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Saturday, 24 March, 2001, 13:07 GMT
Festival celebrates Asian culture
Nina Wadia
Goodness Gracious Me's Nina Wadia is up for an award
By the BBC's Susanna Reid

The Mega Mela - a huge festival of Asian culture - takes place at Birmingham's NEC on Sunday with top entertainers from Bollywood to Bhangra.

It will also see the presentation of the BBC Asia Awards, which recognise success within the British Asian community.

The words Mega Mela mean big fair, a huge celebration of Asian culture. This year's event will feature some of the biggest stars in Asian and British entertainment.

George Alagiah
The event will be co-hosted by the BBC's George Alagiah
One of the stars of the BBC comedy sketch show Goodness Gracious Me, Nina Wadia, will attend in two guises.

She is one of the judges for the British Asia Awards, and she's a nominee in her own right, for the Asian Female Personality award.

"When Goodness Gracious Me began, I realised that we'd become role models, which felt like a huge responsibility," she says.

"But I think we've set the standard and made Asian performers feel like they don't have to be confined to speciality channels - they can break into the mainstream."

Path to success

One actor who's always been happy bridging the gap between Asian and British culture is Saeed Jaffrey.

The veteran performer is as familiar to Coronation Street viewers as he is to Bollywood film fans.

"Put all negative thoughts aside," he advises young perfomers hoping to follow in his footsteps.

"Prejudice is everywhere, but you must not think about it - simply believe in your own ability, and have faith in God and you will succeed."

Courage

The BBC Asia awards aren't just about famous names. Kavita Brahmbatt is a star in her own right. Just 12 years old, she signs for her parents who are both deaf.

This means attending doctors appointments and even business meetings with them, signing critical and complicated information.

Two years ago she even had to attend the birth of her baby sister, as there was no other way for the midwife to communicate with her mother.

"I do feel that I've had quite a hard time," she says. "Sometimes I just wish I could talk to my parents like other children do. I just hope people can see that not all 12-year-olds are the same."

Her courage and stamina have seen her nominated for the Young Achievers Award.

The event will be hosted by BBC newsreader George Alagiah, and Sky news presenter Lisa Aziz.

BBC Director General Greg Dyke, Cherie Blair and news-making minister Keith Vaz are all on the guest list.

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24 Jan 01 | South Asia
An extraordinary show of faith
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