Archive for the 'International & Entertainment News' Category

18
Jul
14

Academy Award nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger brings notorious gangster story to the big screen

It has been one of the most talked about and intriguing criminal stories of all times.

Academy Award nominated director Joe Berlinger and wife Loren Eiferman exclusively pose for The Ravi Report

Academy Award nominated director Joe Berlinger and wife Loren Eiferman exclusively pose for The Ravi Report

Notorious Boston gangster and organized crime figure James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger Jr. for years got away with murders and other crimes and as some believed because he was an informant for the FBI, he was never caught.  It wasn’t until in 2013 that Bulger was finally found guilty on 31 counts, including 11 murders and is now serving two consecutive life terms plus five-year prison sentence for  his crimes. He is 84.

Like most of America, I was  fascinated by the story and all the countless films and books that have been written about the famous Boston gangster. The New York Times article  in 2013 “Whitey Bulger: The Capture of a Legend” outlining the famous mobster’s life, manhunt and downfall peaked my interest even more in the dramatic life and times of Bulger.

Whitey film director Joe Berlinger along with Bulger defense attorney Hank Brennan at the NY premiere

Director Joe Berlinger along with Bulger defense attorney Hank Brennan at the NY premiere

And the fascination with Bulger is still going strong today. Hollywood actor Johnny Depp is currently shooting in Boston portraying the role of Bulger in the movie Black Mass being directed by Scott Cooper and scheduled to be released sometime in 2015.  And of course who can forget the 2006 film,  The Departed  with Matt Damon. An amazing film inspired by Bulger’s notorious life in South Boston.

But the  new gripping documentary directed by the acclaimed and Academy nominated director Joe Berlinger that everyone is  talking about is based on the trial and conviction of Bulger and is called Whitey: United States of America vs. James J. Bulger.  Berlinger has been a strong leading voice in nonfiction films for over two decades. The documentary is produced by CNN Films and Radical Media. You are not going to want to miss this films folks! Trust me.

The film focuses on the trial and outcome of Whitey Bulger and the hidden corruption of the law enforcement in Boston. Mr. Berlinger  interviews people from both legal teams and Berlinger scores a major coup when Bulger  calls into his lawyer’s office on speaker phone for the viewers to hear his side of the story.

Berlinger discusses the film with music icon Clive Davis

Berlinger discusses the film with music icon Clive Davis

Berlinger’s other highly acclaimed films Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and Metallica: Some kind of Monster were simply fantastic. His film CRUDE about oil pollution, won over 22 human rights, environmental and film festival awards. I became a huge fan of the acclaimed director after I saw Paradise Lost: Purgatory for which Berlinger received an Oscar nomination.

Whitey: United States of America vs. James J. Bulger  recently opened in LA and is available on In Demand. The  film premiered at Sundance this year to an exclusive sold out audience and has since grabbed the attention of everyone and anyone who has been following this incredible dramatic true-to-life story.

The Ravi Report recently caught up with the famous documentarian at the NY  premiere where Berlinger celebrated the release of his film with friends and family.

Candice Bergen smiles for the cameras at the premiere

Candice Bergen smiles for the cameras at the premiere

RR: It’s a pleasure to finally meet you Joe. You really did an excellent job with the film. If I may ask, what did you find the most interesting or surprising about Bulger’s dramatic life while making the film?

JB: The degree to which the conventional wisdom of the story might or might not be true. It’s taken as gospel  that Whitey Bulger was or was not an informant for the FBI and a lot of the bad behavior that went wrong is solely the fault of John Connolly (convicted former FBI agent)  who is currently in prison. My investigation demonstrated lots of holes in the conventional wisdom. The fact that Bulger was sentenced to two life sentences at the age of 83 after benefiting from a life of crime and that life of crime was abetted by the FBI and the Dept. of Justice, led to a lot of unanswered questions for me and that was the biggest surprise.

NY Police commissioner William Bratton and his beautiful wife Rikki Kleinman smile for The Ravi Report at the movie premiere

NY Police commissioner William Bratton and his beautiful wife Rikki Kleinman smile for The Ravi Report at the movie premiere

RR: So much already has been written about Bulger in books and his life has even inspired a few Hollywood films. But your film has been getting such strong attention and praise from people and critics all over the world despite so much out there already on the famous gangster’s life.  Your thoughts?

JB: I am proud of the film. There was a desire to exhibit this film at Sundance this year  because that is the premiere place to debut a film.  I’ve had 5 other films premiere at Sundance already so this was my 6th. I started shooting the film last June (2013)and finished it up this January(2014) in time for the festival.I am proud of the film and you can never look back…what’s done is done.

RR: Thank you Joe. It’s been a privilege indeed.

JB: Thank you

Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger  is available on In Demand and is currently screening in major cities across the United States.

The journey continues and for the Academy nominated Berlinger, it’s been an interesting ride so far.

Ravi

19
Jun
14

Bollywood Dream Girl & Politician Hema Malini comes to US for dance tour

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Bollywood superstar and politician Hema Malini addressing the NY media

 

When she appears on the movie screen, her large, captivating brown eyes and hypnotic beauty entertains millions. When she dances on stage in her countless mythological dance dramas portraying Hindu Goddesses Durga, Laxmi or Parvati,  audiences are spellbound and believe that an actual Hindu Goddess has prevailed down from the heavens to bless them.

Such is the phenomenon behind the Dream Girl of Indian cinema and popular politician, Hema Malini.

With more than 150 Hindi films to her credit, the Bollywood actress, trained classical Indian dancer and now popular politician is all set for her much anticipated world tour of the famous dance ballet “Durga” to be performed throughout the US starting in June.

