Posts Tagged ‘New York



04
Jan
11

Lights, Camera & Obama!

  

Gorgeous actress Nandana Sen smiles for The Ravi Report

Films! Hotties! More Films! That’s pretty much what the MIAAC Indian Film Festival was all about recently. Marking ten years of bringing the most incredible Indian films to New York City,  the South Asian  film festival (they introduced “Slumdog Millionaire” to the world by the way) run by the very much-loved and tireless socialite  Aroon Shivadasani and her Indo-American Arts Council  drew new  films, top film stars, directors, producers  and thousands of fans to the SVA Theater in Chelsea, NY where fans and journalists got to mingle & meet with  the rich and famous from Bollywood during the recent week-long festival.

Stunning Padma Laxmi gives a sexy pose for The Ravi Report

“I waited all year for this event,” said a stunning almond-shaped eyed Indian lady wearing a designer hot red sequenced sheer sari.
 
 Town cars pulled up  filled with Bollywood stars and famous personalities from the world of television, film and stage to the theater to sold out shows and anxious people waiting hours to see their favorite actor making an entrance to the theater.
 
The opening night red carpet premiere was truly like a scene out of a Bollywood film. Beautiful women(a ton of them!), gorgeous silk and gold saris and handsome actors wearing designer Indian outfits came  to support what Shivadasani has been doing for the past decade. The festival drew some of the biggest stars from film, TV and the world of literature.
 
The opening night film “Shor” (Noise) was screened to a sold out crowd with the main actor Tushar Kapoor and sister/producer Ekta Kapoor in attendance.
 
 Film actor Rahul Bose, who’s star status in India is equivalent to about several A Listers in Hollywood came for the premiere of his amazing new film  “Japanese Wife” , an emotional film about an Indian man married to a Japanese lady but they never meet during the marriage. I’ve known Bose for years and he has always remained as humble and unassuming since the day I first met him.Ravi Yande with international star Rahul Bose
 
 
“If you do the right kind of cinema, you will get the right kind of audiences,” stated Bose who has been a big advocate of the festival for the past several years.
 
 “I am a big fan of this festival because its off the mainstream radar,” states the award-winning actor with a fan base all over the world. (side bar: during our interview American girls were screaming the actor’s name as he was being interviewed).
 
Bose has been an intricate part of both Bollywood and independent cinema for years. The much in demand actor  has risen from stage to the big screen by carefully selecting roles that have suited him and his talents. His films “English August“, “Everybody Says I’m Fine” and “Before The Rains” (which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008) have all been box office successes.
 
 In between films, running marathons and representing India in rugby Bose also runs a foundation to help fight against discrimination. Check out his site at www.thefoundation.in
 
With President Obama recently back from his trip from India, I asked the acclaimed actor  what he thought of the trip and its symbolism.
 
“His (Obama) understanding of India deepened as ours did of him,” commented Bose. The actor also said it was truly a wonderful symbolic gesture for the President to stay in the same Mumbai hotel that was attacked by terrorists  two years ago.
 
Festival special guest actor Sendil Ramamurthy, the superstar  from the television series “Heros” and popular film actor,  says Obama’s visit was a step in the right direction for both the US and India.
 
“Getting a permanent placement on the UN Security Council is a great thing for India,” said the actor. Ramamurthy’s was part of the lead in the opening night film “Shor”. Great film by the way folks.
  
 The film festival also brought out well known television stars like “Top Chef” host, model and business woman the gorgeous Padma Laxmi. And folks let me tell you, she is STUNNING and shared with the RR her  views on Obama’s recent  trip to India. Laxmi lives in NY but travels to India frequently for work.
 
“I think Obama’s trip was very successful in so many ways,” stated the beauty. ” The UN Security Council is something that India has wanted for a while so the trip was indeed a success,” added the model. Check out Laxmi’s latest updates on www.padmalaxmi.com.
 
 The opening night also included the screening of the multi-talented  Indian director Mani Ratnam’s film “Raavan” which sold out days before the opening night.
 
Ratnam whose Bollywood films have  made millions, is known for having the “midas” touch when it comes to making movies but says he still gets apprehensive after each film.
 
“People think that once you have a hit movie, its smooth sailing from in on out. But it’s anything but!” comments the director exclusively to The Ravi Report.
 
