Preity Zinta defies reaper of grim

Bollywood actress Preity Zinta writes about a pair of year-end brushes with death in a column for BBC News. Her first experience came during a concert and dance show entitled “Temptation 2004” in Colombo, Sri Lanka:

I am waiting in the left wing for my finale. The music is pulsing through the audience, and the pyrotechnics are lighting up the inky black night.

Suddenly I see a man in the front row flying to his left. Then I see Shah Rukh looking to his right and left. Then I see the dancers disappear.

What is happening?

I stepped on the stage and leaned over. I saw a pool of blood in the front rows. The security men grab us from behind and ask us to leave.

A bomb has exploded in the front rows – two people are dead, more than a dozen injured. The concert has come to a bloody end.

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“Cruz”ing for babes

Since we have been having a rather contentious debate about the state of poverty in Calcutta, and whether those Kids with Cameras have been exploited, I found it relevant to throw in this little bit of celebrity gossip. Zana Briski isn’t the only woman looking out for Calcutta’s children. From

Penelope Cruz plans to follow in Angelina Jolie’s footsteps by adopting an orphan baby.

The 30-year-old Spanish beauty wants to mother one of India’s homeless children after becoming deeply attached to the country following her work with Mother Teresa’s missionaries in Calcutta four years ago.

Jolie adopted baby Maddox after a visit to a Cambodian orphanage in 2001 and plans to welcome more children into her family.

Cruz says, “I love babies. I’ve wanted to be a mother since I was a little girl.

“I’ve been to India a few times and seen a level of misery I’d only seen on the news.

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‘Love’-ing and leaving

I went to the the first South Asian American art exhibit at a major museum that I’ve ever heard of:

I saw a queer Rani of Jhansi, she of the Mutiny, lying dead in snow. I saw a six-yard sari made of Coca-Cola bottlecaps, silver with an orange border. I saw a wall of crimson medicine bottles called ‘Blame’: blame a minority, you’ll feel better in the morning…

I saw a book of memory by a Malayalee daughter, Annu Matthew, who must’ve loved her daddy like Anna loved hers. Her father had died young of smoking. She collaged her childhood snaps into new photos, painting her own Pygmalion paternis. Then she surrounded her false memories with tobacco strewn on cigarette paper like ashes…

I ran into Kal Penn and asked him how he’ll play a super-henchman. ‘Dude, I haven’t even seen the script yet,’ he said. But he remembered the Harold hungama. Boy, did he ever. He was in celeb-out-for-groceries attire, a baseball cap pulled low over his eyes; he’s taller and thinner than he looks on screen…

Outside the museum, Shea Stadium and the World’s Fair site were wintry carcasses. The Unisphere, its fountains drained, hung without an Atlas. I stood below the Indian plate, staring up at the stainless-steel underbelly of America.

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Hey, hey, ho, ho, oregano has got to go

Earlier we told you about the piping hot pizzas-for-visas scandal in Kannada, that frozen tundra up north which supplies the U.S. with totally non-white-bread talent like Sarah McLachlan and Matthew Perry. Ok, and Shania, I’ll give you that. A desi had publicly accused a Canadian minister of expediting immigration in exchange for free campaign pizza. That’s revenge served cold, eh.

Well, some riotgrrls up in the Great White North held a pro-immigrant protest addressed to the replacement minister. In an astonishingly clever innovation, they raised protest turnout by combining the two things grad students love most in the whole wide world:

  1. Stickin’ it to the Man, and
  2. Pizza

As Hominder would say, ‘Mmm… pizza.’

The ‘No Justice, No Pizza’ protest came just in thyme, but its salty language was peppered with cheesy slogans that left a bad taste in your mouth. We’d rather be nuked and quartered than stoop to unsavories just to satiate the pun-dits. And that’s my $3.25 on the subject.

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“Brothels” nabs Oscar; “Terrorist” comes up short

“Born Into Brothels” picked up the Academy Award for documentary feature, and filmmakers Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski were on-hand to accept the award. In case you missed it, here’s a Quicktime video of the presentation, and acceptance speech (2.3 MB, 2:20 mins.).

