Sunday, May 23, 2004

Sakina Jaffrey in Raising Helen

Sakina Jaffrey in Raising Helen

I just wanted to alert you all and let you know that Sakina Jaffrey (Chutney Popcorn), daughter of noted cookbook author and actress Madhur Jaffrey, will appear in the Kate Hudson film, "Raising Helen" as Nilma Prasad.

The New York Times Interviews Hanif Kureishi

The New York Times Interviews Hanif Kureishi

Reknowned writer Hanif Kureishi (My Beautiful Laundrette, My Son the Fanatic) has recently completed writing his latest film, "The Mother." To discuss the venture, the NY Times sat down with Kureishi do discuss his work. Click here to read the interview.

Mani Ratnam's Yuva

Mani Ratnam's Yuva

The acclaimed Indian filmaker Mani Ratnam has just released his latest film, entitled Yuva (Youth). With music by the Mozart of Madras himself--aka A.R. Rahman, Yuva, like many of Ratnam's films is labelled as having a "sharp political edge." TheNew York Times ran an interesting review of the film on its release date (5/21/04).

"...Ratnam, a prolific filmmaker who usually works in the Tamil-language cinema of southern India rather than the Hindi cinema centered in Mumbai (the former Bombay), uses the Bollywood conventions to get at a social reality. The title translates as "Youth," and Mr. Ratnam means to provide a generational portrait through his three male protagonists, each drawn from a different stratum of Indian society in contemporary Calcutta."

click here to read the full article.

Incidentally, the film seemed to do quite well over the weekend, as according to Yuva, which debuted in 30 sites, took in an estimated $200,000, averaging $6,667 per theater.

The Washington Post on Indian Weddings

The Washington Post on Indian Weddings

Maybe it is the time of year, but it is interesting that the Post would run two stories (in the same amount of days) discussing Indian weddings. This article, by S. Mitra Kalita, discusses the Indian-American wedding market mostly from the point of view of Ms. Prabha Bambhri, a Mclean, VA based artist turned Indian-American wedding planner.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The Indian Wedding Feast, a Modern Marvel

The Indian Wedding Feast, a Modern Marvel

Here is a nice piece from the Washington Post's food section by Monica Bhide discussing the love that desis have for food, especially at weddings. I think there are a couple errors/omissions with this article, and my major complaint is that Bhide labels the wedding generically as a Hindu one. I think it would have been beneficial to the reader if she had qualified it more specifically as a North Indian, or Punjabi (if that was the case) wedding. I know Gujarati weddings (think luscious undhyu, poori, dhokla etc--.)differ greatly from what she has written, and I think that the average American reader, who sees all Indian food as Punjabi and all Hindu traditions monolithically may be misled by her piece.

Also Ms. Bhide writes, "Wedding invitations are often addressed to family, friends and even friends of friends. The hosts consider it an insult if you do not bring along a huge group to the wedding." I don't know how true this is.

Nevertheless, it is a nice article about HER Indian wedding feast experience, and I am glad that the Post ran the story.

Jhumpa Lahiri: Back to Basic

Jhumpa Lahiri: Back to Basics

If you are in the mood, or even if you are not in the mood, check out another brilliant short story by Jhumpa Lahiri, in the most recent issue of the New Yorker. Entitled "Hell-Heaven," Lahiri is back at it again--providing the readers again, a compelling short story full of diasporic desi angst.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Good Morning Bombay, I mean America

Good Morning Bombay, I mean America

Bombay Dreams may nbot have received the two-thumbs up from the critics, but it is still seems to be making money, and attracting a lot of attention. I don't know if any of you caught it (I didn't), but the cast of Bombay Dreams performed one of the shows hit songs, Shakalaka Baby on this morning's Good Morning America.

The Cosmopolitan, A Film by Nisha Ganatra

The Cosmopolitan, A Film by Nisha Ganatra

I was recently informed that Nisha Ganatra's film, The Cosmpolitan (based on the short story published in The Atlantic Monthly by Akhil Sharma), starring Roshan Seth, Carol Kane, and Purva Bedi, will air nationwide on PBS on June 1, 2004. Make sure to check it out.

