THE BLOG
12/05/2013 06:23 am ET | Updated Feb 03, 2014

Indo-American Arts Council at Fifteen with Who's Who of South Asian Celebrities

No one in Manhattan can throw a gala like Aroon Shivdasani, and the fifteenth anniversary fete of her Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) was everything I had hoped for and more.

More than 250 of New York's crème de la crème packed the Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Performing Arts to raise a glass and toast the Indo-American Arts Council and celebrate the non-profit organization's numerous contributions of Indian performing, visual and literary arts to New York City's diverse cultural landscape.

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Author Salman Rushdie honored by IAAC Executive Director Aroon Shivdasani and
chef and author Madhur Jaffrey. Photo Credit: Andy Chang.

The IAAC honored three outstanding Indian-Americans, author Salman Rushdie, filmmaker Mira Nair and Dr. Manjula Bansal, for their commitment and contributions to the global artistic community. I was honored to sit with Salman and we chatted about Aroon and the controversy years ago about his epic Satanic Verses.

Headlining the entertainment at the event was Oscar-winning duo: singer-songwriter-composer Paul Williams (Oscar winner with Barbara Streisand for "Evergreen") and pianist-composer Kenny Ascher, of "Rainbow Connection" (from The Muppet Movie) fame. I was surprised how genuine Paul was and after his performance we spoke at length about his admiration for the IAAC.

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Pianist Kenny Ascher performing with vocalist Paul Williams.

Photo Credit: Andy Chang.

Additionally, Exclusively.In presented a breath-taking runway show featuring the creativity of iconic Delhi-based designer Manish Arora through his "Indian" collection.

The emcee for the evening was the talented comedian Dan Nainan, and some of the celebrities who presented awards and walked the red carpet included: chef and author Madhur Jaffrey, actor Sarita Choudhury (Homeland), writer and filmmaker Sabrina Dhawan, actor Sakina Jaffrey (House of Cards), author, screenwriter, producer Tracey Jackson, Ambassador Manjeev Puri, actors Reshma Shetty (Royal Pains), and Manu Narayan - just to name a few.

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Manish Arora's collection on the runway at IAAC's 15th anniversary gala.

Photo Credit: Andy Chang.

IAAC is the first and only Indian arts council in the U.S. representing all of the artistic disciplines, including theater, dance, music, film, folk arts, literature and fashion. The IAAC pioneered the first annual Indian theater, film, dance and playwright festivals in the country, as well as an annual travelling exhibition of contemporary Indian art.

The IAAC's programs attract packed audiences and amazing media coverage - ethnic, mainstream and international outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Variety, New York Daily News, NY1, CNN IBN, as well as The Huffington Post.

"IAAC has been the perfect platform for nourishing and promoting Indian heritage, through the medium of performing arts, in our adopted homeland - the U.S.," said Dr. Manjula Bansal, one of the honorees at the gala.

"The IAAC has done invaluable work in creating a showcase for Indian Americans in many art forms. I'm delighted to have been a supporter from the earliest days," said author and IAAC supporter Salman Rushdie. "Love and salaams to dynamic Aroon and the IAAC for bringing us our cinema for fifteen years. Woo Hoo!" exclaims Mira Nair whose film Monsoon Wedding closed the first IAAC film festival.

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Filmmaker Mira Nair with IAAC Executive Director Aroon Shivdasani.

Photo Credit: Andy Chang.

The Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) is a non-for-profit arts organization promoting and building the awareness, creation, production, exhibition, publication and performance of Indian and cross-cultural art forms in North America. It is passionate about showcasing, celebrating and building an awareness of artists and artistic disciplines of Indian origin in the performing, literary, visual and folk arts. For the fifteen years of IAAC promo video, including my interview with Aroon Shivdasani, click here.

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Sunjay Guleria, CEO of Exclusively.IN; Manish Arora, Fashion Designer;

Mohini Guleria, Exclusively.IN. Photo Credit: Andy Chang.

I met Aroon Shivdasani, thought leader and global citizen, five years ago when I founded our foundation. A decade from now, when our own organization turns fifteen, there is no one I would rather have help plan our bash than Aroon. I hope she won't be so busy running her Cultural Center then to give us a hand!

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IAAC's 15th anniversary gala at the Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Performing Arts. Photo Credit: Andy Chang.

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