Connect with us

News

Aakash Patel announces run for County Commission Seat in Florida

Aakash Patel announces run for County Commission Seat in Florida

Published

on

Aakash Patel
Aakash Patel

Indian-American Entrepreneur Aakash Patel has entered the race for a District 1 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission in Florida. The 33-year-old was the first Republican to announce his candidacy for the 2018 election.

TAMPA BAY, Flor. (Diya TV) — Indian-American entrepreneur Aakash Patel has entered the race for a District 1 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission in Florida. The 33-year-old was the first Republican to announce his candidacy for the 2018 election.

Patel is founder and president of Elevate, Inc., a consultancy firm he launched in 2012 that assists businesses with social media, community outreach programs, public relations and government affairs.

A Political Science and English Literature major at Florida State University, Patel is also a graduate of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Leadership training, FBI Citizen’s Academy, Tampa Police Citizen’s Academy, Tampa Bay Public Leadership Institute, Leadership Tampa Bay and Tampa Connection and College Leadership Florida.

He was appointed as Chair of the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County by Governor Rick Scott (D-Florida) in 2014. He was the youngest member of Florida’s Early Learning Advisory Council. His has also served as vice president of the Indo-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and as a board of director member of  The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

The district serves the South Tampa area.

Patel has been creatively using hash tags and social media in his early campaign efforts. Utilizing the #tampahasswagger hashtag, the son of Indian immigrants who emigrated from India and Uganda, the Florida State University graduate started his own marketing company, Elevate, in 2012.

One of Patel’s platforms is appealing to a younger community, seeking to grow Tampa’s hip, smart up-and-comers in business. He has been affluent in networking, appearing on several TV shows and connecting with younger business professionals.

Patel’s sole opposition in the race is Democratic Tampa City Councilwoman Yvonne “Yolie” Capin.

Arts & Culture

Assamese language film Village Rockstars takes the Best Feature prize at 16th annual IFFLA

Published

on

LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles concluded their 16th year Sunday, April 15 with nostalgia, thrilling mystery and light hearted optimism. The final day of the fest featured a tribute to the late Sridevi, with a special screening of Chandni, followed by the mystery thriller The Ashram which was preceded by the short Fifteen Years Later.

The closing night film was an Assamese language, coming of age story, Village Rockstars.

Before the final film, the awards ceremony honored the filmmakers for their achievements. The awards were decided by a jury as well as audience votes. When accepting the award for Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary (Lovesick), Priya Giri Desai said the best thing about IFFLA is the audience. During the week, the filmmakers in attendance participated in Q&As after their films and were blown away be the insightful and enthusiastic questions and comments from the audience. IFFLA is an intimate festival where the audience can easily approach the filmmakers and talk with them about their films. It really provides an inclusive atmosphere that celebrates the love of cinema.

Another thing that stood out to the filmmakers and festival attendees were the shorts. When asked what films they liked the most, many expressed how impressed they were by the shorts program this year. There were two shorts programs containing multiple films as well as a few features preceded by a short film. The fact that the shorts were so impactful in their short duration is also what made them noteworthy. At the start of the awards ceremony, the IFFLA programming team mentioned how they were blown away by the thrilling voices of the short films.

The Audience Choice Award: Best Short went to An Essay of the Rain directed by Nagraj Manjule. The Grand Jury Prize for Best Short was presented to The Caregiver, directed by Ruthy Pribar. Regarding the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short, the jury awarded, “a film that we loved for its elegant representation of the nuances between compassion and survival, and for its understated yet decisive storytelling.”

A special jury mention was made for Counterfeit Kunkoo, which the jury called “an incredible short film about apartment hunting in Mumbai that not only manages to be well-paced, gripping and bold but also a heart-wrenching perspective into gender inequality in metropolitan India.”

The audiences at this year’s IFFLA chose Take Off directed by Mahesh Narayanan as their favorite narrative feature film of the festival. Lovesick, directed by Priya Giri Desai and Ann S. Kim took the Audience Award for Best Documentary.

A special jury mention was made for Sushama Deshpande’s performance in AJJI. The jury stated: “Taking on difficult characters is always a challenge for an actor. It takes courage to humanize and portray a role that breaks the stereotypes. This actress demonstrated undeniable talent and commitment to deliver an authentic and grounded performance.”

Village Rockstars took home the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature. In awarding the Grand Prize, the narrative jury stated: “This film explores gender expectations in a gentle manner. It blends beautiful cinematography with naturalistic performances in a fun and uplifting coming-of age story. Working as a one woman army, this director created an unforgettable portrait of childhood.”

Female filmmakers made quite the impression this year so it was only fitting that the award winning Village Rockstars was the closing night film. Rima Das not only directed the film, but she also was the cinematographer, art director, editor and more. When asked about the origin of the film, Das explained that she was not sure she was going to make a feature alone. Over the course of four years, Das took on the many roles primarily due to lack of funds. She expressed it was challenging but there was also a freedom to being a ‘one woman show’; there was no pressure. So she just took the challenge.

