Friday, April 30, 2004

Anupam Kher to Play Parminder Nagra's Dad on ER

The Times of India is reporting that Kiron and Anupam Kher (Anupam Kher played Parminder's father in Bend it Like Beckham, and also the father in Gurinder Chadha's upcoming Bride and Prejudice) will be joining the cast of ER for "either one or two" episodes next season, as the parents of Parminder Nagra's character Neela Rasgotra.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

The Reviews of Bombay Dreams are in....

And they don't seem to be too good. But, at the same time, the reviews in the British press were not all that flattering when it opened in the UK, and the show still ended up being a financial success. Below you will find some of the harsh snippets from each of the articles-so make sure to read the entire article. It seems some critics were quite pleased with the acting ability of Ayesha Dharker, who is amongst the most experienced of the cast--and also a holdover from the UK production, as well as with the set and costumes. On the other hand, the critics consistently were upset with the book, particularly the predictability of it, but that is Bollywood. Despite all this it is important to note that often critics see these things in a very different light than most of the audience will see the show in, and I am still going to see and support the show. Desis are still representing on BROADWAY! Click here to purchase tickets for the show, or at least to see when tickets may be available.

Here are links to some of the reviews.
CNN (The only positive pseudo-review that I have read): If a musical is a smash in London's West End, you have to make it even bigger and better for Broadway. Andrew Lloyd Webber seems to have adopted that mantra for his latest musical export "Bombay Dreams."Despite bad reviews, the song and dance show set in India's version of Hollywood (dubbed Bollywood) did big business in Britain during its two-year run. The show's producers are spending $14 million to ensure "Bombay's" success crosses the Atlantic."

The New York Times: "Advertisements for the show may tout it as a voyage to "somewhere you've never been before." But even theatergoers who have never seen a sari or eaten papadum are likely to find "Bombay Dreams" as familiar as this morning's breakfast. It takes more than color, evidently, to be colorful."

USA Today: "How do you say "mind-numbing bunk" in Hindi? I couldn't tell you, but after attending a certain preview performance last weekend, I'd like to propose a new English-language synonym: Bombay Dreams (* out of four). Here, the lure also involves a readily exploitable trend. "Bollywood," the Indian film industry, fascinates many Westerners, among them that British composer of generic-sounding tunes, Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lloyd Webber is only Dreams' producer, but he has a fellow spirit in A.R. Rahman, whose music, a syrupy stew of faintly spiced pop clichés, suggests the equivalent of a Big Mac sprinkled with curry powder." Aggh! I hate the food metaphors--I think that is poor writing which shows lack of creativity.

The Associated Press: The problem is "Bombay Dreams" can't decide whether it wants to spoof or celebrate those over-the-top, hokey and often downright silly musicals that are the backbone of Bollywood, the Indian film industry. It ends up doing a little of both, creating an uncertainty of tone that leaves the story muddled, the actors over-emoting and the evening lurching from one big, athletic dance number to another. Director Steven Pimlott tries his best to keep everything from unraveling.

The Financial Times: It could have been worse, I suppose. As the Bollywood-by-way-of-London musical Bombay Dreams swirled colourfully before me, I thought: it could be Mamma Mia . Unlike the cheap-looking Abba-fest, which keeps packing them in down the road, Bombay Dreams wears its $14m budget resplendently on its sari. And at least the score by A.R. Rahman sounds as if it was written after 1979, even if some of it - the signature tune, "Shakalaka Baby", for example - resembles second-hand Britney Spears, and not just because it is lip-synched. Even though the musical now feels less pastiche-heavy and more sincerely romantic in tone, the overall effect is still synthetic and the genuinely moving moments sparse. The American cast is gung-ho in an infectious, slightly wearing way.

