Indo-American News: December 23, 2022

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Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, december 23, 2022 • Indo American News 2470 Dairy Ashford, Houston, TX 77077 • 713.789.NEWS (6397) • Special Reports Community Briefs Local Politics South Asians in the News Published weekly from Houston, TX W E D D I N G S , S P E C I A L E V E N T S , T E N T E D E V E N T S , O U T D O O R C O U R T Y A R D 3 3 3 0 F M 1 4 6 3 | K a t y , T X 7 7 4 9 4 | 8 3 2 . 8 5 5 . 5 5 2 0 | p a l m r o y a l v i l l a c o m Friday, December 23, 2022 | Vol. 41, No. 51 $1 IACF Gala 2022 Collage P7 Celebrating Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Centennial P2
TiE Angels Award LIDROTEC P6
‘Pramukh Swami Maharaj Centennial Celebration’ being Inaugurated by Honorable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi & and His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj.

Grand Festival to Celebrate Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s Centennial Year

The grand centennial celebration of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj was inaugurated on Wednesday, December 14, 2022, in Ahmedabad, India by Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi and His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. The festival is a culmination of worldwide fiveyear centennial celebrations and months of preparations by over 80,000 dedicated volunteers.

The Prime Minister offered his heartfelt tribute by placing flowers before the beautiful 30-foot sculpted image of Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Then, during a tour of the 600-acre “Pramukh Swami Nagar” (festival grounds), inclusive of inspiring attractions, insightful exhibitions and enlightening programs paying tribute to his life and impact, the Prime Minister was guided through various displays and performances of moral stories and inspiring values. The Prime Minister then joined Mahant Swami Maharaj on the main assembly stage, where they were enthusiastically greeted by tens of thousands of devotees present while millions watched live around the world.

In relaying his personal experiences with guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Prime minister Modi shared, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj did not give me great lectures, but delivered profound truths through simple words and his example. He cared for me even when I was not in office, just as a mother would for her child. His presence always gave me peace and reassurance.”

The festival will continue through January 15, 2023, and each evening will feature a themed assembly focusing on the life, work, and messages of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. In the mornings, academic conferences will present research topics ranging from temple architecture and Hindu literature to women’s empowerment and social uplift by national and international members of academia. In addition, specific conferences will bring together various professional asso-

ciations, such as lawyers, doctors, and, entrepreneurs. Afternoons will feature programs with presentations and performances planned and produced by women.

On December 15, Home Minister of India Amit Shah inaugurated the month-long ‘International Convention for Better Living’ in the presence of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj and many leading industrialists of India. The evening assembly started with a unique symphony of 150 performers from 19 countries and 33 Indian instruments.

The convention on December 15 highlighted Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life’s work in inspiring addiction-free lives. Under his leadership, BAPS became a global movement providing unprecedented spiritual, social and cultural services for society through more than 160 humanitarian activities.

In noting the spiritual energy, he felt at the nagar; Gautam Adani, Chairman of Adani Group, remarked, “One stunning example of such an entity is the BAPS Mandir in Abu Dhabi, which is the symbol of unification across races, religions, and nations. Swamishri’s principle that humanity must be built on a consciousness of unification and unshakable integrity to serve without expectations is now nowhere better reflected than the Mandir in Abu Dhabi. Such an ability to unify millions of people comes not from the limiting power of geographical boundaries, but from the unlimited power of a unified effort.”

In noting his legacy, the Chairman of Zydus Cadila, Pankaj Patel, said, “As a spiritual leader, Pramukh Swami Maharaj propagated the message of equality regardless of caste, creed or religion. He was forever focused on uplifting the lowest members of society.” Charmain of GMR Group G. M. Rao said, “He possessed nothing, wanted nothing, asked for nothing, and yet he has given us everything. His simple, humble and direct words were a reflection of the supreme divinity within him.”

On December 16, the program celebrated “Culture Day, Celebrating India Culture” with captivating and thought-provoking presentations and performances that conveyed Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s remarkable efforts as a torchbearer of Indian culture and heritage worldwide through.

