Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

18
Jul
14

Spoonfuls of Summer: Raspberries for Baby

Congrats Leena!!! Please save me some jam!!

Masala Baby Food

20140712_120918 Freshly picked!

Hi everyone!

Oh my gosh, before I even get started with this spoonfuls of summer business, I have to tell you all (well, all five of you reading this thing) something:  I MADE JAM! Yes! Me! Canning-challenged and fearful ‘ol me successfully made jam this morning! So many leftover berries from our farm picking adventures I had to try something new:

20140716_101216 Omg jam!

I know to most of you this sounds ridiculous, and yes, smart people have been making jam and canning things for eons.  But I suppose I’m excited because I was never one of those smart people.  For whatever reason the whole process seemed really intimidating.  But my dear friend Amy, who always sends us the MOST divine strawberry jam, inspired me to try and make some.  I didn’t use pectin, or do anything complicated because I was too scared, but did a lot of research…

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11
Nov
11

The Ravi Report Hits The Hamptons- Part 2

The dining table was an Indian masterpiece complete with golden chairs!

Once in a while, we get invited  to a stylish and  glamorous  dinner that we  talk about even after it’s over. Well, that’s just what I’m going to do here folks.  The Ravi Report was recently  invited to an exotic Indian dinner hosted by the captivating  Kelli Delaney-Kot of KDHamptons.com  and her husband, the charismatic and well-known  Dr. Mark Kot at their beautiful and historical  house in Water Mill, a hamlet of the town of  Southhampton.

India Night At The Kots”  spared no details in making it one of the most enduring and glamorous dinner parties  ever to be seen in the affluent town of beautiful people.  Gorgeous ladies dressed in silk designer sexy saris, the aroma of Indian food coming from the kitchen (later served by the wait staff) and traditional Indian music playing,  all were a part of the cultured event. It felt like home people!

The special invited guests mingled and nibbled on tasty vegetarian samosas and bajias catered by one of the top celebrity attended restaurants in NYC called  Chola and drank  champagne while getting to know each other.  I have to be honest here, I felt like I was at back in Mumbai  at one of those fancy Bollywood dinners that are attended by Bollywood stars, dignitaries and famous politicians.

Honored guests include Chris Clarke, the stunning Kelli Delany Kot, Dr. Mark Kot, Bernard Schwartz and his sexy wife Kimberly

Jennifer Lancaster, Ravi Yande, Alyssa Heim, Dr. Kot & Marie Caroline Caiola wore their best Indian clothes for the event!

Delaney had been preparing weeks for the dinner paying close  attention to every small detail.  “It was such a joy putting this dinner together that it did not seem like a lot of work at all. I wanted the food & the decor to be perfect for our guests.  We  wanted everyone to have fun and have a taste of Indian culture- in the Hamptons!”said Delaney. And boy, did we ever! Kelli told me that I inspired her to host the Indian themed dinner as I am always sharing my culture with her.

“With readers of KDHamptons being cultured, well-traveled and curious about the world, I thought it would be appropriate to introduce a little bit of Indian culture to them by way of our dinner.” added Delaney.

Guests dined like Maharajas!

The dining table was a masterpiece. Plain and simple folks. The table-cloth was made from Banarasi silk saris (heavy, expensive hand-woven silk saris from the  holy place of Benares)  Indian vintage statues served as showcase pieces, gorgeous red and pink rose flower arrangements lined the table and designer dinnerware complete with  gold-plated drinking glasses and light blue silk napkins made the dinner fit for a Maharaja!

The delicious cuisine consisted of traditional chicken and lamb dishes, mouth-watering palak paneer (a spicy spinach and cheese dish), rice,  Naan, (Indian bread baked in a clay oven) and spicy chickpeas called Chaana served with  a yogurt based salad called Raita.

The ladies complemented  the men who were wearing traditional tunics called Kurtas, a fancy Indian shirt made of silk. A sari, has most of you may know, is the Indian dress that is worn by  ladies and consists of 6 years of fabric wrapped around the body and the tail end is then draped over the shoulder. I will be honest here, I was so amazed at the way the beautiful ladies carried themselves since they had never worn a sari before and they walked around like pros! They completed the Indian look  with Bindiyas (the Indian circle shaped mark on the forehead) and an arm full of colorful bangles.

The Kot home was decorated with vintage silks saris, Lord Ganeshes, Indian bracelets placed in trays and traditional fall  flowers both inside and outside the house welcoming people  just as they do in India. The driveway was decorated with white candles lighting the pathway for the guests as they entered the home. A sheer touch of class!

“India Night At The Kots” was one of the most enjoyable dinners I have ever been to and sincere thanks to Delaney and Dr. Kot for  bringing Indian culture into their home in such a stylish and glamorous way.