And finally a nice piece and fact sheet on Bombay Dreams, from

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Get That Chip Off Your Shoulder

I was forwarded this article from the SAJA listserv, and immediately had to post it. Anyway, here it is before I begin to draft a letter to the editor in response to the following article by a Pius Kamau which was published in the Denver Post on Wednesday April 28. I strongly encourage anyone who is affected by this article to write a letter to the Denver Post at the following email address: and/or call the paper at this number--303-820-1331. Please remember that if you respond that you do it in a responsible, respectful, and thoughtful manner. Incidentally, the author is a regular contributor to the Denver Post, and a commentator on NPR. Now that the disclaimer is out there, here is the article:

A History of Racial Tension

Some new Indian doctors have been arriving in Colorado, the "whitest" medical community in America. A small nest of East Indian physicians has steadily grown around me. It's significant since, for more than two decades, I was one of just three black surgeons and one of about 20 black physicians in a huge community of white doctors. They say misery loves company; perhaps the new arrivals will help dilute the vitriol that chokes so many hearts.

Dark foreigners have distinct pedigrees. Some Indians are Brahmins, others Warriors; to Hindus, blacks are a rung below Untouchables. Medically, we're poles apart. We say little to each other to unthaw a natural chill. Every time we cross paths, the past bubbles up. Like the world's many competing tribes, we suspiciously eye each other from positions defined by history.

Ours is a relationship that mirrors my colonial past. In East Africa, we lived side by side. Africans were always Indians' servants. Indians were second-class citizens. (Europeans were first and Africans third.) Mahatma Gandhi may have led his nation's fight against British rule, but Kenya's Indians never joined Africans in their struggle for independence; colonialism was just fine.

Sometimes a gesture or a look can trigger a flood of memories. Like their kin in Africa, these new arrivals walk and talk together, alone. They look past us, meaning "Expect nothing from us."

Certain religions govern their followers' behavior, controlling every motion, emotion and thought. Hindus can't help themselves. Humanity exists in a rigid chamber in Hinduism; one's caste never changes. Brahmins are empowered; lower castes enslaved. Blacks fit nicely within this group.

After living with Hindu culture for decades, I've found only two Indian luminaries worthy of admiration: Rabindranath Tagore, the poet of love and patience; and Gandhi, who was assassinated for his reconciliatory teachings. Any religion whose gods consign a large number of its children to slavery and bondage is suspect and odious. With due respect to mythologist Joseph Campbell, I find Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu, Krishna and other Hindu gods unconvincing.

Sometimes we're our father's sons, slavish practitioners of the tribe's customs and our history's reflection pond. Aurora's Hindus resemble others in my Africa.

While attending the first multiracial college in Kenya, many of my Indian classmates came from wealthy families. Our Patels, Sharmas, Shahs and Mistris had little time for Africans. To them we'd always be inferior, even though Kenya was "free."

For decades, they had lived privileged lives. Even though blacks had seats in Parliament, Indians owned banks and commerce. My classmates knew that true power lay with those who pay. They shared little with the rest of us; they held on to their commercial spoils until blacks pried them from their hands.

There were exceptions, though; an Indian Christian friend became my roommate all through medical school. Christianity, it seems, releases the Hindu mind from its rigid shackles, unraveling the tight coils of dogma. Like the monotheist Muslims, Christians are more accessible because charity and love of neighbor are the central tenets of their creeds.

In 1972, Uganda's Idi Amin expelled 52,000 Indians from his country. It wasn't a smart move, but it expressed the frustration, anger and envy that many Ugandans felt.

In Aurora, we run into each other in corridors and the past is unfurled before us. But there's no bitterness in me, only a wish they would open their minds to a world that's fluid and not always divided into rigid castes. I wish they could be convinced that we're not Untouchables. We're only trying to make our way through life the best we can.

I'm glad these dark people are among us. I know they'll help relieve some of our misery."

