Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category



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

09
Apr
09

KAL PENN: FROM HOLLYWOOD TO WASHINGTON

When news broke of actor Kal Penn 31, deciding to give up the glitz, glamour, $$$ in  Hollywood to join the White House Office of Public Liaison in the Obama Administration in Washington,  I thought: Who could do a better job than the well known and  likable Penn? Quite frankly, no one. The award winning American born Indian actor will soon be given the job title of Associate Director and serve as a strong link to the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. In other words, it’s a great job folks!

Kal Penn being interviewed on the red carpet in NY with Indian actor Irrfan Khan

Kal Penn being interviewed on the red carpet in NY with Indian actor Irrfan Khan

Penn, whose was born Kalpen Suresh Modi 31 years ago in Montclair, NJ  to immigrant parents from India,  is one of the most visible and talented Asian Indian actors today in Hollywood. Some of his   popular movies like “Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle,”“The Namesake,”Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay” have created massive cult like followings around the globe. The television and film actor  for the past few seasons  has been portraying  the popular role of Dr. Lawrence Kutner in the mega hit  Emmy Award winning television series “House”on Fox directed by Bryan Singer.  Penn’s role ended recently when his character committed suicide on the show. Not a very graceful farewell exit but nonetheless,  it allows the  award winning actor to take the  job at The White House.

Kal Penn talking at "The Namesake" party in NY

Kal Penn at "The Namesake" party in NY

But let’s be clear here. Penn is not leaving acting.  It is just being put “on hold for now” as he has been quoted saying to the press.  The actor said that during the Obama campaigning he was very passionate about public service and acting so he is now embarking on another journey and will do very well in.

Over the years, I have met Penn several times at movie premiers, parties and red carpets events and let me just say one thing about the well liked actor. He is PERFECT for the job and let me tell you why.  In my opinion, Penn is not  an actor trying to gain additional popularity nor is he seeking fame and fortune-he already has that. The young and smart celebrity is ideal for the position because he is passionate about serving the public and the White House saw it and that is why they asked him to join their team.   Choosing to give up a very lucrative acting career (that Penn has worked so hard to achieve along with landing a role on popular television series that many actors only dream of getting) shows the true passion that this  young democrat has about helping to serve the public.

The Indian actor  has always been very nice and gracious to me and other reporters as well.  During the premiere of his hit movie “The Namesake” in NY, the actor made time for all the reporters and was very professional and very receptive to the audience during an Q&A session after the screening.  Even when Penn is an invited as a guest to a movie premiere or party, he is flocked  by the media and is often in high demand by the press to get an interview at premieres and parties.

Penn talking to a guest with Pulitzer Prize winning author Jhumpa Lahiri of "The Namesake" in the background.

Penn talking to a guest at the NY Public Library with Pulitzer Prize winning author Jhumpa Lahiri of "The Namesake" in the background during a surprise visit to the party.

“I have always loved acting but life is full of other opportunities” he once told me at a red carpet party in NY when I asked the actor about his choice as an entertainer when most South Asians traditionally  choose medicine or other sciences as a career.

“I am so grateful that the South Asian community has been encouraging and supportive of my work. That’s very cool” he told The Ravi Report on the red carpet recently.

The Indian actor campaigned for Obama during 2008 mostly on college campuses around the country invoking the voice of the younger generation.  He also expressed during that time to the Obama team how much he had enjoyed the opportunity and that serving the public  is something that he has always been passionae about  besides acting. They saw, they listened and they agreed.

Some of the feedback that I have been receiving from the South Asian community  has been nothing but positive.

“Finally, The White House has some solid South Asian representation” said one stunning Indian girl with porcelain like skin at a Manhattan Starbucks studying for what else, the medical school entrance exam. She further said that South Asians contribute to the economy in so many ways, it’s about time that there is strong representation in Washington.

Up close & personal!

Washington, here I come!

“I feel that Kal will in fact do a great job and open doors to communication not just with South Asians but with many other immigrants and communities” said one very cute and very petite Korean girl.  She also said the Obama Administration is filled with diversity and this appointment will only strengthen the President’s close connection to the international communities around the country.

