Posts Tagged ‘Islam’
Aliza Vellani is no stranger within the Canadian entertainment industry.Particularly, the actress is well known for her role as the teenaged character of Layla Siddiqui on CBC’S hit sitcom,Little Mosque on the Prairie.
With Little Mosque having been off the air for nearly 2 years and Aliza continuing to explore pursuits within the Canadian entertainment industry , I thought it’s a great time to connect with the delightful actress.
Particularly we discuss Little Mosque’s impact, her reflections on portraying the character of Layla as well as the series finale and much more! We also discuss the actress’ role on CTV’S Motive in the show’s upcoming second season which is scheduled to debut in summer 2014.
Read through the complete interview with Aliza Vellani below and share your thoughts on it in the comments section.
Abbas Karimjee:How do you think both Little Mosque and specifically the character of Layla will be remembered as?
Aliza Vellani:I think Layla will be remembered as a loveable Muslim teenager. A young girl, who simply goes through the everyday struggles of discovering her own identity. Layla had the added challenge of finding a balance between her family values and the values of the community at large. I think this is something all teenagers can relate to and it makes Layla a charming character to remember.
AK: Little Mosque on the Prairie aimed to dispel stereotypes about Muslims and help bring light to the way in which we are all similar regardless of our cultural or religious differences. To what extent do you think the show was successful in achieving this goal and essentially how do you think it changed how the mainstream society perceives Muslims?
AV:Little Mosque on the Prairie was remarkable as it served to educate its audiences on Islamic culture and practices in a humourous and family friendly setting. In doing so it tried to dispel those stereotypes by using them as a source of laughter. In a wonderful ‘laugh at yourself’ style.
AK:Little Mosque was the first of its kind, in terms of a show which used comedy to showcase Muslims in a positive light. How do you think the fact that CBC dared to feature the show, reflects Canadian culture?
AV:I think it reflects Canadian culture in a very positive light. CBC tackled sensitive and potentially controversial issues in a great way. It demonstrated multiculturalism and acceptance as a work in progress not just in Canada but around the world.
AK:When we last saw Layla in the series finale, she informed her father, Baber [Manoj Sood] that she had decided to pursue acting instead of going to medical school. Although the show is no longer on the air, what was your reaction to Layla’s decision and how do you envision her future?
AV:In many ways, I saw a big part of myself in Layla. It made the ending so special to me because it reflected my own pursuit in life. I like to imagine that Layla still manages to drive her Dad crazy with her choices in life and yet give him memories to cherish. I believe the healthy tug of war between Baber and Layla continues in every loving household as young girls explore their options in life with Daddy on guard.
AK:How has working on Little Mosque impacted both your career and your personal life?
AV:Being on Little Mosque on the Prairie was the most amazing experience. The best training one can get is through experience. I was so lucky that Little Mosque presented itself to me at such a young age. I was also very lucky to be able to work with several seasoned performers. They remain my mentors and I consider them part of my family. I really grew up on that show and it felt like a wonderful chapter in my life ended with the series. Little Mosque on the Prairie gave me more than I ever could have hoped and I will always be grateful for that.
Let us discuss your role on CTV’S Motive.
AK: What character do you portray and how many episodes do you appear in?
AV:I play a doctor named Dr. Gita Ambreen in the eighth episode of Motive’s second season.
AK:Lets discuss how you were appointed to the role of Dr.Ambreen. Were you contacted or did you audition? Could you please walk us through this initial process?
AV:My agent, Emilio Salituro from Muse Artist Management, had contacted me with the audition a couple of days before the taping. Luckily, I was able to audition between classes at SFU.
AK: What can you tell us about Dr.Gita Ambreen? Could you please describe her personality and perhaps how it differs from Layla’s?
AV:Layla was a teenager in the series while Dr. Gita Ambreen is both an adult and a doctor. Dr. Ambreen is a naturally professional character. She follows protocol. On the other hand Layla, was a charming but rebellious teenager.
AK:Portraying a role in a crime series can have a more serious and darker tone than a comedy series such as Little Mosque on the Prairie. What challenges were involved in adjusting to working on a darker, more serious show? Which type of genre do you prefer working in?