-End of Article-

I personally do not know what part of that article I found most offensive. Is it perhaps is placing all Indians, well at least those that are followers of Hinduism, as one codified group, who outside of Rabindranath Tagore and Mohandas Gandhi, think, speak, and act alike, because of what Hinduism teaches. According to Dr. Kamau "Hindus can't help themselves," because as he says, Hindus beleive that "humanity exists in a rigid chamber." I also found quite offensive the following Kamau statement, "Any religion whose gods consign a large number of its children to slavery and bondage is suspect and odious. With due respect to mythologist Joseph Campbell, I find Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu, Krishna and other Hindu gods unconvincing." Obviously everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, but I doubt Dr. Kamau has done much research on Hinduism and Indian society, and at best he is thoroughly unqualified to write an article which paints him as an expert on India, Indians, and the various traditions of Hinduism.

What I find most offensive is that the Denver Post actually ran this story. Kamau's vitriol screams of racism, ignorance, and hatred.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Time Magazine Shows More Desi Love

Time has published another flattering articlediscussing the rising tide of South Asian-American influence in the U.S.

"The brash young man seizes the stage of Manhattan's Broadway Theater, sings and dances to a vigorous bhangra and, feeling his rock-star-in-the-making oats, shouts, "Are ya with me, Bombay? ... Are ya with me, New York?" This scene from the new musical Bombay Dreams poses the cultural question of the moment. South Asian pop — Bollywood movies, Indian music and dance, the whole vibrant masala of subcontinental culture — not only enthralls a billion Indians at home but also spans half the world, from Africa and the Middle East to Eastern Europe and the Indian diaspora in Britain and the U.S. Now Indi-pop is close to a critical mass in the U.S. The 2 million American Desis (mainly people of Indian and Pakistani heritage) have made it a burgeoning niche industry. But can it finally catch on in the mall theaters and dance clubs and living rooms of America? Will ya be with it, New York? New Orleans? Nebraska?

The cultural stew is simmering and ready to boil over. Just as Indian food graduated from big-city exotica to mainstream international cuisine, Indi-pop culture could become a new part of American pop culture. It certainly has the energy and glamour to curry favor with more than those who favor curry. It might even gain the hipness it has in Britain — where, as Meera Syal, the original librettist of Bombay Dreams, boldly said, "Brown is the new black."

Meera Syal is right. Brown is the new Black. Brown is the new "it" ethnicity, and Brown is going to be the next accepted section of American society. This isn't jsut because of Bombay Dreams, or Monsoon Wedding. It isn't because Bollywood has finally come to Hollywood, or because Gurinder Chadha has showed the world that it isn't just white British Suburbia who long to bend a ball like Bekcham, and live lives like everyone else. It isn't because South Asians in America are intelligent, or work hard, or drive cabs, or are doctors and engineers, and tech heads. It is because Desis have come to America, and shared with pride, our culture, our music, our religions, ourselves, in order to become productive and recognized members of American society.

"This process, notes writer Hanif Kureishi, "is inevitable, because culture moves forward by taking new and original voices from the margin and moving them into the center. You saw it with Elvis. You saw it with Toni Morrison." If Bombay Dreams is a hit, you may see it with Indian composer A.R. Rahman. You can already see it in the critical and commercial success of novelists like Kureishi, Jhumpa Lahiri, Michael Ondaatje and Arundhati Roy. Their success has led the way for a slew of South Asians, including Michelle de Kretser (from Sri Lanka), Monica Ali (from Bangladesh) and Mohsin Hamid (from Pakistan)."

It seems that a lot is riding on the success of Bombay Dreams, and while this play may (or may not) mark the arrival of desi-American culture on a truly mainstream level, it is important to note that this broadway production, while it does have cultural significance, it is not the final arbiter of whether or not all things desi have arrived. Indeed, since 1997, and Talvin Singh's album Anokha: Soundz of the Asian Underground, was released, Singh introduced what at that time came to be known as the era of Asian Cool. That was 97-seven years ago, and the desi "thing" is still going strong. Many discussions amongst those interested in the status of the diaspora discuss whether or not Desi music, movies, and culture is here to stay, or just part of a passing fad. My feeling is that we are on to something new here, a new genre that is not just a mix of west and east, or a tradtional meets modern genre, but a desi-American genre rivalling the genre created in the last 1990's by Latin American immigrants and members of its diaspora. "The Indian Thing" has been discussed as a passing fad for far too long to actually be one. Soon, Barnes and Nobles and Borders will have a desi-American section, as will Tower Records, and Blockbuster video. Starbucks will be forced to have chai (minus the latte) that actually mimics the beverage available on the subcontinent, and samosas will actually be available in the pastry case. If not, I guess I will have to open a store that encompasses all those things myself.