Malini and her troup of classical trained dancers will kick off their world tour (and summer solstice!) of the famous dance ballet on Sat. June 21, 2014 at the NJPAC, www.njpac.com. The dance group is also scheduled to perform at the Colden Center Auditorium in Flushing, NY on July 12th at 8pm.

The beautiful actress has been performing “Durga” all over the world and the show is considered to be one of her best performances. The dance ballet is presented by Malini’s dance company, Natyavihar Kalakendra.

The ballet is based on the Hindu Godess Durga, the wife of Lord Shiva and will be filled with beautiful custom-made costumes, stunning  dancers and classical Indian music. Not to be missed folks!

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Hema Malini dancing as Goddess Parvati

Hema Malini is considered to be one of the most accomplished Bollywood actresses today. At the age of 65, she shows no signs of slowing down in work or popularity. Her recent win in the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) seat in Mathura-making her an MP in the state of Uttar Pradesh,shows the kind of love and adoration that her fans still have for her after entertaining them for over 40 years.

The superstar is married to the former top star of Bollywood films Dharmendra and they have two daughters, Esha and Ahana, both also trained dancers.  Both daughters were  recently married to much fanfare making headlines in the Indian media for their lavish weddings.  Hema Malini was the brains behind the stunning marriages and received praise and adoration from mother-in-laws to be all over the world for her efforts.

But despite being in demand in politics, movies and charities, classical Indian dancing still remains Malini’s first love.

“I have always been a dancer first and an actress second,” Malini once told me at a NY press conference. “My gift to God is to entertain people through my classical dance which I have been doing since the age of 16.”

With over 150 Bollywood films behind her, the ageless and busy actress spends her time as politician, dancer, mother, actress, singer and writer. But despite having a hectic schedule , Hema Malini continues to bring interest to classical Indian dance around the world through her ever so popular sold out dance ballets.

The journey continues…and for Bollywood superstar Hema Malini, it’s one filled with dance !

Ravi

03
Jun
14

India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi brings excitement and hope to world’s largest democracy

Most of you already know that India,  the world’s largest democracy,  recently held their elections and elected to the position of Prime Minister, the popular and very charismatic  Hindu-nationalist Mr. Narendra Modi  who defeated the Indian Congress Party in an overwhelmingly win against the party that ruled India for more than 67 years. This was huge folks!  For those that follow Indian politics closely as I do, this election was the most intense, exciting and globally covered event ever to come out of India.
Cover story in The Economist about Narendra Modi before the elections.

Cover story in The Economist about Narendra Modi before the elections.

The Congress party, lead by Sonia Gandhi, the daughter-in-law of the late Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, and her son Rahul were defeated in an election that left many Congress supporters disappointed and to be honest, a bit embarrassed.

Mr. Modi, a 63-year old former Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat and leader of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) was clearly the people’s choice and by judging from the numbers and the support from the millions of votes he received, Modi was indeed a clear winner in becoming the 15th Prime Minister of India. Some devoted followers say that Modi’s  track record as the CM of Gujarat, where he implemented change for the people, set the precedent for the kind of work he will do as Prime Minister.
Modi, with no political dynasty to back him up or a trust fund to fall back on, came from extreme humble beginnings. The son a tea seller, Modi rose in the ranks of politics by joining the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, (RSS)  a Hindu nationalist organization. In 2001, he came the Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat, similar to that of being elected Governor of a state, and increased the economy and infrastructure  of Gujarat under his leadership. Politicians, powerful business leaders and world leaders saw what he was capable of doing and began to praise his organizational and communication skills and way of governing.
Thank you CNN! Finally!

Thank you CNN! Finally!

So, the one burning question that keeps on coming up again and again in the media is this- is Modi good for India?
“Of course he is,” said one stunning Indian girl dressed in a designer dress at a Modi celebratory party in NY. “India needs change and the country needs a person who is going to bring those changes and who is not afraid to take any risks.”
“Modi is good for India because he has a vision of where the country should be in terms of economy and international status,” said an attractive Indian doctor who said her relatives voted for Modi back in India. “He is with the times. He is social media savvy and is going to bring India to new heights. Besides, Bollywood loves him!”
Enough said! If Bollywood loves him, he has got to be good for the masses!
Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanking his supporters on his home page the day he won the elections

Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanking his supporters on his home page the day he won the elections

The day Modi won the elections, India’s stock market hit a record high, the Indian rupee strengthened and business leaders began to see hope in India’s heavily regulated economy. Unemployed workers saw light at the end of the tunnel after hearing promises of new job opportunities and local workers embraced the hope of getting out of living paycheck to paycheck and for once, many saw a bright future for their families.

In his election speeches, Prime Minister Modi  has also promised to focus on development in the country, open doors to foreign investment and strengthen ties with the U.S, which of course for a while were a bit rough.  In other words, he has his hands full!
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Modi made the cover of the New York Times the day of winning the election

Other areas of focus that the Prime Minister wants to cover is the improvement in  the manufacturing sector, labor laws and making India a more “investment friendly” place  with foreign countries.

Of course no politician is without controversy and Modi unfortunately didn’t escape what critics wrote about his past and personal life.  For example Modi is a married man. It is not something that is talked about in the media and Modi himself almost never mentioned the fact that he in fact is a married man. His wife Jasodhaben Modi, whom he married as a teenager stayed out of the limelight and away from the media for decades. They never lived as husband and wife as Modi has set his eyes on a political future and never looked back.

The other controversy was the  2002  communal Hindu-Muslim riots that occurred under Modi’s leadership while he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.  The out of control violence took many people’s lives and the city of Ahmedabad was under curfew for days due to the out of control violence in the city.

