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Journey to the Top: Indian Origin Alka Sharma shares her inspiring story of tightening Indian roots in US

From being an actor, dancer, poet, radio jockey, freelance writer to a painter, Alka possesses multitude of talents

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Mandi Theatre group. Image source: Alka sharma
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Superlative in her own way, she is a renowned figure in the field of Arts and culture. With the Community Service award, Best EmCee Award and Best Radio Media Award in her bag, she has been tightening the Indian roots in the USA through dance and theatre. She is also one of the notable members of the Indian community living in Chicago, USA. From being an actor, dancer, poet, radio jockey, freelance writer to a painter, this woman possesses a multitude of talents.

She is Alka Sharma and her journey to the pedestal where she stands on today is astounding and inspiring in the true sense of the term. In an exclusive interview with the reporter Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram, she opens her heart out about her radio channel, Mandi theatre group and shares some word of advice for youngsters living abroad.

Alka sharma

Karishma: You are indeed a master of all trades! Founder of Mandi Theatre Group, channel head of Radio Spice Box, a dance teacher and a doting wife. No journey to prominence is easy but today our readers would love to know about yours. Let’s start with your time in India, your home away from home.

Alka: Thank you. I’d like you to note that unlike many girls born in Indian cities who are surrounded by prejudices, I rather had a simple upbringing. I did my schooling from a Hindi medium school in Jamshedpur, Bihar. My interest in the theatre of arts wasn’t innate, as a matter of fact; I went on to finishing my Post Graduation in Computer Applications from Delhi. The magic began in this beautiful city, where I later joined Shree Ram Bhartiya Kala Kendra to learn classical dancing. During this time, I was also called in by the famous Aakashwani radio channel to do a segment for their shows called ‘Samiksha’ and ‘Yuvavani’. However, destiny had other plans and soon I was married and I moved to America.

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Karishma: Journey to the top. A lot of girls dream but fail to achieve that height. How did you find a way out of these tough situations?

Alka: After I moved to Chicago, things were depressing for a while as I was not able to zero in on any particular direction, several years went by as well. But, one fine day, I read about a budding radio channel in Chicago called ‘Chann Pardesi’ looking out for new talents to join them. I immediately called them and the rest, as one says, is history.

Karishma: Radio Spice box started as Chann Pardesi in Punjabi and Gurbani back in 2012. Today, the same channel has more than 50,000 listeners per week. Making a radio channel reach this applaudable height of success is a feat. Could you shed some light on your role in Radio Spice Box?

Radio Spice Box

Alka: As I was saying, one positive move can shape up a lot of things in your life. I made a call 5 years back to Sarwan Tiwana and Darshan Basraon, founder/director and MD of Chann Pardesi respectively. They looked at my background with Aakashwani radio and trusted me with my idea to start a Hindi radio channel. Today, after 3-4 years from its name change to Radio spice box from ‘Chann Pardesi’, we are the only radio channel in America broadcasting not only in Hindi but other regional languages such as Gujarati, Bangla, Bhojpuri and Marathi. We have around 14 volunteers contributing to our shows from all parts of the world to help create a phenomenal 24*7 broadcast show for our listeners.

Karishma: Would you like to share some words of wisdom for Indian kids living in the States?

Alka: There are just a few things I’ll like them to remember. Living away from our heritage doesn’t necessarily mean that we forget them. Hindi is our national language and shying away from speaking our own language degrades the value of our country. Visit Japan or China and look at how they respect their ancestral language. I wonder why we don’t hear anyone counting in Hindi, why is it always one, two, three and not ‘ek’, ‘do’, ‘teen’. In my opinion, music is the best way to get this point across. Let me add, music and dance. Dance is the way I teach my students things they wish to learn about the Indian legacy.

Karishma: Even though you stay in the U.S, your roots still belong in India, which is very well proved by your words. Please share some details about your dance group named ‘Amrapali dance group’?

Alka Sharma: My group consists of kids who come to learn Bollywood style dancing. What makes me happy is that they are also very inquisitive and eager to learn Hindi. We’ve also performed for the U.S consulate.

Karishma: Coming to your multitude of talents- your contribution as an actor and a dancer in the Mandi theatre group reminds the audience about some great Indian classics and help them re-live it. Can you tell us how the Mandi theatre group came into being?

