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Great to be an Indian in the US right now: YouTube star Vidya Vox

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New Delhi, Nov 22: US-based YouTube star Vidya Vox says that, while growing up, she tried to shun her Indian heritage as she was often bullied in school. But she is now “100 per cent” proud of her roots and feels it is great to be an Indian in the US right now.

Vidya Iyer, better known by her stage name Vidya Vox, was born in the Indian city Madras (now Chennai), grew up in Virginia, and is based in Los Angeles.

Asked how she feels being an Indian in the US under Donald Trump’s administration, Vidya told IANS here: “It’s great. There are many people like Priyanka Chopra of South Asian descent in the media who are in the forefront right now. That’s really great. While growing up, I didn’t see examples like that.”

“I was bullied when I was in middle school in DC, especially for being an Indian, because there weren’t many Indian kids in school. And because of that, I tended to hide my Indian culture, but that changed by the end of high school. Now, I am 100 per cent proud of it. I am not going to hide it any more,” she said.

“Growing up, I had a bit of an identity crisis. I spoke in Tamil at home and ate dosa and idli. At school, I would listen to Beyonce (Knowles) and eat pizza and fries,” she added.

The singer, who has learnt Carnatic music, felt like she was living in two separate worlds.

“I always thought how could I marry these two worlds… even if it’s for a few minutes. That’s how we came up with the idea of mashups,” said Vidya.

In 2015 she launched her YouTube channel with mashups of western pop hits and music from India. She has amassed over 350 million views and over three million subscribers.

Being a YouTube star, cyber bullying must be common. How does she deal with it?

“I don’t look at comments. I try really hard not to. It’s very difficult… people get bullied all the time. It’s important to remember not to listen to them. Your music is personal. Some people connect with it and some don’t. That’s okay,” said Vidya, popular for mashups like “Closer-Kabira” and “Love me like you do-Hosanna”.

She has also come out with an album, “Kuthu Fire”, consisting of original songs. To promote it, she is currently in India for a multi-city tour.

As part of ‘Vidya Vox Kuthu Fire Tour’, the singer, who is in her 20s, will be performing here on November 25.

Fashion brand Forever 21 is the title sponsor of the tour. Asked about her personal style, she said: “A little bit of Indo-western. I love sort of mixing Indian jewellery with Western silhouettes.”

Her mother and grandmother’s wardrobes also play major roles in her fashion sense.

“They (mother and grandmother) say ‘I don’t want the sari. I am going to throw it away or donate it.’ I say, No! I will take it and recycle it and make clothes for myself,” she said at the Forever 21 store at DLF Mall here.

Is she thinking of starting her own fashion line soon?

“Oh my God! That’s the dream. Hopefully soon,” said Vidya.

By Natalia Ningthoujam

(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at [email protected])

IANS

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MeToo allegations against Anu Malik false, baseless: Lawyer

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Mumbai, Oct 18: Singer Anu Malik has denied allegations that he sexually harassed singer Shweta Pandit, who has called him a “pedophile” and “sexual predator”.

“The allegations made against my client are emphatically denied as completely false and baseless. My client respects the #MeToo movement but to use this movement to start a character assassination mission is obnoxious,” Malik’s lawyer Zulfiquar Memon told IANS.

Pandit, in a Twitter post, recounted her ordeal with Malik in an incident dating back to 2000. She claims once in a cabin at a studio, he told her he would give her a song with Sunidhi Chauhan and Shaan “but first give me a kiss now”.

“He then smiled, what I would recall the most evil grin I’ve seen,” Pandit said of the incident when she was all of 15 years old.

Before Shweta, singer Sona Mohapatra called out Malik.

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To all the young girls & women who are coming out with their experiences with this creep, journalists, ‘fans’ & even kids from college, know that you are not alone. This guy, #KailashKher is a serial predator & has been for years as are many others like Anu Malik in the industry. I cannot be tweeting about everyone cus I work 18 hour work days & have a life to live & breathe in. Also I cannot comment on many others basis heresay. That would be unfair. (Many journalists have been asking me for stories thinking that I’m most likely to ‘spill the beans’. I’m not) It is important that we stick to facts & our personal experiences to make this a serious & credible movement to help clean a system & lopsided power structure. It is just a start but an important one. #TimesUp #India #Change

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IANS

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‘Namaste England’ Review: Arjun-Parineeti’s film is outdated and cliched

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New Delhi, Oct 18: Film: “Namaste England”

Director: Vipul Amrutlal Shah

Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra, Aditya Seal, Alankrita Sahay, Satish Kaushik

Rating: *1/2

Designed from a sloppily crafted script sans any logic delivering an equally tactless message, and steeped in mediocrity, Vipul Amrutlal Shah’s “Namaste England”, is a big disappointment.

It is about “the freedom of making one’s choices”.

“Namaste England” is a forced concept, where a married couple separate due to their own whims and fancy only to reunite later after realisation dawns on them.