Desi Tune in the Olsen Twin's New York Minute

Desi Tune in the Olsen Twin's "New York Minute"

Who would have thought, right? Desi soundz, and the Olsen Twins, but appearing on the soundtrack for their (hit? flop?) movie, New York Minute is a song by Swami, the same people behind the bollywoodification of Shania Twain with her Up album (the International disc) (Simon and Diamond). The song entitled "Mehbooba(VP FROM UP)" appears on the soundtrack courtesy of Nation Records and Swami's original album Desi Nu Skool Beatz.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Talvin Singh, Karsh Kale, and Nitin Sawhney to Perform at India AIDS Benefit

Talvin Singh, Karsh Kale, and Nitin Sawhney to Perform at India AIDS benefit in LA

Reuters reports that Talvin Singh, Nitin Sawhney and Karsh Kale will be performing at a June 8 charity concert in Los Angeles to raise money for HIV/AIDS causes in India. The lineup also includes Perry Farrell, Michelle Branch and Macy Gray.

"One Night in India" will take place at Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus. Proceeds will benefit the Global Fund, a Geneva-based foundation that aims to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. An earlier press release said the concert would also benefit the American India Foundation, which aims to accelerate social and economic change in India, but that organization is no longer involved, an event official said.

Tickets range from $25 to $500 VIP packages and are on sale via Ticketmaster and the event's Web site

If you are in LA, I highly recommend going to see this show. It is not often that one gets to see Talvin and Nitin Sawhney perform, especially in the U.S. If all three, Karsh, Talvin and Nitin perform together, the experience would be priceless.

What is in a Name

What's in a Name

I know many Desi's have to deal with the typical questions when it comes to their name, and specifically helping non-Desi's learn to pronounce the "exotic," "intersting," and "unique" names that many of us have. The cool part is actually getting to explain what our names mean--my name means truth's victory by the way. Anyway, below is the first paragraph of an article from by Roopa Unnikrishnan and her husband and SAJA co-founder Sreenath Sreenivasan.

One of our pregnant friends complained to us that we had already "taken all the good names." She was exaggerating, of course, but our twin babies do have four names each. And explaining why they have four names--instead of the usual two of most Hindu kids--has been an all-too-frequent occurrence.

Before we explain it, their names: Our daughter--born first--is Durga Maya Nellery Sreenivasan. And our son--born two minutes later--is Krishna Mohan Nellery Sreenivasan.

Two years ago, Roopa was praying at the Hindu Temple in Flushing, Queens, and was making her rounds of the various gods. At one point, she found herself standing, eyes closed, in front of one of the idols. As she prayed silently, she said, "If we have a baby, we will name it after you." Then she opened her eyes to see that she was standing in front of the statue of the goddess Durga. We later joked that we'd better have a girl one day--otherwise, we'd have a boy with a rather unmasculine name. We also joked that it was good she hadn't made that promise to some of the gods there with more complicated names, such as Manikkavachaka, Swarna Bhairava, Dakshina Moorthy. A few months later, we discovered we were pregnant and doubly blessed. We had a name for the girl already picked out then; we just needed a name for the boy.

But as we began to discuss the name Durga with our family and friends, we encountered a good deal of resistance. Among the complaints: "too complicated," "too rare" (wasn't that a good thing?), "too hard for Americans to pronounce," "doesn't rhyme with anything," "no short form," and on and on it went. Several folks suggested other girls' names they liked and also suggested other names of the goddess Durga herself, though some of those, such as "Chamundi," were even more complicated. While we agreed that Durga wouldn't be the easiest name to grow up with in New York City, we also agreed you don't try to waffle on the kind of divine promise Roopa made. You never know the consequences....(click here to read on)

Bride and Prejudice Listing at Box Office Prophets

Bride and Prejudice Release Date Set

"Bride and Prejudice," Gurinder Chadha's follow up to her sleeper hit "Bend it Like Beckham," is set to be released on Christmas 2004, according to the website

Chadha's film, which has a budget four times that of Bend It Like Beckham, will stay faithful to Austen's original story for the most part. The Bennett family becomes the Bakshis, and they live in a modest Indian village. Mr. Darcy, who will be played by The Ring's Martin Henderson, is a wealthy American rather than a British socialite. The story starts in the home of the Bakshi's, where the matriarch of the family has set out to find marriage matches for her four gorgeous daughters while a lavish wedding party is in the town. Instantly, this story's version of Elizabeth Bennett, Lalita (Aishwarya Rai) says that she will only marry for love, which naturally causes her mother no end of mental grief.

I think this film could, if successful, be the beginning of some really great things for Aishwarya Rai, including becoming the first successful Indian crossover actress to be accepted in America, and become the next female star to become the obsession of American males. Maybe even a hosting gig on Saturday Night Live?