Indo-American News: March 10, 2023

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Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 10, 2023 • 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, March 10, 2023 | Vol. 42, No. 10 $1 ‘Gulmohar’: Family Drama HOUSTON HOLI: Crowds Swarm to The Ranch P7 P11 JK Yog’s Holi Festival P2

Masala Radio 98.7 FM’s Houston Holi: Crowds Swam to the Ranch

Houston: A crisp & cold morning unfolded into a bright sunny day for Masala Radio 98.7 FM’s Houston Holi Festival of Colors on Saturday March 4. For the first time, the 14th Annual Festival of Colors was held at a real ranch –BH Ranch – located on the fringe of Southwest Houston. The curious crowd continued to pour in wondering what it would be like to celebrate HOLI alongside horses, ponies, sheeps, goats, and camels… and they LOVED


Revelers swarmed in gleeful pockets around the ranch: jampacked in circular performance zone with 25 foot high sound & video screens, hiding and throwing colored powder among the winterized trees lining an idyllic pond in the center, or enjoying the shade of the giant food court pavilion of exotic Indian and fusion street foods.

Over 12,500 graced Houston Holi, with the numbers peaking at around 2pm and ending with a concert by Bollywood siren Kanika Kapoor. Easing in with her early hits of Chittiyaan Kalaiyaan & Baby Doll, she quickly stepped up the beats with back-to-back bhangra covers, ending with a jolting mix of Jugni, Lovely, and Oo Bolega ya Oo Oo Bolega, causing a frenzy of dancing and hands in the air. Youths of every color became one as everything else seemed to disappear except the bountiful notes, colored smoke bombs, colored powder dust and a rainbow of confetti.

The massive stage and giant speakers felt like the set of a Bollywood song shoot, and at 12 noon emcee Sunil Thakkar’s loud voice announced “before the mad dancing begins, let’s start with a Holi pooja with our community elected leaders and sponsors, led by priests from Shiv Shakti mandir. In this Holi fire, first lets burn our negative thoughts and then … lets burn some calories.” DJ Nish dropped a crazy track and the youthful energetic crowd started to come alive after a long cold winter. Colors and hands were flying in the air. I was caught up in a hypnotic moment of senses. My mind and body started to give into the sights and sounds of the festival and I felt elevated in a spirituality remix.

Sandhya Thakkar smiled, “This is why we do this. We want to share the colors of our mystical Hindu culture with everyone in Houston. With colors on our bodies, we look like one another, and start to celebrate life without judgement, without barriers.”

Shayan & his guitar filled the air with love songs. In between the amazing local dance school performances was The Battle of the DJ’s between popular Indian DJs Boyd, Nish, and Zee, vs the non-Indian DJ Tazmayne spinning Bollywood EDM and all vying for the greatest audience response. Sunil T invited a few excited non-Indians to dance onstage with DJ Tazmayne

and joked “not only can these guys Bhangra, but they are jumping so high they will fall off the stage!.”

Non-stop music & color rave continued until the very very end with a rap set by first Omerican and then Rap Star Bali with his version of Apna Dor Ayega.

The kids had their own Bacha Party on the other quieter side of the pond, with free camel rides, pony rides, petting zoo, carnival ride and a giant T-Rex slide. There were some lines, but hey it was free! Wedged in between these two zones, just before the Street

Foods Pavillion, was a surprise - first time at HOLI - the Eden Resto & Bar Hookah Lounge with a DJ pool party. I couldn’t believe youths actually dipped in the pool with their clothes on to the beat the afternoon heat, while the adults partook of paan-flavored hookahs on a raised patio. Honest, Mirch Masala, Nirmanz, Bawarchi & Peacock Restaurant served up the best of hot and fresh Indian street foods and kept the long lines moving smoothly. Picnic tables and chairs dotted the shaded green spaces nearby. Honest Restaurant

find parking as even the overflow lot was completely full. Sandhya Thakkar said “This is the BEST Holi ever… except the fact that all parking got full and so many people could not get in. Next year we will arrange for more parking. We had been announcing on the radio to please carpool and come early. Those that came before 1 or after 2:30 had no trouble with the parking.”

Sunil T kept the crowd pumping interjecting with euphoric sponsor giveaways from the stage that extended right in the midst of the dancing crowd. While Sam of Eden gave away colorful caps, Zee5 gave away 1,000 kulfis, a 360 video experience, and a free month’s subscription. Nitya Iyengar of Zee5 gushed, “it was my 4-year old son’s dream to ride a pony, and it was fulfilled at Holi of all places, something he’ll never forget! We have been sponsoring Holi for years, but this crowd interaction was above par.” Ramji Law Group’s Arshad Ramji gave away hundreds of white Holi Tshirts. Umang Mehta representing Deep Foods & Dabur – premier brands from India - gave away over a hundred bags filled with Indian cookies & snacks. National award winning life insurance agent Amir Dodhiya gave away cricket bats.