The Financial Times shows Modi seeking blessings from is 95 year old mother after winning the election as the cover story

The Financial Times cover story shows Modi seeking blessings from his 95-year-old mother after winning the election

But despite the riots, Modi’s ability to govern and make changes got the votes and the needed confidence from the millions who voted for him. They believe that he in fact will bring change and new hope to the billion plus people in the world’s largest democracy.

Media critics are saying that India will have to wait and see the kinds of changes that Prime Minister Modi will bring.   But he is certainly off to a good start and he has the backing of many top politicians and powerful business leaders including the world-famous billionaire Anil Ambani who have supported Modi from the very beginning.
The journey continues and for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it’s going to be a challenging but rewarding one.
 
Ravi
28
Apr
14

Isabelle Von Boch of Villeroy & Boch shares inspirational tips for Mother’s Day

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Villeroy & Boch Mother’s Day gifts bring elegance and grace together!

My mother has for the past several years, always asked for one thing (other than a silk sari which she gets anyway) for Mother’s Day- an additional piece to her amazing collection of Villeroy and Boch products.

For years my mom has entertained hundreds of family and friends with the stylish, alluring and durable dinnerware that she often refers to as “a work of art”.

I remember as a kid growing up how decorative tabletops were common in our household and how mom always took pride in creating them for whenever she would invite family or friends over during the holidays or for special dinner parties. Since my mom loves to cook (and is damn good at!) she entertained a great deal always using the luxurious and colorful brand.
 
Villeroy and Boch have been around for over 260 years and the German company, known for their bold and vibrant colors, stunning stylish designs and devoted followers (like my mom), have geared up  to help celebrate Mother’s Day 2014 by offering moms all over the world more designs, ideas and choices for creating beautiful tableware for family and friends.
 
Isabelle Von Boch holding the popular Salad Plate Camel from the Samarkand Mandarin collection

Isabelle Von Boch holding the popular Salad Plate Camel from the Samarkand Mandarin collection

So you can just image how excited I was when I found that  Isabelle von Boch, an 8th generation descendant of the internationally renowned Villeroy and Boch family was coming to Princeton, NJ to share her personal creativity and inspiration  for creating the family friendly dinning table.

 
The Ravi Report caught up with Ms. Boch to get the story behind the fascination of Villeroy and Boch.
 
RR: A true honor to meet you Isabelle. You are known as the guru in the tabletop industry and you share with people all over the world such creative ideas when it comes to tableware.  Please tell me a bit about your mission in the ever-changing tabletop generation.
 
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Isabelle Von Boch posing next to the ever so popular & vibrant Mariefluer Dinner collection

IVB: I feel like a missionary that inspires people. My biggest wish or rather desire is to inspire people.

It’s not about selling, it’s about inspiration. People can make it (Villeroy and Boch) part of their lives in so many easy ways. People are sometimes not aware of the personal and immense impact of using a beautiful cup or stylish place setting for their family dinning.
 
RR: Your travels have taken you around the world where you offer tips, ideas and creative suggestions for the tabletop. In India for example, you are revered for your inspirational ideas when it comes to designing the colorful dinner tabletop. Why do you think there is such a strong brand connection with Villeroy & Boch in the international scene?
 
IVB: People receive us in the way that they do because they have an emotional impact with us. We speak to the emotions
of our customers and everything we do has an emotional quality. When people connect with our colors or design, they also connect with the European part of the culture. People in India buy Villeroy and Boch because they want to be part of the rich European culture.VilleroyBochMothersDaydisplay
 
RR: I also think it may have something to do with the strong bond that Indians have with Germans.
 
IVB:  Exactly. Indians connect with Germans on many levels. They love Germany, they love the people, there is a very strong connection between the two cultures. Our artwork being perfect, the shape being perfect and the technology being perfect is why we do very well in India. Also, when I was in India recently, I saw that color schemes and the strength of colors is what people really relate to in what we offer them. What we make is relevant to people’s lives and we try to make people understand that.
 
RR: Please if you will, give me an example of your own personal creativity that people have followed and how you think it impacts in the world of tabletop design?
 
IVB: I think examples like collecting different placements which lead to creating a different atmosphere for each meal is important. Have a different one for lunch, dinner, etc. Just like you change your clothes, placements are the clothes of the table and dinnerware should not be boring. Add some crystal glassware or flowers as well. It’s not about spending money, it’s about the table coming alive during dinner and holidays. Also, I have said that bone china can be used on any occasion, not just for holidays.
 
The Villeroy & Boch store brings hints of European flair to Princeton, NJ.

The Villeroy & Boch store brings hints of European flair to Princeton, NJ.

RR:  Tell me a little about the stunning color schemes in the products and why they do so well.

IVB: Our colors schemes are bold and strong and we are not afraid to make a statement.
Each one of our patterns has a personality so to speak. People who are afraid to make a statement about themselves, are not our customers.  People want refinement! We are in the business of creating ambiance and creating a way of life for people to communicate, socialize and bring the family together. Dinner is about socialization, connecting the family and not just about beautiful plates.
 
RR: My mom who has been a life long devoted fan, says your products “keep the family together”. Your thoughts?
 
IVB: Correct! I am about the family that eats together and stays together. I stress that all over the world when I visit people.
 
RR: Thank you Isabelle. Such a pleasure and an honor to meet the woman behind such an amazing brand.
 
IVB: Thank you so much.
 
The Villeroy & Boch store is located in the Princeton Market Fair Shopping Center. For more information, please visit www.villeroy-boch.com.
 
The journey continues and for Mother’s Day, it’s going to be a stylish one for sure!
 