And incidentally, another indicator of how popular Bollywood and desi culture is becoming--ABC's, The Bachelor will feature Bollywood themed dates on its upcoming episode.

Anyway--to read the full story, click here.

I will leave the post with this quote by Mira Nair that features in the Time Article:

"I came from India to Harvard in 1976," Nair recalls, "and I was one of only three Indians in the undergraduate class. Five years ago, when I went back, Harvard had 1,500 South Asian students. Which means in five more years, America will be run by people who look like us. We bear no illusions about the elite anymore. We are the elite."

That is empowering.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

A.R. Rahman--The Mozart of Madras

Richard Corliss, the author of the above piece, also has written in the latest issue of Time, a profile of A.R. Rahman, the composer of the music of many brilliant bollywood scores, and also, the composer of the very-successful-to-be musical Bombay Dreams.

The billboard outside the Broadway Theatre reads, A R RAHMAN'S BOMBAY DREAMS. That name may mean little to musical-theater devotees, but in the rest of the world it's golden. Like Gershwin or Lennon-McCartney, the name stands for melody, quality, energy, instant hummability — a sound both personal and universal, devouring many older forms and transforming them into something gorgeously new. At 38, Rahman is nothing new to fans of Indian films. They know by heart his scores and songs for some 70 movies. And they buy his CDs — do they ever! By some counts, 150 million albums of Rahman music have been sold, which could make him the top-selling artist in recording history.
"It's an approximate count," says Rahman, in a phone chat from London. "If you have a hit film, you'll sell 5 million or 6 million CDs. Of my movies, at least 20 or 25 were really big hits." Mind you, he adds, "in India, we don't get royalties. Otherwise I'd be a very rich man. I wouldn't have to come to America!"Rahman, who has been jetting from his home and studio in Madras to New York City (for Bombay Dreams) and London (where he is preparing his West End musical of The Lord of the Rings), is a world traveler from way back. Born A.S. Dileep Kumar, he began playing piano at 4, and when his father died five years later, the precocious child hit the road, touring the world with tabla maestro Zakir Hussain. The family converted to Sufi Islam, and Dileep took the name Allah Rakha Rahman.

He studied music at Oxford and returned to Madras to write jingles for an ad agency. In 1992 Tamil director Mani Ratnam chose Rahman, then 26, to be musical director of the movie Roja. Scoring an Indian film means writing the songs (with a lyricist) as well as composing and conducting the background music. Rahman proved a master of it all. His songs were recognizably Indian but paraded a world of musical influences, from raga to reggae, from Broadway to Ennio Morricone, with each tune heightening the film's drama.

Soon Rahman added commissions for Hindi (Bollywood) films to his workload. In songs for Ratnam's Bombay and Dil Se, and for the Hindi films Vishwavidhaata, Taal and Lagaan, he created a body of work unparalleled, at least in the '90s, for ravishing melodic ingenuity. "I wanted to produce film songs," he says, "that go beyond language or culture." They went beyond India too. As Western film cultists discovered India's pop cinema, they realized that along with the ferocious emoting and delirious dances, there was a master composer — the man Indians call the Mozart of Madras."

I was unaware that Indians call him the Mozart of Madras?

"One of Rahman's fans was Andrew Lloyd Webber, who had caught Dil Se on TV and was entranced by Chaiyya Chaiyya, an all-time irresistible bhangra sung on the roof of a speeding train. Lloyd Webber had found not just an inventive composer but also the solution to a vexing problem. "Musical theater had become very predictable," Rahman says. "I think Andrew felt that Bollywood musicals could be a new treat for the Western audience." Bombay Dreams (about half new Rahman songs, half greatest hits from his movies) has run for nearly two years in the West End. This week a new version opens on Broadway. Rahmaniacs will regret the jettisoning of half a dozen solid tunes from the original. (Three songs have been added.) Hardened Broadway regulars may find the show splashy but naive. Still, anyone with half an ear will hear the most vibrant, varied new score in ages. They will leave Bombay Dreams humming Rahman's songs and singing his praises. Broadway, meet Bollywood."