Mahamahopadhyaya Bhadreshdas Swami, a scholar and swami of BAPS—who composed commentaries on the three foundational scriptures of Hinduism–said, “Our culture is generous as it is one of inclusive debate. The inauguration ceremony of Akshardham Delhi saw the presence of the President of India, the Prime Minister of India and the Leader of the Opposition on one platform. This was reported in the media, which stated that a Muslim President, a Sikh Prime Minister and a Hindu leader together inaugurated Akshardham. This inclusiveness was the hallmark of Pramukh Swami.”

On December 17, the evening program focused on the life force behind Pramukh Swami Maharaj, his devotion and faith in God, themed “Parabhakti Day.” Talks by Swamis closest to him reflected on the centrality of devotion in Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s life and his constant communion with God. Incidents from his life revealed that in times of honor or insult, difficulty or ease, joy or sorrow, victory or defeat, Pramukh Swami Maharaj remained absorbed in God.

On December 18, the “My Mandir, My Home” program focused on a fundamental contribution of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the establishment of 1,231 mandirs worldwide. Dignitaries paid tribute to Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s efforts to re-envision and rejuvenate the ancient mandir tradition in Hinduism that rekindled spirituality, preserved and propagated humanity’s invaluable spiritual heritage, and served society and the world. Every mandir created by Pramukh Swami Maharaj around the world is like an embassy of Indian and Hindu heritage. Pramukh Swami

Maharaj’s mandirs inspired youths towards spirituality and service.

Sachchidanand Joshi, Executive and Academic Head of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts said, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s mammoth task of creating temples, was not just about creating houses of worship, but also about creating centers of education and social service that revived heritage and spiritual tradition.”

His Holiness Swami Govind Dev Giri Ji Maharaj, Treasurer of the Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, said, “I am here to bow my head to the person who showered the whole world with love. Pramukh Swami Maharaj was a true sadhu, a true renunciate. He himself was the manifestation of a Mandir. Akshardham was built to last a thousand years, but the volunteers built by Pramukh Swami Maharaj are the immortal temples built by him.”

Noting the transformative power of mandirs, Mahant Swami Maharaj, present spiritual leader of BAPS, shared, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj has said the mandir is a place to realize God. While it appears to be made of stone, each stone is infused with a divine life force and is a factory for making an ideal human.”

The month-long celebration is Mahant Swami Maharaj’s vision to provide inspiration from the life, efforts, teachings, actions, and contributions of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

For more information visit

Live broadcast of daily evening programs on live.psm100. org

Inspiring videos and photographs related to Pramukh Swami Maharaj Centenary Celebrations are available at @ PSM100yrs on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. About BAPS

The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) is a spiritual, volunteerdriven organization dedicated to improving society through individual growth by fostering the Hindu ideals of faith, unity, and selfless service. Its worldwide network of 3,800 centers supports these character-building activities.

Under the guidance and leadership of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to build a community that is free of addictions as well as morally, ethically, and spiritually pure. For more details, please visit

About Pramukh Swami Maharaj

Pramukh Swami Maharaj was the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Under his leadership, BAPS grew into an international spiritual and humanitarian organization with over 3,300 centers worldwide. He dedicated his life to the well-being of others, traveling throughout the world to foster love, peace, harmony, righteousness, faith in God, and service to humanity. With genuine care and compassion, he reached out to all members of society irrespective of class, color, or age. Recognized and respected as one of India’s greatest spiritual teachers, he lived by and promoted the principle: “In the joy of others, lies our own.”

About Mahant Swami Maharaj

His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj is the sixth and current spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. He was ordained a swami by Yogiji Maharaj in 1961 and named Sadhu Keshavjivandas. As he was appointed the head (Mahant) of the Mandir in Mumbai, he became known as Mahant Swami. His devout, humble, and service-focused life earned him the innermost blessings of Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Mahant Swami Maharaj travels throughout the world inspiring people through his insightful spiritual discourses and disciplined conduct. His virtuous lifestyle and profound devotion to Bhagwan Swaminarayan and gurus are ideals toward which devotees strive. Mahant Swami Maharaj became the guru and President of BAPS upon Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s passing in 2016.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, december 23, 2022 • December 23, 2022 2 COMMUNITY
Festival grounds of the Pramukh Swami Maharaj Centennial Celebration. BAPS Youth dance at the Pramukh Swami Maharaj Centennial Celebration
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TiE Angels Texas Awards Winner of the 2022 Rice Business Plan Competition

Houston: This week TiE Angels Texas completed its investment award to LIDROTEC, winner of the 2022 Rice Business Plan Competition. The investment was included in LIDROTEC’s Series A financing, led by GOOSE Capital.