Ravi
14
Apr
14

Fashion icon John Varvatos talks life, fashion and family with Fern Mallis

Fashion devotees of John Varvatos recently had the chance to see the iconic designer up close and personal in an engaging conversation between the exemplary designer and the world-famous fashion personality Fern Mallis at the historic 92Y venue in NYC as part of the well received series “Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis”.
For years, the 92Y has been known as a world-class nonprofit community and cultural center that has served as a place for NY audience members to experience personal interviews with some of the leading personalities and celebrities from the world of film, fashion, business, entertainment and publishing.92YEventr
The Ravi Report was front and center to bring all the details.

Varvatos menswear fashion and accessories are globally known for their  stylish, stunning and alluring designs that are sought  season after season. I have a shirt and trust me, the man is a genius when it comes to fashion.

Over the past several years, the designer’s passion for music and writing had turned Varvatos  into a leading author and somewhat musical talent scout as he brings very talented musicians to his Bowery Store in NY to perform for rock music fans.  I’ve been to a few concerts and it is a great concept and the musicians are very talented!

Varvatos’s new book Rock in Fashion, (which is selling like hotcakes) is  a collection of his own rock style designs and personal notes from his years of designing memorable clothes. You are definitely going to want to get this book folks!

But despite the designer’s immense fame, fortune and massive following, the Detroit born Varvatos remains humble and grateful to those that have helped him achieve his fame and success.JohnVarvatosbookjacket

The creator and organizer of NY Fashion Week, Fern Mallis is to the fashion world what curry is to rice- you can’t have one without the other.  Known as the “industry game changer”, Mallis has been the backbone for many iconic designers and the main organizer of their runway shows for years. The successful and well-liked iconic business personality is now president of her own company, Fern Mallis LLC and continues to create Fashion Week around the world in major cities.  Mallis also hosts her own show on the SiriusXM flagship celebrity talk channel, Stars called “Fashion Insiders with Fern Mallis.”

I will also on record saying she is one of the nicest and most helpful people in the fashion industry I know.

During the on stage conversation, Mallis , who is an excellent interviewer, gets Varvatos to open up about his family, his humble beginnings in Detroit, his career in fashion and of course his passions which include music, writing and designing cars!

The Ravi Report caught up with Varvatos after the talk to find out what keeps the world-famous designer going and what kind of outfits would he design for Bollywood stars.
RR: John, great seeing you again. We learned so much about you during the discussion. You just keep going from one project to another. How do you manage it all?
JV: I feel like I have to learn something new everyday. I am a sponge for learning things. I want to know everything and anything that pertains to my world and I go for it.
 
RR: A lot of your followers are saying  that “John has done so much and continues to reinvent his passion.” Your thoughts?
JV: Well, that is a nice complement. I think the word you use  is passion and that is the reason you keep going. I don’t even think about it...it’s the stimulus in life that is your passion that keeps you going and keeps you motivated and keeps you  looking for the next adventure. I would be bored if I was not looking for the next adventure. 
RR: Everything you explore and do seems to have a tremendous successful outcome with no room for failure. Has that always been the case?
JV: (laughs)…there are always bumps and road blocks in the road that people don’t see and if you have this attitude that you can climb over the road block and you can knock it down, you can do it. A few years  (in 2008) the economy for all of us was a bump in the road. No matter what you did, it was a bump in the road. You had to figure out how you were going overcome it and come out stronger and better than before.  For me it was not going to let me down just because we just got punched in the stomach. What can we learn from this experience? What is going to make us stronger? So if it happens again, we can be in a much better place.
 
RR: You have a large following almost a cult like one in Bollywood for your fashions and accessories with many stars wearing your clothes to parties, red carpet premiers and events.  If you had to design an outfit for the leading men of Bollywood, what would you design?
JV: (Pauses)That is a really an interesting question. Today we  were talking in our meeting on what the next inspiration would be for our runway and we are planning on going to India this summer for an inspirational trip. There is a culture out there from everything from the intellectual flourishing artesian culture to amazing fabrics  and  it’s one of the places where people take pride in what they do. I would design something that would be inspired by Indian culture.

RR: Thanks so much John. Always a pleasure and hope to talk to you again soon.
JV: Thank you so much.
The journey continues and for John Varvatos and Fern Mallis, it’s one full of fashion, design and adventure for sure!
Ravi

 

 

28
Feb
14

Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman left us too soon

The Oscars will be a bit bitter-sweet this year.

Not because some of the most amazing films or actors were not even given a nod nor will it be because some of them were given one.
 
It will be because a leading member of the Hollywood film fraternity will no longer be among his peers cheering them on as they sit in hopes of winning  the most prestigious honor in cinema.
 
By now, many of you already know who I am talking about but I will be more than honored to mention his name just in case some of you may not know. I’m talking about Academy Award winning  Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the greatest American actors that Hollywood will ever see.

Hoffman won an Academy Award in 2005 for his portrayal of Truman Capote in the film "Capote"

Hoffman won an Academy Award in 2005 for his portrayal of Truman Capote in the film “Capote”

 
The 46 year-old brilliant and gifted film and theater actor passed away on Feb. 2, 2014  from an apparent drug overdose.
 
It was sudden. Shocking. Tragic and of course disturbing.
Hollywood lost a great actor and three kids lost their loving father.
 
I’m not going to sit here and write about what has already been written about the late gifted actor over the past several weeks including everything from drug abuse to the details of Hoffman’s will. However,  I will say that the actor’s death has brought serious attention (again) to the ongoing issue of the dangers of  drug addiction and how prevalent and on the rise it has become.
 
According to a recent New York Times editorial written by the well-known and astute NY ER physician Dr. Robert S. Hoffman, heroine-related deaths have increased 84 percent from 2010 to 2012 in New York city.  Dr. Hoffman also  states that the actor’s sudden death was more of a “wake up” call for society to try to help prevent the hundreds of other unknown deaths that are never mentioned or talked about.
 