 I  personally believe that since Penn is well liked by many people both inside and outside of Hollywood and has demonstrated his devotion to public service, he will indeed bring a great deal of honor to both Hollywood and the South Asian communities around the globe with his new and exciting role in The White House.

Way to go “Kumar”!

The journey continues…

Ravi

www.raviyande.com

15
Oct
08

Live As If You Were To Die Tomorrow, Learn As If You Would Live Forever- Mohandas Gandhi

 A profound  statement made by one of the world’s most revered and respected leaders Mohandas Gandhi. To many of us, he was simply known as Gandhi.

Greetings from The Ravi Report!

So much to talk about and cover folks!

As a global news journalist and producer, I thought it was time to have an extension of my thoughts & comments about people that I have interviewed, places that I have visited and reported from and film or charity events that I have attended and covered.  Mixed that in with exclusive interviews with celebrities,

Actor Tom Cruise poses for The Ravi Report at his movie premier "Valkyrie" in NY.

Actor Tom Cruise poses exclusively for The Ravi Report at his movie premiere.

Bollywood personalities and profiles on people making headlines around the word and you have (drum roll please) “The Ravi Report”. 

As a seasoned media professional & news journalist for the past decade, I have interviewed & reported on some of the most interesting and news worthy topics, met incredible and engaging  personalities from all walks of life, travelled to foreign cities for stories and covered enough red carpet premieres and events to write a book!

Whether it’s a leading A list Hollywood celebrity like the charismatic and charming John Travolta and his beautiful and very gracious wife Kelly Preston at a NY film premiere

Actor John Travolta and Kelly Preston at "Death Sentence" premiere NY

Actor John Travolta and Kelly Preston at "Death Sentence" premiere NY

telling me about their latest private airplane ride (he’s a pilot) or where they plan on going to for the holidays or  having tea with the world’s most recorded singer (12,000 songs and counting)  Asha Bhosle who spoke about her latest projects with foreign singers, her popular restaurants around the world and her love for NY and Broadway, the famous personalities that I have met and interviewed, have been charming, personable and interesting to talk to.

The world's most recorded singer, Asha Bhosle taking a break before a NY concert.

The world's most recorded singer, Asha Bhosle taking a break before a NY concert.

 I have learned and explored  the world of entertainment and international news by becoming interested in what people are all about and what they have to say.  Plain and simple.

A big part of “The Ravi Report” will also feature and cover special events in NYC attended by prominent  personalities from all areas of interests who either support their favorite charity or colleague in a film or like to lend their name for a good cause.  For example. the annual Charity:Water gala is one of the biggest and most talked about event in NY and is attended by New York’s  beautiful, glamorous, generous and the most  kind hearted folks you will ever meet. From the red carpet arrivals to the after parties of premieres, charity events, benefits or art show openings, The Ravi Report will bring you the latest  interviews , commentary and photos from as many events as possible.  In addtion, special benefits, social mixers and celebrity events will all be featured in the report with a different side to what is tradtionally reported or seen in mainstream media. Behind the scenes, special exclusive interviews and the lastest styles in fashions, will all be featured in the blog. But one of the most interesting things about The Report Report is that I hope to bring a mixture of news not only happening in the enteratinment world but also in the business or media world that will be making headlines around the world.

Water gala in NY.

Supermodel Jessica Stam and megastar Adrian Grenier smile for The Ravi Report at the Charity:Water gala in NY.

As a entertainment & features reporter attending and covering numerous events in Manhattan for years,  I’ve learned that celebrities, filmmakers, global personalities and supermodels often have a lot to say about their favorite cause or about themselves that they sometimes don’t want to talk about in a “staged interview”. I also find they are more laid back and often show a more personable and humorous side to their personality when being interviewed at a premiere, charity event or film festival.
ravispictures-0172

Michelle Monahan & designer Tom Brown pose for The Ravi Report

I hope you find my blog interesting, exciting, informative and of course newsworthy!

The journey begins…

RAVI




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