The LIDROTEC award is the culmination of a decade-long participation by TiE in the Rice Business Plan Competition supporting student teams from Europe and Asia by mentoring them and by financial assistance to help them travel to compete at Rice. 2022 was a special year for TiE with both TiE mentored teams reaching the final, and the first time a TiE-mentored team won the grand prize at the Rice Business Plan Competition.

The TiE effect and involvement with Rice Business Plan Competition

TiE’s participation in the Rice Business Plan Competition was started by TiE Charter Member and former Chair of TiE Global, serial entrepreneur Ashok Rao of GOOSE Capital, along with Brad Burke, Managing Director of the Rice Alliance. Over a period of 10 years, Ashok led the search for student teams in Europe and Asia. Once selected, he led mentoring bootcamps in Houston. When Covid restricted travel, the bootcamps moved to being virtual, starting in January, occurring in weekly 3-hour sessions right until April.

Lidrotec’s win in this year’s Rice Business Plan Competition was the culmination of a 12-year journey and a moment of real pride for me.” said Ashok. “When Brad and I created this program, we had no idea as to the impact it could have. We have been thrilled to be part of this incredible competition, while delivering high quality teams to Rice from Universities in Europe and Asia” he continued. “Prior to this year, 4 of our teams had made it the finals, while obtaining over $10 million in investment from Goose Capital. And this year my dream has been realized. Finally, a TiE-mentored team has won this prestigious competition.”

Brad Burke, Managing Director of the Rice Alliance, commented, “More than 250 judges, including investors, corporate leaders and technologists, saw great potential in this year’s competitors. We were thrilled to see the hard work of the TiE teams rewarded by making it to the final round! As the world’s largest and richest competition, we appreciate the collaboration with TiE in supporting student entrepreneurs in Asia and Europe.”

A student team from Aachen (Germany), LIDROTEC, aims to revolutionize semiconductor wafer cutting with their technology using lasers and liquids. Founded by graduate students from RWTH Aachen University, LIDROTEC impressed judges at the Rice Business Plan Competition with their research and commercialization prospects, winning over $550,000

in prizes, including the $350,000 grand prize from GOOSE Capital, and $100,000 from TiE Angels TX.

Speaking of their experience, Alexander Igelmann (CEO, LIDROTEC) and Alexander Kanitz (Chief Innovation Officer, LIDROTEC) said, “The training with the TiE team was incredible. Not only did we improve our pitch, we also learned a great deal and had a lot fun on our way. The TiE team really went beyond and above to help us, and supported us whenever we needed it. They have become our friends and we consider them part of the LIDROTEC family now. Doing the training together with another team, Invitris, was also invaluable. Not only could we learn from their pitch, but we also really bonded as a group.”

women. And TiE Access applies the very same model to underserved minority communities.

TiE University is a program of TiE Global that spans chapters worldwide with the mission to empower college students to become entrepreneurs. The program’s focus is to continuously evolve the local and global entrepreneurship ecosystem where university students thrive. A critical success factor is unlimited mentoring offered to students to nurture them from ideation to investment. Dr. Paul Lopez, global co-chair of TiE University, who participated in RBPC as a judge said: “The 42 teams at RBPC were the best of the best from over 400 teams that applied this year. The edge that the students had who took advantage of the offer of unlimited

mentoring by TiE charter members became apparent which resulted in these teams being successful in winning top prizes and sizeable investments into their venture. And the mentoring doesn’t stop with the competition -- TiE University continues to be available to these and all college students as they launch or scale their startup In the marketplace.

Today TiE is building on the historical foundation started with participating with the RBPC, reaching out to other student entrepreneurs and working with other local academic institutions such as Houston Community College and the University of Houston to participate in the TiE University program, helping student entrepreneurs compete for the TiE University Global award.


the RBPC role model to TiE University Global and beyond

Over the last 5 years, the global TiE organization has developed multiple platforms to help different types of entrepreneurs, run by TiE chapters across the 14 countries where TiE has a presence. TYE (The Young Entrepreneurs) helps student entrepreneurs in high schools.

