Posts Tagged ‘Bollywood


The King of Bollywood Continues to Rein

Bollywood superstars Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan entering NY press conference

Hope you all are having a great summer! Got sidetracked with some new projects and travel so my apologies for not posting anything new for a while. But now, I’m back so here goes! 

The summer has been good for the King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan.  The A-lister who continues to be the biggest star in the Indian film industry with millions of fans, is basking in the successful of his film “My Name Is Khan” which recently  had its DVD release in the US  and the recent honor of being immortalized in the world-famous Madame Tussauds wax museum in NYC recently.
Khan, 45, who was named one of Newsweek’s ’50 Most Powerful People in the World’ in 2008 continues to be one of Bollywood’s highest paid actors making millions in brand endorsements, stage shows and hosting television specials in India.
But he has also remained as humble by his mega success and is so  appreciative of his fans who he believes have kept him going strong in the Indian movie business for almost 20 years!
The actor’s latest film “My Name is Khan” has done very well at the box office this and was the highest grossing Indian film in the US so far this year. Released earlier in 2010,  the iconic actor co-stars with one of the most sought after actresses in Bollywood today Kajol and the duo came together on-screen after almost a decade. Fox Searchlight was the distributor for the film and from what my sources tell me, they are pretty happy with the results.
My Name is Khan”  tells the story of Rizwan (Khan), an Indian muslim living in the US and married to the beautiful Hindu Mandira (Kajol)  whose lives are transformed into anguish after the Sept. 11 attacks. Rizwan has Asperger’s Syndrome and is often mistaken for a terrorist after the attacks . To save his marriage and reputation, Rizwan insists on seeing the President of the United States to proclaim his innocence and clear his name. The film with a combination of love and a quest for truth will make you route for the underdog as is most common in Bollywood films. 

Ravi Yande and Shah Rukh Khan at the NY premiere of "My Name is Khan".

Khan and stunning actress Kajol have returned to the screen after many years and their on-screen chemistry is even stronger than before. They  have worked together in many films (most of them being box office hits) and are termed the “Royal Couple” of Bollywood due to their regal on-screen presence and loyal following. 

It’s interesting to note that I first interviewed Khan on Sept 10, 2001, the day before tragedy struck America. He spoke about the incident during our interview and the sadness that comes over him  when he talks about it.  He also points out that the film is clearly not about the attacks.
“I keep getting that question asked of the film” he told The Ravi Report recently. “the movie is about prejudices people go through solely based on who you are as a person or what you look like or for that matter, what your last name is” stated the actor.
My Name is Khan”  is co-produced by Khan’s  wife Gauri Khan and directed by one of the most prolific and acclaimed young director’s in Bollywood today, Karan Johar.  The magnanimous director usually shoots his films outside of India in foreign locations often picking NY or LA as his favorite spots.  What’s really intriguing and fascinating about his films is how Bollywood looks at America through the movie lens.
But the most enthralling thing that Khan told me was that he hopes their film shows how important tolerance is along with others with different faiths, appearances and of course religion.
The film is first that both Khan and Johar have co-produced together.  Johar is also one fo the few if not only Bollywood directors to enlist the talents of foreign talent for his movies. He is a genius when it comes to knowing what the public wants. All of his movies have been box office hits.
The music for the film scored by the “dream team” of Indian music Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy will bring you to tears.
The release of the DVD was in conjunction with the recent installation of Khan at the world famous  Madame Tussauds wax museum in NY a few weeks ago. This is Khan’s second statue. He also has a presence at the London branch.
The event included beautiful dancers who danced to the music of Khan’s 2007 hit film “Om Shanti Om“.
” I think it’s such a validation for Bollywood to have Khan in with the rest of the world’s prestigious wax figures. He certainly deserves it!” said one beautiful Indian girl who said she skipped work to make it to the event.
The museum also has wax figures of iconic Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan and his daughter in law, world’s most beautiful woman, Aishwariya Rai.
“More and more people are seeing Bollywood as part of the  mainstream,” Rosemary del Prado, director of marketing at Madame Tussauds has told the press. For a complete Bollywood tour, check out for more info. A must see folks!!
“I think Khan being in the museum shows that the world is embracing Bollywood even further” said another very attractive and tall Indian lady who was studying acting in NY hoping to make it to Bollywood someday and star in a film with Khan.
As I was leaving the event  I see an American trying to see what the fuss is about.
“Who is Khan?” the young man innocently asks.
“Take Elvis, Tom Cruise, Sting and throw in Jay Z and maybe you will get the kind of magnitude that Khan exemplifies in Bollywood” said one turban wearing proud Indian.
 Khan and Johar are back together again currently in London shooting for their new film “Ra. One” due out early next year. Prepare yourself for another hit.
The Journey continues…

Harold & Lee Make “Falling For Grace” Worth Falling For!

