American Desi Financing

am_desi.jpgInteresting stats on the $$$ behind the flick “American Desi” -

The budget for “[American] Desi” was roughly $200,000 and was released in 2001 on a limited basis — in about 40 U.S. art house movie theaters. The film earned about $1 million in U.S. ticket sales. Overseas receipts took in another $1 million in the United Kingdom and India. “All of the investors (families included) were able to get their capital back, plus the agreed 25 percent,” said Pandya. …Pandya said a sequel for “American Desi” is in the works. Most of the investors who funded the first film are already committed to the second project.

Casting suggestions anyone? Continue reading

Nelly Furtado’s desi connection

The Record, a music mag out of Bombay, ran an interesting interview with Nelly Furtado:

My daughter Nevis [with her DJ, Lil Jazz] is actually a quarter East Indian so I have family there now…

… I grew up with a lot of Asian and Indian friends speaking Punjabi and Hindi. And I grew up watching a lot of bhangra, Bollywood, religious music and we even had it on television on Saturdays. Actually sometimes while I would clean hotel rooms… my friends invited me to sing at their Indian cultural festival when I was about 18 years old, and my friend’s father said I should sing in Hindi, and I really liked it. I learnt Kabhi Kabhi and I really like Lata Mangeshkar and of course Asha Bhosle who I did a little collaboration with…

I’ve already done Indian remixes in the past. In particular I had an ‘I’m Like A Bird’ remix… And Josh (the Indian band who did the remix), are Canadian – they’re from Montreal actually… It has a lot of hip hop energy to it.

Heck, with that surname she could’ve been Goan :) Here’s a previous post on the Josh remix of ‘Powerless’ (thanks, Sajit).

Feeling testy

Yes, Azim Premji will ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange today (via SAJA). Yes, he’s the world’s second-richest desi and the chairman of Wipro, India’s third-largest software outsourcing firm.

But will he succumb to Street superstition and pull an Aladdin on the bull’s magic lamps? There’s a reason why they’re so shiny, ya know.

I can’t imagine that fondling a water buffalo’s stocking stuffers would be an Indian billionaire’s favorite activity. It would be better for business if he provided the same service to a highly-placed government babu.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before …

With increased freedom in Afghanistan (at least for men, at least around Kabul) comes the natural consequence of freedom: stand-up comedy.

At a recent impromptu performance, Mubariz wraps on a long black turban – a favorite Taliban accessory – and twists his face into a scowl. He grabs a Kalashnikov to complete the look. Then he screams at the men to go to the mosque, physically prodding them with his rifle. He grabs one long-haired man and berates him for letting his locks grow – a Taliban pet peeve. His imitation is so precise that the audience can’t stop laughing.

Other topics of humor include “the radio call-in show where people dedicated songs by mullahs (minus the music, of course)” and that old favorite of comedians everywhere – armpit shaving. Except in this case, the subject is the Taliban’s spot checks to make sure that men were shaving their armpits. [In accordance with the Taliban's interpretation of islamic law, hair had to be short, beards long, mustaches short, and armpits and pubes recently shaved or plucked]

And of course, everybody likes slapstick:

one of the most popular shows on Tolo TV, a private cable station in Kabul, is “Lahza Ha,” (Moments). It’s the Afghan equivalent of Candid Camera, where pranksters stop Kabulis on the street and con them with gags. The show is so well liked that some Afghans pray early so they don’t miss it, and jokes are rehashed the next day.

Although comedy has a long tradition in Afghanistan (“comedy in Afghanistan thrived from the 1800s until the 1960s”) one comedian tells the reporter that he takes his inspiration from more contemporary figures, namely “Mr. Bean, Jackie Chan, and Charlie Chaplin.”

Source: In Afghanistan, comedians joke their way to civic renewal Continue reading

Sticks and Stones

News Flash! Salman Rushdie has found religion, and vows to fight to protect Lakshmi’s honor! The Lakshmi in question, of course, is his wife, Padma Lakshmi, the model/actress/food show hostess/etc extraordinaire.

The whole thing started when Guy Trebay called Padma a “semicelebrated hustler” in his description of Padma’s appearance at NYC’s fashion week: laxmi.jpg

This former model, cooking show host and celebrity spouse has seemed to appear at all places and all times during Fashion Week, like an avatar of the Hindu goddess whose name she bears. In the superpopulated Hindu pantheon, Lakshmi is the domestic deity representing wealth and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. One of the cool things about the goddess Lakshmi is her unabashed relationship to prosperity. In the current fashion pantheon Ms. Lakshmi similarly stands for a love of money and commodity

Salman did not take kindly to this portrayal of his wife, even though the article actually takes pains to paint her in a positive light compared with some of the lower rungs of the fashion food chain. According to the New York Metro, Salman threatened to personally enforce the penalty for blasphemy:

“Witnesses say Rushdie walked up to Trebay at a National Arts Club event three days later and said, “If you ever write mean things about my wife again, I’ll come after you with a baseball bat.”

The metro goes on to twit Rushdie for being a hypocrite:

Of course, many found it ironic that Rushdie was threatening a writer with bodily harm for something he’d published. He didn’t return messages, and Trebay refused to comment. But a fellow attendee would: “She’s an ambitious person with a lot of hustle. I would think by celebrity standards she’s fair game. Have you seen her Website?”