TiE University helps student entrepreneurs in universities and colleges worldwide, competing in local chapters and culminating in a global pitch competition. TiE Women uses the same model to attract women entrepreneurs and startups which are majority-owned by

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, december 23, 2022 • December 23, 2022 6 BUSINESS
TiE Charter Members present the TiE Angels Texas Investment Prize to Team LIDROTEC Team Invitris and Team LIDROTEC at the TiE Houston evening social before the Rice Business Plan Competition with TiE Houston President Ram Shenoy.
Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, december 23, 2022 • December 23, 2022 7

JLF Houston Acheives Perfect Blend of Physical and Virtual

Houston: After a hiatus of 2.5 years, JLF returned with its fifth edition to the city of Houston in a perfect blend of the physical and the virtual in September 2022. A festival of literature from all over the world, JLF Houston was an event unlike any other. The literary extravaganza invited people from Houston, as well as from across the United States to celebrate the nuances of human experience through the reflections and imagination of distinguished authors from across the globe.

In a vibrant celebration of art and culture, writers and thinkers from America, Asia, Africa, and Europe took part in thoughtprovoking conversations about photography, mathematics, diaspora writing, history and restorative justice, music and spirituality, and geopolitics, among others.

JLF Houston, held in association with the Asia Society Texas Center, Inprint, and the University of Houston, left a profound impact on the audience members through its penetrating intercultural dialogue, pulling off another successful on ground and virtual edition and reaching a diverse local and international audience base.


CHITRA BANERJEE DIVAKARUNI is an award-winning and bestselling novelist, poet, activist, and teacher of writing. She has won many awards, including the American Book Award and the Premio Scanno. Her work has been published in over 100 magazines and anthologies, while her books have been translated into 29 languages. She teaches at the internationally acclaimed writing program at the University of Houston.

After leaving Haryana about forty years ago, Hari & Anjali Agrawal moved to Houston and created their life here- family, business, and community. Now their mission is to spread their beautiful culture to the future generations, especially their daughters and grandchildren, as proud supporters of JLF.

DURGA & SUSHILA AGRAWAL are an Indian-American couple. Dr. Agrawal is a member of the UH System Board of Regents and serves as chair on the UH’s endowment management committee. He is the founder of Piping Technology & Products, Inc. The University of Houston renamed an engineering building after Agrawal and his wife, Sushila.

KRUPA PARIKH has been with Inprint, a Houston based nonprofit literary arts organization, for 20 years and now serves as the organization’s Associate Director. Among her many community activities, she has served as President of the Houston chapter of Amnesty International and a commissioner for the Houston Commission on Disabilities under Mayor Annise Parker.

Indo American News

Founder: dr. K.L. sindwani

PubLisHer: JawaHar MaLHotra

editor: PraMod KuLKarni

CorresPondent: sanCHaLi basu

DR. MARIE GORADIA is a former President of Pratham USA’s Houston chapter and is on the Board of Directors of Pratham USA. Dr. Goradia is also the cofounder of Pratham Houston Young Professionals. An active community volunteer, she serves on the boards of the Asia Society and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

MEDHA & SHASHANK KARVE have resided in the Houston area for nearly 40 years. They are strong supporters of the arts. Medha has been a docent at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston for more than a decade.

SHAZMA & ARSHAD MATIN Shazma & Arshad have lived in Houston for 27 years with their three daughters. Arshad is the CEO of Avetta. Together they are involved in many local institutions and nonprofits including the Houston Endowment, Texas Children’s Hospital, Asia Society, Baker Institute, Daya, and the Museum of Fine Arts. They enjoy traveling and hearty meals with family and friends!

RICH LEVY is a poet and, since 1995, executive director of Inprint, a literary organization in Houston, Texas. His collections include Why Me? and the letterpress chapbook One or Two Lights, and his poems have appeared in various publications.