Actor Gale Harold smiles exclusively for The Ravi Report

We enter the restaurant and female fans  were already lined up to get his autograph. We sit down and pretty girls start to tap on the window just to get his attention and hopefully a picture. He obliges with a smile. 

That’s just the kind of guy actor Gale Harold is. Respectful and unassuming.  The talented actor was in NY recently promoting his  new romantic comedy movie “Falling For Grace” which he co-stars with the beautiful and talented actress Faye Ann Lee. You want to see  some on-screen great chemistry? Then you have got to see this movie folks! 

“It’s not just a comedy. It’s relevant and culturally meaningful,” states the 40-year-old actor known for his most recent role as Terri Hatcher’s love interest Jackson Braddock  in “Desperate Housewives” and for his provocative role as Brian Kinney in the 2005  Showtime  television series “Queer As Folk“. 

In “Falling For Grace”, Harold plays the role of Andrew James Barrington Jr., a rich, eligible bachelor who falls for the pretty and witty Grace Tang played by actress-writer-director- Fay Ann Lee. Without giving to much of the story away, the two accidently meet and with a few misunderstandings mixed in with a few white lies, you get a  surprised romance that everyone will enjoy.  The chemistry is written into the script so well that both Harold & Lee should do more movies together. Both are terrific actors by the way. 

The LA based actor known mostly for his serious, dark and internal acting, takes on this light and comical  role with ease. Lee is simply a natural born actress. The moment you see her, she lights up the screen!

“To be able to work in NY is a great think and I really enjoyed the script and the realistic aspects of it,” says the accomplished  actor who travels back to the Big Apple whenever he gets an opportunity. 

Actors Gale Harold and Clem Cheung attend the Q&A session after a special screening.

Harold has an impressive list of credentials. In addition to  “Desperate Housewives” the actor also has appeared on numerous top shows included “Grey’s Anatomy“, “Vanished” and “Deadwood“. This is his first comedy romance film. 

” I would like to try to develope ideas for television involving comedy because I like comedy performance and maybe with the freedom & input to talk developement as well for other shows,” asserts the actor.  

Maybe a little stand-up comedy action also? 

” Oh boy, that’s not me…to me that is the most terrifying thing I have ever seen. I’m not that brave,”  laughs the actor. 

Since he’s done it all (stage, TV and film)  Harold believes it’s all relative and that the quality of work has always been his first priority rather than the medium. 

“I think as long as you are fortunate enough to get an opportunity to get good work at what you love doing, it’s worth it, ” expresses Harold. 

Fond of French and Italian cuisine the actor  likes to travel to places like Mexico and Paris and even enjoys Bollywood films on his days off.

“I would love to go to India and I loved Slumdog Millionaire,”  smiles the actor who recently  finished a limited engagement  of  Tennessee Williams “Orpheus Descending” in LA which opened to great reviews. 

Ravi Yande, top model Richie Kul and beautiful actress Fay Ann Lee pose for The Ravi Report

Television and film actress Fay Ann Lee is driven. Plain and simple. She has not only proven that she can she act but also that she can write  an outstanding script and direct a great film. The multi-talented Hong Kong born filmmaker is proactive in nature and thanks to her dedication and passion, “Falling For Grace” was born.  Lee is hopeful that her film will create oppportunities  other Asian actors who have not yet gotten their major break.  The filmmaker started writing the script almost ten years ago while she was in “Ms. Saigon” because she felt there were no mainstream roles for Asians who are immensely talented actors she says and didn’t stop until her film was made. Not only did she direct, write and act in the film, she also spent years  raising money to make the film then travelled around the country promoting it.

