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OHANA 8 embarks on mission to make UK homes and businesses digital-ready

With its headquarters located in London, OHANA 8 employs 10 staff with brand ambassadors spread across major cities in the UK.

Asian businesses in Birmingham are set to benefit from faster broadband and become digital-ready, thanks to OHANA 8, one of Britain’s fastest-growing telecommunications provider.

The proactive move is part of OHANA 8’s mission to raise awareness of phone companies’ intent to withdraw the existing analogue system, called the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) by the end of next year.

The withdrawal of the PSTN, which is an ageing network that is becoming harder and more expensive to maintain, is industry-led.

Business leaders are due to meet in Birmingham’s China Town next week to sign a Memorandum of Understanding which is being led by OHANA 8’s Managing Director, Steven Pun.

Mr Pun, who has worked in the digital sector in the UK and abroad for over 20 years, said:

“We aim to revolutionise the way businesses connect with their customers and drive growth. We are committed to providing innovative solutions that go beyond the ordinary, inspiring progress and setting new standards in the telecommunications industry.”

Mr Pun’s ultimate desire is to create an affordable social tariff, particularly for home-users, low-income families and owners of small-to-medium-sized businesses.

“By working smartly and collaboratively we can help each other. In society there is enough for our need, but not our greed. I want to focus on the former and give back to those who need it most,“ added Mr Pun.

Mr Pun’s ambition aligns with that of the West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street.

“Digital is vital to the continued success of the West Midlands economy because it is the golden thread across all the industries which will provide jobs in the 21st century,” said Mr Street.

With its headquarters located in London, OHANA 8 employs 10 staff with brand ambassadors spread across major cities in the UK.

OHANA 8 is keen to partner with leaders and organisations in the UK who wish to help their respective communities.

Two leaders in the Midlands who have been impressed by the outstanding customer service and product offer from OHANA 8 are Ken Tong and Irene Chu, from Birmingham Chinatown Business Association and Birmingham Chinese Society, respectively.

In a joint statement, Ken and Irene said:

“We remain staunchly committed to looking after decent, law-abiding and hardworking citizens and their families. Cash is tight for many. Not everybody can afford faster broadband. But OHANA 8 has proved to us that it puts people’s digital need ahead of profits and we fully endorse this approach and outlook which is desperately needed in these challenging times.”

OHANA 8 aspires to be more than just a telecommunications company. It aims to bridge the gap between buyers and sellers, forging even stronger connections and networks that empower people and communities from all nationalities to thrive. Its vision is to revolutionise the way businesses connect with their customers and drive growth, setting new standards in the UK telecommunications industry.

Events Films London News

Kaushik Ray’s Poignant Short Film ‘The Lime Green Shirt’ Premiered At BFI Flare 2024

Lime Green Shirt, which premiered under the ‘Tender-hearted’ category on Saturday 23rd March and Sunday 24th March 2024 at BFI Southbank. Jointly produced by Ray’s own production house, Taran Tantra Telefilms with Neeraj Churi alongside Berlinale Talent Pooja Chauhan (Goldfish). A feature by columnist Riccha Grrover for Asian Lite International

The 16-minute short, picturised in the English language with Bengali, revolves around Saraswati Sinha (Lillete Dubey, Monsoon Wedding), a retired and widowed doctor, who lives alone in Richmond, North Yorkshire. Desperate to reconnect with her son Akash (Kush Khanna, Boogie Man), with whom she has become estranged over the years, Saraswati travels to London to stay with him. A successful trader with a stylish Penthouse apartment, Akash seems to have it all. Yet, beneath the veneer of success, he is plagued by deep-seated traumas and crippling self-doubt, which he blames on his strict upbringing by an unforgiving mother who demanded academic greatness at the expense of his passion for music.

As the unintended consequences of her authoritarian parenting become painfully clear, Saraswati realises she must confront her fears and transgenerational traumas if she wants to rebuild a relationship with the son she barely knows.

Inspired by a true incident in the filmmaker’s life, the picture was shot last year, with two original songs written by Kaushik and the lead actor Kush. The poetic storytelling is inspired by social realism of filmmakers like Mike Leigh and the humanism/colour palettes of Satyajit Ray. Therefore, he has the flair of exploring the middle classes, with a key focus on the British Asian queer community. This influence is also mirrored in masterpieces by idol visionaries like Pedro Almodóvar.

