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Happy June! June kicks off Pride Month and Didihood is partnering with TIFF on June 12 to present: Queer Romance in Bollywood: Conversations About Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga.

This month’s Meet The Didi is with the event programmer, Iman Grewal.

Can you tell us about the event at TIFF? How did the idea come about?

This is an event I am incredibly honoured to be able to curate at TIFF for the second time as a programmer, representing important films coming out of Bollywood today. The film is a beautiful love story between two women which is co-written by the trailblazing trans filmmaker Gazal Dhaliwal. The event will consist of a screening of the film with a post screening portion where we will be joined by amazing folks from the South Asian LGBTQ+ community for a roundtable conversation about inclusivity and representation in Bollywood.

The idea for the event came to life after a chat with my lady Ishani Nath, a senior lifestyle editor at Flare magazine, a fellow Didi who then looped in with Didihood. We all shared our excitement about the film and felt it was very important to have a conversation about the message. As the Programmer at TIFF, I approached TIFF with the idea and they had an even better idea which was to program the event during Pride month in Toronto!
What can people expect at the event? 
The audience attending the event on June 12 can expect to see an amazing film followed by a post-event intimate conversation with leaders from the South Asian LGBTQ+ community who will discuss topics facing Toronto’s queer community and how popular narratives can support young, emerging creators from this community and beyond. As a programmer, I am always looking to program films centred around diversity and inclusion and Ek Ladki has captured this so beautifully which is why I chose it as my next project.
Do you think Bollywood is making strides in being inclusive when it comes to bringing stories like this to the mainstream? 
I can see a shift through this film in Bollywood so yes, they are making strides. Mainstream media in India still has a long way to go though.The panelists at the event will be able to express their thoughts on this topic more in-depth. They’re all leaders in diversity and inclusion having done the real ground work in India and in Canada.

Can you tell us about yourself and what you’re up to in your career? 

My artistic journey started as a professional dancer where I enjoyed wonderful opportunities in my dance career — one of the highlights was to perform for World Leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and even being asked to choreograph Selena Gomez. It’s been a wild ride. From there my career organically shifted towards curating events for the City of Toronto and then to a dream role as a programmer at the largest film festival in the world, TIFF. I am also a passionate mental health advocate, it is my mission to fight the stigma related to mental health illness in the workplace. Currently, I am working on presenting another project to TIFF (fingers crossed) to hopefully come to life during the festival in September and I am also working with my team on our next mental health event after a successful one held in May for Mental Health Awareness month. I also manage a hectic schedule working for Artscape Launchpad, Toronto’s first entrepreneurial hub for artists and creators where I lead events produced by the incubator HXOUSE (H-AUS) masterminded by our homegrown superstar, The Weeknd and his creative director Lamar Taylor. I am always dabbling in modelling and acting when I can which can be hard with all of the things I’m juggling but I’m grateful and happy for the opportunities my city has given me and looking forward to where this all takes me from here!

We hope to see you all at the event. Tickets are still available here.
In other news…

The Vancouver chapter of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan is holding a screening for the award winning documentary Afghan Cycles on June 15. This film documents the story of a generation of Afghan women confronting gender and cultural barriers by using the bicycle as a vehicle for freedom, empowerment and social change. Tickets available here.

5X Fest is happening in Vancouver from June 12 to June 16. Didihood will be hosting a mixer after the 5X Women’s Showcase on June 14! Join us for an evening celebrating and featuring local female artists!
If you’re in Vancouver, grab your tickets here.

— Roohi Sahajpal

Issue 16
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