Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tsunami Relief

As the people of South and South East Asia continue to be ravaged in the aftermath of this devastating natural disaster, DESIBLOG's thoughts and prayers are with those currently suffering from this horrible tragedy. A terrific been constructed relaying news and information about resources, aid, and donations for victims of the tsunami. Also, if any of you know of any resources not mentioned, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

Additionally, has joined with the Association for India's Development and have created a system where contributions are being matched. Wikinews has also set up a page of links of charities here.

There are also certain employers who match contributions made by employees so make sure to check with your employer.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Bobby Friction and Nihal: Bhangra Knights

The Guardian (UK) has published a nice profile of British Asian Radio DJ's, Bobby Friction and Nihal (Did you guess that from the Title?). The two DJ's left last week for India, where they were going to play an afterparty for the MTV India IMMIES, to broadcast a show of what music is hot in India, and to play a set at the country's first stand-alone nightclub in Delhi, whose very existence is evidence of a seismic shift in Indian youth culture.
The fact that Friction and Nihal's show has a primetime slot on national radio also speaks volumes for the rising profile of British Asian culture. A few years ago it would have been unthinkable to hear a Radio 1 DJ play an unreleased bhangra track to a nationwide audience. Then, in 2003, Panjabi MC's Mundian To Bach Ke, with its sample from the theme tune to Knight Rider, became a national hit. A huge and vibrant culture, that had hitherto remained isolated, was exposed to the wider world.
If you don't listen to their show, you should. To do so, click here. Each show can be played back in real player for an entire week after the air date.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Controversy Erupts Over SASA Hotel Choice

One of the rites of passage for many college-aged desis in North America is the annual conference of the South Asian Students Alliance, more commonly known as SASA. The conference, this year being held in Los Angeles from January 13-16th, seems to be drawing the ire of workers rights’ and other activists concerned with a boycott/strike being endorsed by almost 3,000 hotel workers against nine luxury Los Angeles-area hotels over an ongoing contract dispute with the owners, according to Labor groups including the AFL-CIO, The Los Angeles Coalition to Support Hotel Workers and the Los Angeles hotel worker's union UNITE HERE Local 11 are boycotting the hotels located throughout the city, including the official SASA conference hotel, The Wilshire Grand.

The Coalition said 3,000 hotel workers have been without a contract since it expired in March. Workers are demanding increased wages, health care benefits, a contract through 2006 and a national voice to ensure a fair contract. "They don't respect us," said Donald Wilson, banquet chef at the Century Plaza Hotel, one of the other hotels being boycotted. "They say they treat us like family, but when it comes to contract time they treat us like stepchildren." Wilson said he had worked at the Century for 26 years, and until their contract ran out this year employees always had free health care. A $40 monthly co-payment is now required, an amount many employees with families cannot afford.

In all fairness, according to a story in USC Daily Trojan, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Hotel Employer Council said a contract currently being offered by the hotels offers free health care along with a 20 percent wage increase over a five-year contract period.

The Hotel Employer Council spokesmen alleges however, that "workers don't want to accept it because it is a five-year contract” and the workers “want a two-year plan so they can join up with other cities for a 2006 national labor action."

Anyway, to promote some kind of action from the South Asian student community, a group, known as the South Asians for Change is calling for the organizers of SASA to either change the location and show solidarity with the workers, or for students to boycott SASA altogether.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Let the Top 10 (or Whatever) Lists Begin

Of course as the year draws to a close, we are all bound to be pummelled with numerous top whatever lists. USATODAY, in one of the first lists, has created its own for the top 100 people of 2004. At 78, is none other than Kal Penn. From the lists profile.

Even if it weren't for Neil Patrick Harris' cameo, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle still would've been a good movie. If you don't believe me, some further proof: Penn, aka Kumar, has no fewer than five movies coming out in '05.
IMDB confirms that Penn will play the lead in Mira Nair's adaptation of The Namesake (due out in 2006), and lists the other five projects as Vegas Baby (starring Kathy Griffin), Man About Town (Starring Ben Affleck and Ling Bai), A Lot Like Love (2005), Son of the Mask (starring Jaime Kennedy), and Dancing in Twilight (Starring Mimi Rogers).

