Thursday, February 24, 2005

Mira Nair--Pushing the Crossover reports that Mira Nair has cast Bollywood star Tabu to play the role of Ashima in her filming of Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake. The film which is currently in pre-production, and scheduled to be completed in 2006, also stars Kal Penn as the main protagonist Gogol Ganguli, described by Nair as the "fastest rising Indian American star this side of the ocean." Nair is reportedly in talks with Kate Hudson to play Gogol's (Kal Penn's) American interest. Hudson incidentally will be playing the lead in Gurinder Chadha's next blockbuster I Dream of Jeannie.

Nair said her version of the Namesake would stay

"fairly close to the book. I have made only two changes. One change is that Ashima [the protagonist] is a singer in my film because I want to use music. I love to create soundtracks for my films. Another change – to keep the budget in check – is that I have changed the Cambridge Massachusetts location in the book to New York."
After The Namesake, Nair is scheduled to start on Gangsta M.D., the Hollywood version of Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Bollywood hit, Munnabhai MBBS. Chris Tucker has apparently been tagged by Nair to play Sanjay Dutt's role, although he has not yet committed to the film. I wonder if Nair will add some Bollywood Flair to this one. I can see it now, Tucker and some Bollywood hottie breaking out into an impromptu Hip-Hop meets Bollywood/Bhangra song-and-dance number.

More here and here on Nair's projects.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Ash on CBS' Early Show

Now that she has conquered Letterman, 60 minutes, Nightline, and allegedly Good Morning America, Bollywood starlet Aishwarya Rai made another appearance on CBS, this time an interview with the Early Show's Harry Smith. Click here to read the story, see a slideshow, and view the video (in either real player or windows media) of the interview. I think she is getting better at handling press.

Oh, and rumor has it that Ash is scheduled to appear on Oprah in March. Not sure if this is going to be a full-hour sitdown, but apparently Oprah's camera's were following Ash around New York last week during the Bride and Prejudice premiere week festivities.

Party Like We're in Bombay

The New York Times, it seems has found out what many of us children of Indian immigrants have known for sometime, that Bombay or Mumbai, or whatever you want to call it, can compete with any city when it comes to nightlife, that Bombay is a great place to visit without your parents and with your "cool" cousins, and that Bombay is really, really expensive, even when you convert rupees to dollars.

The NYT recently published an interesting piece in their travel section discussing Bombay nightlife, including an informative and expensive "If you go" section as well.

The model-turned-actress Amrita Arora was there, along with her sister, Malaika Arora Khan, the spicy sex symbol of Bollywood. Nearby, the prodigal founder of Hotmail, Sabeer Bhatia, was holding court with several pretty young things in hip-hugging jeans and stiletto heels. Then all heads turned when the television personality Kamal Sidhu sauntered past the proverbial velvet rope, blowing kisses in all directions. "Everyone looks like they're somebody," said Jaimal Odedra, 40, a fashion designer from New York, as he scanned the candle-lighted terrace. "The scene is so Los Angeles." Sure, there was valet parking, movie stars and plenty of over-the-shoulder gazing. But Mumbai (the official name for Bombay since 1995) is a megalopolis so grimy and congested that it makes the mean streets of Compton look like Beverly Hills. The air reeks of sewage and burning trash, cows roam the streets at will, and half of the city's 18 million people live in mud-caked slums. And unlike the other filmmaking capital, it is also a city where night life was virtually nonexistent a decade ago.
I do like the article, but I am not sure that nightlife was nonexistent a decade ago. Bombay has been the film and financial capital of India for over 25 years, and where stars and wealth collide, so does partying (go ahead and say it with that Indian accent, you know you want to --"pahteeing")

You can read the full article here.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Raghav's "Angel Eyes" Enters the UK Charts at Seven

Reuters reports that Indo-Canadian pop star Raghav's latest single, Angel Eyes has entered the UK singles charts at number 7. Angel Eyes, a desi-dancehall track set to the famous sly and robbie "murder she wrote" riddim, is Raghav's third single from his debut album Storyteller (V2).

There is more on Raghav here and here.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Ash on Letterman and Bride and Prejudice Reviews

Some positive reviews are coming on of TMBWITW Aishwarya Rai's Hollywood debut in Bride and Prejudice. And to promote Bride, which opens in NYC/LA/and Washington D.C. on February 11, and in the rest of the U.S. in the next couple of weeks, Ash seems to be making the rounds. First 60 Minutes, then her appearance on Nightline, and now, well actually tomorrow, Tuesday Night, she is going to be making an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. I hope Letterman's heart can take it. Actually, I think it will be quite amusing to see how Letterman deals with Ash on the show. The film will have its glitzy red-carpet premiere tomorrow in New York as well.

Additionally some reviews of the film have been trickling in, and most have been kind of positive, especially with regards to Aishwarya's performance. Ebert and Roeper gave Bride two thumbs up, and Peter Travers from Rolling Stone (who BTW mistakenly list Kareena Kapoor in the credits instead of Namrata Shirodkar--whose performance exceeded my expectations) proclaims

"Rai is a world-class hottie with talent to match, as she proves in her first English-speaking role. Pity pretty boy Martin Henderson (The Ring), who plays Darcy, the American in love with Lalita despite the prejudice of his hotel-magnate mom (Marsha Mason). He looks lost in his scenes with Rai. Like a kid driving a Rolls, he's out of place and outclassed.The script unravels as it moves to London and Los Angeles and stuffs in new takes on Austen's characters. But Chadha, the shrewdie, keeps the movie alive with swirling color, music and movement. The songs are deliciously silly, especially "No Life Without Wife," which Lalita and her sisters sing in mockery of Mr. Kholi (a scene-stealing Nitin Ganatra), the bachelor who wants a bride for his new L.A. home. Purists who think Austen will be spinning in her grave will be wrong. She'll be dancing."

I think Travers was right on, but more than that, I think Bride highlights Chadha's directing ability. You may say the film is nothing more than a kitchy musical ode to Bollywood, and essentially that is what the film is, in spite of its amazingly witty dialogue and charming song and dance numbers. However, when you begin to compare the performances given in Bride by Ash, and by Namrata Shirodkar, from those typical to a Bollywood film, to me it was as if they were transformed from being just pretty faces, which they definitely are, to people who I wouldn't hesitate to call actresses. And I think you can attribute that to the director, or some really, really good acting classes.

I found the film thoroughly enjoying, and will definitely be seeing it a few more times. You should too. And don't forget to check out Ash on Letterman tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Deeyah Has a Plan of Her Own

Deeyah, the Norway born Asian female, who the Sunday Times (UK) has labelled as "the next big thing," released her debut single "Plan of My Own," this past week, to rave reviews. "Plan" can best be described as a blend of sultry r&b with a bit of desi mixed in for good measure. The track has been getting tremendous play on Desi radio station, mainly in the UK, for at least 6 months, and hopefully, the mainstream will catch on, as they have with Raghav and Jay Sean.

Deeyah recently completed a tour this past June & July, and has spent the past year working with producer, Darin Prindle, who has worked with the likes of Destiny’s Child, TLC, Madonna, Jermaine Dupri, Boyz II Men and Usher. This past August, Deeyah split her time between L.A. and Atlanta in the USA shooting the video for "Plan" award-winning director, John Lindauer whose past clients include Lauryn Hill, Mary J Blige, and Christina Aguilera.

So keep your eyes open. For more on Deeyah, click here, to hear the single (mp3), click here, andhere for the video (Quicktime).