Indo-American News February 25, 2022

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Friday, February 25, 2022 | Vol. 41, No. 08


February 25, 2022

Indo American News


Published weekly from Houston, TX

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Houston’s Indo-American High Flyers

Read about Rajeev Alluru, who is the new president of Ekal Vidyalaya’s Houston Chapter and Sanjeev Ram, nominated by Mayor Sylvester Turner as the new Chairman of Houston METRO. SEE PAGES 2,4.

Zee5 Global: Rich Content

This weekend, binge five titles in five different languages, only on ZEE5 Global. A new slate of content across languages with Mithya, Tonic, Vilangu, Bangarraju and more SEE PAGE 3


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

Indo-American News • Friday, february 25, 2022 •


February 25, 2022


Rajeev Aluru to Lead Ekal Vidyalaya’s Houston Chapter By Manu Shah

Houston: Rajeev Aluru inherited more than an analytical and goal oriented mindset from his father. Growing up, he silently observed and absorbed his father’s philanthropic zeal from helping countless families to overseeing the construction of the town’s well known Balaji temple. Similarly driven, Rajeev is leading Ekal Vidyalaya’s educational initiatives as its Houston Chapter President. As he shares his plans for the nonprofit’s future direction, Ekal’s youngest president is clearly energized about his new role which he describes as “a divine opportunity that knocked on my door.” A relatively new Houstonian (he moved from North Carolina in 2020), Rajeev, 41, outlined his vision for Ekal with the leadership in Houston. He found them highly receptive and with their “invaluable guidance and his new team’s backing,” he is more than ready to put his plans into action. Rajeev’s journey with Ekal began in 2014 in North Carolina when he accepted an invitation to a fundraiser dinner from a colleague Ramesh Kalagnaman. Three things struck Rajeev that evening: the organization’s transparency, magnitude of impact and the effectiveness with which the funds were used. The event spurred his resolve to open the doors to opportunities which he had been fortunate to receive from “God and his parents.” Rajeev became an active volunteer and developed a keen understanding of the foundational impact Ekal was making in rural India’s education. Today the Ekal movement, started in 1989 with one village and one school, has the distinction of overseeing over one lakh schools offering free schooling, vocational training, digital competence, agricultural education and much more. A native of Ongole, Andhra Pradesh, Rajeev had a middle class upbringing. He credits his mother for his academic excellence as she was determined to give her children the opportunities that were denied to her. This secured him several scholarships in school and college, and he graduated with top honors as a Mechanical engineer. Situated on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, Rajeev’s hometown is prone to hurricanes. One of his earliest memories include a night where the family huddled in a car amidst lashing rains and high winds as their house offered little protection. He remembers his father’s vow that desolate night that “he would build something that would mean never doing this again.” Those words stayed with Rajeev and as he grew older, fueled his desire to be financially independent. After earning his engineering degree in India, Rajeev enrolled in Auburn University, Alabama for his graduate studies. Impressed by his analytical skills and laser focused dedication, his professors encouraged him to work on his doctorate which was wrapped up in three years. While concluding his research, he was invited to present his work at Fabtech (North America’s largest manufacturing conference) in Dallas. A global Aerospace technology company attended his talk and recruited him. Here, Rajeev led a global team for aircraft engine components which slashed their costs by half and were superior in performance. These groundbreaking products led to significant revenues for his company. His move to other stints was followed by high professional acclaim and included an Executive MBA program in 2019. In 2020, he joined Calpine, America’s largest generator of electricity based in Houston, where he heads the Analytics division and is responsible for optimizing assets worth $25 billion. Underscoring the importance of education coupled with opportunity, Rajeev draws attention to that fact that 40% of the schools are self-sustainable in five years, a reflection of Ekal’s effectiveness. Simultaneously, Ekal is also tackling systemic issues such as corruption and female literacy at the grass roots level. In an Ekal village for instance,

villagers held local politicians accountable about the money spent on the village development. Equally heartwarming is the 50% ratio of girl students in schools which will empower villages to be “economically stable and future strong.” The Integrated Village Development and Gramothan Resource Center programs, he emphasizes, serve up to 30 villages. As we face a post covid world, Rajeev realizes the need to rewrite Ekal’s outreach strategies. His team is drafting a model to facilitate entrepreneurship, jobs, avenues to profits and an approach that will empower villages to a point where “they don’t need us anymore.” He intends to create a program to encourage donors to visit Ekal schools in India to witness firsthand how their contributions are benefiting millions of underprivileged children. While pointing out that Ekal is “winning on its own,” he adds that it could become more impactful by collaborating with or-

