Here

Friday, July 15

Event: Unplugged Eid
Details: Omni Promotions Canada is hosting an Unplugged Eid Gala at Milan Banquet Hall, 1989 A Dundas St E., Mississauga. There’s live music, food and more.
Contact: Here

Saturday, July 16-17

Event: Festival of South Asia
Details: The TD Festival of South Asia returns to Little India, Gerrard India Bazaar, for another year. Popular stand-up comedian Vasu Primalni will co-host this year’s festivities along with Randy Persaud. There will be a rangoli competition, entertainment, food, a literary and visual arts features, concerts and more.
Contact: Here

Saturday, July 16-17

Event: Festival of India
Details: Festival of India, one of Toronto’s most dazzling, summer events is here. The 44th Annual Festival of India (also known as Ratha-Yatra), organized by the Toronto chapter of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON Toronto) will be taking place as a parade down Yonge Street (beginning at Bloor and south to Queens Quay). Highlights include a vegetarian festival.
Contact: Here

Saturday, July 16

Event: BM does Brampton
Details: Bollywood Monster Mashup, will present an uncensored side of South Asian entertainment at the Bollywood Monster does Brampton: A Stand-up Comedy and Urban Music Showcase happening at the Spot1 Grill at 289 Rutherford Rd. S. at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 when purchased online and $15 at the door. Television star, Ben Mathai will be headlining the event, while comedian-turned-entrepreneur Amish Patel will be in the limelight as event host.
Contact: Here

Friday, July 22-23

Event: Bollywood Monster Mashup
Details: The sixth annual Bollywood Monster Mashup, which includes a free Bollywood show, is happening at Mississauga Celebration Square. On Saturday, Aishwarya Nigan, the voice behind Salman Khan’s Munni badnam hui is the headliner. Also Symphony Nights: An original Bollywood arrangement by the Mississauga Pops Concert Band 55-piece wind orchestra is on the cards.
This year, the event brings includes special fusion acts, a bigger KidZone, more singers, dancers and musicians and more Bollywood dance lessons.
Contact: Here

 

Toronto filmmaker salutes sisterhood in Anarkali

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This is part one of a two-part blog series.

Anarkali

The cast and crew of hit web series Anarkali

Off the bat, I can guarantee one thing.

Watching one episode of the hugely successful web series Anarkali won’t do it. You’ll likely end up binge watching the entire two seasons.

The show will also stir a longing for your squad (if you’re caught in motherhood/career and your teenage years are a hazy blur).

The web-series created by the immensely talented Rakhi Mutta and edited by an equally competent Kiran Rai (lead actor/Anarkali) presents a vignette of a young desi woman’s life in North America. It’s told with humour, sensitivity, drama and melodrama.

The YouTube series is about  a devastated Anarkali (Kiran) who gets dumped by her fiancée Prince (Gavan Anand). The slow unraveling of her life and identity post-breakup, is the premise of the show.

So far, Anarkali has become an Internet hit in over half-a-dozen countries around the world with some 20,000 YouTube subscribers and 650,000 views.

“A lot of people think Anarkali is the story of South Asian girls dating because of the way it’s branded,” Rakhi said. “For me, it’s much more than that. It’s one woman’s journey to finding more about her self.”

Mainstream and ethnic media, Rakhi said, do not reflect the truth of brown women’s  lives when it comes to dating. This may be the reason Anarkli has wowed audiences world wide.

“I want to tell stories that people in my community, my family and my friends can relate to,” Rakhi said. “Stories that I never witnessed growing up, but I thought were critical.”

A handycam masterpiece

What’s worth underscoring here is that the cast and crew have produced a stellar product on a shoestring budget. Calling it a budget is bit ambitious. I am told, it’s a bartering system (pizza, as form of payment, as well as sustenance) .

Delivering a hit show with slow and clunky hardware and out dated software to me demonstrates class, substance and style. Just like athletes from third-world countries that win gold medals in Olympics wearing ratty shoes, Anarkali connects with the audience through pure storytelling.