STEPHANIE TODD WONG is the Director of Performing Arts and Culture at Asia Society Texas Center. Prior to this position, she served as the Executive Director of Dance Source Houston and Director of Dance Metro DC. She holds a BA in Dance from Mercyhurst College and an MFA in Dance from George Mason University.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, december 23, 2022 • December 23, 2022 8 For Advertising in Indo-American News call Jawahar Malhotra @ 713-789-6397 Pradeep Sulhan, P.C. Certified Public Accountant Over 25 years of experience 14340 Torrey Chase Blvd. | Suite 110 | Houston, Texas 77014 281-583-2993 | 281-580-8700| Call Sid or Pradeep ®All rights reserved. No material herein or portions thereof may be published without the written consent of the publisher. Deadline for advertising and articles is 4 pm on Monday of each week. Please include self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of all unsolicited material. Published
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ManveL, tX – Disciple of HH Maharanyam Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji, Sri Poornimaji’s discourse series (in English) on “Sri Venkatesha Vaibhavam” will be the highlight of the 14th annual Namadwaar Utsav and the first one at Sri Aishwarya Srinivasa Perumal Temple in the Namadwaar premises (9120 Bailey Road, Manvel TX 77578).

Planned from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1, the week-long annual utsav, which is being resumed after two years of COVID break, is always a wonderful time for devotees to remain immersed in divine thoughts and activities all day and through the holidays. This year, with the blessings of Sri Swamiji, it is a special “Sri Aishwarya Srinivasa Vaibhavotsavam” commemorating the arrival of Sri Aishwarya Srinivasa Perumal to Houston.

Sri Poornimaji, who has visited Houston several times in the past two decades, is coming back now after almost four years. An excellent speaker who can move and melt hearts with her touching elaboration of Bhagavan’s divine qualities and inspire listeners in the path of devotion, she will speak this year on “Sri Venkatesha Mahatmyam” extolling the greatness and qualities of Sri Srinivasa Perumal (Lord Balaji).

Other highlights of the Utsav include Srimad Bhagavata Saptaha

parayanam in the mornings, Processions in the morning and evening, depiction of various Leelas of Bhagavan, Ashtapadi kirtanSampradaya bhajans, Divya namasankeerthan, cultural programs and concerts, a grand Radha Kalyanam (Radha-Madhav Vivah) on Saturday Dec 31 morning and a Mahamantra Mass Prayer and Hanuman Chalisa chanting on January 1 morning..

These seven days will immerse everyone – young and old – in a joyful world filled only with love and service of the Lord, and away from the anxieties of worldly life. Come, enjoy your time with your family in Bhagavan’s and devotees’ presence.

All events are free and open

to the public. Breakfast, lunch and dinner mahaprasad will be served on all the days.

Prasadam seva and general sponsorships are welcomed for this auspicious event. If you find this divine cause worthy of your generosity, please call 281402-6585. For more information about the event or about Global Organization for

Divinity or Sri Aishwarya Srinivasa Perumal Temple, call or whatsapp 281-4026585, email houston.god@ or visit houston.godivinity. org.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, december 23, 2022 • December 23, 2022 11

Southwestern National Bank (SWNB) Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Houston: Southwestern National Bank (“SWNB”) celebrated its 25th anniversary and annual holiday party on November 5, 2022, at Hyatt Regency Hotel, Houston, Texas. Over 200 attended the annual party casino night. Honorable guests, directors, and employees gathered to celebrate this important milestone.

CEO Joanne Kim kicked off the party with a warm, welcoming remark thanking the board of directors, employees, and customers. Kim said she’s grateful for the tremendous support and warmth from the SWNB Family.

Kim was delighted to announce that SWNB had another good year, and it’s all because of the loyal, hardworking, and dedicated employees. Kim said she is confident and excited that SWNB will achieve many more milestones and continue to be the “Bank of Choice” for our customers.

“As we reflect on SWNB’s 25th anniversary, we want to thank all those who have paved the way for us to reach this milestone –our founders, Board of Directors, amazing customers, and bestin-class team members,” said the Chair of the Board Dr. Jody Lee. Dr. Lee also presented 10th, 15th, 20th, and over 20 years of service awards to the following employees:

10-year service award: Trucgan Doan (Universal Banker) and Laura Zhang (Deposit Operations Specialist)

15-year service award: Chen Chen (Credit Officer), Annie Lee (Head Teller), Chi H. Tang (IT Manager), and Anna Tse-Cheng (Operations Officer)

20-year service award: Annie Chan (Closing Manager), Helen Liu (Deputy of Credit Officer), and Vicki Chen (Branch Manager)

Over 20 years of service award: Betsy Reese (Chief Financial Officer) and Catherine Liang (CoChief Lending Officer)

Dr. Lee also presented an appreciation award to four founding directors: Michael Hong, Sam Hwong, Binh Ho, and Sean Hou, and a lifetime service award to four founding directors: C.K. Lee, Doris Chen, Ted Hsieh, and Ed Malmgren

SWNB has always been a proud supporter of mentoring and developing future leaders in the communities they serve. This year, two academically outstanding graduating high school seniors were awarded a special merit scholarship. SWNB Merit Scholarship recipients were Ian Ho and Diana Feng.