“The Lime Green Shirt in many ways is my own origin story. At its heart is the kernel of my own truth, albeit its retelling is fictionalised. I am fascinated by the balance of fact and fiction, and have always found myself drawn to human drama that explores the nuance and space between the black and white. Life is filled with contradictions, and I embrace them. I look for the rainbows in the grey. As a filmmaker it is essential to me that I to equip my wider team with female and QPOC cast and crew, with a deliberate view to bring diversity into storytelling,” Kaushik said.

“BFI Flare has such a special place in my heart. The first short I co-produced, Muhafiz (The Protector), premiered in 2022, and that’s where I met the producer of The Lime Green Shirt. So to have my first film as writer/director debut there, feels super special. Towards the end of my legal career, I started supporting queer Indian filmmakers in telling interesting stories, as a producer. My film is based in London (as am I), so it’s sort of a homecoming for me,” he added.

The Lime Green Shirt marks Kaushik’s first film as writer/director. His feature debut A Life A Rose is being produced by French production house Backup Media and Bombay Berlin Film Productions Limited, with leading Indian actress Deepti Naval (Lion) in the main role. This same-sex love story between two septuagenarian Indian women was ground-breaking in its scope.

Kaushik Ray – Taran Tantra Telefilms (Director)
Following a 20-year career as an international development lawyer, British-born Kaushik Ray runs a small film production company ( focusing on South Asian LGBTQ+ content, in particular stories about intersectional prejudice in minority communities.

Pooja Chauhan (Producer)
Berlinale Talent Pooja Chauhan trained at New York Film Academy and won the VFF Talent Highlight and Arté Kino Awards for her project Girls will be Girls.

Neeraj Churi (Producer)
Neeraj is the founder and owner of Lotus Visual Productions ( which provides a medium for performance artists and filmmakers via sponsorships, grants, and production opportunities to express their creativity towards generating vibrant and dynamic conversations.

The organisation strongly believes in the power of our creative projects to foster better understanding and bridge-building between communities while encouraging aspiring filmmakers and artists to bring their creative vision to reality, pushing the envelope on social taboos and acceptance.

The focus is on bringing stories of the South Asian LGBTQ+ community worldwide to the screen via a broad array of projects ranging from feature films, feature-length documentaries, short films, short docs, and social media projects. With active projects in various stages of production in India and the UK, strives for a robust and authentic representation of LGBTQ+ experiences on screen and provide opportunities for community members on and off the screen. They also promote South Asian Queer cinema by organising theatrical screenings in the UK and curating films for film festivals and corporate screenings.

ALSO READ: Tathagata Ghosh’s Short Film ‘IF’ World Premiere At BFI Flare, London

Events Films London News

Tathagata Ghosh’s Short Film ‘IF’ World Premiere At BFI Flare, London

The prestigious BFI Flare 38th edition took place at BFI Southbank and on BFI Player in March 2024. The biggest LGBTQIA+ film festival in Europe, celebrates the best of queer cinema from around the globe. This year in particular featured fantastic content from South Asian filmmakers, including British South Asian filmmakers. A feature by columnist Riccha Grrover for Asian Lite International

The short film IFby acclaimed Bengali filmmaker Tathagata Ghosh is a 26-minute short tells the story of a lesbian couple who are torn apart because of an arranged marriage, but with a mother’s love, perhaps another future is possible. 

If’ starring Adrija Majumdar, Shivamrita Chakraborty, Bimal Giri, Paromita Mukherjee and Ranodeep Nandy is based on “people and incidents around me, I wanted to search for love in the darkness the film sheds light on-the challenges faced by queer individuals. My film is my cry of anguish in these troubled times. A cry which I hope will be heard and won over by love,” says Ghosh.

Director & Producer: Tathagata Ghosh

Writer: Buan G.