“The way I portray certain characters, the lines I use and the conversations I include about stereotypes are all important to me as a woman of colour,” said Rakhi, who not only directs but writes the script. “For instance, in one of the episodes we had Anarkali and her friends dissecting Bollywood. Through that they talked about the feminist thought and what makes a feminist.”

In another scene, Roop’s (Amrit Kaur) boyfriend proposes to her and tells her to quit her job because he wants to take care of her. That gave Rakhi the perfect segue into discussing the independent woman (cough, cough, it’s Rakhi) who wants to make it on her own.

The complexities of desi women growing up in the diaspora are fodder for Rakhi’s pen. Each 10-minute episode tackles parental and societal pressures, boyfriends that come across as unqualified jerks, and a band of super crazy, loyal and fearless friends whose antics are never boring.

Rakhi Mutta, a filmmaker/photographer has been enjoying the spotlight after her web series Anarkali proved to be a huge hit. Photo by Bryon Johnson/The Brampton Guardian

Rakhi Mutta, a filmmaker/photographer has been enjoying the spotlight after the success of her web series Anarkali. Photo by Bryon Johnson/The Brampton Guardian

Three women and a road trip

In Nov. 2014, Rakhi had plans to attend a Sikh feminist conference in Detroit. The organizers asked her to collect two other delegates from Brampton. The two turned out to be: Rupi Kaur and Kiran.

The radio lay silent and as the car ate up the miles, the three women forged a solid camaraderie. Once they returned home, they kept in touch.

Watching Kiran’s mannerism reminded Rakhi about something or rather someone.

“You’re Anarkali!” Rakhi told Kiran one day.

The rest as they say

Rakhi shot the pilot episode of Anarkali in Feb. 2015 and then promptly sat on it for months because she was afraid it would bomb. Then, on Kiran’s insistence, she uploaded the episode to YouTube and waited.

To save face, Rakhi prayed for a minimum of 5,000 hits, but she was taken aback because the views exceeded her initial estimates.

Celebrations turned sour soon. An unscrupulous Facebook user scrubbed the credits from the pilot episode and uploaded the film through his Facebook account and disseminated it. The film spread like wildfire garnering some 32,000 hits, but no one on earth knew who had come up with the brilliant idea and the credit for the film becoming viral went to the thief.

The feminist in me salutes you

Rakhi, 35, created Anarkali when she was 19.

The well-fleshed and complex character was Rakhi’s own creativity at work. She detailed the life of every 20 or 30-something brown woman finding her way. The script caught dust as the filmmaker pursued a career in development.

“When I started travelling (for my development work), I wondered why the media did not tell me about these communities and their struggles,” Rakhi questioned. “Whose history is told? We know history is about ‘his’ story, so what does it say about ‘her’ story or ‘our’ story? The stories that were being told were often about the victor and oppressor, what about the other?”

This line of introspection led Rakhi to learn the nuances of photography. Shout out to her friend Natasha Daniel, who schooled her in the basics. Once she understood the lens, Rakhi found her calling. Her repertoire of works includes: Haneri, a film on mental health, an educational video on honour killings, Silent Struggles, that looks at elder abuse in the Punjabi Community and  of course, the fictional (Anarkali).

You can watch two seasons of the show on YouTube. Shooting for Season 3 will start soon.

Next time, we will profile the show’s heart and soul, Anarkali aka Kiran Rai. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

The jazzed version of Sundar Viswanathan’s life is just as impressive

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Indo-jazz musician Sundar Viswanathan can chart the milestones of his illustrious career through his musical milieu. Supplied photo

A lot of folks– especially those within the desi diaspora– will identify with this story about identity crisis.

It’s about how “Sam” reconnected with his roots as “Sundar.” Music helped.

As young boy growing up in Sudbury Ont., a small mining town, Dr. Sundar Viswanathan, an Indo- jazz artist/composer (saxophone, flute) and a professor at York University, naively figured, Sam would have a better chance of fitting at school.

The shedding of his South Indian name did not however spare him from racism. Luckily for him, he had music.