She filmed in the village of Assam, where she is from, and as the main characters are children, whom she filmed early in the morning and after school. A benefit to this constraint was that she was always filming during “magic hour” and the optimal lighting hours. Also, the weather in the area is unpredictable so she had to always be ready to film which is much easier when she is the only crew to organize.

This style of filming, gave the film a documentary type feel. There was no full script but there was a structure. She would write a scene and go shoot it. In the initial stage, the story did not change – a girl dreaming of owning a guitar. However, over the course of filming, a sweet mother daughter relationship story developed. After the film, an audience member asked if they are actually mother and daughter and Das confirmed they are. The mother character is a strong woman and recalling the inspiration for that, Das mentioned how her own mother is strong and it was from her own imagination. Referring to the relationship in the film, Das expressed she wants motherhood to be like that.

Regarding the initial inspiration, Das said she met some amazing children in her village who inspired her and she liked how, “Children, they can dream”. She casted the boys first and the lead girl was around while they were doing the initial filming. Das recounted how the girl was so naughty and climbing trees; she sounds just like her character. Then this girl slowly was overpowering the boys with her presence. “There was something in her face, she was so strong” said Das. The children and the way they were filmed gives the film an extremely natural and realistic feel which in turn adds to the documentary vibe. The pacing of the over all film is a bit slow but this is not so much a problem as you are in this world exploring it with the children.

In the film, there is flood which happens annually in the area. At the time of filming, it was not on Das’ mind to include the flood as part of the story. Then a flood happened but she did not want to film it because her film was not a documentary. Then, it flooded again and she found it did fit within the story – it is a part of the characters’ lives. After a couple weeks, they all go back to their lives and that is how Das felt it fit within her story.

After the full week of films, film discussions and meeting new people, seeing old friends, attendees and filmmakers bid farewell to IFFLA and went back to their lives. However, there was one last time of mingling and some dancing at the closing night gala. A few filmmakers commented how their were sad that the festival was over but they had such a wonderful time.
Film festivals bring people together to celebrate their love of cinema and IFFLA did that once again.
Until next year!

Continue Reading

Arts & Culture

The 16th annual IFFLA opens with a pensive, ‘In the Shadows’ starring Manoj Bajpayee

Published

on

Left to Right: Director Dipesh Jain (In The Shadows), Actor Manoj Bajpayee (In The Shadows)

LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — The 16th annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles took the audience on a journey into the decent of one man’s mind with the opening night film, Gali Guleiyaan or ‘In the Shadows’. The director and writer, Dipesh Jain along with lead actor, Manoj Bajpayee were in walked the opening night red carpet and stayed till the end of the movie for an insightful Q&A session moderated by IFFLA’s Director of Programming Mike Dougherty.

The film is set in the heart of New Delhi and deals with a recluse, Khuddoos (played by Manoj Bajpayee), who watches the world through the lens of CCTV cameras that he has set up around his densely packed neighborhood in Dehli. His best and only friend, Ganeshi (played by Ranvir Shorey), tries to get Khuddoos to get out more but something is just a bit off with him. Khuddoos has been the voyeur for so long that when he suspects his next-door neighbor’s young boy is being abused, he must gather the courage to become a participant instead of just being a bystander.

During the Q&A, Jain mentioned he had snippets and scenes in mind for this film for years. The idea of entrapment and people being trapped had been on his mind since childhood because his grandparents lived in a similar area to that presented in the film. Later on, Jain started researching child abuse and the connection to abused individuals suffering from schizophrenia. This concept then developed in to the idea of a man trapped in this city and his mind. There is a line in the film that says the city is like a maze and once you are in it, you are stuck there.

When asked what he thought of the script/story, Bajpayee said he found it quite fascinating and that this character and script would take his craft to another level. The character of Khuddoos has a lot going on under the surface and Bajpayee played this complex character superbly. One audience member even asked what was wrong with the character because he is so peculiar. Bajpayee explained this is not dealing with a disease but rather dealing with the mind. and he wanted to portray a conflicted mind where the character spirals downward while looking for himself.

Khuddoos loses track of time, seems distant yet fixated on trying to help this young boy. Bajpayee said it was a challenge going in and out of character and that “the deterioration of the mind and how to achieve that” would be difficult to come out of. He went on to say that preparation for each actor is personal and for him, he did not tell any family or friends that he was filming in Dehli. Recalling a story, Bajpayee talked about how the director showed him candid photos that had been taken of him and elaborated that, “you don’t know when you slip in the character. You become one. That’s the way to become this complicated character.” He went on to say that the mind of the character has so many things going on and that is part of the enjoyment of being an actor.

When asked to compare the experience of portraying this character to his character in Aligarth, Bajpayee said that the role in Aligarth was not that complicated. That is a man who knows who he is unlike In the Shadows, where he does not, and the search to find out continues to break his mind down. Bajpayee commented that he likes as an actor, “you get to play so many minds”, and that you need to play the mind not the profession. If you have two lawyers, they may be alike in profession but it is their minds that makes them different.