The journey continues….namaste!

Ravi

23
Apr
10

CARELL & FEY HAVE “DATE NIGHT” FROM HELL!

Ok folks let’s face it. We’ve all had a  “date night” from hell at some point or another in our lives (some of us more than others but that’s another story). Things  just didn’t go right.  The restaurant gave away your reservation because you couldn’t find a parking spot or the genius who took your reservation, accidently gave you the wrong date for your special night or the photo that the person posted on an online dating service turned out to photoshopped so well,  it created a new image.  You get the idea.
 So when I saw the new hit comedy movie “Date Night” with mega stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey, I couldn’t help but think about the millions of people around the world watching this movie and thinking “I can relate to that.”
Let me just say one thing about versatile & mirthful actors Carell and Fey. They have the best on-screen chemistry I’ve seen in a long time and they are two of the nicest actors that you are ever going to want to meet. Plain and simple.
 
“Date Night” is a whimsical  movie filled with witty humor and heaps of intelligently written scenarios that will make you think about all those crazy date nights you all have had. I know I can throw in a few!! LOL!

Actor Steve Carell gives an exclusive pose for The Ravi Report

 
“Tina! Tina! We love You” screamed fans across the street  when the “30 Rock” star got out of her limo and ran across the street to sign  autographs for fans who waited  hours just to get a quick glimpse of  her before the star entered the official red carpet at the world famous Ziegfeld Theater in midtown.
“I waited two hours to get Tina’s autograph” said one very  cute brunette  who was holding images of Fey from her SNL shows.
 
“Steve you rock!” shouted fans as “The Office” star also  walked across the street to sign autographs  before he hit the throng of paparazzi waiting for him.
 

Superstar Tina Fey speaks to the press on the red carpet

I have to be honest, I’ve been a long time fan of both Carell and  Fey.  Carell, for his ingenious humor in the hit series “The Office” and Fey for being a very talented and excellent writer/actress  and for her famous Sarah Palin impersonation which brought her world-wide attention.  The actors shine working together.

 
I’ve met  both of them before and every time they enter the red carpet, there is almost a wave of prodigious & positive energy that follows.
 
Date Night” focuses on the “Fosters” (Carell & Fey) who have let family life and raising kids take the spice out of their marriage. So like most married couples who have limited quality time to spend together, the Fosters decide to  make a special  “date night” to rekindle the romantic side of their marriage.  Well, their date night turns into a roller coaster of adventure when they accidently use someone else’s identity to secure a table  at a fancy restaurant. I won’t give away any more than that folks!

Steve Carell carefully listens to a question from The Ravi Report

 
At the recent premiere,  Carell  told reporters how he balances fame and family.
 
“When I’m not a work I’m with my family. I come right home. I wake up and take my kids to school. Those are  the only two things I do. Work and home.” stated the star  of such  hit films such as  “Get Smart”,Bewitched” and “40 Year Old Virgin”.
 
The versatile actor also said  that his character Michael Scott from “The Office” and his role as Mr. Foster from “Date Night” have common traits.
 

Tina Fey filming a promo for "Date Night" from the red carpet!

“I think Phil Foster is who Michael Scott would want to be,” said the star when asked about how the two characters are similar in nature. “Because he(Foster) is successful with a  family, kids he has that life that Michael Scott would want.” 

 
When asked by The Ravi Report what the intelligent actress finds the most enjoyable part of her work,  Fey smiled and added ” I always felt lucky making a living at doing what I like doing. Being able to write stuff and being in it is very enjoyable to me” stated the married mom.
The reviews for “Date Night” have been positive and fans on the social media sites are asking if they can expect a sequel anytime  soon.  Hey, what about a follow-up entitled ” Date Night 2: Revenge of the Fosters!” LOL!
 
Now, the important question here. What ABOUT having a special date night of your own? Well,  I spoke to a few married couples who said that the movie inspired them to try to do a date night  to spice things up in their marriage but they would stick to keeping their own reservations! LOL!
 
For info check out the movie website at www.datenight-themovie.com and kudos the terrific folks at Fox Searchlight for doing a great job (again) with the premiere.
The journey continues…
Ravi
 
08
Mar
10

“THE DUDE” BRINGS HOME THE GOLD!

Iconic actor Jeff Bridges attributes winning the Oscar and his successful career to his parents support.

Well, “The Dude”  finally did it!  

 After five nominations and countless amazing roles, actor and iconic Hollywood star Jeff Bridges is part of the Oscar fraternity! (claps please!!)  

The legendary & humble actor known for his realistic acting and charismatic personality finally won an Academy Award for his role as the drunk but loving country singer Bad Blake in the film “Crazy Heart“.  