Ali Shekhani for Constable Precinct 3 gave away $2000 in gift cards to the most colored folks in the audience. In an era of gouging prices, it was incredulous that Bob’s Lounge / Lopes Lounge gave away over 10,000 bottles of water.

Following a tradition of community organizations involvement, Gujarati Samaj of Houston managed the official color booth - organic skin safe Holi powder in bright colors - red, pink, orange, yellow, and neon green. India Culture Center & Intl Hindi Association sold modern pichkariswater guns - with Water Monsters stationed conveniently next door. HGH featured Rice University Students who spread awareness about early Cancer Screening.

introduced a delicious fusion potato on a stick, and everything was completely sold out by 3PM. “We ran to the restaurant to stock and again sold out a second time… what a crazy rush!”

By 2pm there was so much color in the air that the sky looked was covered in pink clouds. The scene was just magical. Is this how Radha & Krishna felt when they were playing Holi & the gods showered colors upon them? Local deputies did a great job to try and move the chocker blocked traffic, although many arriving after 1 struggled to

The Thakkar’s faced many challenges moving Houston Holi to a new venue and new date just 28 days prior to March 4th. Without Divine support especially for the beautiful weather, and the Crazy Masala Crew, it just wouldn’t have turned into the best Festival of Colors ever! Kudos to: Office Management: Rinku, Bhavisha, Rishi, Chaitali, Aahil & Jigzz. Event: Ruchir, Ninad, Mrugesh, Dinesh, Alisha & Simran T. Ticketing: Sangeeta, Lauquel, Amit, Vyoma, Shivangi, Sonal & Jyotsana. Stage: Haroon, Yumna, Dilip, Suji, Rajoo, Josh, Anish, Sahil, Mehran, Shilpi, Harshin, Priyanshi, Simran J & Esha. Radio Jockeys: Priya, Ina, Pankti Bijal. Photo & Video: Gaurav Hariyani Studios. Photos & Videos will be updated on / Facebook & Instagram MasalaRadio98.7FM.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 10, 2023 • March 10, 2023 2 HOUSTON HOLI 2023
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Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 10, 2023 • March 10, 2023 5 IN MEMORIUM 832-766-6662 SONY KOHLI YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT Report animal cruelty at 927PAWS.ORG or call (832) 927-PAWS Prosecuting animal abusers is a priority for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. We are members of the Harris County Animal Cruelty Taskforce, and we need your help to keep animals safe. pets are FAMILY
Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 10, 2023 • March 10, 2023 6


JK Yog’s Grand Holi Fest in Houston on 12th March at India House

Houston: JKYog Houston invites all to celebrate Holi Festival, an afternoon of fun, color play with organic colors, dancing, live music, shopping, and mouthwatering food on Sunday March 12th, 2023, from 11 am to 4 pm, in the outdoor grounds of India House, 8888 W Bellfort Ave, Houston, TX 77031.

From small children to adults of all ages, there will something to be enjoyed by everyone, cheered on by the Live Concert by Bollywood stars Harry Anand and Aditi Singh Sharma. But best of all, 100% of the proceeds from this celebration will fund JKYog’s charitable initiatives for Education and Healthcare for the under-privileged.

So come & join the Holi Fest. Have fun, be merry with Organic Color Play, enjoy the DJ, Dancing, Desi Bazaar, Carnival Rides, Fashion Shows & More. Details at

In addition, the star attractions of this festival will be Live Music with Harry Anand & Aditi Singh Sharma.

Harry Anand is a 13-time Award winning Bollywood Music Producer / Singer / Song Writer / Video Director, with music for twenty-three films. He is also known as Remix King for his re-


Aditi Singh Sharma is a Bollywood’s Indian Playback Singer. She has performed multiple LIVE Concerts. Some of her biggest hits include Dhoom Machale Dhoom, Dhoom 3, Ki & Ka, Veere Di Wedding, Teraa Surroor, & more.

JKYog is a Nonprofit 501c (3) Organization. The organization’s core philosophy is to transform lives through mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. The global mission of JKYog is committed to the spiritual and material needs of society. https://www.

Come & celebrate not only the joy of Spring with an afternoon filled with colorful festivities, but one of hope and opportunity for many, as it is also a mega charity event for education and healthcare for the under-privileged.

Event Date and Time: Sunday March 12th, 2023, 11 am to 4 pm

Venue: Outdoor grounds of India House, 8888 W Bellfort Ave, Houston, TX 77031

Tickets: $10, parking is Free. Available on at https://www. & & Eventbrite. Contact: (832) 871-2320, (281) 630-5982

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 10, 2023 • March 10, 2023 7


Unique Violin–Viola Duet Vibrant Varnam to Tantalizing Tri-llana

Houston: The Classical Arts Society of Houston opened their 2023 season with a grand concert. The Houston music lovers were gifted with a treat, nay, a double treat of sorts: A Violin and Viola Duet by Sri Vittal Ramamurthy on the violin and Sri VVS Murari on the Viola. They were accompanied by two percussionists, Sri Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan on the Mridangam and Sri Guruprasad on the Ghatam.

