Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Gurinder Chadha Invited to Join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Congratulations from DESIBLOG to Gurinder Chadha on her invitationto join the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (The Academy).

Also, the Times of India has published an interiew with Chadha where she discusses her upcoming film, starring Aishwarya Rai and Martin Henderson.

And from the article, a nice little tidbit, that I think is going to add a whole other dimension to the desification of hip-hop. It turns out the hip-hop star Ashanti has sung a Hindi track for the film entitled Payal Bajake. Chadha had Ashanti come to Goa to do the shoot, and made her up like the old-skool bollywood star Helen. The interview also has Chadha dishing on Rai and Henderson. Click here to get to the article.

The Village Voice Hyping Basement Bhangra

From this weeks Village Voice:
DJ Rekha and her posse were so far ahead of the Bollywood craze they should get an honorary plaque and a lotta money. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be a Bollywood committee, so we'll do the honorary part here (they're on their own with the money). The BASEMENT BHANGRA parties are the longest running of their kind in the city—perhaps even the country. Rekha takes tasty bhangra beats and other East Asian flavors and deftly weaves them into modern music—hip-hop, house, breaks. We wonder if Jay-Z ever went to one of these bashes?

Yeah, I doubt it. Perhaps if he had, he would have heard PMC's Mundian to Bach Ke, hmm i don't know, maybe five years ago.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Talvin Singh Manhandled at Paris Airport reports on the realities of frontier-crossing and its risks, especially when you are brown, the color that is. On May 11, British Asian musician Talvin Singh, following a visit to the French capital to discuss with the press the release of his latest album (see Review), the virtuoso tabla player prepared to embark on the last Eurostar train back to his homebase in London. As he ambled towards the 8 :43 pm to Waterloo customs officers yanked open the black suitcase that held his precious tablas and began to toy with them unceremoniously. When Singh offered to dismantle them himself, he was jostled, thrown to the ground and manhandled. It was only when they saw that Singh held a British passport that the officers ended their aggression, but not before threatening to ban him from France. By then the train had left and Singh was left in Paris for a night to ponder over the selective French treatment reserved to people of a darker hue. Would the officers have treated his friends David Bowie or Bjork in the same way, he asked himself ?

On a side note, I can't wait to hear Talvin's new work--mondomix's review sounds pleasantly encourging.

Rich Girl + Anand Jon =...?

I don't know if any of you saw that horrible show on MTV, Rich Girls, but Page 6 is reporting that Rich Girls star Jamie Gleicher has used some of her money to become desi fashion designer Anand Jon's business partner, and they're launching a monthly Indian-themed party at Chelsea restaurant Ruby Falls.

I wonder how successful that will be. Poseur wannabee fashionista rich girl and Anand Jon's design?

Monday, June 28, 2004

Desi Immigrant Politicians: Do They Have to Be Conservative to Be Successful

Maybe its the South. Maybe it is just Louisiana, and South Carolina. I know Kumar Barve is quite liberal, but first it was Bobby Jindal, and now Nikki Randhawa Haley-two successful-ish republican conservative desis?

I guess it doesn't matter sometimes how hard you try to assimilate, b/c it seems despite conforming to the values that many of her constituents espouse, a lot of racism remained during the Randhawa-Haley's campaign.

From the article:
A WOMAN STOOD outside a polling place last Tuesday holding a Nikki Haley sign. A man who was driving away rolled down his window to shout at her, “I hope your children worship cows!” That confused the lady with the sign. The man was a good way down the road before she decided it was meant as a slur on Hinduism. Nikki Haley, by the way, is not a Hindu. At another point during the House District 87 runoff against incumbent Rep. Larry Koon, Haley campaign manager B.J. Boling received the following e-mail: “Please remember that she is a Buddhist. One of my friends ... verified this for me. I can only vote for a Christian, Larry Koon is a deacon and a wonderful Christrian man an does a lot for bring money into Lexington County. Please send this to your friends.”

Haley, isn't a Buddhist either. She is a Sikh, and now Lexington county is represented by a republican, desi-American, Sikh/methodist, conservative in the South Carolina Assembly. Click here to read the full story from the local South Carolina paper.