NY based gorgeous actress Pooja Kumar gets prettier and prettier every time I see her.
 “Pooja,Pooja we love you!” shouted a group of male fans  as she entered the SVA Theater. The sexy and stylish actress spoke about how Indian films are no longer just the “it” factor.
 
“We are here to stay. It’s no longer a curiosity. It’s a full fledge speed ahead,” confidently stated the Indian actress.
 
“Our (Indian)cinema is popular across the world now and people want to be part of it so let’s welcome them in!” smiled the television and  film actress. For more on Kumar check out her amazing website www.poojakumar.com
 
Your heart will definitely  skip a beat when you meet Bollywood actress Nandana Sen. Mine sure did. The stunning & talented actress whose film “Autograph” was being screened during the festival,  spoke about how the event has become a strong platform for the audiences outside of India.
 
“I really like this festival because it gives a chance for people to see Indian independent cinema in a way that they would not have access to.” states the actress. Sen says that the festival supports new filmmakers and give them the much needed platform to showcase their work.
 
Sir. Salman Rashdie has been a long fan of the festival and was one of its biggest supporters from the beginning. He spoke  about the longevity of the film festival.
 
“It was a very small beginning ten years ago and now it’s turned into a large event. You get high quality of films now and the audiences are certainly appreciating it,” stated the world-famous author to The RR.
  
Rushdie also spoke about the importance of the festival. 
 
“It’s a platform for the non-commercial cinema from India and it’s a platform for Indian people in this country,” stated the award-winning author.
  
When you see sexy. You know it. Plain and simple. That’s what hot actress Sarita Choudhury breeds when she walks into a room. Any room.
 
“I waited two hours to see her tonight” stated a young sharply dressed Indian male who told me he has seen all her movies- twice.
  
Choudhury was  very vocal about Obama’s recent trip to India.
 
“How do I get to the White House?” stated the beautiful actress whose film “Mississippi Masala” (1991) is still talked about in the media circles today.
 
“I’m serious. I need to speak to Obama about  so many issues here that   I am dealing with in terms of the misrepresentation of muslims and south asians and the lack of language to talk about these issues to Americans. I feel that we (south asians) are being misrepresented  by lack of information. I want to talk to him about that,” stated the concerned New Yorker.
 
The actress also says that things have changed for South Asians actors- for the good.
 
“I think the difference now is that if you don’t want there to be a barrier, there isn’t one but you have to be super courageous, talented and you really have to know how to act.”
  
 The journey continues…
 
Ravi
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20
Sep
10

MORGAN SPURLOCK CONNECTS WITH WILLIFEST 2010

The other day, one of my reporter friends mentioned to me that she was going to the 2010 Willifest Film Festival. She asked me if I was going. 
“Was I going?” I eagerly replied.
“I”m all over that already” I then boasted. 
And I am.
 
The Williamsburg Film Festival, (www.willifest.com)  fondly known as Willifest will begin on Sept 23 and run until the 26th in one of the hippest and stylish places in Brooklyn. The newly establish film festival will bring together hundreds of film professionals and thousands of movie fans over the course of three days in the famous town full of artists and some of the most creative people you will ever meet.
 
The festival will feature the works of some of the most talented directors, producers, writers and actors from NY showcasing their short films and documentaries. It with also feature special Q&A with the directors, industry executives and producers after specific screenings.  If it’s anything like their recent press party, you are NOT GOING to want to miss this exciting film festival folks!
 
Co-Founded by talented veteran filmmaker Michael Helman and film/TV/music producer Robin Adams, The Williamsburg Film Festival was established so that accomplished and up and coming artistic  filmmakers from NY can showcase their films to a live audience while meeting industry professionals and networking with their peers.
 

Ravi Yande with "Dream Team" filmmakers Beth Aala, Jonathan Bricklin and Morgan Spurlock

One of the most successful and eminent filmmaker to attach his name and films to the festival this year is the resplendent Morgan Spurlock.  

 
Spurlock, whose 2004 Academy Award nominated film “Super Size Me” is still one of the most famous and most watched documentaries of all time,  is one of the nicest, humorous and talented filmmakers I have ever met. Spurlock spoke exclusively to The Ravi Report about his involvement in the Williamsburg Film Festival this year. I caught up with Spurlock and his team of amazing producers at one of the hottest & sexiest places in NY, the ping-pong social club SPIN New York. (www.spingalactic.com).
 