Philip Seymour Hoffman took Hollywood  by storm with his innate ability to dig deep into the core of his being to bring to surface the kind of immense talent that only a few privileged individuals are blessed to achieve in a lifetime.
 
My first introduction to Hoffman was from the powerful  film Magnolia. The deep and emotional 1999 movie centers around 9 individuals with various levels of dysfunctional issues. Hoffman stars as the hospice nurse Phil who tries to reunite a son (played by Tom Cruise) with his dying father. Although it was clear that Tom Cruise was the protagonist in the film, Hoffman gave the kind of performance that not only made Hollywood take notice, but also gave the world the kind of versatility and  gut-wrenching performances that only a few gifted actors can achieve.
 
Magnolia was the reason I watched all of Hoffman’s films and I, like millions, was able to see  how over the years, the simple and unassuming actor transformed into a megastar by portraying versatile characters that quite frankly, were tailor-made for him.
 
Hoffman won an Academy Award in 2005 for his brilliant performance in the movie Capote. Who can forget that heartwarming speech afterwards in which he thanks his human rights lawyer mom, Marilyn Hoffman O’Conner for taking him to his first play as a child. Not a dry eye in the house when he spoke.

Hoffman with cast members and good friends Laura Linney and Philip Bosco

Hoffman with cast members and good friends Laura Linney and Philip Bosco

 
I was privileged to have met and interviewed Hoffman in 2007  at the NY premiere of  Savages.  Hoffman along with the stunning Laura Linney play brother and sister in the movie who end up caring for their  abusive and ill  father played by the brilliant Philip Bosco.  It’s an emotional family drama that is certainly a must watch. I’ve seen it twice.
 
Hoffman was indeed one of the most sincere, humble and intelligent actors I had ever met.
 
RY: How did you prepare for this role? Did you draw anything from your own life experiences?
 
Hoffman: You prepare for it like you prepare for any part….it’s always different yet always the same and you know that’s a long conversation..it really is…it’s not something you can just sound bite…it really is..there is a lot of questions and a lot of thought that goes into preparing for something.
 

RY: What did this role do for you artistically as an actor?

Hoffman: Wow..(pause)…I have no idea…very deep question. Probably nothing…(laughs)..well it’s just another opportunity to explore something that I find pertinent that interests me now …do you know what I mean?… which I hopefully think artists are about.

RY: What attracted you to the role?

Hoffman: It was a great script….it’s never just the role…it’s always the role and the story…they have to go hand in hand and this is a really a great script and it’s a role that pertains to where I am in my life…where being 40 is in your life….and I do think it’s interesting and I do think that’s the answer to your first question…it’s interesting to explore something that you find pertinent to life at this time in your life…you find that your interest and curiosities change over time. There are things that I did ten years ago as an actor that I would not want to do now as an actor.

RY: How did you prepare for this role? Did you draw anything from your own life experiences?

Hoffman: You prepare for it like you prepare for any part….it’s always different yet always the same and you know that’s a long conversation..it really is…it’s not something you can just sound bite…it really is..there is a lot of questions and a lot of thought that goes into preparing for something.

After the interview, Hoffman gracefully shook my hand and headed into the theater with good friend Linney and the rest of the cast.

What has been written about the past several weeks and what will continue to be written about the late actor has opened up new conversations about drug overdose, addicts who try to fight their inner demons and personal struggle with rehab.

When Hoffman tragically and suddenly passed away, the media compared his death to those of other talented actors who battled drug addiction including River Phoenix and Heath Ledger. The premise seems to be the same.

When the 86th Academy Awards begins on Sunday, March 2, 2014, millions will be watching the broadcast around the world while Hoffman’s spirit will be lingering among the  actors as he sends his congrats to the winners from above while fixing his trademark uncombed hair.
 
The journey continues….and for Hoffman, it was indeed a short and unfinished one.
 
Ravi
 
24
Jan
14

Bollywood Awards Get Ready To Make America Debut

Global superstars Anil Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra pose for The Ravi Report

Global superstars Anil Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra pose for The Ravi Report

Lights, camera and Bollywood!

If there is one single event that will give you a complete picture of the magic behind the largest film producing industry in the world complete with all its leading components, then you DO NOT want to miss the most talked about and highly anticipated event of 2014  soon to happen in the US for the first time. This folks, is a VERY BIG DEAL!

The International Indian Film Awards known as iifa is the biggest Bollywood event produced out of India (think Oscars) and is bound for Tampa Bay, Florida April 24-26, 2014.

Beautiful A List Bollywood celebrities, stunning exotic dancers, gorgeous actresses and choreographed spectacles with singers and superstars, will entertain thousands upon thousands of fans from all around the world that will come to see the live extravaganza.

As someone who has been covering Bollywood for almost two decades, trust me when I tell you that iifa is the most magnificent event ever to come out of India.

Now in its 15th year, the event will bring over  800 people set to perform in numerous events during the three-day celebration.

“Think Bono, Springsteen and the Superbowl all wrapped up with a  bit of Moulin Rouge mixed in,that’s how iifa can be best described,” stated a stunning and statuesque Indian model attending the recent iifa NY press conference. “For those folks that want an up-close and personal  experience of what the magic behind Bollywood is all about, they need to come to this event. Plain and simple.”

Kapoor and Chopra chatting before the press conference

Kapoor and Chopra chatting before the press conference

In just one week since ticket sales have started, over 10K tickets have been sold for the event!!

Why Tampa Bay? Glad you asked.

“Tampa Bay is family oriented and doesn’t have the craziness of Miami and has all the assets of the big cities,” said Santiago Corrada, President & CEO of Visit  Tampa Bay. “Tampa Bay is also very sophisticated and welcoming of cultures and of course you ready know how much of a terrific culture Bollywood has to offer to the world and Tampa Bay is the perfect place to launch that fascinating culture.”