Cast: Adrija Majumdar, Shivamrita Chakraborty, Bimal Giri, Paromita Mukherjee, Ranodeep Nandy, Bina Ghosh

DOP: Sayan Biswas

Editor & DI Colorist: Amir Mondal

Sound Design & Film Mix: Anindit Roy, Adeep Singh Manki

Music: Nabarun Bose

Logo & Poster: Debanjana Haldar

Director’s Associate: Sanbarta Ghosh

Chief Assistant Director: Ashish Dubey

This is a film which is short in running time but mighty in impact. Excellent Acting, a crisp script, precise editing and seriously excellent Direction. This film is gripping also moving and is a must-watch. 

About the Director: A Berlinale Talents alumnus, Tathagata has always believed in telling stories of people from different social backgrounds. People who do not have a voice of their own. Tathagata has written for various leading web film magazines as well about cinema and film making. His Bengali detective novel “Senilar Sonket” got published in the 40th Kolkata International Book Fair in February 2016. He has also directed numerous commercials, music videos and written screenplays for several projects. His last short films “Miss Man”, “Footprints”, “The Scapegoat”, “The Meat” and “The Demon” have travelled to numerous prestigious international film festivals and have won several awards. Filmography: The Demon (2018), Miss Man (2019), The Meat (2020), The Scapegoat (2021), Footprints (2023), If (2024).

ALSO READ: Kaushik Ray’s Poignant Short Film ‘The Lime Green Shirt’ Premiered At BFI Flare 2024

India News Lite Blogs London News

Multilingual presentations at House of Lords for World Poetry Day

The event titled ‘Jalaanjali’ celebrated cultural and linguistic expressions of India and South Asia, aligning with Sustainable Development Goals and marking World Water Day simultaneously.

Sanskruti Centre for Cultural Excellence has organised World Poetry Day at the House of Lords recently. Poems, songs, and dances in 20 languages were presented on the occasion, as the day fosters the convergence between poetry and arts.  Hosted by Rt. Hon. Lord Dholakia, Deputy Leader of the House, the event titled Jalaanjali celebrated cultural and linguistic expressions of India and South Asia, aligning with Sustainable Development Goals and marking World Water Day simultaneously.

Opening words were rendered by Lord Dholakia, who reiterated on the importance of celebrating different aspects of culture. Concept Note was presented by Ragasudha Vinjamuri, Founder of Sanskruti Centre, followed by dance on Sanskrit lyrics by young artists (Meera, Shravani, Sai Samruddhi, Sucheta and Yoshita) and by Medhavini, a Post-Graduate in dance from Bangalore University who danced on a composition which asks to bring rain to drought affected areas.

Poems, Songs and Dances were presented by Gita Cox (Assamese), Sreyashi Deb Roy (Bengali-Rabindra Nritya), Isra Abdulla (Divehi- Maldivian), Yasha Bhan (Dogri), Vibhuti Shah (Gujarati Garba), Dr Krishna Patel (Gujarati poem), Richa Jain(Hindi), Virender Choudhry (Himachali), Yashas Iyengar (Kannada), Dr Bernadette Pereira (Konkani-accompanied by Leonardo on Ghumot and Paulo on Guitar), Cllr. Sharad Kumar Jha (Maithili), Lakshmi Pillai (Malayalam), Swapnil Jagtap (Marathi), Leina Moirangthem (Meitei), Acharya Durga Pokhrel (Nepalese), Bhagyashree Singh (Odia), Manpreet Maycock (Punjabi poem written by Major Munish Chauhan), Sushil Rapatwar (Sanskrit), Renu Gidoomal (Sindhi), Dr Chandeera Gunawardena (Sinhalese), and Ragasudha Vinjamuri (Telugu).

Lifestyle Lite Blogs London News

Benchmark in a Hair-Salon experience: The House of Keune by Bloom, London

House of Keune by Bloom represents a pinnacle of collaboration between Bloom Lifestyle salons and the esteemed 100-year-old brand, Keune. Nestled in the heart of Holborn, central London, their stunning flagship salon stands as a testament to the fusion of talent and expertise. Initially rooted in Scotland, Bloom has now spread its wings to London, bolstering Keune’s presence in the UK market. Situated within the cutting-edge headquarters alongside the Keune Academy, House of Keune by Bloom offers unparalleled guest care and a commitment to excellence. A feature by lifestyle columnist Riccha Grrover for Asian Lite International.

Bloom is built around a talented team of hair and beauty professionals across the UK.