While DESIBLOG doesn't necessarily agree with her politics, we must congratulate her on her victory. It does however leave the question unanswered--must immigrants portray this bible thumping outlook to win an election. Is this the only way that middle America can accept an immigrant into the mainstream?

Jay Sean Enters the Charts at Six

Jay Sean Enters the Charts at Six

Big Up to Jay Sean from DESIBLOG. His new single, Eyes on You (Relentless Records), which was released last monday, entered the UK charts in the sixth position. If my memory serves me correctly, that is the highest entry since Panjabi MC's Mundian to Bach Ke, which came in at five. Congrats--if and when the tune gets a U.S. release purchase it then, if you are ambitious, get it from (UK)

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Ethnotechno's Interview with DJ Spooky

Ethnotechno's Interview with DJ Spooky

Ethnotechno just put up its interview with DJ Spooky. During the interview they discuss one of the more powerful DJ sets I have heard in a long time-- Abstrakt Blowback. I put a link up to the set back in January.

Also, if anyone knows how to convert real audio to mp3--give a holla-either via email or a comment.

Nisha Ganatra--Having Her Cake and Eating it Too

Nisha Ganatra--Having Her Cake and Eating it Too

I always thought that the aboce expression was kind of odd. Why can't one have cake and eat it? Anyway, Reuters is reporting that Nisha Gantra's next film, "Cake," will star Heather Graham and Cheryl Hines--from the Larry David Show. I also heard that Taye Diggs and Sara Chalke from Scrubs will also have prominent roles in the film.

Cake focuses on a free-spirited travel writer and adventurer (Heather Graham) whose phobia of relationships is tested after she accepts an offer to take over her father's business, a conservative bridal magazine. The film is currently filming in Canada.

Desi Wedding Excess

The Excess of Desi Weddings

MSNBC is running a story on the 60 million dollar wedding of Vanisha Mittal (to Amit Bhatia), daughter of expat desi and steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal.

What do you get for 60 million you ask?

A six-day bash for 1,500 guests in France’s most sumptuous settings, including Versailles. Mittal rented the Tuileries garden for one night and a gallery at Versailles another night. Some 6,000 meals, including veggie-specialties prepared by celebrity chef Munna Maharaja, and 5,000 bottles of Mouton-Rothschild 1986 were also included in the bill.

Louis XIV’s lavish chateau apparently was not enough — Mittal also had a makeshift castle built at a park in Saint-Cloud, outside the capital. The actual wedding took place Tuesday at another chateau, Vaux-le-Vicomte.

Among the many other things $60 million could buy it is also the equivalent to the cost of an Airbus A320 passenger jet.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Oklahama Judge Pumps it Up, on the Bench

Oklahama Judge Pumps it Up, on the Bench

I don't know what this guy was thinking with, but the fact that Donald D. Thompson, 57, an Oklahmoma Judge thought it was ok to do what he did, while presiding over court cases (including a murder case) is unbelievable.

"While seated on the bench, an Oklahoma judge used a male enhancement pump, shaved and oiled his nether region, and pleasured himself, state officials charged yesterday in a petition to remove the jurist." Click here to see the full description and the almost lewd indictment.

The New York Times on the Desi Scene

The New York Times on the Desi Scene

And now the New York Times, in their Arts section, has found (yet again) the neverending hipster desi scene in New York.

In a pretty well written piece, the Times discuss the burgeoning (I don't know if a scene is still burgeoning after five years) South Asian American Arts/Music/Culture that is thriving in the US and specifically in New York.

"HEN "Bombay Dreams," the musical about making it in the Indian film capital known as Bollywood, was imported from London to Broadway this spring, it introduced some listeners to the madcap eclecticism of filmi, the song-and-dance numbers that punctuate Bollywood's sprawling musicals.

But Broadway was the last to know about the rendezvous of Indian and Western music. The profound improvisations of South Asian classical music — from revered figures like Ravi Shankar as well as younger masters like the tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain — have long been welcome in the city's concert halls, although the classical circuit is largely quiescent in summer.