Indo-American News • Friday, february 25, 2022 •

ganizations that align with Ekal’s mission and values. The organization will also leverage digital marketing to augment Ekal’s presence beyond the traditional fundraising events. The new president has an ambitious one million dollar benchmark for this year’s fundraising. Rajeev stays in shape with an early morning run, loves travelling and concludes the conversation by revealing that he often turns to “An Ignited Mind,” written by the Late President of India Abdul Kalam to keep the inspiration flowing. Rajeev’s wife Srilatha, a Software Applications Leader, is his pillar of support as are his sons Neeraj (13) and Vibhav (11). Both his sons, he proudly shares, have already supported two Ekal schools from their savings - proof that the philanthropic gene he inherited is being passed down to the next generation!



February 25, 2022


ZEE5 Global Brings New Content with Mithya, Tonic, Vilangu, Bangarraju ~This weekend, binge five titles in five different languages, only on ZEE5 Global~ With one of the best regional content libraries in the country, ZEE5 Global, the largest streaming platform for South Asian content, is bringing to you five new shows and movies in five different languages this weekend. On February 18, the platform released original titles in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali and Punjabi. From widely anticipated Huma Qureshi-Avantika Dassani starrer Mithya to Nagarjuna, Vimal, and Naga Chaitanya lighting up the screens with Tamil original series Vilangu and the much-awaited Telugu movie Bangarraju; get ready to binge all weekend long with ZEE5 Global’s exquisite content library with these titles: Mithya - Hindi Original series Director: Rohan Sippy Cast: Huma Qureshi, Avantika Dassani, Parambrata Chatterjee Synopsis: A tale of two women who are at odds with each other over allegations of plagiarism, which sparks a series of hostilities and shocking revelations spun around a murder for which they both are suspects. Vilangu - Tamil Original Series

Director: P. Jayadevi Cast: Vimal, Bala Sarvanan, Ineya Synopsis: Paridhi, an honest cop, must race against time to solve a mysterious crime case that has baffled the police department. Bangarraju- Telugu Movie Director: Kalyan Krishna Cast: Udaya Bhanu, Nagarjuna, Naga Chaitanya Synopsis: A starlit gala night

that witnesses the reunion of popular Telugu celebrities as they share the stage with renowned actors and give mesmerising performances. Tonic - Bengali Movie Director: Avijit Sen Cast: Dev, Paran Bandopadhyay, Shakuntala Barua, Koneenica Banerjee Synopsis: For his wedding anniversary, a 75-year-old man plans a

trip with his wife. He meets Tonic, a charismatic travel agent whose presence makes the trip memorable and brings back the joy in their lives. Coming soon! Mera Vyah Kara Do - Original Punjabi Movie Director: Sunill Khosla Cast: Mandy Takhar, Dilpreet Dhillon, Hobby Dhaliwal Synopsis: This ZEE5 Global Original film narrates the story

Indo-American News • Friday, february 25, 2022 •

of a girl next door who edits her matrimonial profile with bold pics and comments. The bad girl image works in her favour but also creates chaos in her life. Users can download the ZEE5 app from Google Play Store / iOS App Store, on Roku devices, Apple TVs, Android TVs, and Amazon Fire Stick. ZEE5 is also available on