Alka Sharma: A lot of good theatre plays were performed in Chicago for years but I saw that all of them were performed in English and with that thought, we founded the Mandi theatre group, a small way to preserve India’s theatrical tradition. We meet once a week and practice, I write plays, direct and act in them. It is a team effort.

Karishma: How has your journey in the Hindi theatre been so far?

Alka Sharma: It’s been beautiful. Last year, in 2015 itself we had 8 performances. One of the plays that I’m very proud of is ‘Shatranj Ke Khiladi’; it was a tribute to a Great Indian Writer, ‘Premchand Ji’. Part of the proceeds generated from this play were donated for the welfare of Senior Citizens to the NGO, HelpAge.

Karishma: What social issue does your theatre group cover apart from promoting India’s theatrical culture and art or Diaspora?

Alka Sharma: Our mission revolves around strengthening the role of ‘Traditional Indian Theatre’ in the arts community of Chicago area. Amongst our productions, one of the plays called ‘मटकी छाप पर मोहर लगायें’ (Matki chaap par mohar lagaye) was solely based on water shortage faced by many parts of India, it was a political Satire based on Shard Joshi’s short story.

Karishma: Our readers would love to know what’s in store for Mandi now? Are there any future projects or goals set in stone?

Alka Sharma: This brings me to the official announcement I have been meaning to make through Newsgram. Our Mandi Theatre Group will very soon hold Chicago’s first theatre festival showcasing the work of eminent playwrights of India. That’s right, I have been working on its press release and I assure you the theatre festival will be the first of its kind Chicago has seen.

Karishma: So Alka Ji, who stands behind this successful image?                                           Alka: Definitely not, I have a list of people to thank but amongst them, I would like to especially thank my husband Rohit Sharma, it’s due to his support that I took a few life-changing decisions and my mother CK Sharma, who has been my inspiration throughout.

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Karishma: Our readers want to know what does RJ Alka Sharma love to do in her leisure time?

Alka Sharma: (Laughs). I have always been an avid photographer. I capture everything beautiful from a water droplet to a whole field filled with snow. Adding to that, my home in Chicago is filled with oil paintings. These are the ones, I painted during my hard times and I still pursue painting whenever I find the time.

– by Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram. Twitter: @BladesnBoots

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Sunny Leone – darling of Bollywood but poison for the society

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Sunny Leone is darling of Bollywood and has some of the best party songs to get you into the groove. wikimedia commons
Sunny Leone is darling of Bollywood and has some of the best party songs to get you into the groove. wikimedia commons

-by Salil Gewali

After Jackpot’s blast Bollywood has unabashedly knocked out Ragini MMS, Ek Paheli Leela .., Kuch Kuch Locha Hai, Noor, Garuda Vega …….. and a lot of others with a bang! Lots of news — titillating and riveting to prod the “bodily desire”. Thanks to Sunny Leone’s past profession, the film-makers are pointedly cashing in on it, as obviously understood. Hardly any newspapers and magazines hold back to add “epithets” to this vivacious lady as “ adult-star ” or “porn-star” to make the readers/audiences more inquisitive. For about past five years we all have been unfailingly updated about this lady’s titbits.

Actress Sunny Leone
Sunny Leone. wikimedia commons

Do we want our children to know about pornography? Given the manners and styles this lady is being presented by the electronic media – are we not uncomfortably confused that our children now might see this woman also as their “role model”? Won’t they become tempted to emulate a porn-star who receives so much of appreciation and warm welcome with even privileges to grace the key public events? What could be the height of bizarreness that this lady is ever mobbed by a swarm of media crews who with enthusiasm rush out titillating stories for the next morning? To them she is a Goddess from the heaven descended down to bless us all. What messages does it send out to our children, can anyone guess dispassionately?

Well, make a sneaky peek into Sunny’s facebook– it unfolds a whole lot of unspeakable things. Just find out how many million fans’ likes she has earned from INDIA alone, and analyze their opinions, perception plus our naughty silence in respect to her raunchy flicks – of both Bollywood and the other-world. That other-world is not far — just Mr. Google will take you in less than one second. The flood of kinky sexual acts of Sunny Leone greets you!!! 