Thursday, April 22, 2004

San Jose Mercury News on Aishwarya Rai

San Jose Mercury News on Aishwarya Rai

Great Article by Lisa Tsering today in the San Jose Mercury News profiling Aishwarya Rai. As far as I can remember (please correct me if I am wrong), this is the first--i bet of many-- profiles of Aishwarya written in a major American newspaper. And on the heels of her being on the Time list, and the many crossover films she is participating in, this is only the beginning for her.

here are the first few paragraphs in case you don't want to do the (free) registry online...

By Lisa Tsering
Special to the Mercury NewsPosted on Thu, Apr. 22, 2004

Aishwarya Rai is the highest paid actress in India and the undisputed queen
of India's ``Bollywood'' movie industry, but few viewers in America have
ever heard of her. That should change this year. In September, Rai -- a former Miss World --
will be seen in a starring role in the Miramax film ``Bride and Prejudice:
the Bollywood Musical,'' from director Gurinder Chadha (``Bend it Like

She's also signed on opposite Meryl Streep to co-star in ``Chaos,'' a comic
thriller from French director Coline Serreau, and will star in
``Singularity,'' a period drama from Roland Joffe (``Vatel,'' ``The

Right now, Bay Area fans of Bollywood are gearing up for Rai's long-awaited
live appearance in ``Breathless,'' an evening of Bollywood dance and music
at the Oakland Coliseum Arena on Saturday. She'll be joined by 6-foot
heartthrob Hrithik Roshan, former Miss Universe Lara Dutta (now a top-ranked
Bollywood star herself), and other actresses, actors, dancers and musicians.

As her star rises in the West, Rai, 30, finds herself in the position of
representing the Indian standard of beauty to the world. In some ways, she
embodies the ``typical'' Indian woman -- she refuses to kiss on screen and
her date on the Cannes red carpet in 2002 was none other than her mom,

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Time Magazine's Top 100

Time Magazine's Top 100

Only a couple of week's after Newsweek hailed the Desi Diaspora, Time Magazine, in their list of the 100 most influential people have recognized a few desi's on their list.

Among the desis are of course one of my favorites-- Aishwarya Rai, who is in the most influential "artists and entertainers section," Wipro's Aziz Premji who was selected in the "Builders and Titan's section," BKS Iyengar in the "Heroes and Icon's" section, and one more desi, who was placed in the "Leaders and Revolutionaries" section.


Saturday, April 17, 2004

The New York Times > Movies > Critic's Notebook: From Breezy Bollywood, Films Anything but Vérité

The New York Times on Bollywood

Ten years ago, or even less than that, when I was in high school, I would have never seen two stories, one day after another on India, let alone South Asia. And now, in 2004, the New York Times has actually done it. Bollywood has entered mainstream America's radar and vocabulary, well at least the NY Times' vocabulary.

This NYT report focuses on the third annual "Cinema India!" program, for an ambitious touring film series that began yesterday at the Asia Society before moving to the American Museum of the Moving Image in Queens and then to other cities. The community affairs department of The New York Times is a sponsor. In addition to musicals like "Kandukondain, Kandukondain" ("I Have Found It") starring the bollywood bombshell Aishwarya Rai, and the 1995 blockbuster "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge" ("The Braveheart Will Take the Bride,") it includes two crime melodramas; a delicate, humanist art film (which in India, according to some definitions, describes any movie without songs); and a documentary about Zakir Hussain, a prominent classical musician.

