Posts Tagged ‘India



29
Dec
11

Tom Cruise &Anil Kapoor Rock Mission:Impossible Ghost-Protocol NY Premiere

Hollywood A Lister Tom Cruise greeting reporters

Always front and center to get the story!

What you need to know about International star Anil  Kapoor is that besides being an award-winning actor, devoted father producer and writer, the in-demand Indian actor  is one of the most versatile and talented entertainer you are ever going to see. His 30 year acting journey in Bollywood as a the lead actor in over 150 Indian films, has made him one of the most sought after Indian actors today, not to mention one of the nicest!

The A-lister of Bollywood  Anil Kapoor has made a journey into the world of Hollywood via “Slumdog Millionaire”, the television series “24″ and now the highly anticipated “Mission: Impossible Ghost- Protocol.” The movie rocks by the way folks!

Bollywood A lister Anil Kapoor speaking to the press

Kapoor  52, (born on Christmas Eve)  is being coined  as the only Bollywood star to be linked up with names like Tom Cruise, Kiefer Sutherland, Danny Boyle and Clive Owen while becoming  an international sensation. Hollywood is taking notice at the man with millions of fans around the world and Kapoor’s talents have lead to many Hollywood  projects.  Kapoor is repped by the talent agency ICM, home to many Hollywood A-listers and will be seen in the coming film “Cities” with actor Clive Owen in 2012.

Anil Kapoor poses with Ravi Yande

The millionaire’s Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire” is still one of the most popular films of all times  and is watched even more enthusiastically today by fans around the world.

But enough about the Bollywood Kapoor,  let’s talk about  international star Kapoor who with Hollywood A-lister Tom Cruise had women screaming as they recently entered the red carpet premiere of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol in NYC at the world-famous Zeigfeld theater in Manhattan.  The celebrity assemble attending included Katie Holmes, (who is just beautiful in person!), co-star  sexy Paula Patton with  husband Robin Thicke (the talented singer and son of actor Alan Thicke), Josh HollowayJ.J. Abrams, director Brad Bird and the brilliant  actor Simon Pegg.
 
“We love you Mr. India ” screamed a very  attractive Indian girl wearing a sexy black designer dress and referring to Kapoor’s 1987 first Indian sci-fi film “Mr. India” which broke all box office records in India.  The film was directed by the brilliant and acclaimed Shekhar Kapoor (no relation) and there are  strong rumors in Bollywood  that the director  is in talks with the superstar Kapoor to make “Mr. India 2”. 
 
 “I waited for three hours just to get a glimpse of Anil and Tom,” said another  gorgeous Indian girl with hazel eyes and high cheek bones clinching  Kapoor’s photo as if it were a winning lottery ticket.
 
The Ravi Report caught up with youthful Kapoor  who looked amazing for being jet lagged (he flies back and forth from Mumbai and LA several times a month) and  spoke to him about the movie and his role in bringing Hollywood’s attention to Bollywood.
 
RR: Congrats Anil on another great film and it’s great  to see you again. Hollywood, particularly A-listers are looking to Bollywood now for collaboration thanks to you and your Hollywood journey. Your thoughts?
 
AK: We (Bollywood) are very proud, excited and very happy about it and I think it’s time it’s getting it’s due!
 

Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise listens to a question from The Ravi Report

RR: Tell me if you will, what your experience was like working in such a major Hollywood production with Tom Cruise for the first time.

AK: You know, honestly, when you start thinking about a huge movie, huge stars, etc, you get stressed out. I just had a lot of fun and you know what?  I went with the attitude of having fun and that’s what I did. I hope the audiences enjoy  watching the film.
 
RR:The international media and film critics are saying that Anil Kapoor is the first major Indian star  to gain notoriety in Hollywood and is now representing both India and the Bollywood around the world. What are you thoughts on such an assertion?
 
AK: Well, I think it’s huge  responsibility on my shoulders to be honest and  frankly  I think too much is being said about me being an ambassador of Bollywood to the outside world. However, I do tell my colleagues that it is a great opportunity for all of us and to be honest here, it is fun to be on the global stage. (laughs)
 
RR:  Would you like to share  some  thoughts on  the recent passing of Bollywood legend Dev Anand ?
 
AK: He is immortal. I never felt he was gone us even after his passing.
 

RR: Regarding future projects, would you ever consider setting up shop in Hollywood?

AK: (laughs) I think I got the best of both worlds and today, you CAN have the best of both worlds.
 
RR: You were the catalyst behind Tom Cruise coming to India. What were his thoughts?

Anil Kapoor listening to the NY media

 
AK: He loved India very much. The people, the warmth and the culture all appealed to him.
 

Actor Josh Halloway is always in good spirits!

In “Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol”, Kapoor plays the role of a rich Indian businessman and womanizer Brij Nath, who owns  a defunct Soviet military satellite that could potentially be used to transmit the order to fire a nuclear missile. His character role is small but essential to the movie.

