Exclusive WBRi Bangla Radio Interviews, Reviews, Features, Songs, Videos, Biographies of Bangla Artists, Bands and Albums

Interview: Washington DC's Senior Journalist and Actor DEVASISH RAY: "I don't Buy Indian Audience Loves Sensationalism"


Devasish RayDevasish Ray, the well known and deeply respected Bengali American senior print and television journalist and media relations expert, gets candid with Gurjeet Singh in this wide-ranging audio interview. Among numerous recognitions, Ray is a recipient of the Governor of Maryland award for outstanding journalism and is a contributor to NPR, FOX, VOA and BBC. He has served as the bureau chief of TV Asia, Director of Communications at USINPAC, and is the CEO of RAY PR & Media. He also often volunteers to help us out here at Washington Bangla Radio and we are grateful for his time and encouragement. Also known for his expertise in media relations, business relations and public relations strategy, Ray has launched and implemented successful media campaigns and has advised several CEO's on media crisis management. Ray has an MBA and is a consultant to numerous companies and non-profit organizations. He has also been in charge of Development and Training at the Center for Social Change, an organization serving individuals with Developmental Disabilities. Ray put on yet another hat recently - that of a film actor - when he played a lead role in Manan Singh Katohora's award-winning thriller 9 ELEVEN - that too of the mysterious masked man with a booming voice and towering personality in the film.

Curiously, Ray is an accidental journalist - while studying MBA, he started writing for a web portal in the heydeys of the dot-com boom. Among writings he is fond of is one on the great divide between affluent and not-so-affluent south Asian immigrant communities, the latter often composed of folks who overstayed their visas becoming illegal immigrants but still looking to realize the American dream. Titled "The American Dream: Opportunity or Exploitation", the article told the story of three immigrants - one each from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. This article created quite a buzz and was picked up by many American and Indian journals, one of which was The Week from the publication house of Manorama in India who then asked Ray to write for them from the US, thus launching Ray's career as a journalist.

Devasish Ray as the Shooter in Manan Singh Katohora's Bollywood Thriller 9 ElevenRay also talks about Manan Singh Katohora's Bollywood-style independent feature Film "9 Eleven" in which Ray plays the central role - his first stint as an actor. Ray was helping Katohora with auditions for actors for the film when one day Katohora asked Ray to read half a page of the script. Ray did so, and Katohora immediately offered him the role of the mysterious masked man, describing the script and explaining the need for a tall man with a great voice who would come across as commanding a situation. Ray found the script very interesting, and decided to give acting in a film a shot. The results are spectacular as you know if you have watched 9 Eleven.

Do not miss Ray's story of how, being a journalist and not used to canned dialog, he went to shooting the first day without knowing his lines. He realized quickly that he had to actually memorize his lines and get into the character, and the second day onwards it was all good.

Listen to the audio interview with Devasish Ray on WBRi.



Interview: Director Raja Chanda on Bangla Movies JAANEMAN (Soham-Koel), CHALLENGE 2 (Dev-Pooja) and Tollywood Film Industry

Raja Chanda: Kolkata Bangla Movie Writer DirectorFremont, CA, May 17, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) Tollywood Kolkata Bangla movie director Raja Chanda returns to WBRi to chat with Sayantanee Dutt in this exclusive audio interview about his new movie Jaaneman (2012) and his next project CHALLENGE 2 (2012).

Janeman (2012) is Raja Chanda's third Bangla movie after Target and Le Halue Le (previous interview). The film, written by N K Salil, is primarily a Tollywood romance drama featuring Soham as the hero and Koel Mullick as the heroine. Unlike other recent commercial flicks, there is no disapproval from family with the lovers running away. Deba (Soham) and Ria (Koyel Mullick) fall in love at first sight. They draw closer in Kolkata, but neither Deba nor Ria manage to express their feelings - in a way, Jaaneman is a story of unexpressed love. Raja points out there has been no Bengali film along the storyline of Janeman before now.

Raja's next film - CHALLENGE 2 - is about to get into the pre-production phase in a couple of days. A sequel to Raj Chakraborty's 2009 blockbuster "Challenge" [DVD Release] starring Dev - Subhashree Ganguly, Challenge-2 will feature Dev and Pooja Bose (interview). Raja hints at a pujo 2012 release of Challenge 2 and shares a few thoughts about the film.