A MUST SEE FOLKS!!!! If you haven’t seen the film yet PLEASE put in on your to do list!  

Ever so grateful to his showbiz family Bridges thanked his parents  for paving his road to success in his acceptance speech.

“Thank you mom and dad for turning me on to such a groovy profession,” … “I feel an extension of them; this is honoring them as much as it is honoring me!”  said that actor while holding the golden statue that took three decades to reach his hands.
 
The veteran actor is so well-loved by the Hollywood community and it showed at the Academy Awards shows when fellow actors screamed in joy when the superstar’s  name was announced  by the graceful and ever stunning actress Kate Winslet for winning the Best Actor award.  
 
“People were just screaming his name when he entered the red carpet” texted one fan to The Ravi Report who was lucky enough to attend the awards.

"Crazy Heart" director, producer and screenwriter Scott Cooper has every reason to smile!

“Bridges wife is so beautiful!”  wrote freelance producer Tina from the red carpet.  Susan Bridges who has been profusely thanked in almost every speech given by the Oscar winner,  has stood by her man for over three decades and has been the backbone of his success says the actor.  If marriages are made in heaven than their marriage is living proof.  

First time actor turned director Scott Cooper truly knows how to select a winning team and was able to project it with his debut film.  The well liked filmmaker also was able to bring in heavy hitters for his first film which is almost impossible for a first time Hollywood director. Cooper proved everyone wrong.  

“He really set the precedent for first time directors to work with Hollywood big wigs now. He gave them hope.” emailed one fan from the awards to The Ravi Report.  

Cooper knows that he will have a tough act to follow now when he makes his next film. Damn Cooper! You’ve set the standards so high on our first film and now look at what you have done to yourself! LOL!
 
Congrats to the entire “Crazy Heart” team for doing a great job and for letting “The Dude” bring home the gold!
 
The journey continues and it’s even sweeter for Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges! It couldn’t have happen to a nicer guy!
 
Ravi
19
Dec
09

Charity Water Gala Flows With Generosity!

Exclusive look inside the gala!

The famous "Water Walk" is an intricate part of every ball.

  Well folks, this event definitely had the three S’s – Swanky, Sexy and Sensational! For those of you that missed this year’s most talked about event, the  4th Annual Charity :Water Ball, I highly recommend that you start thinking about going to  the next one in 2010. That’s  just how amazing and incredible this party was. Beautiful people with generous hearts and big wallets came out in this uncertain economy to show  how much they believe in  the mission of Charity:Water and how much they respect and admire founder Scott Harrison for his hard work and dedication of  bringing developing countries safe and clean drinking water. Camera crews, reporters  & social media celebrities all gathered together on the  red carpet waiting for another great night and they got what they wanted! The Ravi Report was front and center with  exclusive coverage & photos of the event. 

Charity:Water Founder Scott Harrison & actor Adrian Grenier get ready to walk the red carpet

The ball was held at the famed Metropolitan Pavillion in Manhattan which  has been home to the past several  balls and it’s the ideal place to hold a massive crowd (over 1200 came this year) for a party. Supermodels, famous actors, fashion designers and well-known supporters all came together to support a great cause and mingle with NYC finest…and boy did they mingle!  

Celebrity Chef/Author Rocco DiSpirito poses with Ravi Yande

Celebrity Chef/Author Rocco DiSpirito poses with Ravi Yande

Hosted by talented actor Adrian Grenier a long time supporter  and good friend of Harrison, the actor walked the red carpet with Harrison and  other celebrities before hand and also  lead the auction into a successful night raising over a million dollars! It just goes to show that even in this tough economy people have big hearts and are anxious to help.  

Scott & Adrian pose exclusively for The Ravi Report on the red carpet

“I planned for this event for months and I would never miss it,” said a stunning model wearing a Versace dress decked with David Yurman jewels.  

“This is the ultimate NY party. You miss this, you miss everything,” said one gorgeous statuesque brunette with porcelain skin as she entered the pavillion.

Debonair businessman Mark Birnbaum & Supermodel Nicole Trunfio pose exclusively for The Ravi Report

It’s no secret that Charity:Water brings out the creme de la creme. It’s the place to seen and it’s the place to give. The Pavillion was transformed into an art  museum atmosphere with beautiful & captivating life-size posters of children from India, Central African Republic and Uganda wearing priceless smiles and drinking fresh clean water. Trademark yellow water canisters were lined up in a special  entrance installation with actual running water coming from the top simulating a water well. 

NY Post writer Justin Rocket Silverman admiring the fascinating photos.

Afridev pump was a hit during the party!

The Afridev pump was a hit during the party!

And who can forget the annual “water walk” that is displayed at every ball. A simulated runway is created where guests pick of gallons of water (some dare to go barefoot) and walk the designated runway with the water.  