Our guests mixed, mingled, and played on the gaming tables throughout the evening, including blackjack, craps, and roulette.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, december 23, 2022 • December 23, 2022 12
SNB annual party group picture Proclamation from Congressman Al Green & picture with CEO Joanne Kim, Chairwomen Jody Lee, Board Director Hasu Patel.
Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, december 23, 2022 • December 23, 2022 13


Films of 2022, and Why This Will be the Year Bollywood Lost the Plot

Here we go again, back to drawing up hits-and-misses lists. And I must confess that I’ve had a tough time zeroing in on my best of Bollywood 2022. If 2021 was annus horribilis, this, the year of our lord 2022, has been worse.

Not because there weren’t enough films, unlike in the last two years that were lost due to the pandemic. As Covid receded, theatres started opening, and by the middle of the year, there was a steady flow of films. But one after the other, starry vehicles began dying at the box office. 2022 will go down in Indian movie history as the year we were forced to ask ourselves over and over again: has Bollywood lost the plot?

This was the year the unthinkable happened. RRR (Telugu) roared pan-India and is still doing so around the world. KGF 2 (Kannada) cast its net far and wide. And Kantara (also Kannada), grew so big that even its strongest votaries are surprised. Till just three years back, it was almost impossible to find a non-Hindi film getting prime space in the multiplexes in the North. Dubbed or subtitled films would release on Friday, and be thrown out by the next week, if they did manage to last that long, with a Bollywood biggie muscling into that precious real estate.

In 2022, the tables have turned comprehensively. The box office has been taken over by the Southern behemoths — SS Rajamouli was already a familiar name because of the mega-success of ‘Bahubali’ and its sequel; Yash and Rishab Shetty have now firmly taken hold of popular imagination. While this turnaround has been underway, big-budget Bollywood films starring the biggest A-listers, from the biggest studios, have literally bitten the dust.

2022’s Worst Films

Right on top of that sorry heap is Yashraj’s ‘Shamshera’, a period film starring Ranbir Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt, which saw empty halls on its opening Friday. On Day 1! A YRF film! Unbelievable. Another Yashraj production, ‘Samrat Prithviraj’, starring Akshay Kumar, fell flat on its face. Two more Akshay films, the mothballed social drama ‘Raksha Bandhan’, and the beyond-ghastly ‘Bachchan Pandey’ were roundly rejected. The much-anticipated Aamir Khan starrer ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’, three years in the making, was a major disappointment. And the audience stayed away in droves.

There are several reasons for the no-show. The #BoycottBollywood gang working non-stop to spread disfavour, the general junta still a little worried about going into movie halls because who knew if the virus still lurked within, the plentitude of ‘content’, including the much-more interesting OTT shows, available on streaming platforms: yes, these were all

factors. But, and this is the thing, these big Bollywood movies were nothing but expensive duds, buried under star egos and dangerous complacency, ranging from terrible to plain bad to simply not good enough.

The audience, hunkered over their devices during the pandemic, had realised the meaning of choice: great films in other Indian, and foreign, languages. What was once alien, became something to experiment with, and savour. In the best movies across languages and continents, story-telling was

been stuck plumb in the middle of a rock and a hard place: almost no films, mounted on as big a scale as RRR or KGF2, blockbuster written all over them; and not much in the smaller, smarter zone, either (this space was mostly colonised by a series of terrific Malayalam films). You could argue that Dharma Production’s lavishly mounted ‘Brahmastra’ was meant to be precisely that first kind of film, and it may have scraped into the year’s bigger box office successes list because some of its comic book elements embedded in the overarching theme of good ‘devs’ and evil ‘asuras’ appealed to a section of the audience, but how I wished it was a better film. And we didn’t need an Israeli filmmaker to tell us that ‘The Kashmir Files’ was vulgar and propagandist, whose strong run at the box office was clearly down to the kind of film it was.

who want to follow the dictates of their heart in this part of India?