Jazz musicians have been absorbing ideas and collaborating with Indian musicians at least since the 1960's. Hip-hop has latched on to Indian rhythms, most notably last year when Jay-Z added a rap to Panjabi MC's "Mundian To Bach Ke" to remake it as "Beware of the Boys." In New York's clubs, the sounds of Bollywood and other South Asian fusions have been drawing crowds for years: some to dance, some to listen, some to mingle and network.

In the article you will find more on Aladdin, a Bangladeshi comic, Karsh Kale a South Asian-American musician prodcer, Vijay Iyer an amazing Pianist, Vivek Bald, DJ Rekha, and AR Rahman among others.

We all know all things South Asian have been cool for some time, and Bombay Dreams, Monsoon Wedding, and Bend It Like Beckham, have added to this hipness in recent times. But as Vijay Iyer noted, "It's very trendy right now to be associated with all things South Asian. I don't know how long that's going to last. But I can't escape it; this is what I am. And I'm going to be with this forever."

To read the full article, click here

And as an added extra incentive, the times has links to music by the Midival Punditz, Panjabi MC, and Karsh Kale.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

PMC album clips

PMC Music Clips

If you have ever wanted to hear clips of Panjabi MC's oldest tunes--check out the MTV website.

They have clips from all his albums, as far as I can tell, including Another Sellout, Jogi, 100% proof, Souled Out, Desi, and my personal favorite (and one of the best albums ever) Legalised.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Sudip Bose, Medic Man

Sudip Bose, Medic Man

Even the Desi presence in Iraq is not just a regular soldier, but you guessed it, a doctor. This story from chronicles Dr. Sudip Bose, a desi who joined the army to pay his medical school bills, and who is now a surgeon in Iraq, saving the lives of Americans as well as the Iraqis who are trying to kill them.

From the article:
When the young American arrives on a gurney with the bullet wound in his abdomen, the medic lifts him into the helicopter, making sure he is lying on his left side to ease the strain on his heart. If the soldier, whose name is Chris, closes his eyes, the medic talks to him and wakes him up. Over the palm groves north of Baghdad, the medic works out an IV to keep him from going into shock, and watches the flow of saline into his vein. Eight minutes later, the crew is taking Chris off the Black Hawk and running with his gurney through the emergency-room doors of the combat support hospital. Dr. Sudip Bose and the staff of the emergency room are there waiting for him.

The injured soldier's doctor, Sudip Bose, is the lanky 30-year-old son of Indian immigrants from Calcutta. He grew up in Illinois and went to Northwestern Medical School, following the path of millions of first-generation Americans into the professional universe. But where others opted for safe careers and high-paying positions in the civilian world, Bose ended up in the middle of a war. When I first spoke to him, he was sitting behind a desk piled high with packaged snacks in an office he also slept in. Bose was distractedly mixing a protein drink, talking about the need to stay in shape. After a few minutes he spent describing his life, it was clear that Bose is an unlikely soldier. In 1996, after his first year of medical school, he took a look at his tuition bill and joined the Army, accepting a deal where the military would pay for a year of education for every year of service.

"It was a tough decision but you have to pay back the debt somehow, and I could have ended up with about $200,000 of debt. My parents were struggling with it. There were a couple of choices; I could work 23 hours a day and pay it off or pay it off at the age of 50. You don't know what's going to happen so you don't know if it's a good decision or a bad decision. If you lose an arm or a leg it's a bad decision," he said without irony. In six years, he reasoned that he would be nearly debt-free, having paid it back in an honorable way by serving the country.

The Army, for its part, took a look at Bose, saw his quick mind and his skill as a surgeon, and sent him to Iraq where he is now treating a steady stream of Americans and Iraqis for an enormous range of injuries, many of them horrifying. Bose also has the distinction of being the only board-certified physician in emergency medicine for 135,000 Americans and an unknown number of Iraqis. He will treat anyone who comes through the door.


Click here to read on (you have to subscribe or do the free day pass to access the full article--it is worth the effort).

