From a musical, Indo-Canadian family, Jonita Gandhi got her start filming covers of popular songs from Hindi films and posting them on YouTube. Her videos quickly went viral and after being discovered on YouTube by industry executives, she launched her career in Bollywood as a playback singer someone whose singing is recorded for use in movies.
She made her Bollywood debut in the title track of the 2013 Blockbuster hit film "Chennai Express" starring India's mega superstars Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone and has toured the world with Bollywood's top personalities including AR Rahman, Sonu Nigam and Salim-Sulaiman. Recently, Jonita was awarded Best Female Vocalist by the Mirchi Music Awards.
Jonita is best known for hit film songs including The Breakup Song, dil ka telephone, sau tarah ke, chellama, OMG Ponnu and more, spanning several languages including Tamil and Punjabi. She continues to post videos to her YouTube channel, which boasts over 845,000 subscribers and continues to perform with her own band.
Born in Cairo and raised in the Middle East, Maryem Tollar now lives in Toronto where she has performed with several Toronto musical groups and artists including Al Qahwa (traditional Arabic music and original compositions), Turkwaz (traditional Turkish, Greek, Arabic and Balkan vocal repertoire), Odessa Havana (Cuban Jewish Ladino songs) and with storyteller Dawne McFarlane, adding music and sounds.
She also performs in her own band, Mernie! which she started with her husband, Ernie Tollar. A 10-piece ensemble, the band features musicians from all different cultural backgrounds and has released one album titled Flowers of Forgiveness. Her vocals can also be heard singing Mayya Mayya in the Bollywood film Guru as well as the ending credits theme song on CBC’s Canadian sitcom, Little Mosque on the Prairie.
Maryem was the featured vocalist in Toronto-based Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, Tafelmusik’s, production of Tales of Two Cities: The Leipzig-Damascus Coffee Houses and the narrator and vocalist in Safe Haven. She has performed pieces with prominent, Canadian musical groups and artists including The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Inuit throat singer Tiffany Ayalik, The Gryphon Trio and Patricia O’Callaghan. In 2019, Maryem was awarded the inaugural Johanna Metcalf Prize for Performing Arts.
Colin D'Mello, Emcee
Colin D’Mello is a video journalist at CTV News Toronto. As the station's Queen's Park Bureau Chief, he covers provincial politics for all local CTV News stations in Ontario, having previously covered all levels of politics in Canada. He began his career as a reporter at CTV in 2011, and began co-anchoring the weekend broadcasts shortly after.
D’Mello jump-started his career as a 19-year-old when he moved to Moncton, N.B. to work as an announcer. Born in Kuwait, he credits the events of the first Gulf War for shaping his interests in storytelling. D’Mello is a graduate of the broadcast journalism program at Seneca College and is married with two children.
Puja Amin, Sanskriti Arts
Puja Amin is a world renowned dancer, choreographer, teacher and entrepreneur. She is the founder and director of Sanskriti Arts, an award-winning South Asian dance company in Mississauga. A veteran of TV and film, Puja is an international Bollywood, Folk and Kathak dance performer and educator. She is also the President of Bollycore, the newest craze in fitness.
Her global initiative, “Dance Diaries,” has brought highly acclaimed Bollywood choreographers and legends from around the world to teach and perform alongside local talent in extraordinary and memorable workshops. Puja has choreographed for and performed on the world stage with Bollywood celebrities like Priyanka Chopra, Shahid Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai Bacchan.
Recently Puja was honoured in Mumbai, the Bollywood capital of India, where she was presented with the Global Excellence Award for Best Dance and Entertainment Studio in Canada from the dance diva and superstar, Madhuri Dixit. As a teacher, Puja believes that dance, health and happiness go hand in hand. Her mission is to empower students through movement, to inspire a passion for dance, and to motivate a powerful drive in them to explore their full potential.