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‘The Mindy Project’ reaches 100-episode mark




SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Mindy Kaling’s show has been through a series of ups and downs — it went from being on the brink of cancellation, to being completely cancelled by Fox, to being reinvented by Hulu.

The comedy, about a pop-culture-obsessed OB/GYN (played by Mindy Kaling) and her love travails and quirky coworkers, has not only endured for five seasons but, as of Tuesday, is now a card-carrying member of the 100-episode club.

The figure has long been regarded as the one required for a show to receive syndication. Kaling serves not only as the show’s star, but also as its creator. To ring in the celebration, Kaling recently sat down for an interview with the Chicago Tribune.

Here are some fun bits of the interview:

Once you became aware it was the 100th episode, was there some reflection in the writers’ room?

“I think the way that our dynamic is in the room is, it’s a not very rest-on-your-laurels dynamic. I think comedy writers are like that because you’re always so worried about what’s around the corner, what could happen. It’s bad luck to sit in that. It’s not like we didn’t have a moment: We had champagne in the writers’ room. More than the average show, this show has had such an unusual existence, you know? We’re so lucky that it transitioned so well and it’s become the best show it could be on Hulu. It’s been a real adventure I think in a way that I never could have anticipated when I started the show five years ago.”

Did it feel like, maybe considering the show’s early bubble status, that you might never get here?

“You know, because of coming from “The Office,” where we also did 100, I’ve kind of just been trained to expect long runs of shows, which is probably naïve. But these are the only two shows I’ve been on, and in my mind I think I’m programmed for this longevity of the show, which is unusual but very helpful.”

Catch Kaling next on the silver screen, she’ll be staring in “Ocean’s Eight,” featuring an all-female cast.


Hindu Americans outraged by CNN’s ‘Believer’ hosted by Reza Aslan




Religious scholar Reza Aslan has come under scrutiny after the first episode of his new show, “Believer,” aired Sunday night.

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — The host of CNN’s new show ‘Believer’ and religion scholar Reza Aslan has many members of the Hindu American community outraged over what they say is an attack on Hinduism. The premiere episode aired Sunday and critics question the motivation, timing and focus of their first effort looking at religions from around the world.

 “With multiple reports of hate-fueled attacks against people of Indian origin from across the U.S., the show characterizes Hinduism as cannibalistic, which is a bizarre way of looking at the third largest religion in the world,” the group U.S. India Political Action Committees (also known as USINPAC), said in a statement.

During the first episode, Aslan meets with Aghori babas outside Varanasi in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The Aghoris are what many Hindus describe as a small fringe sect of Hinduism.

Aslan bathes with the Aghoris in the Ganges, a river Hindus consider sacred. An Aghori baba smears the ashes of cremated humans on his face. At the Aghori’s invitation, Aslan drinks alcohol from a human skull and eats what was purported to be a bit of human brain.

“Want to know what a dead guy’s brain tastes like? Charcoal,” Aslan wrote on Facebook. “It was burnt to a crisp!”

According to Samir Kalra, Senior Director and Human Rights Fellow at the Hindu American Foundation, the show sensationalized Hinduism. He believes by focusing on the Aghoris, Aslan is misrepresenting the majority and the norm of a vastly followed religion.

“Believer devoted copious footage to highlighting stereotypical and sensationalized presentations of Hinduism: simplistic description of karma; conflations of caste/varna/jati; and the pollution in Varanasi and of the Ganga. The show unnecessarily focuses on Aghori ascetics, who are alien to almost all Hindus precisely because they practice austere, even repulsive rituals and prefer to remain shunned. What follows are the titillating scenes of drinking from a skull, wearing a crown of cadaveric tissue and a rather animated ascetic drinking his own urine.” – Samir Kalra, HAF

Aslan also interviewed several non-cannibal Aghori members, some of whom ran an orphanage and a group of volunteers of people who care for those suffering from leprosy.

Critics of the first episode come from divergent points of view and include Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna and the founder of the Republican Hindu Coalition, Shalabh Kumar.

The Hindu American Foundation tells Diya TV the CNN episode was highly insensitive given the time we live in. Kalra explains:

“Religious literacy in the United States about Hinduism, as every Hindu American knows, is woefully inadequate. The Pew Religious Knowledge Survey of 2013 found that only 36% of Americans could answer a single question about Hinduism: Whether Shiva and Vishnu were deities associated with Hinduism. When the knowledge deficit is so stark, and minority communities are facing a rise in hate incidents across the US— a Hindu American was killed and Sikh American was shot in likely hate crimes in the past week — why would Aslan and CNN sensationalize the Aghoris as a primetime introduction to the faith of a billion Hindus, most of whom have never seen or met an Aghori?” – Samir Kalra, HAF 

Aslan holds a BA in religious studies from Santa Clara University, a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) from Harvard Divinity School, an Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, and a PhD in sociology of religions from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

He’s previously appeared on many cable news network shows as an expert on religion. Born in Iran, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife, author and entrepreneur, Jessica Jackley and their three sons.

We reached out to Aslan and have not heard back from him or his team and look forward to sharing their perspective on this highly sensitive issue. 

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Arts & Culture

Pakistani Oscar winner faces backlash over her documentary




HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (Diya TV) — This year’s edition of the Academy Awards has been full of controversy since nominations were announced — criticism was drawn after the Academy nominated all white actors for awards for the second consecutive year. While the main narrative focused on the slighting of films such as “Creed,” “Straight Outta Compton,” and “Concussion,” Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s triumphant night received some shade of its own.

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy director

Obaid-Chinoy collected her second Academy Award — this one for her short feature documentary “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness.” The film documents the healing process of a survivor of an attempted honor killing in Pakistan. After Obaid-Chinoy accepted her award, she delivered an emotional speech about the power of women and film and using both to bring change to her home country. Before Sunday’s award show, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, screen the film at his residence in Islamabad, and repeated his previous comments of bringing to an end the practice of “honor killings” in Pakistan.

While Obaid-Chinoy was celebrating, some folks on social media became so enraged by the win that they began circulating the hashtag, #WeDisownSharmeen . Major criticism was drawn because, according to those whom were offended, Obaid-Chinoy’s documentary only showed the negative side of Pakistan and the supposed overshadowing of other praise-worthy Pakistanis in favor of herself.

Soon thereafter, the hashtag began trending in multiple countries. Next, Obaid-Chinoy’s defenders came out of the woodwork, chastising the critics, and defending her work on the film. Most importantly, according to those who appreciated the film, Obaid-Chinoy’s work gave a voice to the voiceless.

“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” will premiere March 7 at 9 p.m. on HBO.

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Indian American Sonika Vaid cracks Top 10 at American Idol




Los Angeles (DIYA TV) — American Idol hopeful Sonika Vaid on Thursday advanced to the top 10 in the final season of the singing competition. Just 14 contestants remained heading into the live episode, four were eliminated; Vaid, an Indian American from Martha’s Vineyard, stood tall as one of the 10 who advanced.

“The way your voice sits in the music is so out of this world,” judge Jennifer Lopez said, adding Vaid has a “voice from God.”

Sonika Vaid - Fox American Idol

On Thursday, Vaid performed “Bring Me to Life” by Evanesence, a performance of which left the crowd, and likely the viewers, in shock and awe. She also sung a rendition of Celine Dion’s “I Surrender,” which drew rave reviews. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay had this to say of Vaid’s voice:

You may cast your vote for Vaid here, and tune into American Idol’s final season on Fox.


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