Sheona Forrest. Director, Bloom Lifestyle said, “Bloom is located within the new state-of-the-art headquarters alongside the Keune Academy which educates its network of UK salons. Working with Keune is an amazing opportunity to extend the Bloom brand into the rest of the UK, beginning in the iconic London location of The House of Keune.”

JR Slane. Creative Director & Partner, Bloom Lifestyle went on to say that “I am so proud to be Creative Director and salon partner at the House of Keune by Bloom in Holborn, London. My extensive experience as a technical cutting specialist, educator and session stylist ensures I can help grow and develop our amazing Bloom team in London. I’m so excited to bring passion and knowledge of haircare to this iconic building, and can’t wait to welcome our guests..”

Discerning clients who are looking for this experience can book their complimentary consultation with a Bloom London colour specialist for expert professional advice. With hundreds of colour combinations Keune Color can give you the healthy, personalised colour that will resonate with a variety of different people and choices.

Whether you want a classic style, fashion-forward update or a reshape, those wanting to try them out can book a pre-appointment complimentary consultation with one of their talented hair styling team. In the heart of Holborn, London, The House of Keune by Bloom also offers timeless grooming, tailored to men with a full range of services – from haircuts and restyles to traditional shaves and hair styling.

All their men’s grooming services include a luxury shampoo experience with massage and hot towel. For styling they use 1922 by J.M. Keune – a collection of timeless grooming staples. By creating beauty sustainably, they encourage people to take care of themselves, of the environment in which they live and work, and of the things they love, their gorgeously displayed amazing line of products can be purchased at the salon for home use .

Whether you want a style overhaul or a quick trim, the House of Keune by Bloom not only looks gorgeous with its bright, modern and inviting interiors, it has top of the class staff, who prioritise attention to detail whether colour, cutting or styling hair. It’s not about cookie cutter looks here, the experts listen to what you want and execute it in the most flattering way.

The salon is also committed to sustainability with the programme Keune Cares, and only uses environmentally responsible haircare and colouring products.

For one-of-a-kind hair salon experience visit The House of Keune by Bloom. You can be assured of a warm welcome, a meaningful consultation where you will feel heard about your needs for your hair with attention to detail, a deluxe hairwash experience with inclining massage chairs so you feel fully relaxed, an efficient haircut and style or even a hair redesign for a new look with a hair colour too. They have a menu of hair treatments too for hair and even scalp. Chilled water or Prosecco or a hot drink too is offered to sip on while your hair is being pampered! Highly Recommended!

ALSO READ: Artistic and Delectable Botanical Afternoon Tea Experience: Marriott Park Lane, London

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Putin Vows Retribution

Stressing that Russia expects other nations to cooperate with them, Putin said that terrorists have no nationality and there is no future for them…reports Asian Lite News

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to punish terrorists after they carried out an attack at the Crocus City Hall music venue in the city of Krasnogorsk, near Moscow, on Friday evening (local time), which claimed 115 lives.

In his televised address to the nation posted by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on X, Putin said, “Our people, our children, just like the Nazis that once killed our people during the war. They do the same. All the orchestrators, all those who are responsible for this crime will inevitably be found responsible, they will pay. We will identify everyone who stands behind these terrorists and they will pay. This is a strike against Russia.”

He said that Russia will investigate the terrorist attack and added that all four perpetrators who were directly involved in the attack were apprehended. He asserted that the investigative authorities will make every effort to identify the details of the attack. Russian President said that these criminals went specifically to kill people, point black.

Putin said, “We will investigate this terrorist attack and we already have some results. All the four perpetrators, who were directly involved who were gunning people down, killing people. They were found and apprehended. They tried to escape. They were moving towards the border with Ukraine and we have data that suggests that they were about to be moved towards the territory of Ukraine by those in Ukraine.”

“Our military services, our emergency services, our investigators are working on finding out the orchestrators of this terrorist attack, those who gave them transportation, who gave them weapons, etc. The investigative authorities will do everything to identify all details of this crime. But it’s already evident that we face not just a cynically organized terrorist attack, but a massive mass killing of civilians. These perpetrators, these criminals went specifically to kill, to kill people, point blank,” he added.

Stressing that Russia expects other nations to cooperate with them, Putin said that terrorists have no nationality and there is no future for them. He called on the people of Russia to stand united.