 
The film had its premiere in Mumbai in early December with all  kinds of fanfare and a gala reception with the entire cast.  Kapoor played hosts to Cruise and the cast of the movie and posed in front of the historical Taj Mahal with Cruise before they left for the Dubai premiere. My contacts in Mumbai who attended the premiere said the streets were filled with people literally screaming Cruise and Kapoor’s names while they were walking the red carpet.  “It was pure mayhem” said one reporter.
 
 

Gorgeous model Tanya Callau and hubby Alan Thicke smile for The Ravi Report

 
“Mission:Impossible- Ghost Protocol” already broke box office records by clearing $161 million in box office receipts  over the Christmas holiday weekend proving that international powerhouses like Cruise and Kapoor can bring both Hollywood and Bollywood audiences together on an international level.
 
For more information on the amazing film, please visit http://www.missionimpossible.com
 
 
The journey continues….”impossible” and all!
 
Happy New Year everyone!
 
Ravi
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13
Jun
11

CELEB POLO MATCH BRINGS OUT GRACE, GLAMOUR AND BEAUTY

Polo players about to begin the game!

Let me  start by saying that The Ravi Report is officially a fan of polo and everything involved. The excitement of the game, the beautiful people, the hats and  stylish picnics have all made The Ravi Report’s  introduction to the classic game an impressive  one.

The Ravi Report was invited  to the recent annual  Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic NY Match party (and it was a LARGE party with over 10K people) at the Governor’s Island to watch one of the of most exciting pre-summer events in NY. The entire island was turned into what I like to call “Hamptons meet Manhattan” with spectators dressed in traditional polo attire topped with fancy and stylish hats complete with classic outfits and  shoes portraying almost an aristocratic look.

World famous polo player/model Nacho Figueras in action!

“I saw more trendy hats here today then the Royal Wedding,” laughed one gorgeous  blue-eyed brunette wearing a designer hat standing in line at the ferry that took the thousands of polo fans back and forth to Governor’s Island.
But before I get into coverage of the celeb filled event (yes, Master of Ceremonies Hugh Jackman had a great time and co-host Marc Jacobs was ever so gracious to the press) I want to share some interesting facts about polo that I found very interesting.
POLO FACTS:
1. Polo originated in Persia and dates back to 5th Century BC.
2. Both women and men play although popularity is focused on the mens teams.
3. Modern game of polo is derived from Manipur, India.
4. Object of game is to get the wooden ball into the opposing team’s goal using a long-handled mallet.
5. Players change horses during a break period due to the intensity and speed of the game.
6. Played in 16 countries but not yet termed an Olympic sport.
7. Players cannot play left-handed.
Now for the  coverage.  The annual VC  Match was indeed something not to be missed. The long lines (the lines to get on  the ferry to and from Governor’s Island was well over an hr long and stretched well over  10 blocks long) the crowds (over 10K according to one NYC cop) and the drama (one stunning  hottie with long legs kept yelling at her boyfriend about the long wait) and the die-hard fans (one gorgeous Brazilian girl with sultry red lips traveled over 4 hours to see the match) was all worth it.
The polo game  brought out the best of the best from the entertainment world including celebs Hugh Jackman, Donna Karan, Vanessa Kay, the president of Veuve Clicquot USA,  Delfina Blaquier, the wife of the polo star Ignacio Figueras, Deborra-Lee Furness (wife of Jackman), the super talented Wyclef Jean, comedian Kathy Griffin and of course the most famous polo player (and Ralph Lauren super male model) Nacho Figueras, Captain of the Black Watch team, who pretty much had the crowd mesmerized when he entered the polo field.

The Ravi Report was keeping score!

The field was laced with a sea of alluring, stylish, champagne drinking (which sold out in minutes) spectators  who embraced the warm weather while enjoying the game looking glamorous while anxiously waiting for their hero Nacho Figueras to come into the field.

The intensity of the game was felt every second!

“I waited two hours on-line just to see Nacho play,” said one striking red-head sporting a white Ralph Lauren dress in honor of the loved Figueras, who also happens to be the face of Ralph Lauren’s  entire mens  fragrance line.

When the superstar made his entrance,  the crowd went crazy with excitement and you could  hear the ladies panting in the middle of clapping. It was quite the scene folks.
A little bit about the acclaimed  polo player if I may. Figueras was born in Buenos Aires and started playing polo at the age of 8 and turning pro at 17.  He then  became a professional  athlete in Argentina and soon  globally famous when he signed on in 2000 to be the face of Ralph Lauren Polo fragrance. Since then, Figueras has used his celebrity status to bring awareness to the game of polo in the US by co-hosting and participating in celebrity matches around the country.  Figueras 37, is married to model Delfina Blaquier and they have three children.

Fighting for the ball!

” I know he’s married,” said one very cute girl dressed in a wavy blue silk dress with a matching decorative hat laced with yellow flowers. “He is simply amazing and well worth the trek in from the city.”

For most of the spectators, it was a day filled with culture, elegance and a chance to see one of the most popular polo players in the world do what he does best- captivate an audience with his gift of playing polo.
So next year folks, make sure you don’t miss one of the most exciting polo games ever to happen in NY and  start hat shopping now!
The journey continues…and in style.
Ravi
20
Aug
10

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 www.madametussauds.com/newyork 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…
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

15
Oct
09

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…

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




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