Interview: Tollywood Hero ROHAN BHATTACHARYA on Bangla Movies OM SHANTI (2012), BLACKMAIL (2012) and his background and future

Rohan BhattacharyaFremont, CA, May 17, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) Sayantanee Dutt caught up with the young, talented and handsome actor Rohaan Bhattacharjee in Kolkata. Rohaan is busy dubbing for Blackmail (Bengali, 2012) and with promotional activities for Om Shanti (Bengali, 2012), both of which are in the pipeline for theatrical release very soon.

Rohaan has always wanted to be an actor. As a college freshman, Rohaan landed his first role in a multi-episode Bengali TV serial "Basundhara" aired on Akash Bangla channel from Kolkata. He debuted in the world Tollywood Kolkata Bangla movies with Bazigar (2010) [Music Release] where he appeared as the hero opposite his friend and Bengali actress Pamela, another fresh face. After a two-year hiatus while he wrapped up his college education, Rohaan is back with the two new Bengali films that are the primary subject of this interview.

Rohaan grew up in Dumdum (North Calcutta) and was careful to pick his school and college locally so that he could also pursue his passion for acting without having to lose a lot of time commuting to a distant educational institution.

Rohaan is a second-degree blackbelt (2nd Dan) in martial arts and has represented West Bengal at the state level in competitions. He maintains a remarkably fit physique, spending over two hours in the gym most days and following a strictly disciplined diet and life-style.

Listen to an in-depth interview with Rohan Bhattacharya exclusively on WBRi.



Interview: Indian-American Screenplay Writer & Film-Maker Amanda Sodhi - Best Screenplay Winner for "Life! Camera Action..."

AmandaLos Angeles, CA, May 13, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) Screenwriters are the foundation of any film, yet they seldom get noticed for their work. It's even rarer for an Indian living overseas to get recognition as a screenwriter. Today we bring you an interview with Amanda Sodhi who recently won her first international Award for the 'Best Screenplay' for the internationally acclaimed, feature-film Life! Camera Action... at the 28th Goldie Film Awards 2012 where the film was bestowed with top 9 most popular and special board of directors award.  Produced & Directed by Rohit Gupta, the film is "both powerfully moving and rigorously intelligent" (Bollywood Trade) and has won enormous recognition around the world.

Screenwriter, director, lyricist, vocalist, model, journalist, copywriter, Amanda is a woman of many talents, as you will soon find out in the interview.



Interview: Bengali Actress NIMISHA DEY SARKAR on Koyekti Meyer Golpo, Blackmail - "Mamata Banerjee's Bandh Launched Me"

Bengali Actress Nimisha Dey SarkarFremont, CA, May 11, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) Nimisha Dey Sarkar - a new face in Tollywood Kolkata Bangla Movie industry - appears as one of the six lead actresses in director Subrata Sen's [interview] Koyekti Meyer Golpo (2012). Sayantanee Dutt caught up with the newcomer in Kolkata in this audio interview where Nimisha chats about her background and experience, her role in Koyekti Meyer Golpo and other film projects including another upcoming Bangla movie titled Blackmail.

In Subrata Sen's hot new urban film, Nimisha's character is of a girl who is in love with another girl who only exists in her mind. The film explores why each of the six girls ends up providing escort services in the city of Kolkta. In the case of the character that Nimisha plays, she was rejected by her family and friends due to her obsession with her imaginary lover, thus paving the way to her unconventional profession. The challenges of survival in the dark underbelly of Kolkata and how the girl escapes her predicament is to be watched on the silver screen.

Nimita also shares with us her experience of working with Subrata Sen and the other cast members of Koyekti Meyer Golpo - the film's star cast includes Locket Chatterjee, Parno Mitra,Tanushree Chakraborty, Raima Sen, Mumtaz Sorcar, Subrata Dutt, Shantilal Mukhopadhyay and others.

Koyekti Meyer Golpo (Bengali, 2012) Movie Poster




DEENGA - The Kolkata Bangla Folk Fusion Band Sets Sail on the Ocean of Music (WBRi Exclusive Feature)

Kolkata Bangla Band Deenga (Bengali Folk-Rock Fusion)
Deenga performing live on stage

Kolkata Bangla Band Deenga Official LogoWashington DC, May 10, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) Thir name, "Deenga", literally means a small boat in Bangla language. They are six guys sailing on an ocean of music. Meet the promising young Bengali folk-rock fusion band from Kolkata.

Deenga’s members are influenced by different genres of music which is reflected in their compositions. Deenga is very much influenced by Bengal's folk and rural songs, and they rearrange those songs to create their signature sound.