With just six films in its program, "Cinema India!" is clearly not trying to be comprehensive or even representative. Given the scale and variety of movie production in India, such a thing would hardly be possible, even in a much bigger series. Instead, it offers glimpses into a parallel cinematic universe, one that is complex and sometimes puzzling but at the same time accessible and welcoming. It is hard, for example, to resist the charms of "The Braveheart Will Take the Bride," a lavish romance (with weddings, mothers and musical numbers) that few people in India have resisted since its release in 1995. "Come, fall in love," was the movie's advertising tag line, which seems to have been unusually effective. Not only was "Braveheart" (better known as "D.D.L.J.," short for its Hindi title, "Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge") the top box-office attraction of that year, but it has played continuously in Mumbai ever since and has sold untold millions of videos and DVD's, both authorized and pirated.

The United States, ensconced in the imperial parochialism of Hollywood and spoon-fed exquisite art-house morsels from the international festival circuit, has lagged behind the rest of the world in its recognition of India's cinematic supremacy. But the imminent Broadway opening of "Bombay Dreams," an expensive stage musical with songs by Mr. Rahman, suggests we may at last be catching on. With the way the New York Times, or Newseek magazine are covering such events and the South Asian community, it seems like the catching on is imminent.

The New York Times > Theater > News & Features > The Extreme Makeover of 'Bombay Dreams'

Bombay Dreams...Go Somewhere You Have Never Been Before

While I find the tagline to play a bit too much on the exoticism of India, its double meaning is interesting. The Bollywood on Broadway production is a first of its kind in trying to bring a huge part of modern Indian pop-culture to the foremost stage in the world, and that is going somewhere many South Asians haven't been, or dreamt of being before.

The New York Times today published a quite in depth review of the preview of Bombay Dreams, focusing a lot on how the show has changed since its move from London, and how these changes have not just made the show more suitable for American audiences, but how the show has become better as a whole.

On A.R. Rahman's score:
"It's been a long time since there has been a score as good as this," said Lord Lloyd-Webber about the work of A. R. Rahman, 38, a leading Bollywood composer who wrote the music. To bring Mr. Rahman's work to the West, Lord Lloyd-Webber commissioned him to write the score for "Bombay Dreams," hiring his own frequent collaborator Don Black ("Sunset Boulevard") to write the lyrics. For the American version, the producers hired the songwriter David Yazbek ("The Full Monty") to help rewrite some of the lyrics. As the book changed, several songs were omitted and new ones added. Mr. Yazbek wrote a song in the style of bhangra, a hybrid of Indian folk and pop dance music, which Akaash (the male leade) sings on television, propelling him to fame." Mr. Black tightened the lyrics in existing songs. "Songs in Bollywood movies don't really further the plot," Mr. Black said. "I have re-jigged a lot of the lyrics so that they do carry the weight of the story." The London production uses only 10 musicians, backed by recorded samples. The Broadway version has 19 musicians — the minimum for the theater, as prescribed by the musicians' union's agreement with the producers. In London, the cast lip-syncs to three of the songs because, Mr. Pimlott said, they did not have time to learn the specialized form of Indian singing required. The Broadway version uses taped singers on only one of the songs — "Shakalaka Baby," the show's signature tune — in which the cast is portraying Bollywood actors, who often do not sing their own songs.

To have a successful run, the Times reports, because NY lacks the South Asian population of the UK, its main goal is to bring in non-South Asian audiences early. They want to portray Bombay Dreams as a descendant of "Fiddler on the Roof" or "The King and I" — musicals with an ethnic milieu that have universal appeal. For example, while posters in London used Bollywood icons — a villain surrounded by snakes — in New York they depict more universal scenes, like a smiling Indian couple. They also point to India's exoticism, with the tagline, "Somewhere you've never been before." Broadway preview audiences have been only 15 percent to 20 percent South Asian, Ms. Williams estimated. On Broadway, Lord Lloyd-Webber observed, the reception has been good so far. One reason is that in New York the "white audience," he said, has been "wanting it to work, embracing the thought that it is musically from a different culture." Or perhaps, as he has already recognized, it's that the show is better.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Dancing Between Cultures And Having a Great Time (

Bhangra Blowout in the Washington Post

I find myself constantly writing about this amazing event organized by the South Asian Students Association at the George Washington University, I guess because it is quite amazing. Anyway, the Washington Post has published an article on Blowout specifically, and a about South Asian-American culture generally. The article, written by post Columnist, desi, and SAJA president S. Mitra Kalita, is one of the better articles I have read on BB --so big up to her, and go read it now.