Dr. Kiran Patel, a well-known cardiologist and philanthropist is the brains behind bringing iifa to Tampa Bay. Dr. Patel has been a life long Bollywood fan and is one of the most respected individuals in the state of Florida.

International superstar and iifa representative actor Anil Kapoor spoke to The Ravi Report  during the New York press conference that he and the ridiculously gorgeous  Bollywood actress, Guess girl and Pitbull favorite Priyanka Chopra co-hosted.

Priyanka Chopra and Anil Kapoor take to the stage to talk about iifa significance in the United States

Priyanka Chopra and Anil Kapoor take to the stage to talk about iifa significance in the United States

RR: Great to see you again Anil!  The NY media is buzzing saying  that both you and Priyanka, two well-known Bollywood stars outside of India with a strong international following,  will draw a huge non-Indian audience to the iifa event.  Your thoughts?

AK: Thanks so much  but honestly, there are many more accomplished actors who have done so much more in Bollywood than me and Priyanka that will be at iifa, so I really look to the iifa association as more of a family event and not really one that is showcased by me or Priyanka.

RR: Is there a lot pressure from Bollywood for  this massive event to go over well for the first time in the US?

The entire iifa 2014 Dream Team poses for the media

The entire 2014 iifa Dream Team poses for the NY media

AK: Well, we do our best to entertainment those that come to iifa and try to do the best job we can as  entertainers.

During the press conference, Kapoor pointed out he would never bestow his name to anything that he does not believe in.

“I have never endorsed any products…I never endorsed anything. I am very choosy and fussy about things. I don’t give my name just to anyone. So for me to come to NY and speak about iifa to the media is very important to me and I believe in iiffa and I believe in the folks of Tampa Bay.”

Press conference was held inside the legendary New York Plaza Hotel

Press conference was held inside the legendary New York Plaza Hotel

Rajan Singh, head of International Business for Star Plus  UK, has been a strong force behind iifa since the very beginning and is responsible for the million  of viewers in 108 countries  that will get to see the program.

RR: Mr. Singh, the iifa event is being compared to the likes of the Superbowl combined with Rolling Stones concerts in terms of viewership. Is that a pretty accurate description?

RS: Well, if you talk about the television exposure one will get with iifa with the biggest network in Asian television like Star Plus, then it certainly does fall into that kind of area.

RR: iifa has been staged around the world but never in the United States. What are some of the concerns you might have with such an intense undertaking?

RS:It’s going to be a quality event that is the most important thing we need to focus on.We have to produce quality events so people around the world can see  how far iifa has come in the past 15 years of global exposure.

RR: With leading Bollywood stars starring in big budgeted Hollywood films, popular television shows and international modeling campaigns, is Bollywood finally coming to a mainstream level in the United States with iifa?

RS: I am surprised it has taken so long with America having such a huge Indian population,that it has taken 15 years for Bollywood to officially come to the US through iifa.

For more information on iifa and ticket sales, visit www.iifa.com.

The journey continues….in Bollywood style! Jai Ho!

08
Dec
13

Actor Noah Emmerich Brings Prestige To The Americans

Star of The Americans, actor Noah Emmerich addresses the media on the red carpet

Star of The Americans, actor Noah Emmerich addresses the media on the red carpet

The Paley Center For Media http://www.paleycenter.org in NY recently held their 2013 Paley Fest featuring top stars and producers from popular television shows that have gained nationally attention and following.
One of the events  was an up close visit with the cast from the extremely popular and prodigious FX show The Americans.  The show  created by a former CIA agent himself Joe Weisberg, is based on  the marriage of two undercover Soviet spies and takes place during the Regan eighties.  The all star cast includes Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and popular actor and friend Noah Emmerich.
Emmerich, 48, is a New York born, Yale educated character actor who has over the past 25 years acted in some of the most memorable television shows  and box office favorites. Who could forget his role as Marlon  in The Truman Show with Jim Carey. Or his role as the helpful neighbor Larry Hedges  in Little Children. And don’t forget to look for the talented actor in the upcoming Jane Gotta Gun playing Natalie Portman’s husband.
Emmerich television appearances are to many to name but the few that do come to mind are The West Wing and White Collar.  But his most recent exciting and talked about role is that of  FBI agent Stan Beeman in the critically acclaimed hit series The Americans. 
Exciting and full of espionage drama, The Americans has captured audiences attention around the world for its brilliant writing, award-winning cast, strong character development, dramatic marital relationships and scandalous undertones.
Noah Emmerich poses with Ravi Yande at the Paley Media Center, NY

Noah Emmerich poses with Ravi Yande at The Paley Center for Media, NY

The Ravi Report recently had the opportunity to meet up with Emmerich and the entire cast and show producers at The Paley Center for a special sold out panel discussion.
RR: Great seeing you again Noah. Congrats on the success of the show. How does it feel to be part of something so amazing?

NE: We are gearing up for season 2 and it was amazing to come back to a job.  I’ve never come back to a job in my entire life. You star in a movie, then it ends and you say good-bye to everyone. This is great.

RR: Everyone loved Season 1. Are you at all surprised at the kind of prominent reaction that the show has gotten?

NE: I am amazed and in my wildest dreams I did not anticipate such reaction and praises we got from the audiences. It’s like a dream.

Actors Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys share a joke on the red carpet

Actors Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys share a joke on the red carpet

RR: You’re known in the industry as a very talented and versatile character actor  in both film and television.  What specifically attracted you to your character  Stan Beeman on the show?

NE: I like the ideas of the layers of the character. They sort out infinite possibilities in the world of espionage, false identities and false selves. I like the ideas the writers had, that was really the area of interest. Another part is that it is always interesting for an actor to deal with  more layers of character because the more interesting the work becomes, the more you really don’t know who these characters are to some degree.  That is quite exciting for me and hopefully the audiences as well.