Their philosophy is to do simple music and spread peace and harmony. Deenga’s first album published by Asha Audio in   2005 was titled "Bhese Pori" (let's sail).

Formed in 2003 when six like minded professional musicians thought of getting together and doing something on their own, Deenga are a pretty well known band in today's Kolkata music circuit, which they attribute to their belief and confidence on themselves and hard work, though they, of course, feel there is still a long way to go. Their music is sometimes about the present political scenario, love and emotions of human heart, and the society we live in. "Nothing is compared to hard work and dedication. Music flows from your heart so don’t be too technical…it is feel that gives rise to good music" summarize Deenga about the path to musical success.

Kolkata Bangla Band Deenga (Bengali Folk-Rock Fusion Songs)
The sailors of Deenga

They like to imagine themselves to be sailors on a Deenga. Meet these sailors and listen to their songs via WBRi.



Neha Gupta Crowned Miss India International 2012 in New Jersey, USA; Neha Gosalia, Juhi Vyas and Nausheen Ahmed Runners Up

Miss India International USA 2012

Miss India International USA 2012

Miss India International USA 2012

Miss India International USA 2012

Miss India International USA 2012

Miss India International USA 2012

Miss India International USA 2012

Miss India International USA 2012

Miss India International USA 2012

Miss India International USA 2012

Morristown, New Jersey, May 7, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) Sunday afternoon, May 6 2012 was filled with glamour and fun at the 2nd annual Miss India International pageant held at the Madison Hotel in Morristown, NJ, in its large, glass-domed conservatory.

The sunlight filtered in to make the venue bright and magical, and the foot-tapping music made it the happening place of the day.

Ten contestants from the United States and abroad modeled traditional dresses and evening gowns. A fitness round had been judged the night before, and the fourth and final round of the contest involved questions by a panel of judges including Kalpana Pandit, Ean Williams, Manan Singh Katohora, Tejinder Singh, Harry Romana, Tirusha Dave, Samina Moghul, Jayesh Mehta, Dr. Shivani, and Sumit Arya.

Designer Parna Ghosh showed off her collection on the contestants and on professional models. The DJs kept the pace of the show fast, and designer presentations were mixed in with with music and songs by Ritu Shah and Vikie Kohli.

The teen pageant had three contestants – sisters Kmal and Kamiya Mode, and Komal Sharma from Chicago.

In the regular contest, Nausheen Ahmed was awarded the prize in both “most photogenic” and “best model” categories. Neha Gosalia was declared second runner up, Juhi Vyas first runner up, and Neha Gupta Miss India International 2012.

Neha was crowned by the 2011 winner, Prerna Patel, and will attend the Miss International pageant in Chicago.

The event was organized by Dr. Juhi Jigiasim, CEO, Jewel of India.


Teen Miss India International USA 2012 Teen Miss India International USA 2012
Teen Miss India International 2012 Contestants



Interview: Actor Abhimanyu Singh - "I have done an item number in Department (Hindi Movie)"

Actor Abhimanyu Singh

Mumbai, May 10, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) The onscreen look on his face is usually the disheveled hair, blood thirsty eyes and a devilish smirk on the face. Well-known for his negative role in films like Gulal, Rakht Charitra, this guy is very opposite to what he portrays-cool, humble, sweet and approachable Abhimanyu Singh is what he really is!

Abhimanyu Singh hasn’t been much on small screen but he returns to the world of small screen with his ongoing serial Upanishad Ganga, produced by Chinmaya Mission and Directed by Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi, the serial is currently running on DD.

Abhimanyu talks to us about such new ventures.

Abhimanyu Singh in Upanishad Ganga




Interview: Actor Samir Stewart on his role in Manan Katohora's 9 ELEVEN, his background and upcoming projects

Samir StewartWashington DC, May 8, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) Samir Stewart plays a prominent role in Manan Singh Katohora's award-winning Hindi-language feature film "9 eleven" which will premiere at the first Washington DC South Asian Film Festival (DCSAFF) next month. The film is completely shot around DC and is available for watching online via streaming from Databazaar Media. Gurjeet Singh caught up with Samir in Washington DC on a cool overcast spring afternoon and a wide-ranging conversation about Samir's background, acting experience and his role in 9 Eleven and other projects ensued.