As you can tell, the concept of the mind in a large theme with this film but to elaborate further would be to spoil the intriguing journey the film takes.

On returning to Dehli, Jain said the city never changed. The character of the city, the people, their talks and their culture have stayed the same. It is like a time trap but this aided in the telling of the primary and secondary story. Each story has different film styles to make them stand apart from each other.

The other story that the film focuses on if the young boy that Khuddoos wants to help. Jain told the audience that the process of casting the young boy was tedious but satisfying. They found him in an orphanage and learned he was a victim of child abuse who left home and lived on the streets. Jain talked about how he and the young boy worked together on scenes such as if he should cry or not while his father beat him. Jain wanted to and succeeded in earning the boy’s trust because some of these scenes were like relieving the trauma. The audience was happy to learn the boy had been struggling with his studies before they started filming but now he has more confidence and is working to get into a good school.

The Q&A wrapped up with Jain elaborating on one of the challenges of filmmaking in this area was that of interrupting people’s lives and having them stop and wait while filming. He knew this script would be a challenge and attributes much of the success of the film to his team; a team that was so much in sync. Jain said, “it’s a tough film and these guys made it easy.,”

The film addresses many different forms of voyeurism from the main character watching the outside world through video cameras, to the young boy spying on neighbors with his friends, and to the people who all gather when something is going on and just stand and stare.
The question one has to ask, do you just sit back and watch or do you step in to help?

During a heated moment, Khuddoos exclaims that all the kids in the neighborhood get beaten but no one does anything about it. Is this a reflection on society where we sit back while so much happens in the world but what are we really doing about it? If this character is any parable for the audience, we cannot sit locked up at home and hide away from the world. Even if it is painful, we must face our inner demons and not let them snuff us out.

Continue Reading

Basketball

Vivek Ranadive and the Kings take leadership in community building

Published

on

Vivek Ranadive addressing the crowds at the Golden One Center, just before the game, in light of Stephon Clark shooting. Photo: Sacramento Kings

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Diya TV) — In a rare step for a professional sports franchise, the Sacramento Kings and their majority owner Vivek Ranadive are engaging in the contentious national debate over gun violence and the disproportionate amount of deaths of African-American men at the hands of law enforcement.

“We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform. It’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously. We stand here before old, young, black, white, brown and we are all united in our commitment,” said Ranadive.

The Indian-American tech entrepreneur turned NBA franchise owner made those remarks on center court surrounded by his team after the Kings’ sparsely attended matchup with the Atlanta Hawks on March 22nd. The start of the game was delayed by 19 minutes because of protests over the police involved shooting March 18th of 22-year-old Stephon Clark. Thousands of fans were turned away from the arena because of rancor.

Clark was unarmed and holding a cell phone in his hands while in his grandparents’ backyard when he was killed. Of the 20 rounds fired, eight of them hit Clark, primarily in the back, according to an independent autopsy conducted by renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu.

Sacramento police say the shooting was in self-defense after Clark advanced towards them and ignored their orders to stop. He also had previous run-ins with the law and stood accused that night of breaking into cars.

Ranadive and the Kings are not taking sides, but merely entering the fray has left them vulnerable to criticism at this politically contentious time. Yet that reality has not deterred the team and their owner for being proactive in their support of this grieving community.

The Kings announced an education fund for the children of Stephon Clark and new partnerships with Black Lives Matter Sacramento and the Build.Black. Coalition in an effort to deeply invest in Sacramento’s black youth.

In addition, the NBA community has stood behind Ranadive.

“It was really cool to see the Sacramento community really stand behind each other. And it was really cool to see how Vivek handled it the other night with his address to the crowd,” said Golden State Warriors Guard Klay Thompson.

“I was very proud the way the Kings handled it and the way the NBA handled it.
And I thought Vivek’s words afterwords were beautiful,” remarked Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr.

Ranadive has shown a unique flare for community building since joining the NBA’s ownership ranks. He introduced Bollywood Night to the association when he was co-owner and Vice Chair of the Golden State Warriors and brought the tradition to Sacramento upon becoming the Kings majority owner. It’s become an event the growing Indian community has come to relish.

“I think Vivek is doing a really good job in the sense of promoting that and saying that hey, there’s opportunities like this to come and share a big stage with many talented people, with the basketball players and what not. So I think it’s a really good opportunity for everybody,” said Preet Chahal of “Dance In You” Academy.

“It’s a special privilege for me to be able to do this. To be able to give a shout out to the country of my birth,” said Ranadive.

In our exclusive interview, Ranadive told us why — as one of the few minority owners in sports — he’s speaking up when few in his position would do so.

“We’ve always had the belief, when I bought the franchise, that I had this vision of NBA 3.0. And it was about using technology. It was about being global, which we’ve done. But it was also about using basketball as an agent of good and as an agent of change.”

While he’s still finding his place in the hyper-competitive NBA, it’s clear this changemaker in the tech world is using his words and deeds to make a lasting mark on the Capitol City.

Continue Reading

Trending

Diya TV , Inc. © 2017 All Rights Reserved