He said, “We know what terrorist threat means, and we expect that other nations that share our pain will cooperate with us, and we will stand united against this common enemy, international terrorism. No matter where it shows its ugly head, these terrorists have no nationality, and there is only one future for them – retribution and oblivion. Our duty right now, our common duty right now is to stand together, to stand united, and I believe we will stand together.”

“Nobody can divide us, can undermine our common strength nation of Russia’s nation or sought discord in our multinational society. Russia has faced a lot of challenges in its history, terrible challenges, but it always came out stronger, and this will be the same this time,” he added.

Following the deadly firing at the Crocus City concert hall near Moscow, Russia’s Investigative Committee has claimed that the death toll has been confirmed at 115 people and warned that this figure is likely to rise, Russian state news agency, RT News reported on Saturday.

“According to preliminary data, the causes of death were gunshot wounds and poisoning by combustion products (smoke inhalation),” investigators said, adding that they are continuing to establish all the details of the attack by analysing evidence at the scene, going through CCTV footage and taking statements from the victims.

The service had previously stated that the death toll was 93, but later issued an update announcing that additional bodies were found after emergency services started clearing the rubble.

The Moscow Region Health Ministry had also previously reported that there were at least three children among the deceased.

Meanwhile, the Russian intelligence agencies detained 11 people, including four ‘terrorists’, who they claimed were ‘directly’ involved in a terrorist attack on the Crocus City Hall, TASS reported citing Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) statement on Saturday.

“The activities of intelligence and law enforcement agencies have resulted in the detention of 11 people, including four terrorists, who directly participated in the terrorist attack on the Crocus City Hall,” the statement read.

The tragic events unfolded on Friday evening at Crocus City Hall in Krasnogorsk, on the western outskirts of the Russian capital. The concert venue, with an estimated capacity of 7,500, was almost full when the terrorists struck. The assault took place ahead of a performance by the Russian rock band Picnic, RT news agency reported.

According to the mobile phone footage and eyewitness accounts, at least five gunmen wearing military-style gear and carrying assault rifles first opened fire at unarmed security guards at the main entrance to the venue. They then proceeded to shoot indiscriminately at the fleeing crowd of panicked visitors.Once the terrorists reached the concert hall, they appeared to set fire to rows of chairs inside, with the blaze quickly engulfing much of the building, including its roof.

Investigators have stated that preliminary findings based on evidence at the scene appear to confirm that the terrorists used automatic weapons during the attack, and used some sort of flammable liquid to set fire to the premises.

The Investigative Committee said it is now carrying out ballistic, genetic, and fingerprint analysis based on the material evidence found at the scene. Meanwhile, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) Aleksandr Bortnikov has informed President Vladimir Putin that eleven suspects, including four terrorists who were directly involved in the Crocus attack, have been detained, the Kremlin press service has said.

The ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack at the concert venue complex near Moscow on Friday night after assailants stormed the venue with guns and incendiary devices, CNN reported. (ANI)

ALSO READ-‘Putin wants to blame Ukraine for Moscow attack’

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Sadiq promises 40,000 new London council homes  

The target is double that Khan set himself between 2018 and 2024 and which was achieved last year, when it was confirmed that work had started on 23,000 homes…reports Asian Lite News

Sadiq Khan launched his campaign for a record third term as mayor of London by promising the “greatest council homebuilding drive in a generation” and defending his ultra-low emission zone for London.

Appearing at an event in London on Monday, alongside the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, with whom the mayor has had public policy clashes in recent months, Khan promised to complete 40,000 new homes by 2030.

The target is double that Khan set himself between 2018 and 2024 and which was achieved last year, when it was confirmed that work had started on 23,000 homes.

He also defended his controversial his ultra-low emission zone for London under which motorists must pay £12.50 a day to drive a non-compliant car.

“When we first planned to bring it in in central London, there were people who were hostile and anti”, Khan said. “It came in and the sky didn’t collapse. We then expanded it to inner London, lots of complaints and concerns and by the way the Tories have been consistent in opposing it at all levels, the sky didn’t fall in.

“We then expanded it to outer London and here’s the great news – 19 out of 20 cars seen travelling on an average day are compliant… they don’t pay a penny more.”

