This week I caught up with Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney. During my interview with him, we discussed his Faster Family Reunification plan to help bring parents and grandparents here to Canada so they can be reunited with their families here. I know this has been really popular so the minister has plans to build on its success and improve it. This lead to us speaking about wait times, making Canada's immigration system more efficient, marriage fraud, terrorism, and who the ideal immigrant is for Canada.
It's also South Asian Heritage Month and to celebrate the ROM with local community organizers set up South Asian Heritage Day with tons of artists coming in to showcase traditional art, music and tons more. Of course, I HAD to stop by the exhibit with traditional shoes where I got a history lesson, found out how to actually make shoes, and followed the evolution of the shoes from royalty to the modern versions you see in stores today. Did you know you can get a custom made pair of shoes made for roughly under $25 dollars? YUP! And these shoes are HAND MADE!!! Definitely need to pick up a pair...or five
Remember, catch the full depth interviews on ATN and if you have any other events I should check out or interesting folks you want to see me interview, let me know! Email me, leave a note on my Facebook page, or send me a Tweet! XO
In this business, it's important to know your stuff and to look the part! Covering the TOIFA Red Carpet meant it was time to put away the uggs and jeans and get glammed up! Been asked many times about my red carpet look so here it is! I wore a gorgeous blue Satya Paul Canada gown with the talented Farah Hasan (Artesia by Farah Hasan) creating my smokey makeup and hair. A special thank you to Tami Esmail of Satya Paul Canada for helping me select the gown and Farah for letting me take my mini power nap while you got me ready! Yes folks, apparently it's very easy to fall asleep when getting your makeup done!
There's always a lot of people behind the scenes who help make everything on air look effortless so big shout out to Satya Paul Canada and Farah Hasan for helping me create this glamorous look!
Bollywood invaded Canada and boy, what an experience it was! Me and the ATN crew flew to Vancouver to cover every part of the inaugural Times of India Film Awards (TOIFAs). Most of Mumbai seemed to be in town, with celeb spotting of Hard Kaur, Aditi Rao Hydari, Boman Irani, Prabhu Deva, Harman Baweja, Zarine Khan, Mugdha Godse, Sonal Chauhan, etc etc. So many stars were in town and we got all their interviews!
Thursday night was the TOIFA musical concert that featured some of Bollywood’s greatest singers including Sunidhi Chauhan (Band Bajaa Baaraat, Dhoom), Shalmali Kholgade (Ishaqzaade, Cocktail, Race 2), Mohit
Chauhan (Rockstar, Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, Barfi!) and Hard Kaur (Singh is Kinng, Kismet Konnection). Hosted by the gorgeous and funny Neha Dhupia. She looked amazing and I was reminded how great her comic timing is. Playing the game ‘Kaun Banega Neha Dhupia Ka Pati’ Dhupia had the crowd laughing as she made four male audience members participate
in a dance off to see who would win and become her husband (note, none made the cut even though my vote was on the adorable short contestant who was so so nervous.)
Friday was a day full of exclusive one on one interviews with the stars at the hotel before heading over to the convention centre to cover the red carpet for the TOIFA Technical awards. This was also the night fashion designer guru Manish Malhotra paid tribute to 100 years of Indian cinema through a beautifully directed fashion show featuring some of Bollywood's favorite leading ladies as models. I got an exclusive interview with the designer who was so charming in person (and he has an amazing jawline!)
Of course, Saturday was the big awards night and I covered the red carpet star arrivals. Even though it poured the entire day, the cold and the rain didn't stop tons of fans from waiting for hours for their favorite stars to arrive. I chatted with the stars as they made their big entrance including a few stars who I hadn't chatted with yet. Let's see, I spoke wit Priyanka, Anushka, Nargis, Zarine, Raveena Tandon....and a personal favorite, Ranbir Kapoor!
I've been asked by many people who was the single most thrilling celebrity encounter. Well, the number one person I wanted to interview was Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. I've been a fan for years and to be, she embodies the total package. She's balanced between her Indian roots and a western appeal, she's classy and elegant, talented, and most importantly, she is such a family person. When I finally got to interview her on the red carpet, you could tell marriage and motherhood is so important to her. I loved seeing how close her and Abhishek Bachchan were. In fact, many times Abhi would just stand behind her and beam with pride. They are a wonderful couple together and it's so nice to feel the mutual love and respect they have for each other. Aishwarya just lit up when I asked her about her daughter and about becoming a mother (and yes the Bachchans did bring little Aaradhya Bachchan to Vancouver).
After the red carpet, the show kicked off and I thought it was fantastic. Ranbir and Anushka were hilarious as hosts and the performances rocked. Priyanka and Katrina sizzled like always, Shahrukh Khan had his usual "King of Bollywood" dance performances, but all eyes were on Aishwarya as she performed for the first time on an international stage since becoming a mother. She performed to a medley of songs of her hits. Was it her best performance ever? No. I've read some harsh reviews on her performance but I think some people are being too hard on her. Since becoming a mother, it's refreshing to see a celebrity not worry about losing all the pregnancy weight or rushing back into being their old selves. Aishwarya has definitely changed since getting married and having a baby and that's how it should be! I think this was a great "comeback" performance for her. Maybe she didn't shake and stir like her younger counterparts but Aishwarya has never been like that. She's always been a more classical Indian dancer and I think it's absolutely fantastic to see her back on stage.