The concert was held on February 25th at the Sri Meenakshi Temple and drew a large audience of over 250 Rasikas. CAS President Mrs. Nalini Sadagopan warmly welcomed and introduced the very eminent artists and founder member Mrs. Prabha Bala spoke fondly of the long association of Vittal sir and his sister Smt. Rajarajeshwary Bhat with the Houston Music circles. They have been an integral part of the Houston circles for over three decades and associated with CAS almost from its inception. So, to have Vittal Sir’s full-length concert and in an unusual format of a violinviola duet was truly special. Both these stringed instruments are usually seen in a western music orchestra, but in the hands of these stalwarts, it was evident how beautifully the combination was adapted to Carnatic music. The one octave difference (the violin being one octave higher than the viola) produced a somewhat symphonic quality with the

sweet notes from the violin being complemented by the filling base of the viola. The subtle harmonies played by Sri VVS Murari on the viola did not take away from the traditional ambiance of a Kutcheri ; it in fact elevated the overall sound effect making the audience feel they were listening to an orchestra at times.

The concert commenced with the Bhairavi Ata Tala Varnam Viribhoni, followed by the evergreen Vatapi Ganapathim in Hamsadwani. The energetic Kalpana

swara exchanges were so enjoyable. In Marugelara , one could almost hear the lyrics, imploring Raghava to show His form and not be hidden.

The next item in Varali ,Maamava Meenakshi was presented only by Sri Murari on the Viola. The Alapana explored in the deep registers of the viola was mystical.

The kriti, chosen especially for the temples’ presiding deity ,was presented with great feeling and sensitivity making it truly soulfu.

Mysore Vasudevachaarya’s com-

position in Abheri Bhajare Re Manasa was as elegant and unhurried as Shobillu Saptaswara was brisk. The sound quality experienced here was that of an orchestra with the two octaves complementing so beautifully. The two percussionists added majestically to that symphonic feeling.

Saint Tyagrajas grand composition of O Rangasayee in Kambhoji was the main piece and it was truly grand. It was presentenced in a leisurely pace, each artist adding beauty and embellishment to an

already exquisite jewel. There was smooth progression and exchanges of each signature phrase of the ragam by the artists.

While Vittal Ramamurthy painted the outlines and shades unhurriedly, VVS Murari filled in the intricate details with long breathless phrases. The Kalpana Swarams to Bhuloka Vaikuntam were masterful; the intricate alternating patterns between chatusra and tisra nadais were engaging; koraipu on the daivatham and final korvais in three speeds had the audience rivetted and enthralled.

The Mridangam and Ghatam exchanges by Thiruvarur Vaidynathan and Guruprasad were vibrant ,crisp and engaging. The audience responded with thunderous applause at the end of the percussion ‘thani’. There was complete understanding between these two artists and their modulations truly enhanced the whole experience.

The popular compositions Manasa Sancharare, Jagadodharana, and Baro Krishnayya were so soothing and sweet both in their familiarity and rendition.

The concert concluded with a unique Tillana presentation. Three of Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman’s Tillanas were combined seamlessly into one. Starting with the melting Madhuvanti thillana, they traditioned into the dreamy Desh and moved onto to soulful Sindhubhairavi. It was such a rich and fulfilling rounding off to a memorable concert. The audience was on their feet, cheering, applauding.

The Tri-llana was a Thrill-ana.

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Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 10, 2023 • March 10, 2023 8 COMMUNITY
Shrividya Sridhar (left), Anjana Siddharth, Sesh Bala, Sri Guruprasad, Sri Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan, Nalini Sadagopan, Prabha Bala, Rajarajeshwary Bhat, Sri Vittal Ramamurthy, Sri VVS Murari, Sudha Mani, Vatsa Kumar.


Indo American Association Presents Berklee Indian Ensemble: The Shuruaat

Houston: The Berklee Indian Ensemble is bringing its genrebending sound to Houston for the first time ever! Fresh off the release of their GRAMMY nominated debut album, Shuruaat, the Ensemble is on the road with a slate of originals, new arrangements, songs from the album, and, of course, audience favorite classics. Join some of the Ensemble’s most recognizable faces for an evening of joy, celebration, laughs, and of course, incredible music.

The Ensemble was founded in 2011 by Annette Philip, the first Indian music faculty member at the Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA). It is a world renowned collective known for honoring its Indian roots while boldly experimenting with a cross-pollination of genres, and multi-disciplinary art. The ensemble boasts over 300 million YouTube views and has organically transitioned from a university ensemble to a professional band.