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Parminder Nagra and Fauja Singh to Carry Olympic Torch

Parminder Nagra and Fauja Singh to Carry Olympic Torch reports that ER Star Parminder Nagra and nonagenerian marathon runner Fauja Singh will be among other well-known figures and selected members of the public carrying the Olympic torch through the Brick Lane area of London next week, as part of celebrations to welcome the Athens 2004 Olympic Torch Relay. The event will take place in Brick Lane on Saturday 26th June at 2pm and will be free to attend. For those of you that don't know, the Brick Lane area is home to a large South Asian population--think Jackson Heights.

Emergency Exit Arts' "Runga Rung" show will head a parade that features a life-size robotic elephant with driver and singer, stilt walkers, a flower tower with dancers and special effects, carnival costumes, bollywood dancers and Burrokeet costumes (blue hobby horses). Local dance groups and children with an array of flags and finery will join the celebrations, which will climax with the arrival of the torch at around 3:35pm.

Spider Man Webs His Way to India

Spider Man Webs His Way to India

This is quite an interesting development. It turns out that Marvel Comics has teamed up with Gotham Entertainment Group, the Indian publishing licensee of Marvel Comics and the leading publisher of international comic magazines in South Asia to launch Spiderman India.

From the official Press Release: "Spider-Man India interweaves the local customs, culture and mystery of modern India, with an eye to making Spider-Man’s mythology more relevant to this particular audience. Readers of this series will not see the familiar Peter Parker of Queens under the classic Spider-Man mask, but rather a new hero – a young, Indian boy named Pavitr Prabhakar. As Spider-Man, Pavitr leaps around rickshaws and scooters in Indian streets, while swinging from monuments such as the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal. Mumbai’s (Bombay’s) first web-swinging superhero will be joined by a reinterpretation of the classic Spider-Man villain, the Green Goblin -- reinvented as a Rakshasa, an Indian mythological demon.

I love it. I love that an American comic-book figure/action hero is going to be remade for India (I guess they are taking a page from MTV India). Who would have thought, Spiderman, climbing up the Gateway of India or the Taj Mahal?

More on Harold and Kumar

More on Harold and Kumar...Well on Kal Penn Anyway

Here is more reason to go see Kal Penn in Harold and Kumar. Penn is is the first vegetarian to be inducted into the White Castle Hall of Fame, according to this article from the Associated Press.

As a vegetarian, Montclair's Kal Penn seems an unlikely candidate for the White Castle Cravers Hall of Fame. But Penn is among this year's inductees to the iconic burger chain's list of most devoted or notable diners, as a co-star of New Line Cinema's fast-food adventure, "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle," due out this summer.Penn, 26, born Kalpen Modi to parents originally from Bombay, India, plays Kumar, who sets out with his buddy Harold on a mission to satisfy their craving for, among other things, White Castle's diminutive patties, known as "slyders" to the infamously devoted fans who buy them by the bagful. The film's other star, John Cho, director Danny Leiner, and writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg are also being inducted. While making the film, Penn ate only veggie burgers, which were also on the menu for him during Thursday night's induction ceremony at White Castle's headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, said Kim Bartley a White Castle spokeswoman. Penn's brother is a member of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and group members were hopeful that the star would call on White Castle to put a veggie burger on its menu.

He did't. But, that is still no reason to not see this movie. If you are vegetarian, desi, non-desi, or really really like White Castle--go see this film when it opens. I think I covered everyone.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Harold and Kumar Go To Whitecastle

Harold and Kumar Go To Whitecastle

I have a feeling that Kal Penn's latest film is going to make him a household name. The distribution looks on point, and he seems to be quite prominent in the promotion for the film. I guess he should be, he is one of the main actors. I hope they get him out to the media, on Leno, Dave Lettermen, Regis and Kelly etc. to promote for the film.

On a side note, I know I pose this question often, but I wonder if perhaps Kal Penn will be the first Desi to actually host SNL. Any thoughts?

Harold and Kumar Go To Whitecastlestarring Kal Penn as Kumar and John Cho as Harold (from the American Pie Movies and Better Luck Tomorrow)opens nationwide on July 30, 2004.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

A Zulu Masters Carnatic Music

A Zulu Masters Carnatic Music

Who would have thought a Zulu from South Africa would master the South Indian tradition of Carnatic Music?
Well 34-year-old South African Patrick Ngcobo after years of struggle and study with Dr. KJ Yesudas is well on his way. Today, Ngcobo can not only sing in seven Indian languages he can slide from one Indian raga, particular melodic scales, to another with ease.

