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New York, N.Y. I recently attended Ticket2Bollywood (T2B) sponsored by Molecule Communications.  I had the opportunity to interview its director Ajay Shrivastav and his sister and business partner Kiren.

Brother and sister Ajay and Kiren Shrivastav are opposites.  He is the creative one and Kiren more the businesswoman operating Molecule Communications in Mumbai and Ajay is opening their first overseas branch in New York, where he has lived for twelve years involved with food and fashion - and now film.  The siblings share the same passion but view different approaches.

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Left to right: Anuraadha Tewari, and Kanika Chadda (Zee TV). Photo: Kabir Chopra.

“I am the opposite of Ajay,” Kiren told me.  “Ajay wants to save the world first, but I believe I must first help myself and build our business.  I want to build this company so strong we are in a position to help others,” she confided.

Ajay shared with me his own passion for bringing Indian entertainment to an international audience.  I shared with him my passion about writing for an American audience so that they can better understand international phenomenon such as Bollywood.  A match!

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The audience during Q&A, asking the speakers about Bollywood. Photo: Kabir Chopra.

“It is no longer Bollywood vs. Hollywood,” Ajay explained to me at the two-day conference Ticket2Bollywood (T2B) his company sponsored in Manhattan’s Chelsea’s Dream Downtown Hotel.  “Today, we have global entertainment,” he said. He plans to expand his T2B conference to London, Sydney, and Singapore.

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Zoya Akhtar, Imtiaz Ali, and Anuraadha Tewari. Photo: Kabir Chopra.

“In the West, Bollywood is perceived as song, dance and weird colors,” Ajay said.  “Trust me, Bollywood has travelled far beyond ‘song and dance.’”  One factor he cited for this is India’s own growing middle class.  “They are more in tune with global cinema,” he said.

However, Bollywood also resonates with audiences throughout the Developing World - especially in Asia and Africa.  “A large part of the world is Third World, where there is a rooting for the underdog - the essence of Bollywood film,” Ajay elaborated.

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Zoya Akhtar and Aarti Virani. Photo: Kabir Chopra.

Ajay has been excited about cinema for a long time, but only recently understood how best to build a bridge between Los Angeles and Mumbai, with a stopover in New York.  His dream is to create a cross-cultural pollination between filmmakers around the globe.

Indian film producers and actors whom I have written about include Shah Rukh Khan, Mani Ratnam, and Mira Nair - as well as covering the New York Indian Film Festival for years.  Ratnam is not well known globally but represents the status quo of Indian cinema.  I attempted to the American audience several years ago on video.  “Generation X will make the next generation of global cinema from India,” Ajay told me.

Ajay practices what he preaches.  He is a vegetarian, which I wish I was but can’t, and volunteers at both NYU and Columbia helping others reach their goals and obtain their dreams.

See Stories by Jim Luce on:

Film   |   India & Indian-American Culture   |    Music   |   New York

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