Tag Archives: media

Caribana Parade: A Photographer’s Nightmare

I had heard of the fabled Caribana parade. I had heard of the Mas dancers in their colourful costumes and extravagant head gear. And ever since my recent addiction to photography, nothing could keep me away this year.

The advantage of being a part of the media, as I had discovered to my delight, is that you can be in the midst of the action. You can tread in areas that are forbidden to the general public. Having covered the Pride Parade earlier in July, I was ready for my Caribana Parade coverage this year.

July 31st dawns bright and early. I can barely contain my excitement as I make my way across the CNE grounds at the Exhibition Place, flashing my media pass in the faces of the security.

The ribbon cutting ceremony takes off a little past 10 am with the Honourable

Mayor David Miller

Mayor David Miller

 Margarett Best, Minister of Health Promotion. The ceremony also has the Mayor David Miller in a colourful shirt with a grin and words of cheer for the attendees and the participants. There is anticipation tinting the already charged atmosphere.

I am excited for the main parade glancing at the time every two minutes, making mental notes of where I should position myself for some good shots.

As soon as the parade starts though, I find myself being rudely ushered behind an enclosure with the rest of the media photographers and videographers. I shake my head at the security, “No, there must be some misunderstanding. I am with the media.” I point to my media pass.

Glaring at me, he says, “No. No. You are supposed to be behind the fence.” Say what again?

I distinctly remember being assured by the organizers that ALL media would have access to ALL restricted areas. I know this to be true, having had complete freedom of movement at the Pride Parade less than a month ago.

Clearly, there has been some miscommunication among the organizers. To add to the confusion, the security guards are intent on displaying their power, rather than using common sense or polite language.

Glancing at the angry faces of all the other media people already forced behind the bars like chickens in a coup, I keep my mouth shut and concentrate on locating a good spot in the circumstances.

Sandwiched between an independent photographer and a videographer from a news channel, I feel like screaming. It is a nightmare. I can barely move. And to make matters worse, a fight erupts between some members of the media and one of the organizers. As if the day wasn’t hot enough.


The march starts with ensuing crowds cheering in the background, while grumbles of the many photographers reach my ears now and then. The independent photographer glances at my camera and says, “An 18-55mm huh? I can’t even get a good close up with my 200mm. “ He is referring to our camera lenses.

“You know, this is bullsh*t. How am I supposed to get some good shots if I am restricted to one spot?” he continues. I nod, missing the freedom of even moving my arms.

Soon after, I am too busy focusing on the parade to pay attention to my numbing feet. The advantage of being a short person- let me tell you- is that others are mindful of stepping on your toes. However, after nearly four hours of taking restricted photography, as well as, sweating freely, I decide to call it quits.

As I head back towards the streetcar that would take me home (and secretly hoping that I had managed to get some decent shots), I am glad to get away from the noise and the drama, certain that this is probably the last time I would cover or attend the Caribana parade.

Photographs: Copyright Sanchari Sur

Disco Dancers


Filed under event

Falling Star with an Attitude: A Minute with Raghav Mathur

I interviewed Raghav on 27th June 2010 after the Boogie Woogie Canada Finals. It was an unscheduled, impromptu interview. An edited version was published in The Weekender on 16th July.

When Raghav crooned “Can’t Get Enough” on my television screen back in 2004, I got little goosebumps. At 18, I was infatuated with this handsome, sexy newcomer whose tiny smirk and lilting voice jolted my heartbeat every time I watched him on MTV. The world became smaller, and only he and I existed in my tiny living room.

 Back in 2004.

Then he pretty much disappeared from my life. I moved on while he vanished into the melee of the many pop star faces of my teenage years.

Until the evening of 27th June 2010, when fate brought us together at the Boogie Woogie Canada Finals. While he assumed the role of one of the judges, I was a reporter covering the event (with a secret hope raging in my heart to sneak backstage later for an unscheduled interview). With mild anticipation tinting my adult eyes, I looked forward to the evening.

Not for long.

The rude awakening came when Raghav took to the mike and started to compliment the participants. His constant habit of falling back upon generic stock adjectives crushed my teenage image of this youth icon of yesteryear. This dream guy from my puppy love days emerged as a cocky full-of-himself wannabe with a limited vocabulary. Could it be true? Had he actually fallen from grace?

Not wanting to admit it to myself, I decided to head backstage after the show, just to watch him up-close and personal. With renewed hope in my heart, I chose to pursue my desire to grab an interview.

At first, it is difficult to get his attention, as the participants and their parents mob him. The many excited attendees who were eager to grab a pose with Raghav for their Facebook profiles and family albums obscure my tiny frame. I have to wait patiently for my turn. At one point, I yell out: “Raghav, I am from the media. Can I have an interview?” He glances at me, and imperiously replies, “Just a minute” and continues to ignore my presence for the attention of his many admirers, all the while reminding me of my inconsequential existence.

Finally, feeling slightly miffed, I walk up to him, hold out my recorder close to his face, and repeat my request. His eyes unreadable behind his dark sunglasses, he answers carelessly, “You have one minute.”

What follows next is a rapid fire round of a quiz show.