Harold is all smiles for The Ravi Report

Her efforts paid off when it became one of the opening films of the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival with a star-studded red carpet. The film has also been featured at other film festivals including Los Angeles Asian Film Festival and the Vancouver Asian Film Festival. The film also had a special star studded premiere in March at the world famous Asia Society in Manhattan.

The multi-talented astute actress has  been nominated for an Emerging Artist Award by The White House Project so please you vote for this amazing actress  by March 31st!! Time is ticking!! 

Falling For Grace”  continues to play until April 1 at Big Cinema in NY. ( so get your tickets fast! For more information regarding the movie, check out the website at

The journey continues… 




Guests wore sexy saris at the premiere.

Iconic Indian film actress Shabana Azmi being interviewed by the media.

Beautiful Indian women, gorgeous silk saris, legendary  Bollywood starlets…..let’s just say I was a little kid in a candy store folks!

The recent 2009 Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council (MIAAC) Indian Film Festival red carpet premiere in NY drew many of the biggest names from  Bollywood & the world of Indian Independent cinema.  Sexy actresses, A list actors and legendary iconic names from the world of Indian films all came together at the famous Paris Theater in Manhattan to share with New Yorkers the rich world of Indian films. This was the first time the festival had so many stars attend from India.

It’s no real surprise that the festival would be a huge success this year. With “Slumdog Millionaire” managing to promote the  interest in Indian films even further in the west, it was bound to happen. Incidently, the multi Oscar-winning film premiered at last year’s festival (read The Ravi Report 2008).

Screaming fans waited  hours in front of blocked streets just to get a glimpse of their favorite film star. “I can’t even get this close to them in India,” gushed one gorgeous Indian girl with light green eyes and long silky hair.

Silk sari wearing actress & director Deepti Naval addressing reporters about her film.

‘I got out of work early today just to make sure I could see the arrival.  I even brought some pictures to get autographed,” boasted one very cute Indian girl showing me pictures of legendary actress Shabana Azmi.

The yearly festival is the brainchild of  Aroon Shivdasani, a distinguished NY socialite and dedicated Indian film devotee who for the past decade, has  brought  many of the top Indian stars from  Bollywood & Indian independent films every year to The Big Apple for the film festival.

Legendary actress Shabana Azmi graced the premiere wearing a stunning designer black sari  and came with her award-winning screenwriter husband Javed Akhtar who is responsible for half if not all of all the great Indian films from India. They spoke to reporters about the festival and their latest works. Azmi’s film “Sorry Bhai” (Sorry Brother)was part of the festival line up this year.

Award winning screenwriter Javed Akhtar smiles for the paparazzi

But the event  also brought to light an important issue that many stars who attended were part of- the year anniversary of the horrific terrorist attack in Mumbai that brought the city and the Indian film industry to a stand still on Nov. 26, 2008.

Actor Sanjay Suri, one of the prolific stars in Bollywood, spoke about the upcoming anniversary.

“Mumbai is a very positive city and it does bounce back very quickly. It comes back on it feet because of its’ spirit and films especially are life and breath of Mumbai so we came back fast!” stated the award-winning actor.

Actor Sanjay Suri smiles exclusively for The Ravi Report

Suri also said that  even after the devastating  incident- which consisted of several coordinated shootings and bomb attacks, killed over 173 people and injured hundreds, the spirit of Mumbai and it’s people was not down for long.

“I remember the next day after the horrible attacks, (pauses) despite the mourning and chaos people  headed back to work and started to live their lives again, so it was amazing,” expressed the actor.

Beautiful actress Manisha Koirala, whose  film “Two Paisa For Sunshine, Four Annas For Rain” directed by actress-turn- director Deepti Naval, a former New Yorker debuted at the festival,  shared her thoughts about the attacks.

“That was a horrible, horrible time for all of us and I can’t believe it’s already been a year,” stated the award-winning actress of such box office sensations such as  “Dil Se” (1998), “Mann”, (1999), “Escape From Taliban” (2000)  and “Sirf”(2001).

‘It was a bad time for all of us and we were all shocked with what happened. But we were all worked through it and that’s the important thing, stated the actress with a serious expression.

Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala smiles exclusively for The Ravi Report

Top comedian, actor and correspondent for the “The Daily ShowAasif Mandvi  graced the premiere with his charm and personality.  You could hear fans screaming the actor’s name across the street as the talented  Obie Award winner made his way onto the red carpet. Fame and fortune have not changed Mandvi one bit as he is still the same, humble and unassuming person that I met years ago at an event before he became a star. Mandvi’s  comedy film” Today’s Special” in which he plays a chef wanting more out of life, premiered at the opening night. The actor also co-wrote the screenplay with Jonathan Bines. A must see film by the way folks! It’s pretty terrific.

“I have been a long time fan of Aasif. It’s nice to see that a mainstream South Asian has come to support his fellow peers in the movie business” said one gorgeous Indian girl wearing a black stylish silk sari.

Multi-talented entertainer Aasif Mandvi's film premiered at the opening night.

The  festival which included sold out screenings and NY premieres for many of the first time filmmakers ran for 5 days.  Last year, the main attraction of the festival was the NY premiere of “Slumdog Millionaire” and we know how well that film did at the end. This year’s festival opened with Mandvi’s film.

Shivdasani says that she continues to give a global platform to moviemakers and actor through her Indo-American Arts Council which she started more than 12 years ago. Many of these film have had crucial NY premieres & have gone on to become successes world wide thanks to Shivdasani’s keen eye for good films and her drive to get them screened at her festival.

The MIAAC festival continues to be NY premiere South Asian film festival and next year, the team promises it to be even bigger and better. Make sure you get a head start!

The journey continues…



John Varvatos: Jack of All Trades, Master of Many!

He’s got a keen eye for fashion and sharp ears for discovering new rock bands. He hosts a popular radio show and runs a charity that has raised thousands of dollars  for children of sexual abuse.  World famous fashion designer John Varvatos wears many hats and is loving every second of it!

Superstar mens designer John Varvatos speaking with guests

Superstar mens designer John Varvatos speaking with guests

I’ve been a long time fan of Varvatos and have followed his work and his collections for years so when The Ravi Report caught up with the famous designer with the Midas touch at a private event at Bloomingdale’s in Manhattan recently where Varvatos was launching  his new shop inside the upscale store, I  wanted to find how this dedicated family man manages to balance  his passions and still finds time to have fun in the process. I found the acclaimed designer to be humble, polite and very passionate about his work. The party rocked by the way.

“We make clothes that guys feel comfortable in. Very masculine and stylish,” stated the well liked designer who favors the color black and is known for his hip rock & rock fashion sensibility.

Surrounded by family, well wishes and fans, Varvatos revealed where the concepts for his collections and ideas come from.

“The creativity really comes from the passion to keep moving on. From the streets of Paris or watching an old movie and  it’s never the same place that’s for sure!” explains the savvy businessman.

Varvatos's collections are masculine yet classic and popular around the world.

Varvatos's collections are masculine yet classic and popular around the world.

His trend setting, rockstar-ish and stylish clothes have been popular with men for years creating a strong buzz around the world. Celebrities including Hugh Jackman are fans as are many of todays professional men who feel their wardrobe would be incomplete without a suit, vest or pants from the Varvatos’s collection. The perfectly cut suits, slender pants or relaxed vests have all been hugely successful for the Detroit born designer.

Varvatos says that designing has always been an intricate part of who he is. From his days of working at Ralph Lauren to present day award-winning designer, he says he has always been interested in fashion and style. Whether it’s shoes, a new collection or creating a new fragrance, Varvatos says he is always thinking of new ways and ideas to expand his brand  even during the recession which  hasn’t affected his business as much he said.

“Thank God we are doing well but everybody has been hurt by it in some sort of way. We have been lucky in that our products and line have done well and I feel very blessed.” said the designer who first premiered in 2000.

Honored three times by the Council of Fashion Designers of America for his work including Menswear Designer of the Year 2005, Varvatos also has a loyal and massive following in India especially with Bollywood stars. His clothes are often worn to film parties and premiere by stars and producers. Varvatos has a soft spot for the majestic country.

Varvatos and daughter Thea pose exclusively for The Ravi Report

Varvatos and daughter Thea smile for The Ravi Report

“I loved India when I went. It’s an amazing place. The culture, the people, the color, it’s a visual orgasm!” smiles the world traveller.