The housing focus of Khan’s campaign is an acknowledgment of the scale of the problem in the capital, with more than 300,000 households on the waiting list for social housing. Rough sleeping has increased by 50% in the last decade.

Should Khan be re-elected on 2 May, he would be the first person to achieve three terms as mayor since the directly elected position was created in 2000.

Khan claimed that upcoming mayoral contest would be the “closest ever”, although his Conservative rival Susan Hall, a London assembly member, has struggled to build a profile.

According to the Sunday Times, friends of Corbyn, who lost the Labour whip three years ago over his response to an Equality and Human Rights Commission report, recently asked a printing company about the cost of producing election leaflets for him in the constituency of North Islington.

Speaking alongside the London mayor, Starmer said the choice facing the electorate was between “chaos and division with the Tories, or unity and hope with Labour”.

Starmer clashed with Khan last October when the London mayor called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as the Labour leader was demanding a “humanitarian pause” to allow in aid.

The Labour leader had also criticised Khan over his ultra-low emission zone for London, suggesting it would have a disproportionate impact on people “in the middle of the cost of living crisis”.

Despite the past disputes, Starmer claimed that “from more police on the streets, being on the side of Londoners in the cost of living crisis and delivering the most council houses since the 1970s, Sadiq’s achievements as mayor of London over the last eight years have transformed our communities.”

“This is the difference Labour makes when in power,” he said.

Khan, in turn, suggested that it would be in London’s interest for City Hall and Downing Street to be run by Labour, presenting a “once in a generation opportunity to make real inroads into solving London’s housing crisis”.

He claimed he could have gone “much further, much faster” without a Tory government “holding us back”. He said: “We saw it when the last home secretary claimed homelessness is, quote, a lifestyle choice. We saw it last week when the latest housing minister said housing is never really the problem.

“And I’m under no illusion about the scale. The challenge has been decades in the making, but with political will, it can be overcome.”

Meanwhile, a combination of new migration and the return of people who left London during the Covid-19 pandemic has boosted the UK capital’s population, which is “now likely to be well above” its pre-pandemic high of 10.1 million people, a report from Centre for Cities shows.

The think tank notes that London’s population fell during the pandemic, but “bounced back strongly after pandemic restrictions ended and is now almost certainly higher than it has ever been”.

“The population dip during Covid was considerably smaller than the figures in the hundreds of thousands that some predicted,” said Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities.

“The big challenges associated with London remain. London’s infrastructure is creaking under the weight of its population.

“Policymakers have to shake off any assumption that population changes mean questions over the housing shortage and infrastructure will solve themselves. Nor will smaller, less affluent places see huge influxes of professional workers with greater spending power.”

Figures for 2023 have not been calculated yet, but Centre for Cities predicts that with the influx of people in 2022, London’s population has passed its pre-pandemic peak of more than 10.1 million.

ALSO READ-PTI’s Gandapur Grabs K-P CM, PMLN’s Ayaz Sadiq Sits as NA Speaker

Arts & Culture Lite Blogs London News

Colourful musical encourages us to be proud of who we are

 ‘Bhangra Nation explores how we see ourselves and how we view others’

Bhangra Nation is an uplifting, moving and funny new musical about friendship, family, rivalry and identity, brought to life with boundless energy and joy, incredible dance moves and a truly bhangin’ soundtrack. Originally called Bhangin’ It, this musical was premiered in San Diego in 2022.

As the Uni Bhangra dance team wait nervously backstage to find out if they’ve made it to Nationals, the real showdown has already begun as team mates Preeti and Mary clash over what Bhangra really means to them. Whilst Preeti, who is 100% South Asian, believes that the team needs to stick to tradition, Mary, who is bi-racial, is passionate about shaking things up to belong to today.

Stafford Arima (Director) and Rujuta Vaidya (Choreographer). Credit Craig Sugden

When a huge row changes the team forever, students Mary and Preeti start on journeys of discovery into what they stand for and who they want to be.

By focusing on the two students and their different ideals of dance, Bhangra Nation explores how we see ourselves and how we view others.