A household name in 2004, alongside Rishi Rich Project (made up of Rishi Rich, Juggy D and Jay Sean), Raghav maintains that Jay Sean is a household name now because he chose to do mainstream music unlike Raghav: “I make music in both Hindi and English so for me to chase is not to have a big record in any one territory. I wanna make music that I wanna make. And, Jay [Sean]’s done very well and he should be very proud of his success, and I am very proud of him as well, as that’s the kind of music I have always wanted to make. But I am always gonna go on making more obscure Hindi records because I am a different kinda artist”. Funny this coming from the guy whose newest single “So Much” (in collaboration with Kardinal Offishall) reeks enormously of mainstream music.

When asked about his plans of expansion as a comeback artist, he responds, “I would love to do a tour, but maybe in a couple of months. I think we still got to do some more tracks.” You mean some more mainstream tracks, as opposed to “obscure Hindi records”.

Giving his two cents of advice to new artists venturing into the big bad music industry world, Raghav says, “Make sure you do it because of the arts of the heart. Do it for the right reasons. If you are chasing fame and fortune, you will be very sadly disappointed. But if you love making music, then just follow it”. Sounds like Raghav is still following his dream of walking into the footsteps of Jay Sean, as I notice a tinge of regret when he answers that in 10 years, he sees himself as “Hopefully just happy”.

He ends with a brief “Thank you”, before heading off into the crowd of parents and children whose steady refrain of “Raghav, one photograph!” sounds hollowly all around me.

As I make my way to the exit, with my heart crushed with this newfound encounter with my past love affair, I find cold comfort in the knowledge that if I were to challenge him to a game of Scrabble, he would probably end up losing.


Filed under anecdote, Interview

Intent and Inspiration: Mallika Chopra’s Mantra to Life

I conducted this interview on June 18th at the ideaCity conference in Toronto. An edited version was published in The Weekender on July 2nd.

Mallika Chopra. Deepak Chopra’s daughter. Their names are almost synonymous. Almost.  But there is more to her than her father’s name.

Mallika Chopra and her daughters, Tara (left) and Leela, 2002

Mallika Chopra and her daughters, Tara (left) and Leela, 2002

Recently at the ideaCity conference held in Toronto (June 16th – June 18th), Mallika Chopra’s presentation talked about her inspiration from her family, her ‘intent’ blog (now, www.intent.com) and her journey from a girl in her twenties to a woman who quit her glamorous job at MTV Asia to find her true intent in life, as well as, the constant inspiration that she draws from her two daughters.

As Deepak Chopra’s daughter, she reminisces on stage about how Dr. Chopra taught her and her brother, Gotham, to set intentions for their lives on a daily basis. He urged them to say, “I am responsible for what I see, I choose the feelings I experience and set the goals I want to achieve. And everything that happens to me, I asked for, and receive as I have asked.”

She further divulges that it was her job at MTV Asia at the age of twenty-three that opened up her vision to the realization that the power of media can change the world. And voila, the germ for the idea of her intent blog was born. Co-founded with Gotham Chopra, Deepak Chopra and Shekhar Kapur, the blog asks people to post their intent for the day, an idea very similar to what her father cultivated in her and her brother at a very young age. When asked about the idea behind the blog, Chopra answers, “Basically we started writing. My whole family [is made up of] writers. We started blogging. It was really a hobby that took off and became something… The power of intention has been such a foundation in my life. It was actually a very slow process. I am a mother with two kids. I stayed at home with my kids. It kind of evolved over time. Overseeing is the power of social media to manifest change and it’s been more inspiring to see other people who have taken it on”. 

Despite being a successful spiritual guru in her own right (as many would agree), she is proud of being her father’s daughter, “I don’t mind being labeled as my father’s daughter. I am proud to be [Deepak Chopra’s daughter]. My brother and I have been blessed to be brought up in an environment that was surrounded by love and compassion versus an environment of hatred. I think we were very lucky. I think my father does great work. And he’s touched so many people which to me is an inspiration. Absolutely; we embrace it completely”. And, do you think your father’s fame has been key in your own fame? She laughs and answers, “Definitely, there’s no question about it”.

Mallika Chopra at ideaCity 2010

Mallika Chopra at ideaCity 2010

When asked about her mother’s almost non-existent mention, she clarifies that her mother has been (and is) “the complete rock and foundation for our family and our extended family”. Her absence from the media is a deliberate move on her part, as she “hates to be in the press and she… shuns it”. Chopra feels that this is “wonderful” as according to her, her “mother is the person in [her] family who has kept [them] all grounded”. Chopra adds that her mother “keeps us down to earth and not to take ourselves too seriously. She is the reason my dad is so successful because she made a lot of sacrifices”. The pride in her voice is perhaps a little more than when she talked about her father. In fact, being a mother herself has further changed Chopra’s life “on every aspect”. Not only did maternal joy make her a writer, but she believes that her “whole life is based on [her] children”.

And ten years down the line? She bursts out laughing and answers, “People keep asking me that question! I have to be honest… I talked a little bit [at my presentation] about how I found my voice when I became a mother. And, that’s been so transformative for me. I have always been interested in children and  children’s issues. So, I hope that in time I can become more of an advocate for children’s issues, because I see it through the lens of being a mother myself”. 

As a youth icon for today’s generation, Chopra has some sound advice for newbies aspiring to find their voice, “Frankly, I meandered and have done so many random and different things. There is a kind of fear of being on a path… It’s ok to take time and figure out who you are [and] what you want… Find something that you truly love to do and with that, you will find success.”

Photograph of Mallika Chopra at ideaCity 2010: Copyright Sanchari Sur

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