Before migrating to the United States in 1992, Mumbai-born Samir Stewart lived in different parts of India. He went to boarding schools (Lawrence School at Sanawar, Lawrence School at Lovedale and The Blue Mountains School in Ooty), and later spent some time in Bangalore. He studied Mass Communications and Information Sciences in India, and studied Financial Economics and International Relations in the US. He is currently an economist with the World Bank.

Samir has taken an active interest in acting from a very young age - right from his days at Blue Mountains he would participate in dormitory shows. A big event those days was watching moving on a color TV once a month, and Samir found himself engrossed in the acting prowess of the actors in films. He still distinctly remembers being particularly influenced by David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Ronald Neame's The Poseidon Adventure (1972).

Samir went on to act on stage in a fair number of stage productions. By age 15, he was acting in dozens of college productions, including Agatha Christie's famous play "Spider's Web", plays by George Bernard Shaw, and even a musical. He also appeared in four episodes in a TV Series "South Parader" on STAR TV in 1993 where he played the only ethical cricketer in an otherwise corrupt team. That series was directed by Mohena Singh, assistant director to Sridhar Kshirsagar of Khandaan and Ghar Jamai fame.


A Raga-Flamenco Journey: Anoushka Shankar Spellbinds Washington with the Ultimate in Fusion Music

By Bharati Mitra

Anoushka ShankarWashington, DC, April 14, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) On April 13, 2012 at the George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, Anoushka Shankar and her Traveler Ensemble performed their "Raga-Flamenco Journey" concert. Anoushka played her sitar soulfully, along with Sanjeev Shankar in Shehnai, Pirashanna Thevarajah in various Southern Indian percussion instruments, Bernhard Schimpelsberger in Flamenco percussion box, Melon Jimenez in Flamenco guitar & Sandra Carrasco in cante (vocals). The concert was presented by Washington Performing Arts Soceity (WPAS),and Co-presented with the George Washington University Lisner Auditorium.

The music which ensued was innovative, experimental and awe-inspiring to say the least.  It was at once a combination of musical instruments from various parts of India as well as the Flamenco counterparts of Spain. The Sitar, originally a Persian but now more popularly a North Indian string instrument, was combined with Mridangam, an ancient percussion instrument which originated in Southern India, as well as three other Southern Indian percussion instruments: the Ghatam, a clay vessel to be struck with the palm of the hand, Kanjira, a hand drum of the tambourine family, and Morsing, a Southern Indian mouth harp. To this was added the Shehnai, a North Indian wind instrument typically used for auspicious occasions such as weddings. These alone could have provided for an unusual and highly creative concert. But the creativity and innovation of Anoushka Shankar goes far beyond in which she thought of combining this large variety of Indian classical musical instruments with the gypsy & folksy tunes of Spanish Flamenco music.


Tagore Music Group of Greater Washington DC and their latest production CHHOBI - A Musical

Tagore Music Group of Greater Washington DC Presents CHHOBI - A Musical

Washington, DC, May 6, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) Informally put together in 2008 by like-minded folks in the Greater Washington Metro area, the Tagore Music Group of Greater Washington DC is a cultural organization which strives to promote the music, drama, writings and philosophy of Nobel-laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore.

It consists of approximately twenty families with Bharati Mitra as the team lead. Each year the group stages at least one drama, dance drama or musical making sure the presentation is “live”…reminiscent of Santiniketan.

Read all about the troupe and their latest production Chhobi - A Musical along with date, time, venue and ticket details of the performance.



Interview: Danseuse - Actress NIKKITASHA MARWAHA on her film "9 ELEVEN", Miss India Worldwide Crown & Path to Bollywood

Nikkitasha MarwahaWashington, DC, May 6, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) As you know, the dazzlingly beautiful Nikkitasha Marwaha, who we all are very proud of in the Washington area, is an exceptional dancer and a fabulous actress. Nikkitasha grew up in Fairfax and studied at Northwestern University while she was winning Miss India Worldwide in 2009 at Durban, South Africa and competing with remarkable performances in the reality contest "Dance India Dance" in Season Two. A popular girl loved by all in the Washington DC Indian-American community, Nikkitasha is also a lead actress in Manan Singh Katohora's award-winning feature film "9 eleven" (the film is available via online streaming by Databazaar Media) which will premiere at the first Washington DC South Asian Film Festival (DCSAFF 2012) next month. Nikkitasha joined us from Mumbai, India to chat informally with Gurjeet Singh.