Another  interesting display this year was the Afridev pump. What’s that? Glad you asked. An Afridev (African Development)  pump is a low maintenance easy to use pump which can be used by people who live in the villages and have no other access to fresh water.  The cool thing about it is that it pumps between 150-200 feet  below ground level and does not require electricity!  

Friends of The Ravi Report designer Irina Shabayeva(r) with model Kalyn Hemphill (c) wearing her famous red rose gown.

The auction lead by Grenier and Harrison was the highlight of the evening which ended with a performance by the multi-talented singer Rob Murat.  

Although the evening had a great deal of glitz and glamour the premise was a serious one- to help bring clean drinking water to millions of people around the world who are in desperate need. Check out the www.charitywater.org. to see how you can help all year around and then celebrate your good work at the annual ball!

The journey continues…happy holidays folks and be safe!  

Ravi

26
Oct
09

Hilary Swank Flies High With “Amelia”

The Ravi Report's official spot on the red carpet!

The Ravi Report's official spot on the red carpet!

OUTSIDEPARISTHEATET

The press lining up for the premiere of "Amelia" at the Paris Theater.

Hilary Swank is gifted. Mira Nair is remarkable, Richard Gere is  incredible,  Ewan McGregor is a star and “Amelia” is a terrific film. Plain and simple. Any more questions?

The recent premiere of the epic film at the famed Paris Theater in NY was proof that Swank, Nair, Gere & McGregor have enough star power to light up a dozen skyscrapers. The A Listers took to the red carpet and were mobbed by their fans, reporters, photographers and The Ravi Report was front and center to get the details.

Acclaimed director Mira Nair talking to the press about "Amelia"

Acclaimed director Mira Nair talking to the press about "Amelia"

Nair,  whose previous films such as  “The Namesake” & “Monsoon Wedding” have become box office sensations , spoke to The Ravi Report about  how she felt now that her most talked about film is  being release. 

 “I am so relieved to be here tonight and I think this film has the force of nature, Amelia, Hilary and myself in it,” states the acclaimed director who looked elegant dressed in a white sequined outfit complete with high heels which the director  rarely wears.

Nair also says that because it’s  an epic film, it required an epic amount of work and  only finished the film a few weeks ago. She  said she gave it “her everything” and in some ways it was  the most  difficult & longest endeavor she had ever engaged in.

“We shot around the world, we shot aerial action in a very real way not just with computers, we also made it an action adventure in addition to showing the world what Amelia was all about,” states the award-winning director.

Ravi Yande and Mira Nair pose for The Ravi Report

Ravi Yande and Mira Nair pose for The Ravi Report

Amelia Earhart really needs no introduction. We all know by now that the courageous and non-traditional woman who disappeared while flying over the Pacific in 1937  had the courage, stamina and guts of more than a hundred people put together and she was the first lady to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1928. We knew that the avaitrix was a risk taker, had an open marriage and refused to take “no” for an answer no matter what she tried to achieve in her short-lived life. Her legacy comes to screen via Swank. It’s also uncanny how much Swank resembles Earhart in the film.

The two-time Oscar-winning actress (“Boys Don’t Cry“(2000) and “Million Dollar Baby” (2005) ) spoke to The Ravi Report about the Oscar buzz that has slowly generated for the talented actress and her film.

Oscar winning actress Hilary Swank smiles exclusively for The Ravi Report

Oscar winning actress Hilary Swank smiles exclusively for The Ravi Report

“You know it’s very humbling and it practically leaves me speechless. It’s a great honor just to live my dream and be a working actor and to be in films like Amelia is enormous” she exclusively told The Ravi Report.

The iconic star Richard Gere has entertained the world for decades and critics are praising his role in the film. The superstar plays the role of Earhart’s devoted husband and long time supporter George Palmer Putnam. Gere does a phenomenal job.

Actor Richard Gere gives one of his finest performances in "Amelia".

Actor Richard Gere gives one of his finest performances in "Amelia".

Harry Connick Jr told The Ravi Report that he has been a long time fan of Swank.

“I got to know her a few years ago and man, I am a big fan of hers. I can’t wait until I see her portray Amelia which I think will be ground breaking” states the award-winning actor and singer. He also says that women are getting stronger roles in Hollywood films now and hopes the trend continues.

The film’s writer Anna Hamilton Phelan whose past films include “Girl, Interrupted” and “Chains” and “In Love & War“, says that she has been a fan of Amelia Earhart for years. The research  for the scrip, including reading  several biographies on the hero, was part of the process of writing the screenplay.