I really liked her lede: "Amid flashing strobe lights and the squealing of teenagers, South Asian college students from across the country tried to take back their culture this weekend."

The article then goes on to say,

"Thousands of college students arrived in the District this weekend to take part in George Washington University's 11th annual Bhangra Blowout, a dance competition and springtime rite for many who trace their roots to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries in South Asia. Revelers readily confess that they come just as much for the other festivities of the weekend, namely the parties at nightclubs throughout the city. In fact, event organizers liken Bhangra Blowout to Howard University's homecoming or Freaknik, a spring break for black college students in Atlanta."

This in fact is something that I have been saying to my friends for some time. Bhangra Blowout is slowly (if not already) is becoming the South Asian equivalent to Howard Homecoming. For as long as I can remember, especially after graduating college, BB has been a time for old friends and just other desi's to flock to DC and revel in our culture. When I say our culture, I am not referring to Indian, but this new hybrid that we have created, that does not just fuse parts of desi and parts of American, but that is truly something new, that of course has elements of both, but also elements that you would not typically find in South Asia or in middle America.

The one nitpick I would make with the article is the the writers use of two party promoters, who have no official relation to the competition, GWSAS, or BB, but who essentially are throwing parties around the event. GWSAS sponsors an official bash that has been held at the Old Post Office Pavilion that past few years and who have seen the likes of Funkmaster Flex, The Dhol Foundation, and Panjabi MC at the DJ/Music helm. Additionally these party promoters often have really crappy reputations within the desi community. Here is one comment I tend to disagree with that was used in the article.

Eight years ago, when Aziz Ahmed started to promote parties, club owners would tell him, "No Indian music." "Now it's part of a trend," said the George Washington alumnus. "I think it's cool when you walk into a club and they play Indian beats." His company, Enigma Entertainment, organized two parties before Bhangra Blowout and one after. As he stood outside Vida Lounge in Foggy Bottom just before midnight Saturday, Ahmed beamed at the long line of people waiting to get in. He guessed most of the people probably hadn't watched the competition.
"No one really cares about the show. They just come for the parties," he said."

From my previous post about BB show tickets being sold on Ebay, and also supported by the fact that the show has consistently sold out (ever since I can remember--my first BB was in 1997), I don't necessarily agree that "no one really cares about the show." In fact I find that claim to be unsubstantiated, and made in haste, especially because without the show, this whole thing would be a non-story, a non-event, and there would be no parties.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

eBay item 2236714961 (Ends Apr-09-04 17:41:21 PDT) - 4 tickets -BHANGRA BLOWOUT- Punjabi Hindi Indian +FREE

Bhangra Blowout---on Ebay?

I knew that the GW South Asian Society's Bhangra Blowout was huge, but I never thought tickets would be jacked up this much for the show on EBAY. Click here to see the fool that is trying to make money on the show that raises money for the only student endowed scholarship for a South Asian student in the country.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

What's on my Iriver

What's on my iriver

Here is what has been swirling around on my iriver playlist. What is on yours?

1. RDB -- Punjabanay
2. Street Symphony--Baby Boo (Tigerstyle Remix)
3. Elephant Man, Twista, Young Bloodz--Jook Gal Remix
4. Apache Indian--Om Namah Shivaya
5. Dizzee Rascal-- I love you

Monday, April 05, 2004

Outsourcing Backlash

I understand that outsourcing of jobs, many of which are going to India, has become this huge political issue, and with white collar jobs fleeing, white collared people are getting upset. But, this shirt from is not only uncalled for, I find it straight-up offensive and racist. I was going to put a hyperlink but I don't want to give these people any more publicity than necessary. When American jobs are lost, obviously it hurts us, but when we use racism or derrogatory stereotypes to fight things that seem to be unjust, I don't think that gets anyone anywhere. In fact, it makes the cause look stupid.