Her Dad wanted to name her Nikki, and her Mom had Natasha in mind - her given name, a compromise, is wonderfully unusual and most people never seem to able to forget it. Madhuri Dixit, Karishma Kapoor and Sridevi influenced her into Bollywood dancing when she was a kid of four; by the time she was 10 it was deemed that she should get some formal training and started getting lessons in Indian Classical Kuchipudi Dance at India International School in Virginia - a training that lasted 12 years and culminated in a two-hour recital, with her Guru watching, to graduate. Along the line she also picked up ballet and influences from Hollywood and Bollywood films, and Broadway theater which only reinforced her enthusiasm for performing arts.



CHARBAK DIPTA - The Young Singer from Kolkata Experimenting with Rabindrasangeet, Nazrulgeeti and Electronica

Charbak DiptaCharbak Dipta grew up in Bongaon in West Bengal, India. His dad, Diptarup Das, is an amateur film-maker and ardent music lover while his mother Sanchita Das is herself a singer. Being the only son, Charbak grew up in the musical environment and started taking music lessons from his mother from the age of two and half.

Influenced by various Ustads and Pandits of Indian classical music ranging from Ustad Abdul Karim Khan to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, from Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan to Vidushi Girija Devi, Charbak's idols are Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty who later became his Guru, and Satyajit Ray. He initially took lessons in Tabla and then started to learn Hindusthani classical vocal. His mother was his first guru, and later he became a disciple of Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan and Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan. Whatever little knowledge of music he has now is because of these brothers. They trust him as a student and have complete faith on his musical ability.

Charbak also took lessons in light music from Indrani Sen and Rabindrasangeet form Shrabani Sen. He has blessings from Sumitra Sen, the Rabindrasangeet veteran who loves his music. In addition, he has learnt to play the guitar and classical piano from Dolna Day School and the prestigious Calcutta School of Music.

Charbak has now evolved into professional singing, and appears on TV channels like Tara Musik, TV Southasia and more, as well as various community and commercial radio stations like Friend's FM in Calcutta. He is a semifinalist in the Television reality talent hunt competition show "KHOJ 2 - The Search" and a City Winner of Maruti Suzuki Colors of Youth show. Read all about the young talented singer and listen to a few of his songs on WBRi.


Interview: Up Close with DIPTI MEHTA - "Best Actress" Award Winner for "LIFE! CAMERA ACTION..."

Dipti Mehta

Dipti MehtaNew York, NY, May 5, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) For most actors, to win an award for their outstanding work in film or TV is a dream they can only hope will come to pass. Screen legends such as Madhuri Dixit, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and many others illustrate what a long history Indian actors have in the world. Despite this history and the number of Indian actors based outside of the US who continue gracing the silver screen today, only a handful of Indians can be counted among those who've won International Awards for acting.

Director Rohit Gupta and Actress Dipti Mehta on the sets of Life! Camera Action...
Director Rohit Gupta and Actress Dipti Mehta on the sets of Life! Camera Action...

Mumbai born, New York based Indian actress Dipti Mehta won her first interntional award in the 'Best Actress' category for her performance in the highly praised internationally acclaimed award sweeper drama- feature film, LIFE! CAMERA ACTION... produced & directed by Rohit Gupta, that most recently snapped up nine most popular and special board of directors awards presented by the jury at the 28th Goldie Film Awards held in Florida. Without a doubt first of many to come for Mehta, here is what she had to say about her experience working in LIFE! CAMERA ACTION...

Poster: Rohit Gupta's LIFE! CAMERA ACTION...

Can you tell readers a bit about your role in the film LIFE! CAMERA ACTION...?



Interview: Writer-Director MANAN SINGH KATOHORA and his films 9 ELEVEN, LOLCI, PRALAY 2013 & Much More

Manan Singh KatohoraWashington, DC, May 5, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) After a few stints as actor and assistant director, young Indian-American film-maker Manan Singh Katohora debuted as a writer-director with his 2005 psychological thriller "Arya" which immediately caught the eye of film critics and general audience. He followed it up with "When Kiran Met Karen" that continued Manan's exploration of unusual subjects for a NRI movie-maker - this film was about the alternative lifestyle of two women. His latest film "9 Eleven" (available via online streaming by Databazaar Media) is also of a unique genre - psychological thriller in a way, a film that is suspenseful but yet manages to make viewers think about their karma and ramifications of their actions in life. Gurjeet Singh caught up with Manan speaking from Silver Spring, Maryland to chat about his remarkable journey in becoming one of the leading Indian-American film-makers today who is continuing to make film-lovers in USA and abroad sit up and take notice.