“Music was an escape for me in high school,” he said adding he grew up listening, not just to western pop and rock, but also Bollywood and Kollywood (Tamil) music. “I was very introverted and music was my way of expressing myself.”

Sundar’s dad (Parameswara), also a professor, was a staunch Gandhian who believed in “turning-the-other-cheek.” He told his children to deal with discrimination and ignorance by being non-confrontational. Since retaliation wasn’t an option, the Viswanathan children, turned to their band and blasted music from the basement to alleviate some of the anger and angst of being picked on at school.

Parameswara and Shantha (Sundar’s mom) tried to nudge their son towards a career in medicine. When he remained adamant about music, they accepted his choice. In fact, had his dad not intervened at a critical moment in Sundar’s life, his musical aspirations would have been crushed by rejection.

Second chances:

As high school neared to an end, Sundar diligently create demo tapes and mailed them to prospective universities. Then he waited.

“I thought I was good, but I really wasn’t,” he said explaining he got rejected from all the schools.

One school- Wilfrid Laurier hadn’t gotten back, so a tiny flicker of hope remained. The music professor that heard the tape almost said a ‘no,’ but he decided to invite the wannabe composer for an audition.

Sundar flunked the test.

His dad–who had accompanied him to Wilfrid– realized rejection would crush his son, so, he sat down with the dean and pleaded with him to give his son a chance. The dean agreed.

Imagine how all our lives would be without those “second chances.”

For Sundar, the “yes” was a blessing. He proved to be a great student with impeccable work ethic. He excelled. By the end of his BA, he had several awards lined up on the mantle.

“That was it,” he recalled. “I was a musician. I went to the school for composition, not for performance, but I ended up playing so much classical saxophone that my teacher told me to learn jazz… The jazz thing just hit me…”

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Indo-jazz musician Sundar Viswanathan (third from left) seen here with his musical soul mates, members of Avataar

My name is Sundar

The undergrad degree led to a masters and finally a PhD in 2004.

Sundar, who grew up loving all sorts of music, by now felt a bit partial to jazz.

It was a pivotal time for a man who understood music, but was confused about his own identity.

“There was a bit of an inferiority thing that happened (during high school) because of all the racism,” he said. “At that time, I convinced myself, I am not brown, I am Canadian. While doing my MA in Boston, I took several conservatory courses (in non-western music), Turkish maquam and was influenced by Brazilian and African music. That’s when the shift slowly began. I kept hearing how artists like John Coltrane and The Beatles loved what was coming out of India and I realized, I should be proud of where am I from.”

One day it hit him: life’s not about fitting in, but it’s about being true to oneself.

Comfortable in his own skin today, the jazz artist who wears his distinctly Indian name proudly performs in Canada and around the world with his band–Avataar. The motley group includes several Juno-award winning musicians: Felicity Williams (vocals), Ravi Naimpally (tabla), Michael Occhipinti (guitar), Justin Gray (bass) and Giampaolo Scatozza (drums).

Sundar recently launched his third album Petal.

The impermanent truth

With Petal, Sundar dives into the fathoms of spirituality and surfaces with notes that appear to be distilled from his musical muses: Brazilian, jungle, Indian classical and jazz. Besides members of Avtaar, Petal showcases the artistry of award-winning pianist Robi Botos and acclaimed Hindustani singer Samidha Joglekar.

“I write very intuitively,” he says. “I’ll hear a simple melody in my head, then sing into a tape recorder, expand it on the piano. I think cinematically in big pictures, in landscapes. I feel out the nuances and colours in a way that’s really distinct from more academic practice.”

The album signals Sundar’s metamorphosis as a musician connected with the cosmos through spirituality.

“This album tells a story,” he said adding Petal was sponsored by the Ontario Arts Council. “For me, it was about connecting with my music and understanding the different threads that are inter-connected. My goal is not to entertain people. I would like to think, this album is more than music, it’s a message…”

Like the petals of a flower that appear resplendent, only to disappear into ether, Sundar says he now understands the truth: every moment is part of our journey, our reckoning.