Yes, pretty much.

Badhaai Do: Theme-wise, amongst the bravest this year. What does a man who likes men, and a woman who likes women, do? Get into the mutual convenience of a lavender wedding, that’s what, figuring out how to live a full life, while being true to their authentic selves. If it hadn’t become the familiar joint-familycomedy-central in the second half, the film would have been much better. Still, props to Rajkummar

intimate relationship with his old rusted-but-trusty cycle, which takes him back and forth from his back-breaking job as a daily wager, is stellar. The set-in-a-village hardscrabble story, which has almost vanished from our screens, gets a fillip in this debut feature, sure-footedly directed by M Gani.

Goodbye: A Chandigarh-based family dealing with the death of a beloved member takes refuge in patches of clunky humour, in Vikas Bahl’s film which tries to refresh the tropes of cementing cracks-coming together-learning life lessons. The big bonus is that it gives Amitabh Bachchan a worthy role after a long fallow period; the scenes he shares with Neena Gupta are warm and life-affirming.

Doctor G: Can your regular standard-issue guy– entitled momma’s boy, oblivious to the meaningful things in life– grow up and become a sensitive gynaecologist, complete with the requisite ‘female touch’– during the course of a two hour film? The premise is a stretch, but Ayushmann Khurrana and Rakul Preet Singh, under the baton of first time director Anubhuti Kashyap, get in some nice strokes.

Monica My Darling: This cocktail of murder, femme fatales, twisted motives, and crooked humans, in the hands of Bollywood fanboy director Vasan Bala, is quite a lot of fun. Sure, there are things to quibble about, but the film gives Rajkummar Rao a chance to move away from the good-guy territory, and an interesting ensemble to slither about snakily.

supreme. The message, to big, bloated Bollywood which still expected viewers to accept old wine in older bottles, was loud and clear: sorry, but not sorry.

It isn’t as if all the ‘South films’ that made a beeline for the North were equally successful. The mighty tentpoles which have made the big bucks this year, as well as last year’s ‘Pushpa’, were strongly formulaic, toplining bristling bromances, and a level of discomfiting misogyny, which refuses to bow out of mainstream cinema, especially the films which target the more conservative bastions in the South. Anything out of this zone was ignored. In his ‘Bahubali’ double bill, for instance, Prabhas was a huge draw, but no one showed up for his soggy rom com ‘Radhe Shyam’. Also, it wasn’t as if all Bollywood films were beyond the pale, but they were not what the audience, starved of entertainment for over two years, wanted: event movies, where everything was larger than life.

Clearly, Bollywood in 2022 has

It is equally clear that the road to resurrection for Bollywood will be tough. For one, it doesn’t seem to be learning fast enough. You would have thought ‘Govinda Naam Mera’, also from Dharma, starring the New Gen trio of Vicky Kaushal-Kiara Advani-Bhumi Pednekar, would be a course correction. But ugh, what a crashing bore.

Bollywood’s Best of 2022

Just what is Bollywood waiting for? While we wait for answers to this crucial question, here is a list of the Bollywood 2022 offerings, in the order of release from January-December, which made me pay attention. Not one of these films is perfect or without flaws, but at least each strove to create something new, freshen familiar themes, or presented characters who made us believe.

Love Hostel: The dystopian world Shanker Raman creates reminds you of his debut ‘Gurgaon’, but this companion piece, about a pair of runaway lovers in Haryana, is darker and harder, compelling you to watch despite yourself. Did I want to breathe a little easier through the film? Did I want a ray of light at the end? Yes and yes. But is this the fate of young people

Rao, Bhumi Pednekar, and director Harshavardhan Kulkarni for going down a path so rarely travelled.

Gangubai Kathiawadi: Sure, the beauteous Alia Bhatt looks too young and untouched to be the legendary hard-nosed madam of a brothel. But if you surrender to Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s universe, where each bit of grunge is gorgeous, you see Bhatt owning every beat of her role. That early scene, a stunning chiaroscuro, with the camera pulling back as the newbie Gangubai learns to call out to potential punters, is a classic.

Darlings: Domestic abuse ‘nahin chalega’. And no really means no, even if it comes from a girl who lives under the thumb of a tyrannical husband. Alia Bhatt and Shefali Shah form a great pair as they tackle misogyny, and Vijay Varma aces it as a man who has learnt how to pay hatred forward in Jasmeet K Reen’s striking first film.

