Friday, June 04, 2004

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.


Post a Comment

<< Home