  Yes, the number of the fans of “Sunny Leone” began to shoot astronomically when she was invited to jazz up “Bigg Boss” about 5 years ago. No denying, the majority of masses in INDIA were not aware of what exactly porn-world is all about until her ground-breaking entry into the country. Till just a year or two ago the policemen would swing into action to pounce upon any suspects with obscene literature or digital CDs. But now the lustful roar is coming out from Bollywood itself for the mass consumption.

Sunny Leone arrives in Mumbai for Bigg Boss season 5.
Sunny Leone arrives in Mumbai for Bigg Boss season 5. wikimedia commons

Bollywood in collusion with media is hatching the schemes to push the pornography into the threshold of our “sacred households”. It’s not that there is the absence of a voice of protest. But the media never give any coverage, no matter how vehemently the public disapprove of.

Well, a sudden ban on Pornography by the Indian Government about 2 years back threw up less known facts. It showed that the major chunk of the masses is already into the pit of pornography. Sunny Leone has been very successful to steer the Indian populace into that “gutter-world”. Now people “beat their chest” for porn. If facebook comments or other write-ups published in media are to be believed then there are lots of intellectuals who have felt too stiffed when the porn was banned about 2 years back by the government. Some blasted the BJP government saying that it is taking India to the “Stone Age”. Even a swarm of women journalists churned out articles after articles branding the government as  🌷”Taliban” or“Archaic creature”.  🌷

It is very obvious that millions have been already been pulled down into the whirlpool of this raunchy underworld. And some might have sorely been afflicted by its addiction syndrome — the most damning malady ailing a major chunk of the western population. It’s long been acknowledged, though greatly suppressed, this blue voyeurism has drastically shattered the millions of the households, their marital relationships, contaminating their sacred thoughts and ruining their personal values, as often been revealed in hundreds of journals published across the world, but not much in India, after the exhaustive surveys. Another question, how long will the masses lust after all this immodest sensuality and the filth of pornography? Has not the strength of sex-juice, as nature given for some reasons, gone bland with the time by losing all its intrinsic charm, grace, and purity?

‘A true strength of sex and its purity and purposes have drastically gone down these days. The marital bond is dismally slack. An easy access to pornography and open display of nudity and cheap representation of the sexuality, ‘immodest fashion statements” from house-to-the street are, the contributing factors’, quips Dr Naresh Patel, a psychologist, and writer from Mumbai.

Again one academician from Delhi opines ‘I strongly believe that many unsuccessful models or film-stars in INDIA have already been tempted to follow in the footstep of Sunny Leone. Very soon they will boldly claim that they are porn-stars vying for Bollywood opportunity as Sunny Leone. And, some young girls will now have less qualm to join this bandwagon of pornography – the sacred sex will be taken very casually and which will degrade the society very fast.’

My honest questions — are we not becoming unclear of what is right and what is wrong for the society, what is good and what is bad for the households, and what is virtuous and what is sinful for our inner selves? Further, are we truly serious to ponder over the ominous repercussion of such pornographic thoughts that are fast taking space in the mindset of our grown-up children, let alone the matured adult? Will not the perverse thoughts make way for perverse indulgences that will take its toll on their studies and later in their marital lives adversely affecting family values? Is it not an ominous threat to the profound spiritual culture of INDIA? Why there is no protest by any women organizations against this pernicious pornography where females are inhumanely objectified, humiliated and tortured.

Have we not become a bit dithery to say “no” to this windfall of wanton exhibitionism and sensuality? Should the blatant and ubiquitous  female objectification in the entertainment world not raise our eyebrows and awaken our inner sensibility anymore? Have we not witnessed enough instances of cold-blooded rapes, sexual violence against women, adultery, promiscuity, and a host of other perverse sexual activities in the society? A prostitute may harm a few individuals while the pornography can destroy the soul of a whole generation and the next.
Here our  🌷”silence” against the breeding of vices is akin to the acceptance.🌷 I guess, now it is not just mute acceptance but open demand and appreciation and celebration.

This could well mean that our inner strength of morality has become weak and feeble that it fails now to prompt us to stand upright against the evil.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter @SGewali.