Matto Ki Saikil: Prakash Jha in and as Matto, the man with an

Bhediya: To completely commit to silliness requires conviction, and it is on ample display in this Varun Dhawan-Abhisek Banerjee starrer, directed by Amar Kaushik. A scenic corner of the picturesque North east, colourful myths, speedy werewolves, and a bunch of bumblers riffing off an ensemble cast which looks as if it belongs to the place? Yes, I’ll take it.

An Action Hero: Who is a real hero? The guy who ripples his abs onscreen, and behaves like an entitled brat off it? Or the one who learns to shed his starry mannerisms, as he runs for his life?

Anirudh Iyer directs this sharp two-hander starring a self-aware Ayushmann Khurrana and havinga-blast Jaideep Ahlawat, while cocking a snook at Bollywood trolls.

Still waiting for Ranveer Singh and his ‘Cirkus’, out later this week. Will it make the list? Let’s see. -- Indian Express

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, december 23, 2022 • December 23, 2022 14
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Shah-Smith Hosts Retirement Party for CEO Ajay Shah

Houston: Shah Smith & Associates, Inc. hosted a gala retirement party on Wednesday, Dec. 21, for their CEO Ajay Shah, who stepped down 28 years after co-founding the engineering company.

Shah Smith provides design and construction management of mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP) for healthcare, research, science and technology, higher education, and other such facilities.

A native of Mumbai, Shah came to the United States in the 1970s for undergraduate engineering studies. After a year at UTEP, he transferred to UT Austin and graduated with a BS degree in mechanical engineering.

After starting his career with CRS, Shah continued with LAN before co-founding Shah Smith with his colleague Jerry Smith.

During the early years, Shah and Smith used to seek work during the day and perform the enginnering work at night. Under their leadership, Shah Smith today is recognized nationally as a leader in MEP services with 120 employees and offices in Houston, Austin, Dallas, and Denver.

The retirement party at JW Marriott Hotel in the Galleria featured variety of Indian, Italian, and Mediterranean cuisine. President Jeff Bolander cited Ajay Shah’s engineering career of 40 years and his contributions to the success of the company. Holloway was followed by Shah’s sons Anand and Anoop, who remembered fondly when Shah Smith was founded during their youth and how they watched the company grow under their father’s leadership.

A highlight of the evening was

a delightful roast by Shah Smith partner Erik Dietz.

In his farewell speech, Shah thanked the employees for their contributions and was confident that the company would continue to grow and prosper. He expressed special thanks to his wife Angela for her enthusiastic support throughout his career.

A large contingent of friends and wellwishers joined company employees in wishing Ajay a very happy and rewarding retirement with family, travel and golf.

Texas Inpatient Consultants Host Appreciation Luncheon

sugar land: Texas Inpatient Consultants, a comprehensive primary care medical group, caring for patients 16 and older held a patient appreciation luncheon on Friday, December at its offices in Sugar Land. The clinic is led by physicians Dr Dominic Sreshta and Dr Emmanuel Opara and Anita Sreshta.

For 22 years, TIC clinicians have treated patients who have acute illnesses and chronic medical condition in the clinic, assisted living facilities, nursing facilities, and multiple hospitals in the Sugarland area.

TIC focuses on preventive medicine and health maintenance by providing wellness exams, chronic disease management, and patient education and teaching them to take responsibility of exercising good health practices for themselves and their families.

TIC has built a community of interns from at least four area school districts and 15 college programs, offering them a chance to shadow the clinicians and learn basic procedures for charting and learn patient bedside manners. The appreciation lunch was for the 6 graduates of the program as well as some patients and the entire staff.

The program was coordinated by Mahammed S., TIC Admin Assistant and the superb box lunches of Chinese food were provided by Aling’s Chinese Bistro. Lunch was hosted by vendors Caitlin of Sailix, Melissa of Harbor Hospice and Anne Marie of Apex Home Health. Also attending were this reporter and Dr Nik Nikam, a re-

tired cardiologist and community supporter.

After lunch, Dr Sreshta and Dr

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Shah Smith CEO Ajay Shah (left) receives parting gifts from President Jeff Bolander. Opara handed out gifts to the entire staff, interns and guests.
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