Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Smithsonian Screens Guru Dutt

First off, many of you may (or maybe not) have wondered why my postings have declined the past couple of weeks. Well, I am in South Asia, where I will remain until mid September. I will try to post every now and again though, as time and internet access are available. Anyway, enough about me...

The Sackler Gallery's Meyer Auditorium is screening Guru Dutt.
Perhaps it is because Time Magazine put one of his movies in its Top 100, or perhaps it is because his films are just plain good. Regardless, I am pleased to type that The Smithsonian Institution will be screening 5 of Guru Dutt's works, each newly restored by the National Film Archive of India including Pyaasa, which was included in Time's list. I liked Pyaasa, but I liked Kagaz Ke Phool and Chaudvi Ka Chand more. All three of these films will be screened, in addition to Mr. and Mrs. 55 and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. I haven't seen either of the last two, but its Guru Dutt, so it should be good.

If I was in DC, I would be most looking forward to Chaudvi Ka Chand. Think Moh'd Rafi and his amazing voice swoon, "Chaudvin Ka Chand Ho, Ya Aaftaab Ho...". But I digress.

The movies will be screened throughout June and the schedule is as follows: Mr. and Mrs. 55, Sunday, June 5, 2 pm. Meyer Auditorium

Pyaasa, Friday, June 17, 7 pm. Meyer Auditorium

Chaudhvin Ka Chand, Sunday, June 19, 2 pm. Meyer Auditorium

Kaagaz Ke Phool, Friday, June 24, 7 pm. Meyer Auditorium

Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Sunday, June 26, 2 pm. Meyer Auditorium

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Kollektiv: Coming to DC and a city near you, hopefully


Kollektiv, my favorite party night is bringing the Asian Massive sound to DC and nationwide in the next few weeks, touching down in DC for it's third installment @ Bossa Lounge (2463 18th St. NW in Adams Morgan) on Friday, May 27th. Taking place monthly in six cities nationwide, Kollektiv brings together the asian electronic stylings
of of some fo the key players bringing the Asian noise: Karsh Kale (Six Degrees Records),
Zakhm (Mutiny), DK aka bollygirlNYC (Avaaz/Gen-Om) and Dimmsummer
(Ethnotechno). They will be joined on paint and canvas by DC's own
V:shal Kanwar (Imperfections).

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Can Water Bring Deepa Mehta Back?

Indo-Canadian Filmaker Deepa Mehta has signed on to direct, according to Variety, a new documentary for Canadian Television entitled, "For Crying Out Loud," a film focusing on four women—hailing from India, El Salvador, Nigeria and Canada—who have been victims of domestic violence.

I am glad that Mehta is coming back, especially after the poor show with Bollywood/Hollywood and The Republic of Love, but what I really want to know is, when will Water, the final film in her trilogy (Fire, 1947 Earth) be released? I liked Fire, while a little slow and odd, after Mississippi Masala, it was my first foray into contemporary (non-Bollywood) Indian cinema, and I was enthralled by Mehta's work.

When 1947 Earth was released, not only did I first see Amir Khan as a real actor, I saw that Deepa Mehta had the potential to make a serious impact on international cinema. Earth was a huge improvement on Fire, and I was anxiously awaiting the last installment of the trilogy, Water.

Anyway, a little Google search led me to this article in India Daily which suggests an imminent release.

After causing a spark in a tinderbox, her film Water is finally complete and ready for an early release. With a new cast and new settings, the film will hit theatres in November. "I''m so glad I''ve got it out of my system. Now I feel I could just retire. I''m that satisfied with Water," said the director. The film's rights have been given to NRI entrepreneur Ajay Virmani.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Piracy, Desi Arts, and DJ Sanj

It is a well-known fact in the South Asian community that one of the main reasons desi artists do not do well at the box office or in record stores is because of our community's acceptance of piracy. Why pay full price for something, when you can get a rip-off of the original for half the price, right?

I know there have been some raids on Indian stores in the US, more for pirated dvd's than music, but it seems that the meteoric rise of the British Asian music industry has sparked British law enforcement into action. Last week, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), began raiding Indian stores to try and stop the sale and distribution of the album "Authorised" by DJ Sanj which was released on bootleg records but who is signed to EnvyRoma records, mainly for its illegal use of uncleared music samples and vocals, a problem that seems to be a regular occurrence in Asian music—think PMC's Mundian to Bach Ke biting from busta rhymes, who bit from Knight Ryder. That sample was eventually cleared, but most of the samples aren't.

The BPI confirmed it was investigating complaints by some of its members surrounding the remix album, released by Bootleg Recordings and distributed by the Birmingham based Hi Tech Music label. BPI Director of Anti-Piracy David Martin said: "We believe that this remix album uses lengthy samples of our members' sound recordings without permission." He added: "Of course we take every complaint we receive in relation to our members’ rights very seriously, and we are investigating the situation."

(There are also some questions abput the relationship between EnvyRoma and Bootleg, and the excellent Asians in Media is followed up on this. )

Desi DJ's in the US and in the UK, and probably diaspora-wide, are notorious for straight up beat and sample jacking. It isn't a healthy borrowing of a note here-and-there, but full hooks, choruses, or series of notes that are often used. That is fine if these mixes are going to be given away as promotional materials or just played at a club. But, to make cd's full of these uncleared samples and then sell them, well, that is kind of shady.

The problem of piracy does not end with the artist however. Sure we can put some of the blame on the download crew, the users of bit torrent and kazaa, but what about the people in the industry who are keeping prices artificially inflated. Is it fair that cd's cost 15 dollars, dvd's 20, or tickets to movies 10? Do musicians and movie stars really deserve million dollar payouts? Yeah they all work hard, but what makes their work worth so much more than mine or yours?

And then, what about the shopkeepers who sell the pirated materials? Many of the DJ remix albums which are promotional material and conveniently make their way into the hands of pirates and shopkeepers who make copies of the promo for sale. I know I have been in stores in Jackson Heights and even the DC metro area that have cd's for sale that have never been released in the US, which by the way, contain tracks that have never been released anywhere. For example, I read somewhere that stores were selling Jay Sean albums that featured demo tracks that he recorded on his home computer before he even met Rishi Rich.

Now I don't know if Sanj released the album unofficially or if some shopkeepers/pirates jacked a promo copy, and made copies, but for the industry to move forward, for asian music, and asian film to succeed, we all need to work together towards a solution. I don't know if that means a boycott of pirated materials, stores that carry pirated materials, overpriced cd's, movies, etc. But some kind of compromise or agreement needs to be made. I can't even begin to estimate the amount of money the industries have lost because of this problem.

I know everyone has a bottom line to meet, but the real bottom line should be the loss of marketability of our artists. If the mainstream does not view the Asian industry or artists as a viable one, why would they or anyone else even consider involving themselves with it?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

MIA on Jimmy Kimmel..KCRW

Just wanted to give a heads up on some upcoming MIA performances that are going to be happening in the states. First, MIA will be performing on Jimmy Kimmel Live tonight.
Also, you can view a recent performance (May 2) she gave for KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic show here.
It is a nice chance to see an actual live performance by her, and I think the show can be dowloaded as well for podcast, but more investigation needs to be done on that. Also, MIA is scheduled to appear on KEXP, Seattle's indy station on May 11, and then on the Conan O'Brien show on the 27th of May. These dates seem to intersperse with her US tourdates where she will be co-headlining with new hipster fave, LCD soundsystem.