To read the full story from the BBC, click here.

Friday, June 04, 2004

You Too Can Make Pakora's

You Too Can Make Pakora's

One of my favorite pastimes, when not doing work is stalking the Washington Post Food Section. I love the Archived versions of Tom Sietsema's Food Chats, and I try not to miss any of Kim O'Donnel's cooking chats. Not only does O'Donnel have love for vegetarians-she has a once a month veggie food chat--she also provides, via, e-video recipes. In the most recent installment---Pakora's. I haven't tried making them from her recipe, or by following her video yet, but for those of you in a hurry--check it out.

Bollywood: The Reality Show

Bollywood: The Reality Show

The Telegraph (UK) has an interesting arts feature on the trials and travails of a regular British woman who wants to be the next Bollywood Bollywood Star. The story is based on the newest British reality show--Bollywood Star--which began to air a couple of days ago in the UK.

Dallas Fort Worth Star Telegram on the Desi Influence in the U.S.

DFW Star Telegram on the Desi Influence in Pop-Culture

I may be a little late on this (the story is from 5/29), but a broken toshiba laptop and no internet means late and slow blogging. Anyway, this story from the Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram is just another in a string of articles suggesting the rising influence of Desi culture on mainstream American culture. Here are some highlights:

"The culture and the faces of South Asia -- India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal -- are making their way into the spotlight, putting an ethnic group that had been largely invisible front and center.

Bollywood, that indisputably Indian style of cinema featuring lavish musical numbers, is the focus of two major productions: Andrew Lloyd Webber's Bombay Dreams, which just opened on Broadway, and the upcoming film Bride and Prejudice, a relocation of Jane Austen to the Indian subcontinent by director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham). At the other end of the cinematic scale, one of the most noted young directors is Indian-American M. Night Shyamalan (Signs and The Sixth Sense), whose latest thriller, The Village, opens in July.

On prime-time TV, where Asians overall still have not made much impact, two South Asians -- Ravi Kapoor (Crossing Jordan) and Parminder Nagra (ER) -- are featured co-stars.

In dance and world music, the synthesis of ancient South Asian grooves and contemporary electronica is creating a stylish subgenre, while hip-hop stars from Jay-Z to Missy Elliott have played around with Indian textures. Though her music bears no clue to her ethnic roots, singer Norah Jones, the daughter of famed sitar player Ravi Shankar, has had two bestselling albums with Come Away With Me and Feels Like Home.

But it's not just in pop culture that South Asians are making their mark. Novelist Jhumpa Lahiri (Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake) and multimedia artist Shahzia Sikander have received glowing reviews for their work. In sports, Vijay Singh is one of golf's top players. In the field of politics, Bobby Jindal almost became Louisiana's governor last year, and now he's aiming for Congress.

Indian-Americans' dominance in high-tech and science jobs, combined with their relative affluence -- the Census Bureau says that though the national median family income is $38,885, it's more than $60,000 for Indian-American families -- creates a profile that could heighten respect and influence for the community of 2 million.

"The last few years, I've noticed a shift," says often-controversial cultural commentator Dinesh D'Souza, who immigrated from India in 1979 and whose books include The End of Racism and What's So Great About America. "I see more running or thinking of running for office, and Indians are succeeding in fields you didn't see before. . . . Years ago, I gave a talk at an [Indian] conference and one family said their son was in the ROTC. The other families asked why, because Indians at the time didn't feel that America is their country. That's changing, and you're likely to see more Indians in politics and the military."

Click here to read the full story--and here for the slideshow which accompanies the article. If you scroll down to the bottom, the Star-Telegram has listed another whose who of desis in the States.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Computer Problems, Internet Problems

Computer Problems, Internet Problems

Yes, my brand new computer has malfunctioned. 60 days, and the video card burnt out. I am not sure how that happens. And my internet connection at home is also on the rocks. Anyway, blog posting will return, hopefully in a couple of days.