RR: If your role in The Americans was offered to you say 10 years ago, would you have been ready to take on something so intense?

NE: It’s hard to say…egotistically, I’d like to say I could have done it but I certainly feel better prepared and more suitable to play this role here today.  I think everything happens for a reason and this is happening now and I am grateful.

RR: What sort of research did you do for your role as the FBI agent Stan Beeman? 

TheAmerciansGroupShot

Noah Emmerich, show creators Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys pose for the media on The Americans red carpet arrivals.

NE: I’ve done a lot of reading about the period when the show takes place and I’ve talked to some FBI agents and some CIA agents as well. I somewhat immersed myself in that world to understand what the dynamics and reality was for those people during that time which certainly helped develop my character.

RR: The world of television series has changed dramatically over the years with audiences getting more finicky about what they like to watch and follow. Do you think The Americans would have gotten the same kind of acceptance it has gotten today vs  five or ten years ago?

NE:  I don’t think we could have seen the Russian heroes working to bring down America as viable as ten years ago. I think the audiences have gotten more and more sophisticated over the years in viewership and I think we, as actors, have expanded and embraced cultures and characters along the way.   I also think it’s a beautiful moment that we can explore different points of view other than our own..I think there is a strong appetite for that.

RR: Thank you so much Noah. Always a pleasure and good luck in season 2!
NE: Thank you.
26
Oct
13

Indian Filmmaker Brings Reality To Bollywood Films

Indian filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar is a genius. Not in the Einstein sense, but in the sense of how to make great films. He knows what audiences want and goes for it. Come hell or high water.

MadhurBetsy

Madhur Bhandarkar poses with fashion icon Betsey Johnson at the recent Molecule Communications Bollywood event in NY

Bhandarkar, 45, is one of India’s prolific movie makers and one of the most sought after directors in Bollywood today. His reality based subject matter  mixed in with his brilliant way of directing,  all equals great cinema appreciated by audiences around the world. His films are fictional but have a strong sense of realism in the undertones of  each story.

His most recent film Heroine focused on the life of a young Bollywood wannabe actress trying to make it in the tough and highly competitive Indian film industry. The protagonist was played by Kareena Kapoor, one of the top stars in Bollywood. The film played to packed movie houses for months.  Again, the Midas touch of Bhandarkar.

The Mumbai born acclaimed director has won more National Awards (India’s equivalent to the Oscars) then any other director in India today.  In 2009, the acclaimed director also won the India’s Presidential Award for his contribution to Indian cinema.  Not bad for someone who has only been in the industry for 12 years.

Bhandarkar was in NY recently as part of Ticket To Bollywood, a two-day amazing film conference produced by Molecule Communications showcasing Bhandarkar’s work while allowing audience interaction with the director, something of a rarity with Bollywood celebrities.

“You couldn’t meet this guy in India even if you camped outside of his house for days,” said one striking Indian girl carrying a picture of Bhandarkar to get signed.

“I’ve seen every one of his films. The man knows how to make films that people for generations will appreciate,” stated one beautiful Indian girl with stunning features and a statuesque build.

RaviMadhur01

Madhur Bhandarkar and Ravi Yande pose on the red carpet

The Ravi Report was lucky enough to catch up with the filmmaker to talk about  his films, his journey and Hollywood.

RR: Madhur, what I have found out is that  people outside of India love your films. Are you surprised at your global fan base?
MB: I think it’s a great thing. I know people who have seen Chandani Bar, Corporate and Fashion who are not Indians or NRIs who have loved my work.
I am very happy about the kind of reception I have received from these film followers and a lot of American people on Twitter  send me their feedback.
RR: Why do you think so many followers outside of India have connected with your films? Your way of telling a story? 
MB: I think people understand me and most importantly, they understand my cinema. My whole journey has been a great struggle and a compelling  amount of hard work has gone into it. I am happy that my journey from Chandani Bar to Heroine has been great.
RR: Your films mainly deal with issues about reality such as the dark side of the world of fashion, the cut throat corporate business world and an insider’s look at trying to make it in Bollywood. Did you ever feel compelled to try another genre?
MB: A lot of people have told me to stick to the kind of genre that I have been making films in and these are the films that got Madhur Bhandarkar known as the person who shows reality in cinema.  I am happy about that and  I am sticking to the genre and I am not going to change because my cinema..I know what it is…and for me it’s about connecting emotions with the audiences around the world.
Madhur Bhandarkar poses exclusively for The Ravi Report

The stylish and trendy Madhur Bhandarkar poses exclusively for The Ravi Report

RR: You are well-known in NY and were recently  honored with the prestigious ‘New York Citizen’s Achievement Award’ by the Counsel General of India.  Do you have a sense of connection with New York and if so, in what way?