In the end, outsourcing is another part of the globalization phenomenon, and it is uncontrollable. For things that are deemed positive for America from the phenomenon, things will be negative as well, and to have one part of globalization, the whole thing must be accepted.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Raje Responds

Raje Shwari Responds

I just received Raje's official response to the Timbaland interview clip that was played on Panjabi Hit Squad's show last week.

Below are official comments made by Raje Shwari:
(I received this in an email--so I will not edit for spelling/typo's etc..)

"Hello Gentlemen, Raje here. First and foremost, thanks for the love I always feel floating to me from overseas especially from your crew. Truly appreciated more than you know.

SO, I heard bits and pieces of the interview y'all did with the Beatmaster himself. Let me just say that there are two sides to every
story, and unfortunately this is a classic case of a music industry diseased with middlemen that are hell bent on pitting good people up
against each other with lies just to make their own dollars. Sadly, I have never had a one on one conversation with Tim himself about why I
walked away, but I still remain with nothing but much love and respect for him. Can't say a bad word about him. He took me under his wing and
taught me so many priceless things. Perhaps someday the universe will facilitate for us to talk about what really went down and how we both
were manipulated so he will understand the real story and that I never meant to disrespect him by leaving Beatclub. But for now, I'm gonna be
David in this "David and Goliath" scenario and just keep standin up to the Giant .... keep puttin up the good fight, if you know what I mean.
As far as your listener's comments, some will say, "Oh, she's just a hook girl, a free sample, she can't really sing, she's being used by the super producers for Asian influenced tracks, she's over with already" and so on and so on...Actually I might even think the same thing 'bout an artist like me based on what's gone down in the Asian/Hip Hop scene just in the last two years and what I have and have not been able to do in the public's eye...I myself got tired of making other poeple's shit hot and not bein able to do my own thing the way I wanted to do it. What goes on behind the scenes is a whole different story. People don't even
know I sing straight up R&B in English and was just tryna combine the hip hop, hindi and English to come up with my own unique style, instead of always singing the Indian shit. Just part of paying my dues I guess. That's exactly why I chose to break out on my own and prove myself.

For those that will continue to believe in me, I'm grateful and still bustin my ass to prove all the doubters wrong. Sure, you can call me a hook girl, you can call me a so so singer, and you can even call me the dumb girl who walked away from Tim's camp...but you can't call me a sell-out.
It's definitely not easy to stay true to yourself with so much temptation and confusion swirling around. But I look at it this way....controversy can be a good thing. Trust me, in the end the fact that the big boys like Timbo and Pharrell are workin with, and even more than that, talking about an artist like me on your show, just goes to show that Asian influenced music is here to stay no doubt. Don't count me out, cuz it aint over til its over. Til then, Its all good."

So there it is.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

BBC - Radio 1 - Urban

Timbaland to Appear on Bobby and Nihal presents...

I am really looking forward to hearing Bobby and Nihal grill Timbaland this Friday on their radio show Bobby and Nihal presents---and among other things, I am sure there will be questions on the Raje-Timbaland breakup. After hearing the full interview with Timbo on the Rodney P & Skitz show, I am pretty curious how this interview is going to play out. Make sure to check it out, if not on Friday night, the show will be available for a full week afterwards.

Also, make sure to check out Bobby and Nihal's newest internetary (internet + documentary) on Raghav. Not only is Raghav representing for the Desis with his soulful pop stylings, Bobby and Nihal are really bringing the desi noise on the BBC.

The film follows Raghav's single 'Can't Get Enough' from its first radio play on Bobby and Nihal to Raghav's performance on Top Of The Pops, and takes in the massive growth of the Asian music scene in the UK over the last year.

Make sure to check it out.

If you want to know more about Raghav, my interview with him wil be published in the newest (April) issue of Mantram Magazine.