AV:A comedy is very light hearted while a crime series is quite serious reflecting high stakes. I loved working in comedy, but being part of a crime genre was new and extremely exciting. It is definitely a genre that I would love to do more of.
AK:Did you have to do research to portray the role of a doctor? If so, could you please walk us through this process?
AV:Much of the dialogue in the scenes was fairly straightforward so there wasn’t much I had to research. Of course an important part in preparing for a scene is making sure you know exactly what you are talking about. I had to make sure I truly understood what I was saying, and knew how Dr. Gita Ambreen contributed to the events that occurred.
AK:Motive is a series where investigators try to look at who committed a murder by looking at what the motive of the crime is and based on that, who may have committed the crime. Without giving too much away, how does your character support the storyline of the episode in which you appear?
AV:Dr. Ambreen plays a small role in furthering the investigation when Detectives Vega and Flynn follow a lead in the case.
AK:Though you only worked on Motive for one episode, are there any favourite memories either onscreen or off screen which you would like to share with viewers?
AV:Working on Motive was a wonderful experience. It was great getting to know the other cast and crew on the show between takes on set. My favourite moments on set seem to occur when the unexpected happens. As I was playing a doctor, I was given a pager to attach to my belt during the scene. As we began to run the scene, my pager goes off in the middle of the scene. It was an unexpected surprise.
Lets discuss your career in general.
AK:You recently completed studying Theatre at the Simon Fraser University. Congratulations! How does it feel and what aspirations do you have for your acting career at this point?
AV:Thanks Abbas! It is such a relief to have completed my university degree but also very scary as I enter yet another new and unknown chapter in my life. As an actor, you are constantly in training to strengthen your skills but this will be the first time I will be pursuing acting without being a fulltime student. I think at this point in my career, anything is possible. I am very excited to put all of my efforts into being an actor and working hard to achieve that goal.
AK: You have led a distinguished career, having developed a fair bit of prominence within the Canadian entertainment industry. What advice do you have for youth who are interested in pursuing a career in acting or in the arts, in general?
AV:Thank you again. That is so kind of you to say Abbas. Hopefully this is just the beginning. It takes so much to pursue your passion and it is something I think everyone should do no matter what the obstacles. In pursuing acting as a career, I think my advice for youth would be to always try and have fun. The reason you pursue your passion is because you want enjoy what you do every day. If you lose that, what’s the point? Never forget to enjoy yourself, even when auditioning. In my mind, auditioning is just as much a part of the job description.
AK:Do you have a message for fans who have been following your career?
AV:I would like to say thank you for all the support I have been given so far, and I hope you will continue to enjoy the work I do in the future. It has been an amazing journey so far and I cannot wait for what lies ahead.
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Viewers of Little Mosque on the Prairie should be excited to discover that the fifth season of the sitcom is now available for purchase through CBC’S Online Shop for a current sale price of $25:99[CA]
The fifth season of Little Mosque on the Prairie, which initially aired from January 2011- March 2011 featured Amaar [Zaib Shaikh]and Rayyan’s [Sitara Hewitt]relationship as an engaged couple and the challenges involved in the two’s relationship which was observed in accordance to the Islamic faith,leading up to the much anticipated wedding. Meanwhile Reverend William Thorne[ Brandon Firla] attempts to reform and build positive relationships in the community in various ways, including one of a romantic nature with the town’s librarian, Rose. The season also brought forth special guest appearances by cast members from earlier seasons including Derek McGrath[ Reverend Duncan Magee] , Carlo Rota[ Yasir Hammoudi] and Aliza Vellani[ Layla Siddiqui].
The 2 disc DVD set features all 14 episodes as well as a bonus blooper. Additional features have been listed below, as seen on CBC’S Online Shop.Shipping is typically expected within 3-4 days, however may vary somewhat depending on factors such as location .
- Closed Captioned
- 16:9 Widescreen
- 5.1 Dolby Digital
- Region 0
Will you be purchasing the fifth season of the show? Should you be watching for the first time, which particular story element are you the most excited to see unfold? Share your response in the comments section, below.