His popular Converse by John Varvatos sneakers have been a hit all over the world with everyone from rock stars to celebrities sporting them. His association with the company has turned the shoe into a global fashion statement. His brand also includes eyewear, skin products for and men and women and a new fragrance for men.

Despite having his plate full and often being pulled in many different directions, Varvatos puts his beautiful 14 month old daughter Thea as his top priority and often brings her to events, work and on his trips.

“She has been a calmly part of my life. I used to get to work around 7am, now I get to work a little later and spend time with my daughter in the morning” boasts the proud father who likes to spend his weekends with his baby and beautiful wife Joyce. Varvatos has two children in their early 20s from a previous marriage.

Anyone who knows Varvatos also knows that his love for music is as much as part of his DNA as is designing.

John Varatos & Ravi Yande smile for The Ravi Report

John Varvatos & Ravi Yande pose exclusively for The Ravi Report

“Music has always been a  part of my life and always will” says the fashion icon whose radio show “Born in Detroit” on Sirius XM satellite radio has a huge following. One of his favorite bands is Alberta Cross.

The John Varvatos Bowery store in Manhattan which used to be the home for the iconic rock club CBGB, has become a historical place for  music fans. With  rich musically history still embedded in the store walls, visitors can get a chance to experience and see what the world of rock and roll was like through the memorabilia still kept in tack from the days of the club. Varvatos says the store keeps music alive and says that it’s been about discovering new bands and singers and sharing those discoveries with the world.

The multi-talented family man has contributed a great deal to the world of fashion and music by adding a mixtures of style and rock and roll.

“I’m just trying to have a little fun along the way” smiles the millionaire.

And he certainly is.

The journey continues…



New York City Celebrated Fashion Week With Style & Finesse

RaviFashionWeekIt was certainly a busy week folks. Fashion Week  was indeed  time consuming with runway shows and  events that kept most of us media people so occupied, that we had very  little time to cover anything else that was going on in the city. Mercedes Benz Fashion Week 2009 was once again a terrific event and of course the in-depth coverage like who wore what, what A lister sat where & who attended what shows  can all be seen on many of the fashion blogs and FW websites that have been inundated with reports and images from the shows and parties. For show coverage I like

 But the one thing this year that I really enjoyed covering and attending  was  Fashion’s Night Out celebration of Fashion Week in NY. Hundreds of upscale stores turned their shopping venue into a night time party complete with DJ and complimentary drinks to show their appreciation to all the patrons who supported them through these tough times.

 From the trendy and swanky Soho district stores to the fashionable and popular Meatpacking area famously known  for “The Sex & The City” filming and celebrity sightings, almost every area of Manhattan celebrated the week long event with a party.

DJ cocktail party at the Theory store was one of the many fashion parties during Fashion Week 2009

DJ cocktail party at the Theory store was one of the many fashion parties during Fashion Week 2009

Sexy taxi girls were waiting outside the stores to assist guests in getting cabs to other parties.

Sexy taxi girls were waiting outside the stores to assist guests in getting cabs to other parties.


Beautiful models served champagne to guests during the parties.

The Theory store located in the Meatpacking district in lower Manhattan indeed was one of the hottest fashion parties.  Complete with DJ and models, guests sipped drinks and mingled amongst the fashion elite celebrating  the debut of Fashion Week with dance and music. Tory Burch was also another great party filled with models & musicians. Most stores offered special complimentary drinks which included champagne, rum and vodka and many of the guests that I spoke to said that it felt like a glamorize pub crawl  except with  beautiful people and fashion models in attendance. A stunning  model wearing Versace  waiting for a cab outside the Tory Burch store said that Fashion Week felt more festive this year with the stores providing parties for those people who could not get into the shows at the Bryant Park tents.

Another exciting  part of the week long  event  was the opening of the new  & sexy  lounge La Pomme (“the apple” in French) in Manhattan. (  

La Pomme gives guests a mysterious look into the nightlife in NY.

La Pomme gives guests a mysterious look into the nightlife in NY with 20 ft high murals by celeb photograher Fadil Barisha.

The event which was  hosted by the beautiful & talented actress Reshma Shetty from the hit television series “Royal Pains”  was a fundraising gala for City Harvest ( and it drew the creme de la creme of NY. Top medical experts, models, publishers, news media  folks  and well known business leaders attended the classy party.

