NEW YORK (Diya TV) — Palpreet Singh Brar, a six-foot-eight power forward of Punjabi descent, and a penchant to dominate the post on a basketball court, has had one of the most unique basketball journeys in the world. As a teenager, he regularly went unnoticed by the established basketball community in India — that was until his breakout performance for the country’s junior squad at the U18 FIBA Asia Championship in Mongolia in 2012. Brar scored over 21 points-per-game, and became the tournament’s third leading scorer. Suddenly, he had the attention of Asian scouts, and had been labeled India’s next, and possibly first, breakout basketball star.
Just a matter of months ago, Brar’s opportunity multiplied, tenfold — the NBA, partnered with ACG Worldwide to launch the ACG-NBA Jump program, which searches out the best basketball talent India has to offer between the ages of 18-22. After rigorous searches produced a healthy amount of candidates, the national finals of the ACG-NBA Jump were held in Greader Noida. Brar, 21, emerged as the tournament champion, and with that, an opportunity to be trained by NBA level coaches and participate in NBA D-league tryouts later this year.
“I am thankful to ACG NBA Jump for this,” Brar said, “I will focus on becoming a stronger player now that I am going to compete with some of the best in the world.”
Three-time NBA champion, and former NBA head coach Brian Shaw was among the scouts in attendance at the ACG tournament. In his opinion, Brar stood alone as by far the best player he’d seen on the trip, where he also served as a judge.
“His feel for the game and understanding, I could tell he grasps it,” Shaw said, “Palpreet Singh, we all thought, was the guy who had the best chance to succeed.”
The tournament and outreach are just the latest in a growing trend from the NBA to expand its brand into other countries, and specifically into India. Yannick Colaco, NBA India’s Managing Director, said the league hopes to make the tournament an annual event, and hopes to foster its continued growth in the country.
“ACG-NBA Jump has given basketball playing youth in India a pathway to professional ranks,” Colaco said. “We are committed to growing the program in the years to come. While Palpreet Singh has been selected for a national tryout in the NBA D-League, the entire pool [the final 32] will be a part of Elite Talent Club and NBA will monitor their progress on a regular basis.”
Stateside, numerous NBA teams have begun a campaign of embracing their South Asian fans, and the culture they come from. As one of the country’s most progressive sports leagues, and with more than three million Indian Americans living in the U.S., teams such as the Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, and the defending champion Golden State Warriors this year continued their annual traditions of hosting Indian-Heritage Night at their games.
The Warriors Indian Heritage night — deemed Bollywood Night — will take place on Wednesday, and it’s sure to be a full house, just one game after Golden State claimed yet another record, winning 46 consecutive games on their home court. The previous record of 45 games was set by the 1996 Chicago Bulls.
TIBCO software founder Vivek Ranadive recently became the first Indian-American majority owner in NBA history, when he purchased the Sacramento Kings in 2013. His vision brought “Bollywood Night” to Oracle Arena, when he was a minority shareholder of the Warriors, and has since continued the tradition 90 miles up the road with the Kings.
Last month’s NBA All Star Game was held outside the U.S. for the first time in league history, and commissioner Adam Silver discussed the idea of expanding the game internationally as the NBA’s brand continues to grow.
“The billion followers of the NBA on social media include many millions of our fans in India as well,” Silver said. “We have about a 10-person office in Mumbai, and we even have an owner, Vivek Ranadive, who was born in Mumbai.”
“We continue to look at expanding the number of regular season and preseason games we play overseas. We just want to be very careful on how we approach it,” Silver said. “I certainly think it’s worked very effectively to play regular season games in London, building some time off for the players once they return. I think our preseason schedule has worked out very well in Asia and Europe.”
Silver recognizes the NBA is in a unique position to share its product — it is the only North American professional sports league which carries a significant following in Asia. League executives have already begun exploring the possibilities of playing exhibition games in Asia, Silver said.
Konkona Sen Sharma wins best director, best actress awards at New York Indian Film Festival
NEW YORK (Diya TV) — Konkona Sen Sharma has been selected as the winner in the categories of “Best Director” and “Best Actress” at the New York Indian Film Festival.
The 37-year-old Sharma won the best actress award for her performance in Alankrita Srivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha, while she was awarded the best director for her directorial debut, A Death in the Gunj.
The NYIFF announced the list of this year’s winners on its official Twitter page:
— NY Indian FilmFest (@nyindianff) May 8, 2017
“#NYIFF2017 Awards winners Best Director is @konkonas @chhabs @aroonshiv,” another tweet read.
Lipstick Under My Burkha, which served as the festival’s opening-night film, has been denied a certificate for theatrical release from India’s Central Board of Film Certification for being “female oriented.” The film revolves around four Indian women, from ages 18 to 55 – a burqa-clad college girl, a young beautician, a mother of three and an aging widow – living in a small town who assert their personal and sexual rights.