Screenwriter Ann Hamilton Pelan poses exclusively for The Ravi Report

Screenwriter Anna Hamilton Phelan poses exclusively for The Ravi Report

“She was a risk taker and reckless, she took risks she shouldn’t have taken. She had many insecurities.” states the award winning writer.

Phelan says that the first time she saw Swank in make up and costume, it took her breath away.Swank’s mannerisms and character transformation was so identical to Amelia’s that she said Swank was “just extraordinary in the role”.

“She makes my dialogue look great!” laughed the writer.

The film also stars British actor Joe Anderson, a very talented performer but  not quite a household name yet in Hollywood. He plays the role of Bill in the biopic.

Nair has done an amazing job with “Amelia”  and  many will agree that Swank is a true actress to the core with an incredible way of portraying  the legendary Earhart. The talk of Oscar for both Swank and Nair solidifies that both know how to pick and make films. This is one movie you don’t want to miss and it will be a damn shame if you do. www.foxsearchlight.com/Amelia

The Journey continues…

Ravi

17
Aug
09

Bollywood Superstar’s Detainment: Racial Profiling or Publicity Stunt?

My phone kept ringing and text messages kept coming in until my phone couldn’t hold them anymore.

“Shah Rukh Khan’s been held at Newark Airport” wrote one person. “Did the  “Tom Cruise” of India get racially profiled?” asked one reader.  “I think everyone in America will now see “My Name Is Khan” Great pr for the film!” wrote one person referring to Khan’s new film releasing shortly. The text/phone  messages pretty much contained the same premise:  Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan had been detained last Friday at Newark International Liberty Airport in New Jersey by the United States Custom & Board Protection and according to the star was  racially profiled because of  his last name being of Muslim origin. This of course prompted outrage from the  Bollywood Fraternity as well as emails from my journalist/media friends from India asking me what my thoughts were and how people in NY were reacting  to  this ” incident”.  

Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan says his recent detainment at Newark airport had to do with racial profiling.

Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan says his recent detainment at Newark airport had to do with racial profiling.

Well for starters and of course no disrespect to the mega talented star Shah Rukh Khan,  I think New Yorkers have much more to think about right now (healthcare policy, recession, job security, etc) then to focus on why a multi-millionaire Indian movie star was detained at Newark airport. Also, the word ” incident” would probably not be my first choice  in describing what happened to the superstar  nor does it lessen in value in what did happen to him, but I wouldn’t use that particular word to describe the news story.

From what  news reports are saying, Newark airport officials were  following protocol when Khan’s name flashed up on their screen and asked the  movie star to step aside for questioning which many if  not all of us have gone through at one point or another when travelling abroad.  According to one report by AP, the iconic Indian film star was en route to Chicago for an India Day Parade when he was stopped for questioning. After being held for some time (Khan has gone on record as saying it was a  few hours while Custom officials have targeted the time to being closer to an hour) and after making some phone calls to some important people in India and the Indian Consulate in NY,  Khan  was released .

Khan may not be a household name in America  but over the past several years, the multi-talented gifted actor has certainly created a global following and made national headlines for his films outside of India. Attending film premiers in NY, shooting movies in America, debuting his film “Devdas” at the Cannes Film Festival and constant appearances on CNN and BBC  has certainly given Khan global notoriety and is one of the few Bollywood filmstars to have achieved it.  His sold out Elvis Presley style stage  shows and his  blockbuster films rake in millions around the world. His recent  appearance as a presenter at the Golden Globes Awards along side “Slumdog Millionaire” superstar Freida Pinto watched by a global audience of  millions validates the fact that the iconic 44 year old Indian actor has  indeed a  mass appeal outside of India.

But he is still unknown to Americans.

What happened to Khan at Newark airport was  seen  as shocking  to some and standard procedure to others. Within minutes the news spread like wildfire.

Bollywood Star Held At Newark Airport” wrote the New York Daily News and “Questioning a Bollywood VIP” headlined the New York Times.   So like any good blogger, The Ravi Report  took to the streets of the Big Apple  and  asked what people thought of the news story.

“Who is Khan?” said one very pretty Asian girl sitting in Starbucks in midtown. “I don’t know who he is. If the custom officials had no idea either, why should he get special treatment? He’s not a foreign diplomat or a Security Official. He’s a visitor in America”.

“He is a huge superstar & worshipped in his own country and that’s great…but in America, he’s just a traveller like the rest of us” said one very cute & sexy blond who actually had seen some of Khan’s films at a recent film festival .

A few I spoke to however were a bit skeptical.

“I think it’s all a specially designed marketing plan for his new film “My Name is Khan”. When  his movie opens everyone will go see it because of what happened to him” said an Indian cab driver.