 

Toronto will echo to the sounds of raagas in May ’16 as spring arrives

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Who knew Toronto was a pulse centre for classical (Hindustani and Carnatic) music? Check out the events calendar for May ’16, you’ll know what we mean

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Painting shows emperor Akbar watching Tansen receive music lessons from Haridas. Photo courtesy Wikipedia. Check out South Asian events happening in Toronto May 2016

May 6 to 8

Event: FOLD
Details: Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) is Canada’s first-ever literary festival, promoting authors of colour. The three-day event happening across multiple venues in Brampton has some 30 authors. Literary heavyweights include Zarqa Nawaz, author/series creator, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Lawrence Hill (Book of Negroes), Vivek Shraya, Farzana Doctor and others.
Contact: For tickets and programs contact here

Sunday, May 8

Event: CONCERT
Details: Raag-Mala Society of Canada is hosting an Indian classical concert featuring Arshad Ali Khan (vocal) and Shreyas Ambikar (santoor) at the McLeod Auditorium, Medical Sciences Building, 1 King’s College Circle Toronto at 6 p.m.
Contact: For tickets, contact here

Saturday, May 14 to 15

Event: TABLA CONCERT
Details: Toronto Tabla Ensemble is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a concert at Harbourfront Centre (Brigantine Room), 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto. Ritesh Das is the artistic director and he will showcase the similarities of many musical cultures and perform original compositions by members. May 14 concert starts at 7 p.m. and on May 15 it will kick-off at 3 p.m.
Contact: Here

Event: GHAZAL/GEET NIGHT
Details: Rosemin Bapoo will host Karamchand Persaud (vocals), Dave Bansraj (tabla) and melodies by Ami Sharma at an evening celebrating ghazals and geets. The show happening at Simply Delicious, 7850 Woodbine Ave. Markham at 8:30 p.m.
Contact: Rosemin, 647-215-9749 or Mary, 416-287-2667

Thursday, May 19 to Monday, 23

Event: FILM FESTIVAL
Details: Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan and writer/director Anup Singh (Quissa – The Tale of Lonely Ghost) are among those celebrities that will be in Toronto for the International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA)/Punjabi International Film Festival taking place across various venues in the GTA. More than 80 films will be showcased at this year’s event.
Contact: Here

Saturday, May 21

Event: FAUJA SINGH
Details: He’s known as the “Flying Sikh” or the “Turbaned Torndado.” 100-year-old Fauja Singh is flying to Brampton to participate in the Stop Diabetes Foundations’ event happening at Canadian Convention Centre, 79 Bramsteele Rd. between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Contact: Here

Thursday, May 25 to 28

Event: desiFEST
Details: desiFEST, an outdoor South Asian music concert will celebrate its 10th year. There’s an artists’ marketplace, food market and live entertainment planned at Yonge-Dundas Square. Oh, guess what? desiFEST, in partnership with sponsor Harley Davidson will be giving away a 2016 Street 500 valued at $7,999 to one lucky desiFEST fan.
Contact: Here

Saturday, May 28

Event: SPRING FESTIVAL
Details: The Malhar Group will be hosting Indian classical concert featuring Shakir Khan (sitar), Kiran Morarji (tabla), Nirmalya Dey (drupad), Mohan Shyam Sharma (pakhawaj) at The Molson Canadian Studio at Hamilton Place, 1 Summers Ln. Concert starts at 6:30 p.m.
Contact: Here

Event: HASYA KAVI SAMELAN
Details: Laughter, they say is the best medicine. So, why not show up at Albion Cinema, 1530 Albion Rd. at 7 p.m. for a poetry convention filled with humour. Who else to organize such a thing than the Uttar Pradeshis in Canada, eh?
Contact: Here

Event: MASALA MASTI
Details: PGI’s popular Masala Masti Boat Cruise VI is happening at 8 p.m. at 242 Cherry St. Toronto. There’s live entertainment, food and much more.
Contact: Here