At the core of this approximately 150-minute musical is a story about how you fit in, according to its Director, Stafford Arima. “I think, no matter if you are British, South Asian, Canadian or whatever, we all struggle on so many levels on how to fit into the world these days,” he added. Asked what excites him about this musical, “that we’re pulling from the community of Birmingham but also introducing to the community of Birmingham new faces and new voices. We’re making it a big kind of soup of different ingredients from different places.”

A house-full audience reflecting multicultural Birmingham, attendees included director Stafford Arima, media representatives including Indy Deol, Satnam Rana, Amit Roy and Boy Chana, relatives of the cast and TV personality Dr Ranj. At the end, the audience took to their feet to applaud the fabulous cast. After the show, VIP guests were treated to drinks and food, the latter provided by Dishoom. Hats off to The REP’s Communications Team, including Aaliyah Collins, Samantha Lyster as well as Nada Zakula.

Local lad’s dream role

For 22-year-old Ajay Sahota, pictured, this is his first time on a professional stage. Ajay, from Great Barr in Birmingham, plays student Gobind. He had never dreamed he would be on stage at The REP, and is enjoying the experience. “I’ve only done amateur musicals at university and at school but I’ve always loved musical theatre and this show is a combination of dancing, singing and the cultural part of being a South Asian in the UK. It’s the perfect opportunity,”

Ajay Sahota

Parambeer Samrai is a bhangra consultant from Walsall. “This show is fostering an understanding of cultural appreciation whether you’re South Asian, black or white,” says Parambeer. “We’re creating a memorable performance for all ages and we want this show to be accessible to anybody and everybody. Bhangra is a super cool dance and music tradition that lots of people in Birmingham enjoy but it’s not just about dancing. It’s about bringing people together and having fun.”

Bhangra Nation runs at Birmingham REP until 16 March. Receive one free teen (aged 13-19) ticket when you book a full priced ticket for a Mon to Thu performance.

India News London News Music

London-based Amol enthralls audience with his Marathi film background score

What is  India’s renowned vocalist  Rahul Deshpande’s debut-making Marathi film Amaltash’s London connection? Rahul Laud seeks the answer

The growing connection between Marathi films and London is demonstrated in the latest Marathi film Amaltash which hit the theatres on 8 March. Reviews for the film are rave. Actor Chinmayi Surve (wife of actor Sumeet Raghavan) has gone on record saying that this film is unique to Marathi films – “a must-watch and a must to be heard in big halls for its rich experience,” she said.  What makes the film  Amaltash so unique? The background score to the entire film plays a significant role and is a character of the film which is composed by London-based Amol Dhadphale with additional music by Johann Matthew and music director Bhushan Mate. The background score, in particular, transcends the cinematic experience as the discerning say it’s not run-of-the-mill, typecast, stereotyped sound usually seen in popular Marathi cinema. Amol was briefed by the producer and director of the film   Suhas Desale who had a clear vision that inspired Amol to watch Japanese anime.  The whole treatment is thus global giving it an international feel and beautifully synced with the images on the editing table. It was a challenging task for Amol to think creatively and compose orchestral music in a way that could resonate with Marathi culture, especially in a scenario where the film didn’t have the budget to use any live instruments. Amol composed and played the entire music out of his studio in London.

 Amol is a London-based film composer, pianist, harmonium player, and an experienced mastering engineer. He has been a practitioner of classical, jazz, and pop music and has performed in over 500 live concerts across the globe. At a recently held concert organised by the SAJDA Festival for Performing Arts, he accompanied on harmonium Koyel Bhattacharya – a disciple of the late Ustad Rashid Khan.  

By profession, Amol is recognized as a senior executive with a background in management consulting and has helped several Fortune 500 companies transform their business. Pune-born, he has lived across the globe in  Tokyo, Amsterdam, Dubai, California, and London.n This has helped Amol to be exposed to the finer nuances of international music and cultures. It’s his passion for music that attracted him to an opportunity to compose film for Amaltash he admits. Amol had met Desale during his visit to Rahul Deshpande’s home in Pune where Amol and Rahul were ‘jamming’ together for a Facebook livestream session. This introduction led to Amol and Suhas working together on the journey of Amaltash. 

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Thousands call for Gaza ceasefire in London march

Labeling protesters on pro-Palestinian marches in the UK as extremists is divisive, “outrageous” and dangerous, Dame Sara Khan has warned…reports Asian Lite News

Thousands of protesters are expected to gather again in central London to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the fifth major pro-Palestine demonstration in the capital so far this year.