In a series finale that lets Little Mosque on the Prairie live up to it’s namesake, Amaar prepares for the grand opening of the new Mosque, while trying to get Baber to end his boycott. Charles returns to Mercy with a plan to win Ann. Sarah reaffirms her Muslim faith; and, with Mercy Anglican burnt to a crisp, Thorne finds an unexpected new home for his congregation.[CBC]
Will all proceed well with the grand opening of the new mosque? What will Amaar do to succeed in getting Baber to end his boycott? What will Charles do to attempt win Ann back and what turn will this relationship take? How does Sarah reaffirming her faith to Islam show how she has explored a full circle herself, from the start of the show?
Will the Anglican community’s new home be the new Mosque?What are your thoughts on how this would be a suitable ending to the show and represent the theme of cross -cultural unity?Will the Muslims and Anglicans continue to live in a strong sense of unity?
Special thanks are extended to the crew and cast for creating this groundbreaking series and for portraying its highly comical and relatable characters, respectively. Thank you very much to all of the cast members of the show for the insightful and entertaining interviews. Thanks to the producers at Westwind Pictures and the CBC for its support for its ongoing endorsement and continued support of this site.
Thank you to the thousands of viewers of the show who have followed the blog’s ongoing coverage of Little Mosque on the Prairie throughout the seasons.I look forward to providing occasional retrospective coverage on this series in the forthcoming years.
This episode marks the series finale of Little Mosque on the Prairie. The shows draws to end after six seasons on CBC.
Aliza Vellani will return as Layla Siddiqui in the finale. In a recent interview with the blog, she mentioned how Layla would continue to increase her independence from Baber.http://abbaskarimjeeweblog.com/2012/04/01/little-mosques-aliza-vellani-chats-about-series-finale/
A recent feature on the National displays certain members in the cast and crew, myself and others discussing the impact the show has had on the perception of Muslims. Take a look at this “.http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/News/TV_Shows/The_National/1233408557/ID=2218190950
Its been sometime since we last connected with Little Mosque on the Prairie’s Arlene Duncan, who has portayed the role of the vibrant and independant cafe owner, Fatema Dinssah.With the groundbreaking and daring yet highly comedic series drawing to an end tonight on CBC, its a suitable time to touch base with the actress to discuss her response to the conclusion and to ask her to reflect on some of her experiences over the course of its six seasons.
Read through my complete interview with the delightful actress below and be sure to tune in for the series finale of Little Mosque on the Prairie @ 8:30pm eastern standard time.
Abbas Karimjee: Since we last connected, it was announced that Little Mosque
will end in its current season.This season marks Little Mosque’s
final chapter. What was your reaction when you discovered this
and what are your thoughts on the degree to which it is suitable for the show
to end this year?
Arlene Duncan:It has been both an honor and a pleasure to be part of such a unique
and ground-breaking show for six seasons. Currently we are
viewed in over 90 countries around the world. Although the show
went through many changes in its six seasons, I’m happy to have
seen my character make it from the first shooting day to the end!
Obviously after this amount of time working with the same cast
and crew there was sadness when we learnt that the show would be
coming to an end. Actually we thought we would be ending after
the 5th season but when we heard we would be coming back again
for a 6th season it was an unexpected bonus!
AK: Could you please give us an idea as to the atmosphere which was present on the set throughout the final weeks on the show?
AD:The atmosphere shooting the final season was very bittersweet: all
good things must come to an end, it wasn’t a complete shock or a
surprise, and we were all prepared to go out with a bang. Still, after
an investment of six seasons into these wonderful characters, just
like our audiences around the world, we’ve become attached to
them. It’s hard to say goodbye and let go of both the relationships
and what they mean to us, fortunately they’ll continue to live on in
reruns and DVDs around the world! After we shot our final scene
together as a group, we all very un-Islamically opened a bottle of
champagne and toasted to our success—those who partake,
AK: What is the final season all leading up to? Could you please give
us an idea of what in store for the series finale itself, both for
Fatima and the show in general?
AD:By the time this is posted the season finale may have already aired,
but still I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone. However, I
can say I think the ending should be a satisfying way to show the
journey of this community of Muslims and the people of Mercy to
the loyal viewers who have followed us from the beginning.