Also listed, and a significant amount higher I might add, is one of the stars of ABC's silent success, Lost. From USATODAYs commentary...
I don't have a problem with all these articles about Evangeline Lilly being the breakout star of Lost— I just kindly disagree. I find Andrews, who plays tortured and complex Sayid, by far the most compelling character. Let's hope he makes out of this season alive.

Here is a link to a post I did on Lost back in August.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Abhishek Out, Is Kal Penn In? is reporting that Abhishek Bachchan has officially bowed out of Mira Nair's upcoming film effort translating Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake onto celluloid. Bachchan, who was slated to play the lead in the film, may now be replaced by Kal Penn, whom the BBC has reported "will play an important character." The film is also slated to include Nair's New York gang--Gabriel Byrne, Natalie Portman, Chloe Sevigny, and Steve Buscemi, among others, according to the BBC story.

This film, if done well, has the potential to place Nair in the top tier of directors, and also will hopefully go quite far in presenting certain aspects of desi-American culture to mainstream America.

The story also notes that Nair has turned down the offer to direct the next Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Bombay Dreams on Broadway Comes to a Close is reporting that Bombay Dreams, the Bollywood meets the stage production, will be closing on January 2, 2005. The stubborn show did better than many expected after it received a thrashing in its initial reviews from many of the reviewers familiar with Broadway, but seemingly unfamiliar with the Bollywood concept. The show did surprisingly well for an ethnic themed production however, whichi will have played 284 regular performances since opening in April.

So, if you want to see Bollywood on Broadway, you better get tickets soon. You still have a chance however to see the production as it will be starting a national theater runnng in 2005-2006.

The Gurus of Comedy

Piyush Dinker Pandya, the writer/director of the genre creating film American Desi is bringing the South Asian answer to the Kings/Queens of Comedy, yes, it is The Gurus of Comedy Tour. The first-ever national tour of South Asian standup comedy, kicks off in Los Angeles this Thursday, December 9, with Russell Peters (Comedy Central), Paul Varghese (NBC's Last Comic Standing),
Anand Chulani (American Chai), and host Aladdin (BET, American Desi).

The five-city tour moves on to San Jose on December 10, San Francisco on December 11, New York City on December 15, and closes in Boston on December 16. Other comedians on The Gurus of Comedy Tour include Pooth the Curry Comic, Vidur Kapur, Tony Sparks, and Mo-D. Complete comic lineups for each show are available here.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Ash in Newsweek

It isn't that I can't get enough of her, well, actually yeah it is, but I thought I would assist in the conspiracy to make Aishwarya a global star, so click here to see an interview she recently gave to Emily Flynn of Newsweek Magazine.

Many things amaze me about Ash, two nice bits from the interview, her desire to always reprazent for desi cinema, and of course, the persistent and long-standing Ash is the next Bond-girl rumor. At this point, the producers of Bond need to cast her, just to give some sort of credence to the rumor mill.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Mira Nair to Direct Hollywood ReMake of Munnabhai

In a weird twist on the usual east borrowing from west, especially with regards to film, Hollywood is now borrowing from Bollywood for one of its films, and one of DESIBLOG's favorite director's has been chosen to make the film--Mira Nair.

Believe it. The trade publication Daily Variety (Subscription required) has announced that Mira Nair will be directing Gangsta MD, the Hollywood adaptation of Raju Hirani's mega Bollywood hit -- Munnabhai MBBS. Mira Nair has teamed with "Bringing Down the House" scribe Jason Filardi on "Gangsta M.D.," a Bollywood remake that's been set up at 20th Century Fox.

The story focuses on a low-level gangster who keeps his criminal life a secret from his mother by telling her he is a medical doctor, what else? When his mom discovers his criminal lifestyle and threatens to disown him, he's forced to do the one thing that would make her proud: become a doctor.

The original film was 2003's Hindi-language blockbuster "Munna Bhai, M.B.B.S." A second version was produced this year, "Shankar Dada, M.B.B.S.," which was essentially the same film shot in India's Telugu language.

In a first for Bollywood, Fox bought the script rights for the Hindi film earlier this year, and Chris Rock's name has been mentioned several times during initial speculations. Gangsta MD is expected to hit movie halls in early 2005.

Here is the story summarizing the Variety article.