4 February 25, 2022 Sanjay Ram to Chair METRO Board Houston: Mayor Sylvester Turner on has nominated a well-respected engineer, long-time community leader, and current METRO board member to serve as the next Chair of the public transit agency.Sanjay “Ram” Ramabhadran has served on the METRO Board of Directors since May 2015 and is the current Chair of the Capital & Strategic Planning Committee and a member of the Finance & Audit Committee. He has helped oversee the planning, design, construction, and launch of major projects, including METRONext, that enhance mobility throughout the region. These projects include a multi-milliondollar program ensuring universal accessibility for passengers with a range of disabilities. He also worked to expand METRORapid, the agency’s bus rapid transit (BRT) service. Initially a single north-south route connecting Uptown to two major transit centers, the service will also include the Inner Katy Line, connecting Uptown and downtown, and the University Line, which will be the longest BRT line in the nation. He is working to enhance the travel time, reliability, and access for 17 of METRO’s high ridership bus routes as part of the BOOST initiative. “As a prepared and proven leader, Sanjay is ready to steer Texas’ largest metropolitan transit authority,” Mayor Turner said. “His leadership will play a big role in getting the ambitious METRONext and other projects right.” “It is an honor of a lifetime to serve the City of Houston and the entire region. I truly appreciate the trust and confidence in me to build the future of METRO. I look forward to working with my col-


Sanjay “Ram” Rambhadran with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

leagues on the METRO Board, the CEO, and the 4,100 strong METRO family,” said Ramabhadran. “These men and women are frontline heroes in their own right. 24/7 and 365 days a year, they work to move Houstonians. Not just during a regular work week or for a baseball game, but when it is most needed, during a flood, hurricane, or pandemic.” Ramabhadran will replace Carrin Patman, who is stepping down following her nomination by the Biden Administration to serve as ambassador to Iceland. She is METRO’s first woman to serve as board chair, appointed in 2016 by Mayor Sylvester Turner. She previously served as a METRO board member from 2010 to 2013. As Chair, Carrin led the successful passage of the $3.5 billion METRONext bond measure. METRONext calls for 500 miles of travel improvements in the region over the next 20 years. “I am grateful to Carrin Patman for all she has done in the advance-

ment of providing safe, clean, reliable, accessible, and friendly public transportation services to our region,” said Mayor Turner. Patman’s last day as METRO Chair will be Thursday, February 24, 2022. Ramabhadran will be the first Indo-American who will serve as METRO’s Chair. Combined with his historic appointment of Patman as the first woman to lead METRO’s board of directors, Mayor Turner said the appointments of two accomplished individuals underscore Houston’s strength as a diverse and inclusive city. “There is incredible talent in our city. That gives me hope that no matter what challenges we face, we will overcome those challenges if we work together,” Mayor Turner said. Ram has served previously as President of the Indo=American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH) and the American Society of Indian Engineers (ASIE)

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February 25, 2022

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February 25, 2022

India’s Chess Hope Beats No. 1 Carlsen

Indo American News Founder: Dr. K.L. Sindwani Publisher: Jawahar Malhotra Editor: Pramod Kulkarni Correspondent: Sanchali Basu

®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 at 7457 Harwin Drive, Suite 212, Houston, Texas 77036.Tel:713-789-6397, email:, website: www.


By Sandip G As world champion Magnus Carlsen sat bemused, palms on his face, after realising that he was going to lose the eighth round of the Airthings Masters online rapid chess tournament, a wave of shock spread across the face of his would-be slayer R Praggnanandhaa. Wide-eyed and unable to fathom what had unrolled on the other side of the screen in Oslo, he covered his mouth with his hands in the 2 am silence of his home in the Chennai suburb of Padi. Praggnanandhaa was so drained by the exacting game of quick wits that all he wanted was to catch some sleep. “I just want to hit the bed,” he told the International Chess Federation website with groggy eyes. It’s likely that he wouldn’t have gotten any sleep at all. It was his “I can’t believe it” moment, the moment that was always a part of his wildest dream. Norwegian World No 1 Carlsen, the undisputed emperor of chess, a bonafide GOAT, the marketing face of the game, was always his idol. “Beating him once is my biggest dream,” he had told this newspaper soon after becoming the second youngest Grandmaster in the world four years ago. “He (Carlsen) has a solution for even the most complicated problem,” he had explained. But this time, there was no solution and Praggnanandhaa’s dream was finally realised. That he’s just the third Indian, after Viswanathan Anand and P Harikrishna, to accomplish the rare feat of beating Carlsen underlines his incredible potential. That he toppled him in 39 moves and with black pieces, a perceived handicap in the game, brightens the dazzle of his victory. Aggressive from the start, he pushed Carlsen onto the back foot but missed a glorious chance to kill the game in the middle stage. But he regained his wits and bounced back, piling relentless pressure on Carlsen, who cracked and blun-