Ashvin Kumar’s “The Little Terrorist” lost out to “Wasp” in the category of live action short. Here’s a brief clip of the presentation, where you can briefly spot Kumar (900 KB, 50 sec.). Spain’s “The Sea Inside” took home the award for foreign language film, beating out South Africa’s “Yesterday,” which was produced by Anant Singh.

Previous posts: The award for the most sepia film goes to…, The Little Terrorist, “Born Into Brothels” earns Oscar nom, & Kids with cameras

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Not for the faint of heart…

a_192_1_1.gifImagine this. You’re 22 & living back in da homeland. You were supposed to get married 4 yrs ago but your bride walked off on you for drinking too much. Tarnished for life, there seems to be no hope for your sexual frustration. Solution? Well, I suppose here’s one

AHMEDABAD: In a shocking incident, a 22-year-old youth of Ahmedabad district castrated himself earlier this week to do away with the root cause of his sexual frustration! Bachu Mafabhai, a resident of Sadatpura in Detroj town, chopped off his penis with a sharp blade on Tuesday morning, which according to his own confession, was to get rid himself of the root cause of his unfulfilled sexual desires that were making life miserable for him. “I could not sleep for nights on end, I would just keep tossing and turning in bed,” Bachu, who had a broken wedding engagement four years ago, told TNN.

Good god almighty.

Local doctors managed to restore the spring in his step, as it were, and have an suggestion for our frustrated hero –

“…This fellow could have resorted to masturbation…” Dr Malodiya said.

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The award for the most sepia film goes to …

This morning, I had a vision of a meta-awards ceremony, one that honored all things brown at the Oscars. Although the Oscars aren’t until later tonight, desis are lousy at keeping secrets (what’s the last successful desi surprise party you went to?), so I’ll let you know what was inside the brown envelope:

  • Award for the brownest movie goes to … The Little Terrorist. How much browner can you get than a movie about Indo-Pak conflict and cricket at the same time? The star is a former street child who was taken in by an organization founded by Mira Nair after the success of Salaam Bombay, so this movie gets bonus brown movie points. Better still, the movie is a testiment to desi frugality and ingenuity:
  • With little cash to fund his project, Kumar’s hopes rested on a short script with a strong message. He posted the script on the internet, asking people to help him make the film even though he couldn’t pay for their services. Kumar was also keen to cast non-professional actors, a technique he admired in Iranian film. “Around 15 people turned up from all over the world. I met most of them for the first time on location in Rajasthan,” says Kumar. [BBC]
    This is India’s first entry in the short film category since 1979, and the first short film to get a commercial release in India.
  • The award for the brown-themed movie with the best chance of winning goes to … Born Into Brothels. A documentary about prostitutes’ children who take photos of their lives, it’s already won almost every other documentary prize out there. It will be hard for the Academy to resist a movie about the transformative power of film, even if the kids are taking `still’ rather than `moving’ pictures. [There is controversy about the film, including whether it can even be considered a documentary, but I don’t think it will have an impact on its Oscar chances.]

  • The award for stealth brown entry goes to … the South African film Yesterday, a tragedy about an HIV positive South African woman facing death. The movie is noteworthy for having been shot entirely in Zulu, despite dire warnings that nobody would show or watch a film that was in a vernacular language. The film’s producer is Anant Singh who worked with director James Darrell Roodt on films like Place of Weeping, Sarafina! and Cry, the Beloved Country. Anant Singh will also be working on the movie version of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, starring Morgan Freeman as Mandela and directed by Shakhar Kapur.