“This festival became a great showcase for what I think has become a NY platform for films for NY based filmmakers and I am surprised by the amount of talent I see in NYC.” said the NY based director. 
 
” I came from West Virginia to NYC to find my way into this business and I want to help people get their movies seen,” added the award-winning screenwriter.
 
 The acclaimed filmmaker gained nationwide fame with his  documentary creating ripples through the fast food industry  by showing the world what a diet of McDonald’s fast food can do to you and your body.  The success of the film made Spurlock one of the most sought after filmmakers in Hollywood and NY.
 
Spurlock is executive producer of the opening night  film “Pool Party” which is directed by long time friend, the talented and beautiful Beth Aala. The film tells the story of how one of the largest abandoned pools in NY became a venue for bands and musicians. The buzz on this film is pretty intense.
 
“Morgan is one person that  loves to take chances” said  Aala. The director also believes that due to Spurlock’s ability to work well with people and his ability to be trusting in new producers and directors, the masterful documentary filmmaker  is revered by many of his peers.
 
“For Morgan, it’s aways been about quality and story and it shows in his work or whatever project he gets involved in” stated Aala,
 
Then for a split second during my interview, Spurlock became the reporter (Spurlock is an excellent journalist by the way who was voted by Time magazine in 2007 as one of  the top 10 “Best Journalists of The World”) and I became the listener.
 
“What do you expect from your film. What do you hope for?” the  filmmaker asked Aala.
 
“My hope is that an audience is going to experience this film and appreciate the changes and music in Williamsburg. I knew it back in the day (1999) and it is completely different from it is now” said Aala.
 
Spurlock is also the executive producer (the guy never rests!) of another incredible and engrossing film called “The Entrepreneur” based on the life of Malcom Bricklin, the gentleman responsible for bringing Suburus to America in the 1960s and for importing Yugos. The film is director by Bricklin’s son, the gifted filmmaker and co-owner of SPIN New York, Jonathan Bricklin.
 
” I asked if he (Spurlock) could help me finish the film and he said yes. I think its his great vibe and the fact that he is very approachable, really made this happen.” said Brickin Jr.
 
Spurlock said he took to the film because of one main thing the premise.
 
“Jonathan related the story and I saw so many similarities with it in my own life. I also grew up with a dad who was an entrepreneur who did not rest until he became successful so I could so related to this film in so many ways” stated the filmmaker.
 
This is Bricklin Jr. first documentary.
 
“As a filmmaker, just screening a film for  live audience is satisfying but when Morgan came into this project, that was pretty much it for me. To be endorsed by a great filmmaker who is so creative that was a great satisfaction for me in making this film” stated the NY based filmmaker.
 
Bricklin also says that Spurlock fully understands both the creative and business process which is  rare in a highly successful filmmaker.
 
Spurlock says his love for documentaries began in college when he saw the documentary  “Brother’s Keeper” (1992), the story about the murder trial of Dilbert Ward. Spurlock says that film directed by Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky really impacted his life in terms of following his decision into making documentaries.
 
“There is a great way to tell engrossing stories through non-fiction film making that does exist through narrative filmmaking”  pointed out the director who also believes that documentaries have grown to a place where they have become popular and accepting and that  now is the chance to make more docs that will eventually become mainstream.
Spurlock’s next film will be an adaptation of the book Freakonomics”  by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J Dubner due out in October.  Spurlock will be working with four other directors includng Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady, Alex Gibney and Eugene Jarecki.
 
With his sense of filmmaking and passion for telling realistic stories, I had to ask the talented filmmaker about what his thoughts were on making a documentary on Bollywood.
 
” I would love to head to Mumbai to make a documentary. That would be amazing.” said the director.
 
“He should be a consultant to Bollywood films” chimed in Bricklin.
 
“They would welcome him with open arms” smiled Aala.
 
Indeed they would.
 
The journey continues…..
Ravi

 

23
Apr
10

CARELL & FEY HAVE “DATE NIGHT” FROM HELL!

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

Actor Steve Carell gives an exclusive pose for The Ravi Report

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

Superstar Tina Fey speaks to the press on the red carpet

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

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

Steve Carell carefully listens to a question from The Ravi Report

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

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

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

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




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