“I think it’s all great pr for his new film. I mean come on, you couldn’t pay someone to get that kind of pr. People all over the world know about his new film now.” commented one very attractive Indian lady wearing  a peacock blue silk sari coming from the India Independence Day parade where the news had spread like wildfire she said.

As I continued to ask people who were exiting the India Day parade, I was surprised to hear that many in fact  believed  that  the news story was to drum up publicity for Khan’s  upcoming movie which ironically happens to be based on the  exact same theme of what happened to the superstar. Khan’s new film recently  finished shooting in America and is scheduled to be released later this year. The film’s premise is about racial profiling Indian Muslims living in America after the 9/11 attacks.

People I spoke to also said  that since Sept. 11, Khan has travelled outside of India many times for film premieres & sold out stage shows often travelling months at a time in the US from airport to airport and never did he or his team complain of any mistreatment or racial profiling by US officials to the news.

The Bollywood megastar has yet to be interviewed on television about the incident (as of this writing Khan was on his way to back to India) so we will have to wait to hear what he has to say about his treatment at Newark airport.  To date,  custom officials at Newark International Liberty Airport have not commented  further except for a statement that has been released to the press stating that Mr. Khan was questioned for about an hour  and was detained a bit longer due to his luggage getting lost.

The journey continues…
Ravi

29
Jun
09

Michael Jackson: Superstar, Icon, Brother, Father & Son Will Be Missed.

I was in Manhattan at an media event when the news broke that  the King of Pop Michael Jackson had died.  Just  hours earlier on the same day, I learned that the actress Farah Fawcett  had given in to her long term battle with anal cancer.  The news of the iconic entertainer was shocking  mainly because I don’t recall Jackson ever being sick or fighting a long term illness that was publically known.

So I  thought how could this be? Michael Jackson? Are you sure? Wasn’t he just recently in  the news about making a comeback with a tour? 

People on the streets of Manhattan were in shock the day the news broke.  Some were even crying as they read their blackberries and were talking on their phones. One person had his faced covered with his hands as he was reading the shocking news on the computer in a local cafe.

“He was so young…so talented..what a huge loss” the gentleman said in disbelief over the news.

It was true. Superstar Michael Jackson was dead at 50.MJPAPER01

 I still couldn’t believe it.  Just a few days prior, I was listening to his songs and was looking forward to his comeback tour.  His “Thriller” album and his “We Are The World” music video are my favorites. As a youngster, I remember reading about his trips to my hometown of Princeton, NJ when he was dating Brooke Shields who was a student at the University in the mid 80’s.

“I can’t believe it. I’m still in shock” said one young & beautiful  girl standing outside Starbucks on 5th Ave with her friends.

Within seconds the  social media tools that we all have come to love and depend on got on it and the news spread like a California wildfire within minutes  jamming  servers and slowing down the transport.   

Michael Jackson graces the cover of 1984 People Magazine. (from The Ravi Report magazine archives)

Michael Jackson graces the cover of 1984 People Magazine. (from The Ravi Report magazine archives)

The next day, every news outlet known to mankind covered the story. People were in shock and frankly, they still are.

“This is just awful” said one young college girl as she was reading the newspaper trying to hold back tears.  Her sentiments were felt all over the shop that were selling the news of Jackson’s sudden death. They had sold out of the newspapers within minutes said the owner.

Michael Jackson was a world famous superstar no matter how you look at it.  His music, his voice, his trademark way of moon dancing on stage, his music videos and his controversial & theatrical  lifestyle all contributed to his larger then life personality.

But who really was Michael Jackson? A superstar who sold millions of albums? A pop icon who entertained millions with his voice and dance? Or a troubled soul who just wanted to make music and be left alone to live life on his own terms. Despite all these “experts” who claim to know what  the entertainer was all about, we  will always be guessing.

While his iconic image became tarnished over the years  for his  lifestyle choices,  dramatic facial transformations and other issues in his private life which eventually led to his seclusion in a foreign country, Jackson still had a  large & loyal following who believed in his talents and ability to make music. Many were even anticipating his comeback as a possible way for him to be back on top of the music charts that once made him rich and famous.

“Michael hadn’t had a hit in a long time so this comback tour would have been great for him”. said one beautiful Asian girl as she was turning the pages of the NY Post that read “Michael Jackson: King of Pop Dead.”

As I strolled down 5th Avenue  even further, I saw  more and more people reading the headlines about how one of the world’s most famous singer could all of a sudden be no more.

“I really feel like the world has lost something special” said a middle aged Spanish lady with tears in her eyes.  “There will be no one else like him. Ever.” she added.

In fact Jackson was preparing and working hard day and night according to media reports  for his tour starting next month. Pictures have even surfaced of him passionately dancing while practicing on stage for his tour two days before his death.