MB: New York has been a favorite city of mine. I have been here twice already this year.  I connect with New York so much because it reminds me of Mumbai in so many ways. The vibrant energy, the people, the fashion, it’s buzzing all the time and very similar to Mumbai. When I walk in Time Square, I meet a lot of people and start talking just like Mumbai.
RR: One of the biggest honors any Indian person can received for his or her work is the National Award of India. Those who receive it often work a lifetime to get this high honor. You have received four of them in less than 12 years for your films and direction and  are the only filmmaker in the history of Indian films to receive so many of them. Your thoughts?
MB: I feel the kind of contribution that I have done with the audience participation and the people liking my work, has all contributed to me being recognized on such a high level in cinema. Everywhere I go, people say “Madhur do a film on this subject, do a film on that subject”, so the love and admiration I get from people who appreciate my work is really most important to me.
RR: Are you at all surprised at the immense amount of fame and recognition that you have received in such a short time in Bollywood?
MB: You see, there is an amazing amount of trust in the people and they believe in Mahur Bhandarkar cinema and they believe that Madhur will show us reality in films. Today when I look back at my journey, here is a person from a typical Marathi background who dropped out of school, sold video cassette tapes to celebrities and who came over here in this journey is huge for me.
RR: Have you ever gotten discouraged on your journey?
MB: I am a very optimistic person and when people ask me “Madhur, where do you see yourself ten years from now, I always go with the flow and don’t want to predict the future. I just want to make the kind of cinema that I believe in..that’s it.
RR: Many top Bollywood actresses like Kareena Kapoor, Bipasha Basu and Priyanka Chopra have attributed their Bollywood success to your films. Thoughts?
MB: I am happy that the audience has given me that power and that they watch my movies all the time. I am happy that my team, producers and of course the actresses  have given my films their best work.
RR: Would you ever decide to head to  Hollywood? They are very familiar with your work.
MB:  Well, I am very busy now. If  an offer comes tomorrow…and it’s right…I would do a film. I am just to busy right now to do anything but as I have said, if you want to work in Hollywood, you have to over there,  park yourself  and try to  understand the process and the same goes for trying to make it in Bollywood.
RR: Thank you Madhur.  A true honor indeed.
MB: Thank you. My pleasure.
Bhandarkar’s National Award winning films are highly recommended for everyone to see:
1. Chandani Bar (2001)- won for Best Picture
2. Page 3- Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Editing
3. Fashion- won National Awards for international superstar Priyanka Chopra and her co-star Kangana Ranaut
4. Traffic – won for Best Director
The journey continues and for Madhur Bhandarkar, it’s indeed a reel-istic one.
Ravi
06
Oct
13

Golden Elephants Welcomed Governor Chris Christie To Indian Event

Golden elephants welcomed Governor Christie to the event

Golden elephants welcomed Governor Christie to the event

The South Asian community sure does like NJ Governor Chris Christie.
At a recent celebration in West Windsor, NJ  Governor Christie was welcomed with golden elephants, beautiful Indian ladies dressed in stunning silk saris and a whole lot of enthusiasm from NJ state registered voters.
“I came today just to say thanks to  the Governor for doing a great job. It’s tough being the Governor of NJ,” said a gorgeous Indian girl dressed in a designer Manish Malhotra chiffon sari laced with swarovski crystals.
The Governor was a special invited guest at  the annual 2013 Marathi Vishwa Ganesh Celebrations, a festive and religious  program that welcomes the “birth” of Lord Ganesh, the popular elephant headed Hindu God known for removing obstacles from one’s path and one in which millions of Hindus across the world pray to. Coincidentally, Governor Christie has a Lord Ganesh idol  placed in the Governor’s Mansion Drumthwacket in Princeton.

Governor Christie being thanks by the Indian community for his hard work with Dr. Kulkarni in the background.

Governor Christie being thanked by the Indian community for his hard work with Dr. Kulkarni in the background.

I have been attending the annual Lord Ganesh event for years now with my parents and this year the biggest attraction was the Governor’s appearance.
“Our state is a state that has great opportunity but also great challenges,” the Governor told an audience of 1200 during his pin drop silence speech.
“So many people come to our state for opportunities and when they get here, they are also confronted here with those challenges. What I have done the past four years is to try to move some of those challenges  out of your way.”
A round of applause from the audience.
The Governor meeting children of the community during the event

The Governor meeting children of the community during the event

“As I look out in this audience, I know that besides being successful in business…that each and every one of you has found your own way to contribute to the strength of the fabric of our communities…that is one of the powerful things about NJ.”

The Governor then went on to say that New Jersey residents feel a strong connection to the 566 municipalities and to the town they live in. He also pointed out that folks who have belief in the principles that have made NJ strong like hard work, integrity, honesty, strong families and a deep believe in God, are things symbolic of the community and the state.
He ended his speech with a quote from his mother.
“Christopher, first things first…do the job you have in front of you as best as you can…and your future will take care of itself.”
 
After the Governor’s speech, I spoke to a few of the guests to see what their thoughts were about what he said.

The hand made Ganesh portable temple that my dad made and sets up every year for the celebration

The hand made portable temple that my dad built is used every year to place the Lord Ganesh idol in

“He has a very tough job and he is doing a great one. We need him again in office!” said Dr. Joshi, a physician from northern NJ.
“I think the Governor was right in saying that the South Asian population is the fastest growing one in the state. Our community is attracted to NJ for its jobs, schools and of course temples, which now has  15,” stated one gorgeous  Indian lady dressed in a god brocaded  silk sari and decked in gold jewelry.
Afterwards, Christie  took a walk to the Lord Ganesh idol  to take “darshan” (auspicious viewing & blessings) with the guests. The idol was place in a handmade temple that my dad made years ago as part of the celebration. My dad adds to it ever year and this year he decided to add red lights which looked awesome!
Guests danced and played Indian drums as the procession to build Lord Ganesh goodbye began

Guests danced and played Indian drums as the procession to bid Lord Ganesh “goodbye” began

The  Marathi Vishwa organization, www.marathivishwa.com, a community group of Marathi speaking people was started by my parents started over 30 years ago for the same reason what Governor Christie mentioned in his speech- to contribute to the great community of NJ. The organization which my mom named, is now going strong after 30 years with thousands of members from all over NJ.

The celebration continued outside with the crowd into the evening

The celebration continued outside and into the evening

The Governor’s appearance gave the Indian community  increased hope and satisfaction that he will continue to give his best to the state and its people in the next four years.
The journey continues and for Governor Chris Christie, a one filled with strong support from the Indian community of the Garden State.
Ravi



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