A touching moment from the awards show was when Priyanka Chopra won for Best Actress for her role in Barfi. The actress hugged her mother and then took her father up to the stage to accompany her as she accepted her award. Priyanka's father was not well and needed assistance from her and Ranbir to make it up to the stage. It was such a beautiful sight to see how important it was for Priyanka to patiently walk her father up to the stage so he could be by her side as she thanked her parents for coming down to see her. Then her father jumped in and thanked his daughter's fans for all of their love and support and spoke of how proud he was of Priyanka, Definitely a teary moment. It's nice to see Priyanka not as an actress and celebrity but as just a daughter who is the apple of her father's eye.
And then Shiamak Davar closed the show with some Bollywood dance tracks, bringing out several celebrities one last time before it was all done! After chasing down the stars for interviews and covering every since TOIFA event, it's bittersweet to see it all end. But what a trip! I have to say that Vancouver was such an amazing host city. I met so many locals who were just so lovely to me and the ATN crew. To everyone we met along the way in our journey, thanks for coming up to us to chat, to make us laugh, and to even help us out when we needed it!
Catch all of the TOIFA coverage on ATN!Share
The voice behind the smash hit High Heels, Jaz Dhami was in town to play his hit singles including his new song Punjabi Boli which will be off his newest album. I got an exclusive sit down chat with the rising star where we chatted about his childhood in England, the influence his dad had on his music, the story behind High Heels, and I even got him to answer some of your Twitter and Facebook questions! Catch the full interview on ATN but here is a sneak peek at the interview including his response to some of your questions!
AD: Three things you can’t live without?
JD: My parents, music, and food
AD: Favorite type of food?
JD: English Breakfast!
AD: Dream date?
AD: Favorite place to hang out?
JD: Home. I travel so much so when I’m finally back in England, I just want to watch TV at home and relax because I usually have to be back on the road in a few days!
AD: Favorite TV show?
AD: Favorite football team?
JD: Liverpool Football Club
AD: Little known fact about yourself?
JD: I’m a football coach!Share
Hey Dolls! I'm in full swing getting preppred for the upcoming Times of India Film Awards! Can't wait to report from the red carpet and hopefully get some good tidbits from the celebs Recently I shot a Bollywood themed photoshoot and had a blast. Check out this behind the scenes pic from the shoot. Really loved this look, it's so different from the usual Bollywood glam look. Definitely a fusion shot. Wonder if we will see any of the stars walking down the red carpet in a fusion outfit as well? Let's see.... I've also picked my final dress selections for the red carpet. Can't wait to show you the final look but as much as I would love to share pics ahead of time, I'm trying to keep it a surprise. But trust me, you will love the dress and it's from one of Bollywood's favorite designers! Stay tuned for more pics and of course all the exclusive behind the scenes gossip from the awards!
Super excited to announce that ATN is the official media sponsor of the upcoming Times of India Film Awards (TOIFA) taking place in Vancouver from April 4-6th! We will be covering all the pre events and of course the big awards show. PLUS I'll be bringing you interviews with your fave Bollywood stars from the red carpet and all the behind the scenes gossip! Soooo excited! All your fav stars are expected to attend like Katrina, Shahrukh, Priyanka, Anushka and the uber hunky Ranbir! Vancouver r ya ready??? #bollywoodinvasionShare
Just realized I have been so MIA on this blog! My apologies! Thank you for your emails and messages, I am slowly getting back to responding to each and everyone of you so please be patient with me! But I'm back and will definitely try to update this blog to give you behind the scenes from all of the interviews and events I cover.
Recently I had the chance to interview the stars of a hugely popular Bollywood musical called Bharati. If you haven't seen it, you HAVE to go! Imagine everything you love about India and Bollywood coming together into one musical extravaganza. Beautiful costumes, a very talented cast, and the epic Indian love story for all you romantics. I caught up with two of the lead stars, Bhavna Pani (who plays Bharati) and Rahul Vohra (plays the Narrator). Bhavna was super sweet and after watching her perform, she makes you wish you could dance in musical numbers in your everyday life! Tune into ATN to see Bhavna try to teach me how to dance just like her!
Here are a few behind the scenes pics from the interview. Remember to tune in to see the full interview and visit bhartitheshow.com to see if they are coming to a city near you! Here's a sneak peek at the interview. I asked her how Bharati tries to educate viewers on India and its culture and heritage. Here's what she had to say.
Q: Give us an example of what you think the audience doesn’t know about India.
BP: Something simple like why Bharati is wearing a red bindi. Someone asked me why I wear the bindi in the show and I realized I didn’t know the meaning behind it. That’s the type of question that is answered in the show. That is very interesting to me as being Indian, I thought I knew everything aboutIndia. I’m Indian! But I didn’t know that much about my own country, which I have come to discover through this show. So this show addresses things you take for granted but it’s a very interesting show.