Jackson also loved India and its culture. The feeling was mutual. The star was often  imitated  in Bollywood films with his style of dancing and looks. Indian dance directors would choreograph songs to his music and top Bollywood stars would copy his looks and way of dressing in films and in public.  When Jackson performed in India in 1996 to a sold out crowd of thousands, he said he loved the culture and often talked about it in the press. One of his dance videos even has Indian sari wearing dancers performing traditional “kathak” dance steps to his music. Many of my contacts in Bollywood sent emails saying that they were sad at the sudden demise of the superstar.

As the world continues to absorb the news and as  more and more stories  will surface in the coming weeks about how Jackson died, what condition he died in & who will be responsible for his children and wealth, some of us may want to know the answers while others will just say “Rest In Peace Michael. We hope you had a great ride.”

The next time I  hear Michael Jackson’s music playing loudly in a club, radio or on TV,  I will think of someone who made the world happy and sad at the same time.

The journey continues….but for Michael Jackson  it ended on June 25, 2009.

Ravi

12
Jun
09

MoMA Welcomes “The New India” Film Festival.

The Museum of Modern Art loves Indian films!  In 2007 the  world renowned museum did a tremendous  job with “India Now” a week long film festival showcasing  the best of Indian films & documentaries.  MoMa does an encore presentation this year with many of the top independent, short and Bollywood films from India in “The New India,” a unique and exciting  & ongoing Indian film festival presented by the Museum of Modern Art until June 18 2009 www.moma.org.

Indian film iconic actor Naseerudhin Shah mingles with guest at MoMA's The New India film festival

Indian iconic actor Naseeruddin Shah mingles with guest at The New India film festival

The festival includes 16 films (8 of them being NY releases) and includes top Bollywood and  provacative and social issues seriously affecting India  including AIDS, political corruption, terrorist attacks & exploitation of child.

 The opening night of the festival premiered with the film  “Yes, Madam, Sir” (www.yesmadamsir.com)  a profile look at Dr. Kiran Bedi, the first woman and high ranking police official and one of the  most revered social activist in India today. Dr. Bedi was present during the screening.

Academy Award winning director Megan Mylan’s  film ‘Smile Pinki” (www.SmilePinki.com) a heart wrenching story about a beautiful Indian girl born with cheiloschisis commonly know as cleft lip, whose  life changes dramatically after getting surgery.  Mylan won the 2008 Oscar for Best Documentary.

The selection process was a bit tough say festival officials especially for a country that produces the most films in the world (1000 plus) and  in several different languages.

“It was very challenging to pick films for this festival because we had seen over 200 films and the process is very demanding but at the end,you have to select the best ones you can and hope audiences will be receptive” stated the  guest curator  Uma De Cuhna, an acclaimed Indian film festival organizer for US audiences for the past several years. 

De Cuhna collaborated closely with MoMa’s  renowned Associate Curator Josh Siegel from the Dept. of Film and together they worked for over a year and the fruits of their labor have proven to be successful.   The comments & reaction from audiences and the mostly sold out screenings this year were the results of their hard work and dedication to Indian cinema.  

De Cuhna also stated that despite the immense talent in the art films and independent films, the vast majority of interest from audiences at the festivals  still stems from  where it all beings- Bollywood.

“Where ever our festivals are, people always like to see Bollywood films. I guess it’s the lively human spirit in the films &  the songs and dances  that attracts them these  films and with  so much going on now in the world people are just enjoying Bollywood films even more” says the guest curator.

Beautiful actress & director Nandita Das is all smiles for The Ravi Report on the success of her film "Firaaq" shown at the "The New India" film festival.

Beautiful actress & director Nandita Das is all smiles for The Ravi Report on the success of her film "Firaaq" shown at the "The New India" film festival.

 Personally, De Cunha does believe independent films bring out the raw talent of many Indian actors that often get caught up in the glitz and glamour of a big budgeted blockbuster and says she  even prefers to watch regional & art movies where actors are seen in their finest and more realistic moments then a fantasy filled Bollywood thriller.

The New India”festival so far  included special appearances by top Indian film stars including Nandita Das who presented her directorial debut “Firaaq”  (www.firaaq.com) which was screened to a sold out audience, Abay Deol,a popular young Bollywood star whose  film “Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye” was received well  and one of the most iconic stars of Indian cinema, Naseeruddin Shah and his amazing film “ A Wednesday!”  (www.awednesdaythefilm.com)

Shah has won more prestigious awards and has given some of the best performances in Bollywood and art films in his career as a top actor. At 59  and with over three decades of acting in Indian films behind him,  Shah  is one of the most sought after stars in Indian cinema today and the most respected.  His leap into Hollywood with films like “Monsoon Wedding” (2001) and “The League of Extraordinary Gentleman” (2003) with actor Sean Connery has been nothing but welcoming from the western audiences, prompting Hollywood to take a closer look at this National Award winning gifted actor.