When the final credits roll, one can still imagine that life in Mercy and the lives of these characters will continue to go on: Rayaan &
Amaar’s life as a married couple, Sarah’s adventures in her new
role as a single woman, embracing her faith, Baber continuing to
rant, Fred spouting off on the radio, and Fatima dishing out goat
curry and wisecracks at the café.
AK: You have played Fatima for the show’s six seasons. Could you
please reflect on some of your most favorite moments on the show,
both on screen and in production? Reflecting on your six years
from working to the show, what aspect of working on the show,
will you miss the most?
AD:Although we did the majority of our shooting in Toronto (the
interiors were shot in a studio and the vicinity) and the exteriors in
Saskatchewan, we considered ourselves a Canadian show
representing the multicultural Canadian experience. What I’ll miss
most, besides having a steady gig for six seasons, and working
with our fantastic cast & crew, are the trips to Saskatchewan every
year to shoot exterior scenes. Our‘paid vacation time’ or ‘acting
camp’ as it was affectionately called was a fun-filled bonding
experience where we got to connect with each other as a cast & as
friends, as well as make friends within the Saskatchewan
community. These trips also helped me to ground my character in
the experience of what life would really be like as a Nigerian
immigrant in a small Saskatchewan town.
AK:You were recently involved in a musical theatre which made its
debut on January 23. Could you please indicate the
title of the project, where it was held,the storyline of the show and
other relevant details?
AD:Since the show finished shooting I have gone on to perform some
very different roles from Fatima in various films & television
shows, but I was most excited to get back to my roots in musical
theatre and play the lead role in the Tony-Award winning play
Caroline or Change. Set in 1963, Caroline Thibodeaux is a maid to
a Southern Jewish family who does what she must to provide for
children while struggling to keep her sense of self, while the son of
her employer struggles to make sense of the world around him. It
has been quite a while since I’d been ‘on the boards’ performing
live on stage night after night.
AK: How does working on a theatre production differ from working
on studio sets such as Little Mosque? Which type of acting do you
Playing eight shows a week takes a
very different discipline from working in television. There are no
re-takes in theatre and the objective is to give the audience an
‘opening night’ performance every night. I’m very happy to say
that thankfully our show was well received with a sell-out run. I’m
actually looking forward to getting back on the stage again!
AK:With Little Mosque ending, how do you hope Fatema will be remembered as and what final message do you have for viewers of the show?
With the luxury of six seasons on LMOTP I’ve learnt a great deal as
a performer, grown as an actor and a person and I’m sure to carry
all that I’ve learnt into my future roles. I’m very grateful that
audiences have embraced the character of Fatima Dinssa as their
friend, a sister, or a neighbour and I hope that her legacy will be
similar to that of LMOP: to show that in spite of our outward and
cultural differences at heart we are all the same…and that most
problems can be resolved with some good food!
Aliza Vellani has continued to lead a notable career within the Canadian entertainment industry, particularly through her ongoing involvement in CBC’S hit sitcom, Little Mosque on the Prairie.With the groundbreaking series drawing to a conclusion this week on Monday, April 2 @ 8:30pm eastern standard time on CBC and Aliza making a reappearance in the promising and highly anticipated finale, I thought it was an appropriate time to reconnect with the delightful actress for an interview.
The audio interview is approximately 6 minutes in length and covers Aliza’s response to the show ending this season, her comments on what is to come with Layla reappearing in the finale, the actress’ final message for the show’s faithful viewers and much more.
Click on the link below to listen to the interview and share your thoughts on it afterwards, in the comments section!
Its been nearly a year since we last connected with Little Mosque`s Brandon Firla who plays the intolerant and self-serving yet surprisingly promising character of Reverend William Thorne.
With Little Mosque `s sixth and final season drawing to a close in the next month , we discuss his reaction to the show`s cancellation,Reverend Thorne`s developing friendship with Baber Siddiqui[ Manoj]this season as well as he actor`s experiences as a cast member on the show and the program’s impact on building bridges between the Islamic community and the Western society.
Take a read through our humorous yet insightful interview with the Brandon Firla, below.