Sharma’s directorial venture, A Death in the Gunj, is a drama thriller starring Kalki Koechlin, Vikrant Massey, Jim Sarbh, Tanuja and Om Puri in key roles.
The 17th NYIFF, presented by the Indo-American Arts Council, took place from April 30 to May 7 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian
Bollywood Star Vinod Khanna dead at 70
MUMBAI (Diya TV) — Veteran Bollywood sensation Vinod Khanna passed on Thursday at the age of 70, according to a hospital statement.
Khanna died of advanced bladder cancer on Thursday morning, said Tushar Pania, from the HN Reliance Foundation and Research Centre in Mumbai.
Khanna, who was dubbed Bollywood’s “original heartthrob,” had reportedly been battling the cancer for several years. He was hospitalized last month in Mumbai due to severe dehydration and bladder cancer, according to a report in the Hindustan Times. Tributes to the actor poured in on social media, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paying his respects.
Will always remember Vinod Khanna as a popular actor, dedicated leader & a wonderful human. Pained by his demise. My condolences.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 27, 2017
Sad to learn about the passing away of #VinodKhanna Sir,one of the most charismatic actors…truly end of an era.Condolences to the family🙏🏻
— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) April 27, 2017
In a career that spanned more than four decades, Khanna has been credited with appearances in more than 100 films.
He’s best remembered for his performances in movies such as “Mera Gaon, Mera Desh,” (“My Village, My Country”), “Gaddaar,” (“Traitor”), “Kuchhe Dhaage,” (“Fragile Threads”), “Amar, Akbar, Anthony,” which he co-starred in with fellow superstar Amitabh Bachchan, and “Qurbani,” (“Sacrifice”) — one of several films for which he received a Filmfare Award nomination, India’s equivalent to an Oscar.
Khanna was born in 1946 in Peshawar, British India, now Pakistan. He moved with his family to Mumbai the same year, soon after the partition of India and Pakistan. Khanna debuted on the silver screen for the first time in 1968 in “Man Ka Meet,” (“A Pairing of Hearts”), where he played the villain, a trend that continued for much of the start of his career.
Three years later, he made the successful transition to the “hero” and played the lead role in “Hum, Tum or Woh,” (“Me, You and Them”).
Khanna returned to acting in 1987 after a five-year sabbatical, appearing in a slew of romantic films. In 1999, he received the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award and less than a decade later, in 2007, he won the ZEE Cine Lifetime Achievement Award.
Away from the screen, Khanna was also a well-known politician. In 1997 he joined the current ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The following year, he was elected to India’s lower house of parliament. He was elected four times from his constituency in the northern state of Punjab.
He is survived by his second wife Kavita, his children Rahul, Akshaye, Sakshi and Shraddha. Rahul and Akshaye are both also actors; his son Rahul Khanna is best known to international audiences for playing Yousaf Rana in the spy thriller television series, “The Americans.”
New York City will host the 18th annual IIFA awards this July
NEW YORK (Diya TV) — The countdown to India’s biggest, most extravagant and spectacular global celebration of cinema has begun, the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) announced Wednesday that New York City will play host to the organization’s 18th edition of the IIFA Weekend and Awards festival.
The festival, one of the world’s most renowned and celebrated international events of cinema, will play out at the MetLife Stadium, home of the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets, on July 14 and 15.
This marks just the second occasion the festival has ventured its way to the states, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio spoke on the cultural and economic impact it would have on the people of his city and state. “We are thrilled to welcome IIFA to New York! Our city is home to both a thriving film industry and a dynamic, growing Indian American community,” he said in a press release.
“This is an event that will contribute enormously to both the cultural and economic life of our city. We welcome the artists and fans of Indian cinema, and encourage everyone to experience the rich cultural life across the five boroughs while celebrating these groundbreaking films.”
Since its inception, the IIFA has carried the mission of bringing together the biggest and brightest stars of Bollywood and Hollywood on one stage, creating a platform of exchange between two of the world’s most prolific film industries. The festival has introduced mainstream North American stars of cinema such as Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan and Kevin Spacey to Indian film enthusiasts abroad, and has brought such Bollywood stars as Priyanka Chopra, Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan to Americans.
This year’s festival will play host to some of the most celebrated stars of the Indian film industry, notable guests, and dignitaries from India and from across the region.
“We are honored that IIFA has chosen MetLife Stadium to host the 18th annual IIFA Awards and we look forward to welcoming the thousands of fans from around the world who will travel to New Jersey,” said the venue’s chief executive, Ron VanDeVeen, in a statement. “This global event offers us the incredible opportunity to host our first-ever awards show and to continue to showcase our region to an international audience.”
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