  • The award for the brownest member of the academy goes to … Ashutosh Gowariker, the director of Oscar nominee Lagaan. It’s funny to me that the Academy has put an old-school Bollywood guy like Gowariker on the film jury at the same time that the Little Terrorist’s Ashvin Kumar is saying things like
  • “I hope my film starts a trend encouraging alternate and experimental film-making. That way people can discover that there is more to Indian cinema than Bollywood [BBC]
  • The award for the lamest Oscar rumor goes to … the claim that Ash might be presenting at this years Oscars if her film with Paul Berges (Gurinder Chadha’s husband) doesn’t run over schedule. Huh? Do or do not. There is no try with the Oscars. Does anybody think the producer of tonight’s show is going to leave that one hanging? But if I’m wrong, I’m sure you’ll see photos here tomorrow …

See also previous SepiaMutiny posts on The Little Terrorist, Born into Brothels, and Gowariker and the Oscars . Continue reading

Hillary Clinton meets with India’s top brass

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) travelled to India this week and met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss a wide range of issues integral to U.S.-India ties. From The Times of India:

Clinton, who was accompanied by US Ambassador David Mulford, met the Prime Minister at his 7, Race Course Road residence.

“It was a nice meeting and both enjoyed it,” said an aide to the Prime Minister.

“They discussed healthcare, education, India-US relations and South Asia. It was a wide-ranging discussion,” the aide said.

Clinton also held talks with Congress president Sonia Gandhi:

During her an hour-long one-to-one meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi at the latter’s 10 Janpath residence, Clinton discussed at length about the socio-economic issues of both countries.

“Both the leaders assessed the growth of India-US ties from Clinton’s time and how far it progressed.

“They have also reviewed the socio-economic situation prevailing in the country,” sources said.

She rounded out her trip with an appearance at the India Today Conclave, where she shared a table with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.

Overall, the trip appeared to be a success, and Clinton resisted the urge to make any culturally insensitive remarks. You’ll recall that at a fundraiser in January of last year, she introduced a quote from Mohandas Gandhi by saying, “He ran a gas station down in St. Louis.” Following uproar from the Indian community, Clinton apologized, and said her remarks were “a lame attempt at humor.” Indians observed this time that Clinton was making a lame attempt to hide her ambition for the White House.

The Times of India: Hillary Clinton meets Manmohan, Sonia

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“This Moment” viewable online

A Windows Media version of Leena Pendharkar’s short film, “This Moment,” is downloadable over at Cinequest Online (via Hollywood Masala). You can watch the film in its entirety by registering with the site, which is free. The 15-minute film stars Purva Bedi (“American Desi”) and Danny Wooten. From the film’s official web site:

Can love really conqueror all? Uma Balachandran, a 20-something Indian American woman is at a unique crossroads: faced with a romantic, sunrise proposal from her African American boyfriend John Ray, her instinct is to say yes. But she’s haunted by her father’s wishes for her to marry the perfect Indian man. What’s worse, Uma’s old flame of 4 years, the all-American Troy Black, wants Uma back so badly, he’s planning to storm in on Uma and John and break up their sunrise tryst. But an unlikely stranger alters his destiny. Does love really conquer anything? Maybe. Maybe not. Set in front of the rising sun behind the beautiful backdrop of San Francisco, A Moment is about choices. (15 minutes, Super 16 mm)

Unfortunately, Cinequest disdains cross-platfrom compatibility, so the film only plays on Windows Media Player 9 for Windows 98/2000/XP. I won’t be able to watch it on my trusty Mac, so you’ll have to guide me with your reviews.

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“Baby 81” visits U.S.

Abilass Jeyarajah, a four-month-old Sri Lankan boy who was separated from his parents by December’s tsunami, will travel to the U.S. on Sunday as a guest of a morning news show.

First known to the world as “Baby 81,” Abilass was recently reunited with his birth parents after DNA tests confirmed their paternity. He was claimed by as many as eight other couples. From Reuters:

“Abilass is taking us to America,” his father Murugupillai told Reuters on Thursday on his way to obtain passports for the trip.

The excited father said he had never been out of the country and the baby had brought him and his wife Jenita luck. They are due to fly out on Sunday courtesy of an American television network, reportedly ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

There’s no word yet on who will conduct the interview, but co-hosts Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer shouldn’t have any trouble with precocious Abilass. They’ve both interviewed the president, so they have plenty of experience with someone who doesn’t read newspapers, has trouble swallowing food, and is largely incoherent.

ABC’s “Good Morning America” airs on weekday mornings at 7 a.m., and the interview is slated for Wednesday, March 2.

Reuters/Yahoo!: Tsunami baby goes to America

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