Brandon Firla:This is the first I’m hearing of this. Wow. Are you sure? I’ll have to look over my contract again and call my agent. And my Real Estate agent. That lakeshore condo isn’t gonna pay for itself.
That said, I think it’s always best to go out on top and when you’re in peak form and still relevant. Just like Michael Jordan did. Twice. But then he came back a second time, was too old and out of shape so he retired again and tarnished his legacy. The point is, you gotta know when to pull the plug and walk away. But like Michael Jordan, I’m now gonna go play professional baseball for a season or two, then come back to the biz.
AK: What was the mood like on set during the final weeks of the show?BF:It was truly bittersweet. It’s rare that you know your series is coming to an end before you shoot a single scene, so we were all able to say a proper farewell to our castmates and characters. That usually doesn’t happen.AK: You have played Thorne for three seasons. How have you related with the character?
BF:I relate to his height, his questionable hairstyle, and his limited wardrobe selection. Other than that, we couldn’t be more different.
AK: Last season we saw Thorne develop a relationship with Rose. Will we have the chance to see more of this as the season progresses? How do you think this relationship has contributed to the character’s development?
BF:We will not see anymore of Rose. In a deleted scene from last season’s finale, she was abducted by aliens from the planet Zarbax 5 in the omega quadrant. The aliens also erased any memories Thorne or the people of Mercy may have had of her. It was a powerful scene. I’m not sure why it was cut.
AK: Gradually, Thorne has transformed himself into a character that has become more likeable, from how he has connected with Amaar and various other residents of Mercy, allowing him to show that he is genuinely making a commitment to improve despite his many flaws. How did portraying this aspect of Thorne prove to be challenging? Based on the response you have heard from viewers over the past season, how has fan response towards the character changed?
BF:It was great fun to have Thorne climb out of the enormous hole he had dug for himself by the end of season It’s always better for the character, for the actor, and for the audience when your characters have to deal with new situations and challenges and relationships in every episode than it is to see them face the same problem again and again. Season 4 pretty much exhausted every angle of the Thorne vs Amaar conflict, so it was very freeing for the writers and for myself to not be bound to that as a central conflict. As for fan response, I have no idea if or how it’s changed. You can’t control what people are going to think about you or your character, so I don’t put much thought into that. Though I do cry myself to sleep some nights after reading some of the comments on IMDb. It was actually more challenging to play Thorne in the first season.
AK: This season Baber and Thorne we have connected as best friends. What was your reaction when you learnt of this storyline and could you please give is an idea of some of the excitement which is to come as we further delve into their relationship?
BF:I thought it was a great “odd couple” pairing, but more importantly a great way to exploit and explore the spiritual themes of the series. Some of the excitement to look forward to is when Babar gets abducted by aliens from the planet Zarbax 5 in the omega quadrant. Thorne builds a rocketship in his sacristy and blasts off to liberate his friend, reunite with Rose, and unleash holy hell on the evil Zarbaxians.
AK: What do you think draws the two to become great friends, in a way much different from how Thorne became friends with Amaar?
BF:Backgammon. And faith. But mainly the backgammon.
AK: With Baber and Thorne now developing a strong friendship, could you please share some insights on how Reverend Thorne’s established friendship with Ammar will be impacted?
BF:I think he’s used to being abandoned by friends by now. Think about it: Magee left. Yasir left. Even Joe left. Maybe he should try a new aftershave.
AK: Reverend Thorne replaced Reverend Magee upon the commencement of the show’s fourth season to add some challenges to the Muslim community’s relationship with their fellow Anglicans. Do you feel the character’s presence has acted as a sort of model to the show’s audience in demonstrating how even those from different backgrounds and faiths may have a chance to positively build on their relationship , despite negative preconceived notions that they have about one another?
BF:Yes. Well put. I don’t even have to answer that one.
AK: How does it feel to have been apart of a show which is the first of its kind in terms of building bridges between the Islamic community and the Western society?
BF:I think its commendable whenever television programs give funding to a long-term construction project. I look forward to driving across that bridge someday.
AK. You have had a lot of experiences from working the show over it last three seasons. What are some of your favorite moments, either on screen or off screen in production?