 The new lounge features  exotic and mysterious   interiors according to owner Tommy Tardie,  a talented business man & former owner of the club Ultra, says New Yorkers will appreciate his concept and the show appeal the place will have to New Yorkers.

Performance Art is also part of La Pomme's unique concept

Performance Art is also part of La Pomme's unique concept

” We are giving an upscale lounge environment to New Yorkers in a very  Great Gatsby mixed with a Stanley Kubrick kind of way,” says Tardie. The lounge will also feature weekly performance art  shows with some of the top artists in the city.

Tardie said these ongoing tough economic times  didn’t affect his plans to open at all.   “You have to be resourceful. You have to learn how to make it happen and work with a great team which I have been so fortunate to have had,” says the  former creative director in advertising.

Shetty  is even more impressive in person then she is on television. Warm, friendly and very excited about being on one of the top rated shows on the USA Network so far this television season, she spoke candidly about  her first television series & how Asian Indian faces are becoming more accepting now in mainstream  Shetty plays the the role of Divya Katdare, a physician assistant to Dr. Hank Lawson played by the talented actor Mark Feuerstein.

” I am so thankful everyday and the cast is so talented that I have to pinch myself at times!” said the  beautiful actress. Shetty believes  the show is doing well because everyone works together as a team and says that  the concept-conceirge doctor for hire  really sets itself apart from the other medical shows on television.

Stunning  actress Reshma Shetty co-hosted the opening night.

Stunning actress Reshma Shetty co-hosted the opening night.

Shetty, 31,  is from London  & grew up with Bollywood culture but doesn’t like to be stereotyped in any way when it comes to roles she is offered.  “Being an Indian actress is not important to me as  being a good actress is” she says.  The sexy  television star says that even though an  Indian face is much more recognized in the UK then it  is in the US , she is happy to see that South Asian actors now are slowly making their way into mainstream media.   Shetty who has done theater and tv nows wants to add another  groove on her resume and is  so ready for the next step- films.

“As an actress I am used to theater and tv so now, I am ready for films and I want to do inspirational roles”  The New York based actress  says that if Bollywood did come calling, she would consider it as long as the story line was powerful. Tom Hanks and Dustin Hoffman would be ideal co-stars for her if she went Hollywood.

Reshma Shetty poses with Ravi Yande for The Ravi Report

Reshma Shetty poses with Ravi Yande for The Ravi Report

The recent news of the passing of actor Patrick Swayze made Shetty sad because she said she watched  “Dirty Dancing” a dozen times growing up and was in awe of the actor’s ability as a dancer and actor.

“He was incredible and so talented. I feel Hollywood has indeed lost a great talent.” said Shetty.


Actor Jeff Goldblum & Ravi Yande pose for The Ravi Report

As Fashion Week came to an end, I was heading to my last event  when I met   the well known actor Jeff Goldblum.  Known to the world as  “The Fly” (1986) Goldblum starred in some of the most highest grossing  films in Hollywood. “Independence Day” (1996) “Jurassic Park” (1993),  “Lost World: Jurassic Park” (1997) and “Adam Resurrected” (2009) are just a few of Goldblum’s popular films. The Pittsburg born actor  is now on the highly successful  television show “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”playing the role of detective Zach Nicolas  most recently on the hit television series. The twice married star has been seen lately on the party scene with the usually beautiful ladies and the polite and well liked actor is now on the rise of becoming the next big television star.

For those of you that have not seen “Adam Resurrected”,I highly recommend that you see this intensely emotional drama in which Goldblum plays the role of asylum resident in Israel in the 1960s. The critics praised Goldblum’s work and you will see the kind of raw talent that this actor brings to this powerful film.

Striking Simla beaded necklace by designer Matthew Williamson on display during Fashion Week.

Striking Simla beaded necklace by designer Matthew Williamson

On a quick note I want to thank all the great pr people and fashion houses that helped out The Ravi Report this season with show access, interviews, updates and backstage access. I am extremely grateful for their  hard work and their relentless dedication to their craft and for assisting The Ravi Report this fashion season.

The journey continues…



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…


United Nations Combines Culture and Wildlife in “Shared Destiny” Photo Exhibit.