dered. Perhaps, more importantly, India has discovered a potential successor to Anand as well as a poster boy for the imminent chess boom in the country — the Indian Chess League is set to unroll from June with a prize money of at least Rs 2 crore. Praggnanandhaa’s resurgence is also a timely fillip for the game’s profile in the country. It was a timely reminder of his talent, too. Outside the close-knit chess fraternity, he was almost a forgotten figure after narrowly losing the race against time to become the youngest Grandmaster in history, a record then held by Sergiy Karjakin before it was claimed by American prodigy Abhimanyu Mishra. The world often forgot that he was still a child, not even a teenager, and the expectations were often unrealistic. But the relative anonymity of that period eased the pressure. “There was no unnecessary distraction and he could focus entirely on his game. He was not obsessed with that record, but there was too much attention on him. But after that, he was certainly more relaxed and put in a lot of hard work,” says his father Ramesh Babu. The step into the big league,

pitted in regular match-ups with seasoned pros, was not without a stutter or two. But far from being disillusioned, setbacks and nearmisses toughened him. “He is always cheerful and willing to learn, especially from his mistakes. He hates losing games, but does not sulk and moves forward. These traits will ensure that he would be a top player in the future,” childhood coach R B Ramesh had told this newspaper earlier. Soon after, Anand, who had picked him and Iranian-French GM Alireza Firouzja as the future stars of chess, took him under his wings for the Chess Olympiad and smoothened the rough edges, the occasional tendency to make hasty moves and embrace risks. Adding caution to his aggression made him a better player — one who could be the flag-bearer of Indian chess after Anand’s days. He is, after all, just 16. At this age, Anand was not yet a Grandmaster. But despite the number of points he may go on to pile up in his career, or whoever he would defeat in the future — he wants to be a world champion — he will not forget the first time he beat Carlsen, his hero and inspiration. The night he wanted to sleep, but could not. -- Indian Express

Consulate General of India Houston JOB VACANCY The Consulate General of India, Houston invites application for the post of Clerk from the applicants who are either US citizens or permanent residents, residents with valid appropriate visa or valid work permit. Interested candidates may send their application and resume along with all supporting documents (for educational qualification/ passports/ visa/work permit etc.) latest by March 4, 2022:

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• by email to: • or by post to: Head of Chancery Consulate General of India 4300 Scotland Street, Houston, Texas 77007 For further details visit the Consulate website: Indo-American News • Friday, february 25, 2022 •

February 25, 2022

Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya MAHASIVARATRI

Come, Celebrate and receive Lord Siva’s blessings Monday Feb 28th 2022 Due to COVID-19 restrictions please reserve early, Darshan & Seva slot ahead of time. Go to or scan QR code 9:00 am - 10:00 pm

Ksirabhiseka to Utsava Murti of Lord Siva - Open to all

9:00 am - 12:00 pm Mahanyasa purvaka Rudrabhiseka * Arati & Prasada 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Rudrabhiseka Seva (Smrti Hall)

7:00 pm - 10:00 pm Laghunyasa purvaka Ekadasa Rudrabhiseka * Arati & Prasada 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm 8:30 pm - 9:30 pm 10:30 pm - 11:45 pm

Rudrabhiseka Seva (Smrti Hall) Rudrabhiseka Seva (Smrti Hall) Meditation followed by midnight Arati

Seva & Sponsorships  Mukhya Yajaman (1 slot each session)  Mahanyasa purvaka Seva (12 slots - 2 members per fly)

Morning & Evening Puja Morning ( Temple )

 Laghunyasa purvaka Ekadasa Seva (6 slots - 2 members per fly)  Rudrabhiseka Seva

(40 slots - per session - 4 members per fly)

