Indo-American TV show goes national

Washington: ‘Darshan’, the longest-running Indian-American television programme in the US, has launched a new nationally-broadcast weekly half-hour programme called ‘Darshan America’.

The new show started Saturday would be available throughout the US on the national independent channel, MHz Worldview, every Saturday at 3 p.m.

MHz Worldview is available in over half of the top-20 US television markets - nearly 27 million households - through broadcast and cable affiliates in cities such as Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Miami, Denver and Seattle.

The hour-long original "Darshan", which has aired continuously in the Washington DC Metro area since 1987, will continue airing weekly Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Tuesdays at 11 a.m. on MHz Networks 1.

Like the Washington show, the new show features host and executive producer Ramesh Butani along with primary co-hosts Aastha Verma and Shilpa Alimchandani. They engage in lively discussions of news-based topics of interest to the Indian-American community.

Guests include business executives, government officials, writers, artists, activists and entertainers.

Oscar- and Grammy-winning composer A.R. Rahman; Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, filmmakers Mira Nair ("The Namesake") and Gurinder Chadha ("Bend It Like Beckham") and Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra are amongst those who have appeared on the show.

" `Darshan` has a loyal following because it provides the full and rich Indian-American perspective, a voice of the collective consciousness," according to host and executive producer Ramesh Butani.

"Going national with `Darshan America` is a natural and obvious step and we`re all excited and proud to appear on a national stage and build a nation-wide audience."

"Indian-Americans are making waves right now - look at Nikki Haley in South Carolina," says co-host Aastha Verma. " `Darshan America` provides a great new platform for us as Indian-Americans to share our achievements and inspiration with mainstream America."

Unlike shows on Indian satellite subscription channels that are heavy on soap operas and Bollywood musicals produced in India, "Darshan" targets the interests of immigrants and native Americans of South Asian descent. That includes a few Bollywood music videos to bracket the programme, but mostly talk.

The show takes on cultural taboos such as teenage dating, mixed marriages, Viagra and homosexuality, sometimes stirring up debates that end up on the editorial pages of local Indian newspapers.



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