Legendary actor Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Yande at The New India film festival.

Legendary actor Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Yande at The New India film festival.

Directed and produced by Neeraj Pandey, “A Wednesday!” focuses on the daily hardships & corruptions  the common man in India  faces and the repercussions that happen when his life is threatened.

” I took to the script because it shows the everyday struggles of the common man in India which is so difficult” said the National Award winning star.

Shah said he did a first read without stopping (something  he has never done before  in his career he says) and  knew right away it was for him. The film was made on a “sandal string budget” Shah told the packed audience before the screening and it has done incredibly well in India and abroad. The iconic actor is not modest about the success of the film at all.

“I was not surprised at all. When I take a film I don’t bother about the box office potential. I  take films purely on instinct. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t but I knew right away this film would do well” states the award winning actor.

Regarding changes in the way films are being made these days in Bollywood,  Shah believes that non-formula Indian films are getting better and the reason being that the younger generation of  producers & directors are not only making films but they are  “living them”.

“These kids nowadays write a good story because they experience it. They live it, they breath it and that is applied to today’s smart script development” boasts the actor.

  “Luck By Chance” which was shown earlier on in the festival,  focuses on the immense struggles & competition of achieving stardom in Bollywood.

“It’s nice to be able to see a Bollywood film and an art film all in the same  festival” said Indian movie  fan Jessica who came from Queens, NY dressed in a bright red Indian tunic.

The New India”  film festival is ongoing until June 18, 2009.  For tickets/shows/special screenings log onto www.moma.org for a full list. The exhibition is made possible by Marguerite and Kent Charugundla from the incredible Tamarind Art Council www.tamarindarts.org.

The journey continues…

Ravi

16
Apr
09

SUSAN BOYLE SHOCKS SIMON COWELL AND THE WORLD AT THE SAME TIME.

I came home last night and in my inbox were a ton of emails from  friends asking me why I haven’t blogged yet about Susan Boyle.

Who? I innocently asked.

I read through their emails and soon realized why they had asked me that question.  Susan Boyle will shock you as she did me, the  judges on the hit show “Britain’s Got Talent”  and pretty much the world. Shock you. I mean really, honestly shock you. Completely from left field. Just shock you. Got it?

The 47 year old unemployed church volunteer recently got a chance to fulfill a life long dream of singing  on stage and got a chance to prove herself on the hit show in front of millions.  The single lady who lives with her cat Pebbles (aww) has been singing since the age of 12 and she said she always wanted to be a professional singer but family obligations and tending to her ailing mother prevented her from doing so.  Her mother recently passed away and Boyle thought about going on the show.  Little did she & the world know  that her destiny & life would change forever once she sang on the show.

When the simple looking Boyle came out on stage, well  you  can just  imagine what happened next but I’ll tell you anyway.

Mockery. Plain and simple. The singer was greeted with that universal look of  “Here comes another reality show star wannabe. ” Boy, did she prove them wrong!

In this present day and age where being beautiful and wrinkle free seems more important than breathing, where wearing expensive designer clothing and name brand cosmetics are more crucial than having a pulse, Susan Boyle was in fact being thrown to the tigers and famous  celebrity judge Simon Cowell was one of them waiting to bite.

Trademark skepticism from Cowell along with  jeers & laughter from the audience  members  came  when they saw the  “outside package” prompting them to make their own premature opinion in their own snarky way.

Despite  being  greeted with jeering from the audience,  rolled eyes and raised eyebrows from the judges, Susan Boyle stood her ground as she proceeded to tell millions around the world that she always wanted to be a professional singer similar to the caliber  of famed British theater legend  Elaine Paige.

Again scoffing from the audience.

Then it happened. The West Lothian Scotland native  began to sing “I Dream A Dream” from “Les Miserables”  and it was as  if some angel from heaven had come down to sing on stage. She was brilliant!!! I mean B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T!!!!!

Mindblowing incredible. Fantastic. Beyond what anyone could have imagined. The audience rose in seconds and stayed standing & cheering  until the very last note was sung. The other two judges Piers Morgan  and Amanda Holden were blown away in shock and completely taken by surprise by the magnitude of Boyle’s voice as  they gave her a standing ovation.

 Boyle obviously blew the judges away prompting them to give the cat loving singer top rank in the contest sending her home a winner.  Boyle’s performance was watched by over 13 million viewers on YouTube and she has become an overnight sensation on the Internet.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY

 

Check out Susan’s Boyle’s performance  and you too will be blown away and left speechless just like I and the rest of the world were.

The journey continues…

Ravi

www.raviyande.com




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