BF:My daughter was born 3 weeks before season 2 started shooting, so that was pretty special. The show sort of became a baby factory with a lot of crew, cast, writers, and production staff having offspring over the course of its run. I recommended to anyone with fertility issues to get a job on the Little Mosque set
AK: Is there a message of thanks which you would like to offer to fans of the show, as it draws to a close?
BF:Thank you for suffering through any scene that I was in. It shows true inner strength and a clear understanding of passing through purgatory before reaching paradise.
Manoj Sood has been leading an exemplary career. Having been in the acting industry since 1994, Manoj has appeared in over 40 major television series and feature film productions. His appearances on television series include those such as Dead Zone and Dead Like Me ,while his list of film credits include,Rat Race and American Meltdown.The actor is also currently involved a project in which he is in the process of writing and producing his own TV series.
Manoj has also been bringing his extensive experience and talents to CBC’s hit sitcom, Little Mosque on the Prairie in the role of the conservative Muslim father, Baber Siddiqui. The talented actor has been portraying the role over the course of the show’s six seasons.
Join us today from 2:30pm until 4:30pm eastern time, for a live question and answer session with Manoj. YOU will have the chance to interact with the actor himself, through the comments section!.
Feel free to submit questions or comments related to the actor’s work on Little Mosque as well as questions and comments regarding some of his past or current projects.This is truly great way and time to interact with the actor, given his character’s prominent storyline this season, in terms of his friendship with Reverend William Thorne[ Brandon Firla]
The comments section will open up shortly before 2:30pm eastern standard time!Please note that after posting a comment, you should refresh the page in order to see your response[s] from Manoj Sood as well as to see the additional discussion which other readers are having with the actor.
We look forward to hosting this event!
Only 5 episodes left!Tune in for a new episode of Little Mosque tonight @ 8:30pm eastern time on CBC!
Amaar tries to get the town to support his new Mosque, but finds only disinterest and some outright derision when he reveals that his divine inspiration came from a chicken. Meanwhile, Baber is determined to prove the town isn’t ready for a new mosque by trying to get himself arrested. Sarah has a crisis of faith and considers eating bacon, while Ann suffers a crisis of love while sexting the now absent Charles Thorne.[CBC]
Will Amaar manage to convince others of the supposed validity of his plan? Does Baber’s behaviour seem uncharacteristic, given that he was initially opposed to having the mosque in a church? Has his friendship with Thorne impacted his position on the mosque being in a church? How will Baber’s arrest impact the relations between Mercy’s Muslim community and the general population?
How will Sarah respond to her current crisis and to what extent has her divorce impacted this change in behavior? What will become of Ann’s relationship with Charles Thorne, given that he is to be engaged?When do you think the fate of this affair yet surprising discovery of true love will be established?
Share your thoughts and speculations in the comments section below!
Peter Keleghan will reappear as his character in one more episode
http://abbaskarimjeeweblog.com/2012/02/06/little-mosque-on-the-prairies-debra-mcgrath-discusses-the-shows-final-season/[ Interview with Debra McGrath]
Tune in for the episode tonight @ 8:30pm eastern time on CBC!
Destination Chicken:Amaar is getting impatient waiting to find his new purpose when Baber sticks his nose in where it doesn’t belong, leading to an unexpected sign from above. Meanwhile, Ann’s crush on Charles fuels old sibling rivalries when she encourages her new flame to help out with Rev. Thorne’s Destination Church Spectacular. Sarah is left to deal with the town audit single-handed.[CBC]
What will be the result of Amaar’s impatience and does Baber’s behaviour lead Amaar to reconsider whether he should reclaim his post as imam of Mercy? What exactly is Baber sticking his nose into and how does it affect the mosque?How does Charles involvement in Thorne’s event prompt further sibling rivalry and how will this impact the event? What will become of the Mayor’s reputation when Sarah is left on her own to deal with the audit? How will Sarah’s possible sense of abandonment, affect her own well-being? Share your thoughts in the comments section of the post!
To view a sneak peak of the episode, please visit the show’s official Facebook page @https://www.facebook.com/littlemosque