"Shared Destiny" opening night party

The UN welcomes culture & art together through wildlife photographs

Picture this. A room full of beautiful  people. Some dressed elegantly in exotic and traditional outfits while others are in trademark & stylish Chanel black cocktail dresses lingering among  the most amazing photos of wildlife  in the world.

A diverse array of guests attended the "Shared Destiny" opening at the UN Headquarters

A diverse array of guests attended the "Shared Destiny" opening at the UN Headquarters

Let me first start off by saying this is one captivating photo exhibit that you are not going to want to miss. Seriously folks. Make your way to the United Nations Headquarters before July 12 to see one of the most amazing wildlife exhibits you will ever see on this side of the east coast. Filled with images from Africa and the Arctic,  two of the world’s most famous photographers have come together to bring awareness  in help protecting animals around the world.

The Harp seal smiles for Nigel Barker.

The Harp seal smiles for Nigel Barker.

Internationally known  celebrity, photographer  &  personal friendNigel Barker  along with acclaimed author and gifted photographer Luo Hong collaborated together with the United Nations to bring a thought provoking photographic exhibition called “Shared Destiny: Wildlife from Africa to the Arctic.”

It is an EXCELLENT photo exhibit showcasing  some of  the most beautiful and innocent animals in the world.

The Ravi Report attended the opening reception on World Environment Day a  few weeks ago along with hundreds of well wishers and fans of the photographers who waited months for the exhibit to open.

Bollywood Icon Amitabh Bachchan being honored at the UN as Goodwill Ambassador

Bollywood Icon Amitabh Bachchan being honored at the UN as Goodwill Ambassador

As an international  journalist & producer, I’ve been covering and   attending cultural events at the United Nations for several years and I  always have learned so much more about the world from meeting different groups of people.  In 2005  when Bollywood iconic movie legend Amitabh Bachchan was given the honor of Goodwill Ambassador, I was there front row and center watching the special moment that brought India and the UN together through Bollywood.

This exhibit was no different. It brought countries together through the lenses of Barker and Hong.  Both individuals have been admired and respected for years for their work so this exhibit was just an extention of their talents. I spoke to a few  guests who have been following the careers of Barker and Hong  and they said that they were quite familiar with their work and their passion for the preservation of wildlife.

Gifted photgrapher Luo Hong being interviewed by the foreign & UN press

Gifted photgrapher Luo Hong being interviewed by the foreign & UN press

In a full blown art gallery type of display, the  show depicts some of  most intimate moments of the beautiful  seals, penguins, polar bears, giraffes  and other wildlife that Barker and Hong captured on their expedition.  The collaborated efforts from two of the world’s most sought after photographers was much more than just an exhibit,  it was  more of  bringing together culture, international dialogue and the importance of  preservation of wildlife around the world.

Giraffes from the African wildlife by Luo Hong

Giraffes from the African wildlife by Luo Hong

“I am so happy to see that people from all over the world have come to see this” said a stunning Indian lady admiring the photos while fixing her silk sari standing next to the foreign press interviewing Hong.

Both Barker and Hong sent out a very important message with their work through the help of the United Nations – that safety, respectability and environmental protection of animals is something that we can all help in preserving making it a safer planet for these beautiful creatures to live on. That message came across loud and clear with many of the guests who also  felt the same sentiments echoed in the exhibition.

“I can’t believe anyone would want to harm these beautiful animals” said one concerned guest who was familiar with both photographers work through their careers.

World famous lensman Nigel Barker smiles for The Ravi Report

World famous lensman Nigel Barker smiles for The Ravi Report

Another guest who had followed Barker and his work with the seals through the Humane Society last year, said that she and others were interested in how these animals are being treated and in what way could she and her friends get involved in trying to help bring awareness to the issue of saving the wildlife.

“I have always loved animals and totally understand and appreciate what Barker and Hong are doing with their work and dedication to animals. ” she commented.

“Shared Destiny: Wildlife From Africa to the Arctic” exhibit runs through July 12, 2009. The location of the show the United Nations Headquarters Visitors Entrance on 46st and 1st Avenue. It’s free to the public.  A MUST SEE FOLKS!! Make this part of your summer things to do list.

The Journey continues…


Flickr Photos