Featuring over 400 students and alumni from 52 nations, the ensemble has collaborated with some of the world’s most celebrated musicians such as Pt. Zakir Hussain and A.R. Rahman.

In a world that is highly divided, Philip sees the band’s function as one of building bridges; a freewheeling approach to musical

cultures that prioritizes the people who make them, rather than the restrictions of genre or form. “There is a unique power when musicians from different cultural and musical backgrounds make art together with vulnerability and openness in a space that celebrates their similarities and differences….The mu-

sic that gets created in this space comes across viscerally and allows a song in a foreign language to feel completely relatable because of the human connection, making you want to be part of it.”

The Indo-American Association of Houston (IAA) is the area’s longest running nonprofit arts organization with a mission to preserve and promote the performing arts of the Indian subcontinent. Now in its 30th season, it provides a platform for world-renowned artists as well as emerging artists in venues such as the Wortham Center, Brown Auditorium, Hobby Centre, MATCH, Asia Society and Stafford Civic Center. Over the years, IAA has built a reputation of fostering the

appreciation of performing arts within the diverse Houston community.

Upcoming Events

SUMI: Tuesday, April 11. IAA in partnership with PrathamUSA present this special event showcasing an inspiring story on the topic of rural education in Maharashtra, India. It is a family friendly event and age appropriate from children over 6 years of age. This screening will be in Hindi with English subtitles. Producer Harshall Kamat will be at the event for a live Q&A and meet and greet after the event.

Set in rural India, Sumi is an “optimistic and inspiring tale” of a 12-year-old underprivileged

Sumati, who dreams of getting a bicycle to commute to her school many miles away from her village.

To meet her modest need, she embarks on an extraordinary journey marked by struggle, ambition, commitment and friendship.

Sumi is the winner of two National Film Awards (India): Best Children’s Film and Best Child Artist

This event will be held at The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Brown Auditorium. Reservations are required for this event and registration will open in early March.

IN CONVERSATION: Saturday, April 22 @ 6:00 PM masterclass; 7:30 PM, recital

Partha Bose, Sitar with Indranil Mallick, tabla. Pre-concert demonstration, masterclass and discussion followed by a full recital at University of Houston, Dudley Recital Hall

A globally acknowledged maestro, with a flair for cross-cultural outreach, presents a Sitar recital with an interactive, one-of-a-kind masterclass and artistic discussion preceding the event.

From “Sa to Sa”, Saturday, May 13.

Kaushiki Chakraborty, Ut. Murad Ali Khan, Sarangi, Yashwant Vaishnav, Tabla. Tanmay Deochake, Harmonium, at Cullen Theater, Wortham Center at 7:30 pm.

One of India’s jewels of classical music and a continuously rising star. She was the 2020 recipient of the Nari Shakti Puraskar (national award for women’s empowerment), her music and vocal prowess is known world-wide, and she is the torchbearer of the Patiala tradition.

Visit for more information.

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Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 10, 2023 • March 10, 2023 10

‘Gulmohar’: Family Drama with Sharmila, Manoj

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What turns a house into a home?

Ironically, Gulmohar tries to find an answer to this just when the Batra family is moving out of their plush Delhi bungalow, which is going to be knocked down to make way for a high-rise.

When we meet the Batras the night before they have to evict their family home, the interpersonal relationships are frayed. They are caught unaware as distance between them has crept up. They are dealing with ego-tussles as well as the struggle to find their own space and identity. These issues eventually come to the surface, forcing the family in transition to confront them.

Such a setting is not new. What gives the story of a dysfunctional family, with their secrets, a refreshing touch is the presence of stalwarts like Sharmila Tagore and Manoj Bajpayee, who are cast together in a film for the first time. Who better than Tagore to essay the role of Kusum, who makes her

own choices, doesn’t kowtow to social expectations, wants to get rid of family responsibilities, and likes to savour a glass of brandy at family gatherings. The veteran actor brings her grace and experience to portray Kusum, marking her return on screen after a decade.

It is not surprising that Bajpayee as Aroon drives the engrossing family drama with his riveting performance of a man in his 50s. He is a devoted son and harrowed father.

It is not Aroon’s anxiety but his inability to come to terms with his past that keeps him on the edge.

Some of Bajpayee’s best scenes are with Tagore as they go through old albums looking at their family photos together.

Or, when he mumbles that she should go slow with brandy even though he never questions any of her decisions. Bajpayee’s performance is ably aided by Simran, who makes the character of Indira, his on-screen wife, relatable. As Indira, she is holding everything together even when they seem to be falling apart. It’s good to have Simran back in a Hindi film, playing a meaty role. -- Indian Express

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Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mArch 10, 2023 • March 10, 2023 11 ENTERTAINMENT
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