Evening ( Temple ) Morning & Evening ( Smrti Hall )

- $3001 - $301 - $301 - $101

( Bring your abhiseka Linga (small) or Siva Linga will be provided with abhiseka Samagari to each Seva family )  Mahasivarati Seva - General sponsorship

- $21

* Pujas will also be live streamed. Please visit for details

Saturday, March 5th 2022 Maha Mrtyunjaya Homa* 10:00 am - 11:30 am (In Chinmaya Smrti Building - Homa sponsorship: $21) Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya Chinmaya Mission Houston

10353 Synott Road Sugar Land, TX 77478 Tel: 281-568-1690

Further information visit.

Contact: Jay Deshmukh 832.541.0059 Bharati Sutaria 281.933.0233

Indo-American News • Friday, february 25, 2022 •



February 25, 2022

Sikander: Extraordinary Realities

Houston: Extraordinary Realities examines the career of Shahzia Sikander during her prolific first 15 years. Paintings, drawings, and video animations show how the Pakistani American artist explores contemporary issues by transforming and subverting South and Central Asian illustrated manuscript painting. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1969, Sikander was an artist in the Core Residency Program at the MFAH Glassell School of Art from 1995 to 1997. She is now internationally celebrated for bringing manuscript painting traditions into dialogue with contemporary art practice. Shahzia Sikander: Extraordinary Realities brings together nearly 60 of Sikander’s works, from public and private collections. The presentation tracks her groundbreaking deconstruction of manuscript painting in Pakistan; development of a new personal vocabulary in her graduate years at the Rhode Island School of Design; expanded

explorations around identity at the Glassell School; and global approach during her first years in New York. Throughout that time, she richly interrogated gender, sexuality, race, class, and history, creating open-ended narratives that have sustained her as one of the most significant artists working today. Sikander’s vibrant synthesis of traditional and contemporary art has played a critical role in recognizing a wider range of perspectives, including those of women, people of color, Muslims, and artists working outside the United States and Europe.


Mirchi Radio App to Launch for North America New Jersey/San Francisco: Entertainment Network India Limited, the company that operates the Mirchi brand in the United States, today announced the launch of it’s streaming app. The app is available on Apple and Android smartphones as well as Android Auto & Apple Car play systems. More countries will be added soon, the company stated. The Mirchi app brings 12 live FM stations from 11 cities in India including Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad (Telugu and English), Kochi, Ahmedabad, Pune, Chandigarh, and Patna. More cities will be available shortly. The city-wide local streams provide a convenient shortcut for the expat community living in the US as the feeds have been adjusted to mirror local day parts. For example, a listener hailing from Mum-

bai but living in San Jose, will be able to tune in at his morning time for the Mumbai morning show and so on. Besides providing nostalgic value, US based listeners get a feel of home via real-time to developments taking place in their home city in India in the areas of music, movies, traffic, the stock markets, and much more. The app also has an on-demand feature that includes hundreds of hours of curated “audio stories” across multiple genres. Mirchi staples like like RJ Naved’s light-

hearted Murga prank calls; “The Devdutt Patnaik” mythology show; “The Bhatt Show” hosted by Mahesh and Pooja Bhatt; Kareena Kapoor Khan’s “What Women Want” interview series with top Bollywood celebrities and “Manto” written by the legendary Saadat Hasan Manto and voiced by top personalities like Nandita Das, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and RJ Sayema will be available on the app. The Mirchi App widens Mirchi’s reach from local terrestrial radio stations in USA to an “on-demand & always on App experience”. Mirchi’s social media presence has been prolific with viral videos and posts, the app now formalizes this listener relationship that allows marketers and advertisers to engage with their audiences through targeted online advertising opportunities.



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February 25, 2022

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February 25, 2022

Indo-American News • Friday, february 25, 2022 •

SUDOKU/BOLLYWOOD Place a number in the empty boxes in such a way that each row across, each column down and each 9-box square contains all of the numbers from one to nine.

Send us the correct answer before March 1. 2022. Email us at Please send us your solved Sudoku for your name to be published.