So excited to finally meet one of my favorites, the gorgeous Indo Canadian actress Lisa Ray! From seeing her in the film Bollywood/Hollywood to her amazing performance in Water, she's such a great actress. What I also love about her is how passionate she is about charity work. After being diagnosed with cancer, she has worked tirelessly to raise funds and awareness of cancer in India. She's establishing the Lisa Ray Foundation to help promote cancer awareness and she has a few Bollywood projects in the pipeline. She just obtained the option rights to the book The Tiger Claw by Shauna Singh Baldwin and if all of this didn't keep her busy enough, she recently got married!
During the interview, I had the chance to ask her about how she feels about her future children wanting to enter Bollywood.
"That’s a tough question. I find sometimes I’m turning into my mother (laughs). See, I have the benefit of having been in the industry and of course I want my kid to explore and do whatever she wants to do. I was very rebellious and very open but at the same time my parents were very encouraging about my unconventional choices in life. So I really believe it that. However, I think I would still sit her down and give her a bit of a talk about my prospective on the industry. I’ve been really lucky but it’s a tough industry. There’s a lot of pressure as well but for me, it was kind of serendipity. I didn’t choose it, it chose me. I never set out to be an actress. The industry has changed a lot in India and has become a lot more cut throat. It feels like there isn’t as much heart involved. When I worked in India in the 90’s, everyone I worked with became extended family. It’s one of the reasons I kept doing it. So it’s very different today and I would just give her (my future daughter) my prospective. To be honest, if I was starting out today, I probably wouldn’t enter the industry."
That's just a sneak peek! We spoke about her marriage, rather or not her hubby is a fan of her work, her upcoming projects and what advice she would give other aspiring Bollywood actresses from abroad.
P.S Lisa Ray had just got off a plane from India but still managed to look flawless. Definitely a classic beauty! Okay, I'll stop gushing
Catch the full interview on ATN
Been so busy covering all the various Diwali events taking place that I couldn't get on here to update. But better late than never right?
I'd like to wish all of you a very Happy Diwali! May the New Year fill your life with health, happiness and love.
Diwali is one of my favorite holidays. I love how it brings together families and friends and nothing beats that feeling of coming home to a happy home filled with all of your favorite people. Knowing there are many people in the world who don't get the luxury of seeing their loved ones makes it even more important to take the time to be with your family. Where there is family, there is home!
Stay blessed. xoxoShare
Bollywood melody queen Alka Yagnik returned to the Canadian stage after a three year absence. Fans across the GTA gathered at the Rose Theatre for the opportunity to listen to the songstress belt out her classic hits including “Choli Ke Peeche” from the film Khalnayak, “Meri Mehbooba” from the film Pardes, “Taal Se Taal” from the film Taal and “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai" the title track from the film.
The show opened up with local area singers and a Bollywood dance troupe before Bollywood playback singer Chetan Rana warmed up the crowd. While he was getting the crowd going, I made my way backstage to chat with the woman everyone was buzzing about. I overheard several fans laughing with excitement and singing (off key) "Choli Ke Peeche" and "Laal Duputta" as I made my way, so I stopped and chatted with a few fans to find out why they were such die hard fans. I even took a couple of their questions to ask her on their behalf. When I finally arrived at Alka's dressing room, Alka ushered me inside the cramped dressing room and was surprisingly very media friendly. In fact, I would say she was a bit shy. It felt more like I was coming over for a cup of chai with a new friend than conducting an interview with a celebrity. We chatted about many things, from her nerves on stage to her career to why she was now a reality show judge. When I asked her about the recent loss of Yash Chopra, Alka responded, "It’s a huge loss for the industry. It’s like losing one of our strongest pillars so I think the film industry is on shaky ground as of now. He was a superb director, producer and a very warm down to earth genuine man…the entire industry loved him. Of course it’s a very big big loss and for the era of romance. He made romantic films as no one else did. So the way he portrayed romance made you feel like falling in love over and over again when you watched his films. So I think the era of those really intense romantic films has gone and it’s very sad."
After our interview, Alka came out to perform and she opened up in an interesting manner. She made her way from the back of the packed Rose Theatre and slowly made her way through the mob of fans to the stage while singing the title track from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (LOVE that film!). Her fans, of course, went crazy for the chance to have Alka sing practically right next to them. Talk about up close and personal.
Alka sang a wide selection of songs but the general theme seemed to be about love and romance. She repeatedly encouraged fans to grab the hands of their loved ones to fully enjoy the romantic songs and teased the crowd about making sure they kept romance alive in their relationships. I think Alka will forever be connected with what great legendary Bollywood films are based on and that is epic romance. The biggest, more memorable Bollywood films like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kaho Naa...Pyaar Hai brought to life songs that were simple and just inspired you to fall in love.
With the loss of Yash Chopra, the ultimate romantic film maker, we may never get the same type of epic Bollywood films that just made you believe in love, but at least we still have the great Alka Yagnik to take us back to a time when all you needed with Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, and a song filmed on a snowy mountain top to remind you that nothing is a better feeling than when in love.
Here's a few photos from the show! Enjoy!