Jasmeet (Parineeti Chopra) comes from a very regressive family, where women are not supposed to work, but are only meant for giving birth and taking care of children.

So when Paramveer (Arjun Kapoor) falls hook line and sinker for Jasmeet, she makes him promise to let her follow her dreams and work as a jewellery designer. He agrees with a caveat, “If the decision is solely mine, then yes.”

And their love story begins with Paramveer asking, “Jasmeetji, hamare ishq ka inauguration karen ji?” This is a definite lazy way of unravelling a love story.

But sadly for the couple, their romance is eclipsed when Jasmeet’s grandfather makes Paramveer’s father promise that they will not make his granddaughter work.

Burdened with this promise, Jasmeet, hits upon the idea of migrating to England, where she can then pursue her work.

The plot meanders on a frothy pace and right from visa to illegal immigration, issues are tackled in a rather half-hearted manner. The dialogues are equally average, run-of-the-mill.

The characters are frivolous, cardboard thin and rationality to their behaviour zilch. While Arjun and Parineeti are competent actors, their performances are juvenile. You squirm in your seat with every passing moment you see them on screen.

Aditya Seal as Sam, Jasmeet’s husband of convenience in England is short-changed as a stereotypical supporting cast. So is Alankrita Sahay as Alisha, Param’s love-interest in England.

Satish Kaushik as the visa taut, Gurnaam, does not enhance his character and thus is an eyesore. Vinod Nagpal as Sam’s grandfather is wasted in a two scene role.

Mounted with ace production values, the film seems glossy and vibrant, but this is strictly visual only. The songs are seamlessly integrated into the plot and are well-choreographed but they do not add value to the story progression.

Those expecting to see the beauty of England would be disappointed.

Overall, the narrative is slow with sensibilities of the late 1990s.

IANS

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‘Badhaai Ho’ Review: Ayushmann Khurrana starrer is refreshingly honest and entertaining

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New Delhi, Oct 18: Film: “Badhaai Ho”

Director: Amit Ravindernath Sharma

Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Sanya Malhotra, Neena Gupta, Gajraj Rao, Sheeba Chaddha, Surekha Sikri, Rahul Tewari, Vimi Mehta

Rating: ***1/2 (3 and half star)

“Badhaai Ho” is an astutely handled, slice of life drama that keeps you entertained as three generations of the same family are all touched one way or another by social embarrassment when the lady of the house and mother of two “grown up” sons, unexpectedly finds herself pregnant once again.

The film sidesteps stereotypes and tells a quiet, firm, deeply humanist story about doing the right thing. It is a film that avoids any message or statement and yet shows us, with simplicity and infinite compassion, a timeless profound verity, that family bonds are the strongest.

Set in a typical middle class milieu in New Delhi, the story revolves around the Kaushik family. Jitendra Kaushik (Gajraj Rao) aka Jeetu, is a near retiring Railway Ticket Collector who lives with his spouse Priyamvada (Neena Gupta) whom he fondly addresses as Bubbly, his aged mother essayed by Surekha Sikri and his two sons – Nakul and Gular. While Gular is in his final year at school, Nakul (Ayushmann Khurrana) the older one works in an IT company.

The film begins with the simplest and most ordinary manner in introducing the family and interrupts it with the amazing inciting moment, announcing the arrival of a “chota mehmaan”, without resorting to any assortment of gimmicks. It is some kind of tribute to the strength of the story and the warmth of the performances by Gajraj Rao, Neena Gupta, Ayushmann Khurrana, Surekha Sikri and Sanya Malhotra, that the film somehow manages almost to work. Yes, their expressions while reacting to the situation are priceless. It goes without saying that the entire cast gel like a family and their pangs onscreen are palpable.

Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta make an ideal pair. They are naturally earnest and endearing in their performances.

Ayushman Khurrana and Sanya Malhotra as Renee his colleague, make a cute pair and their love story plays a pleasant sub-plot to the narrative. Sheeba Malhotra as Renee’s mother is short-changed with a miniscule, non-effective role, but her line, “His family is a circus, I don’t want to buy tickets for”, would surely etch her character into the minds of the audience.

It is touching to note how in the guise of geriatric behaviour, Surekha Sikri blurts out some home truths and defends her daughter-in-law, when in other circumstances she would be constantly bickering with her.

The script is unwavering. Narrated in a completely straight-forward manner, the progression of this ordinary story is interrupted by some situational comedy that keeps the narrative afloat. While the first two acts are mundane, the final sequence is the most effective. It is honest and strong and has genuine emotional forte.

Mounted with moderate production values, Sanu John Varughese’s camera work is commendable. So is Dev Rao Jadhav’s editing.

As for the background score, while the saxophone is effectively used to elevate and dramatize events on screen, the soundtrack is enhanced by tracks from old Hindi films like “Amar Prem” and “Aradhana”, which gives a nostalgic feel and resonates with a bond of familiarity.

Overall, in keeping with the context and the culture of the hypocritical society we live in, “Badhaai Ho” is a welcome change.

IANS

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