Rushdie also refuses to comment on reports that he is taking lessons from Sean Penn on how to handle paparazzi. Continue reading

Other similarities between mutineers and rappers

We both love desi take-out. Of course, some of us hoof it over to Curry in a Hurry, while others use a whirligig:

Rapper Snoop Dogg paid $5,700 for Indian take-out to be flown to his London after-show party via private helicopter. The rap star ordered the food from The Four Pillars Indian restaurant in Buckinghamshire, England for his Friday night gig at London’s Hammersmith Carling Apollo.

We told you earlier about Beyonce’s 4,000 pound curry (that’s pounds sterling) but did you know that Tom Cruise has food flown from his favorite desi restaurant in the UK when he’s on location? Nor is this just a red carpet privilege, it’s available to the merely obscenely wealthy as well.

Millionaire businessman Baljit Singh surprised staff at Kalam’s Raj Indian takeaway in Brook Road, Shirley,UK, by ordering 35 dishes over the internet and asking for it to be delivered to where he was staying – Ocean Five Hotel, Miami Beach. Mr Singh placed his order and paid for it to be flown from Biggin Hill airport to Heathrow by helicopter and from Heathrow to Miami by plane, a journey costing almost £800.The food cost £589, but Mr Singh was given a 10 per cent discount for spending more than £10. The food was specially prepared, packed and flown to Miami. Mr Malik accompanied the delivery and was on hand to reheat and serve it when it reached the hotel. Speaking after his return, he said: “He was very pleased with it and seemed a really normal man. He even gave us a £200 tip!”

And I thought it was bad enough that my aunties would fedex fresh sabzi and roti, packed in dry ice, to their kids. And doesn’t anybody realize that there is good desi food in Canada? In the US even? Nah … Continue reading

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 SM favorite 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.

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Bloggers Delight

Slate Magazine carries what I am sure will one day be seen as THE seminal article, on the comparison between Rappers and Bloggers. Oh yes my friends, it turns out we are cut of the same mold: abhirapper.jpg

P. Diddy gargles Cristal as his yacht sails from San Tropez to Ibiza. Atrios stares at his computer screen and ponders the effect of “increased central bank diversification out of dollar holdings.” Nelly takes in the NBA All-Star Game from the first row while gabbing on a cell phone made out of a giant shoe. InstaPundit digests the latest developments in the Dartmouth board of trustees race and takes note of an update to C-SPAN’s early morning schedule. What, do I need to draw you a Venn diagram? Rappers and bloggers they’re the same!

Those of you obsessed with external appearances may think I’m kidding. What, you ask, could those champagne-swilling, “bitch”-shouting rappers have in common with those Jolt-pounding, “read the whole thing”-writing bloggers?

For starters, both groups share a love of loose-fitting, pajama-style apparel. Still not satisfied? Bloggers and rappers are equally obsessed with social networking. Every rapper rolls with his entourage; every blogger rolls with his blog roll. Women can’t win an audience in either profession without raunching it up like Lil’ Kim or Wonkette.

Oooooh. I think despite the fact that it is only February, this could be the article of the year!

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Doggz fizzle tha Dirty South is hot

South Indian bitches are in demand because they are “flexible, vegetarian, have excellent personalities and are low maintenance” that’s why Europeans and Asians sweat them. I would be remiss if I neglected to tell you that dogs and puppies from the dirty dirty are sought after, too. ;)

While Indians long to keep European breeds of dogs, many Westerners, especially the French, Germans and Greeks, as well as people in Singapore and Malaysia, prefer to get a South Indian pedigree dog, native to this town, according to two owners of a kennel here.
Ashok Kumar and Surendra Babu, owners of a kennel and who specialise in South Indian breeds, say they are unable to meet the demand for Rajapalayam dogs, also known as Paleiyakarans or Poligars. “Every month we get orders for 50 pairs, each costing Rs 4,500, from Indians and Westerners. But we are unable to meet the demand. We can supply only 20 pairs” they told a reporter.

As is common with any popular canine breed, idiots with dollar signs for pupils are involved; indiscriminate breeding and inbreeding are ubiquitous and dangerous to the breed’s survival.

Rajapayalams were originally bred to kill boars. The surge in interest in this rare type of dog is affecting other lines as well:

The Kennels also have the chippiparai breed, a hound used to kill pigs which destroy fields.
Apart from the Rajapalayam dogs, people of Shencottah near here are now reviving the genuine ‘Shencottah’ dogs, a rare breed, with the help of doctors, says Raviram, a kennel owner.

I should thank my zealously jealous dog, Jhansi ki Rani, for sending in this tip via a very special mad astronaut. No worries, girl. This South Indian bitch flips the script. Europeans can have their boar hounds, I’m all about my German Shepherd. :)


Special thanks to “Gizoogle” for solving my title-related writer’s block. Continue reading

Oprah “floored” by spelling nerd

Yesterday’s episode of Oprah Winfrey’s syndicated television show covered miracles and other oddities caught on video. During the second half of the show, she ran footage of Akshay Buddiga’s performance at the 2004 Scripps Spelling Bee.

Buddiga became late night talk show fodder after he fainted on-stage when asked to spell “alopecoid.” He subsequently got up, spelled it correctly, and went on to capture second place in the competition.

This is an old story, and by now, you’ve probably seen it. In case you haven’t, or long for Oprah’s commentary on the matter, here’s a Quicktime video of the segment (1.5 MB, 1:30 mins.).

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Posted in TV