Solution Next Week

Last Week’s Solution

February 25, 2022


‘A Thursday’: An Intriguing Hostage Drama By Rachana Dubey

Story: Naina Jaiswal (Yami Gautam), an unsuspecting 30something preschool teacher rouses Mumbai Police and the media when she announces that she has held 16 kids from her nursery hostage. She issues a warning. Each child risks losing their life unless super cop Javed Khan (Atul Kulkarni) agrees to meet her list of demands. Naina’s day long standoff with the cops forms the story. Review: It’s an interesting time for women in cinema. Ladies are no longer looked upon as pretty props or damsels in distress. Stories are now being written about them. Stories that don’t just scratch the surface but go beyond. These are stories that matter. Director Behzad Khambata trusts Yami Gautam Dhar with an authorbacked role, Yami’s first in her career. Her character expects her to be brutally cold and yet breathe fire through silence and ambiguity. When pushed in an uncharted territory, the actress struggles to stay subtle but amps up the required intensity eventually. Dimple Kapadia and Neha Dhupia also play significant characters here and the two render powerful performances. Atul Kulkarni’s talent needs no introduction. He is perfectly cast here as well. Coming across as a spiritual sequel to Neeraj Pandey’s taut and terrific ‘A Wednesday’, Behzad Khambata’s suspenseful hostage drama has an interesting premise, too but a rather farfetched execution. It lacks the compelling nature of Neeraj Pandey’s storytelling but gets the underlying emotion right. Jarring background score and dated slowmo close-ups feel juvenile as the attempt to draw in the viewer feels too obvious. Con-

veying emotions shouldn’t be confused with spoon-feeding. While the plot raises intrigue, the film lacks technical detailing that could fulfil its ambition. Despite a rather predictable backstory, A Thursday redeems itself with its powerful emotional arc and social commentary in the latter half. It touches upon a relevant issue that will resonate with women across the globe. This may

not be an edge of the seat thriller that evokes paranoia or fear but it dares to make an important point and that alone is its victory. Khambata cleverly makes ample use of the social media within the film to take the story forward and it works. The film also makes an apt observation of clickbait journalism and the business of ‘breaking news’. -- Times of India

‘Yatri Kripya Dhyan De’: Scrumptious Short

Last Week’s Winners

Kumud Athavale, Ramana Vadrevu, Sanchali Basu, Krishna R. Vuddagiri, Kousalya Gopal

Synopsis: On his way back home, Sumit (Shaheer Sheikh) spots Nandita (Shweta Basu Prasad), a hitchhiker and decides to give her a ride in his swanky car until a strange conversation ensues between the two. Review: The fact that short films are expected to tell stories in a relatively limited period of time perhaps makes their task tougher. Of course feature films have their own challenges but still. The twist in the tale needs to work within minutes here. Running for duration of 15 minutes, this short is atmospheric and engaging. It takes you by surprise with its unpredictable thought that also cleverly touches upon gender stereotypes. While you hope the awkward silence and nervous energy between

the two protagonists was better explored despite the time constraint, the short gets what it sets out to achieve. It manages to catch you off guard. The isolated location doubles up as a character. The camera follows Sumit’s car as it caresses every curve of his upward route on the foggy hills. As the two strangers get talking, suspense looms over their identities and intent. Nandita rakes up a strange incident from Sumit’s past leading to an unnerving tension between the two. Writ-

Indo-American News • Friday, february 25, 2022 •

er-director Abhinav uses fear of the unknown to trigger your imagination. He lures you into solving the riddle that unravels in front of you. His previous shorts Antarvasna, Sita both have been critically acclaimed and this one’s equally interesting. Shweta Basu Prasad is effective and adds the much needed drama and mystique to her character. A massive name on Indian TV, Shaheer Sheikh too slips into his seemingly unsuspecting role well. We live in an age of information overload, where one is spoilt for choice. If you want to relax your eyes from binge worthy OTT series, theatrical feature films and their never ending promotions and social media which fights for your attention 24/7, a 15-minute short is perhaps your best alternative. == Times of India


February 25, 2022

Indo-American News • Friday, february 25, 2022 •