Saturday’s protest comes a day after Dame Sara Khan, a UK government adviser on social cohesion, said attempts to portray protesters on pro-Palestinian marches as extremist were “outrageous” and dangerous.

Khan, who is carrying out a review of the resilience of the UK’s democracy for Michael Gove, said such claims risked further dividing the country.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) said its latest march began at noon at Hyde Park Corner and finished at the US embassy in Nine Elms.

The Metropolitan police has provided a map that attenders must follow to avoid being in breach of section 12 of the Public Order Act 2023. A section 14 condition is also in place that requires anyone who was participating in the PSC demo to assemble on the south side of Park Lane.

The force said the protest must end with the crowd dispersing by 5pm and “anyone who fails to comply with these conditions will be dealt with by officers”.

The Met commander Karen Findlay, who will oversee policing across London on Saturday, said: “To minimise the impact of the protest we have consistently used our full range of legal powers over the last five months to manage these protests, and we will be doing so again this weekend.

“We are clearly operating in a context where we understand our Jewish and Muslim communities continue to be highly concerned about antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate crime and their own sense of safety in London. We recognise the very real anxiety and fear of individuals who are worried about perceived or actual threats they are subject to.”

Met officers will again be supported by colleagues from forces across the UK. The force said the protests since October had required 35,464 officer shifts and more than 5,200 officer rest days to be cancelled in addition to costs of £32.3m.

There is also a Million Women Rise demonstration in support of International Women’s Weekend in the capital on Saturday, which includes a rally at Trafalgar Square.

The former home secretary Suella Braverman has been condemned for describing the pro-Palestine demonstrations as “hate marches” and the government’s commissioner for counter-extremism, Robin Simcox, wrote in the Daily Telegraph on Friday that London had been “permitted to be turned into a no-go zone for Jews every weekend”.

Speaking to the Guardian, before Simcox’s comments were published, Khan said: “I think it’s really important that we don’t conflate those protesters, somehow saying or portraying them as somehow as being all extremists.

“What I’ve been really uncomfortable with over the last couple of weeks is the kind of argument that they’re all Islamist extremists on these demonstrations. I think that’s actually outrageous.

“Some are not even pro-Palestinian people, just anti-war.”

The Israeli offensive was launched after the 7 October Hamas attack, which killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

Israeli strikes have killed more than 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza since October, two-thirds of them women and children.

‘Calling pro-Palestine protesters extremists is outrageous’

Labeling protesters on pro-Palestinian marches in the UK extremists is divisive, “outrageous” and dangerous, a government adviser has warned.

Demonstrations against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza have drawn hundreds of thousands of people to the streets of London and other major cities in the UK since Oct. 7 last year.

They have drawn criticism from senior Conservative politicians, including former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who called them “hate marches.”

However, Dame Sara Khan, who is conducting a review into British social coherence and the resilience of democracy, told The Guardian that politicians need to be wary of using divisive rhetoric.

“I think it’s really important that we don’t conflate those protesters, somehow saying or portraying them as somehow as being all extremists,” Khan said.

“What I’ve been really uncomfortable with over the last couple of weeks is the kind of argument that they’re all Islamist extremists on these demonstrations. I think that’s actually outrageous.

“Some are not even pro-Palestinian people, just anti-war. There are clearly Jewish people there, there’s a whole range of people there, and to try to frame these demonstrations as Islamist extremism is completely far-fetched and untrue.”

Last week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claimed that pro-Palestine protests had “descended into intimidation, threats, and planned acts of violence.”

This week, the government’s commissioner for counter-extremism, Robin Simcox, wrote in the Daily Telegraph: “We will not have become an authoritarian state if London is no longer permitted to be turned into a no-go zone for Jews every weekend.”

However, the government’s independent terrorist legislation reviewer, Jonathan Hall KC, warned: “When you’re thinking about something as important as the right to protest, there doesn’t seem to be a solid enough basis for curtailing that because I think we can all think of causes very personal to us that we would want to protest an awful lot and that will make some people very, very unhappy indeed.”

The government is expected to announce a new definition of extremism next week, which will inform what organizations it is allowed to work with.

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