The New Wave of Filmmakers in Bollywood

Oh, sh*ts. I’ve been remiss about so much. I’ve got a backlog of things both shiny and smart to share with you, so please bear with me as I suddenly haunt the mutiny.

The first thing on my list: MTV Iggy’s special feature on Bollywood’s “new wave” of filmmakers. The idea is that, much like the French new wave of the 50s, Indian cinema is facing a radical change, with auteur directors leading the way with a new influx of talent, money, professionalism and creativity. And the audience in India is ready for it. 11smoking1-200x200.jpg Anuvab Pal (friend of Sepia alum Manish Vij) is now a screenwriter in Mumbai, and his funny, engaging, and very revealing article is a must read:

In fall 2003, I was asked by a friend of mine, the director Manish Acharya, to co-write a film with him. It would be about a Bollywood singing contest in New Jersey. We were influenced by the movies of Christopher Guest and Woody Allen, and had lived in New York for a numbers of years. At some point, in various coffee shops in Manhattan, as we wrote, I asked Manish who our audience might be. He intelligently remarked that we shouldn’t write with audiences in mind but just try to tell a good story. That’s the sort of answer auteur film directors give at film festival Q&As and grave audiences nod in agreement. It had a sort of nobility to it. I was far more interested in a petty middle-class answer.

“Still, who?” I insisted.

“Whom” he corrected, adding, “New India. This is a film for new India.”

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Q&A With Jen Kwok: “Where My F&@Kers At?!”

Ahn nyoung, dear Sepia Readers (and Arrested Development lovers)!

Sorry for leaving you for so long — I’ve been tasting the kimchee over at MTV Iggy, immersed in all things Kpop (don’t knock it ’til you’ve read about it Abhi!) and other global music/pop-culture stylings for kids who were born in the 90s, IYKWIM?

So anyway, I ran over here because I saw how much you enjoyed the “Date an Asian” video by Jen Kwok, and thought you might like to know more about the girl, the video, the cute older man in the sandwich made of sexy, and, of course, what her real dad thinks about all this:

What got you thinking about Asian men and dating? This is a topic I’d always wanted to address in my comedy, but wasn’t quite sure how. Last summer, I heard a joke on network television that was anti-dating Asian men. As an Asian, I was kind of pissed that this was broadcast as mainstream entertainment. As a comedian, I took it as inspiration to put a positive spin on the subject.

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Meetup Hits Bean Town

bostonSkyline.jpgWhy, hello Boston. Home of Haaaarvard, Dunkin Donuts, Jhumpa Lahiri and the Red Sox. And brown people. Boston is home to plenty of South Asians.

How is it then that Sepia Mutiny has never hosted a Boston Meetup?

It’s about time to flip the script. So how about it? Let’s all get together for Boston’s first ever Sepia Mutiny Meetup?

Join Ravi, Phillygrrl and Taz Friday, September 25th for the best brown event to blast Boston. I’ll be visiting from LA, Phillygrrl is flying in specially from Philly, and Ravi is the ‘local’ hosting it all. It will be a first meetup for Phillygrrl and Ravi, and I promised them I’d make it just as good as the ones I’ve hosted in the past. Bostonians, don’t let me down.

  • DATE: September 25th, Friday
  • TIME: 5:30pm – 8:00 pm
  • WHERE: All ages dessert spot, Finale in Harvard Square
  • RSVP: In the comments below. Leave your e-mail address so we can contact you if things change.

Mmmm, chocolate. And brown people. Can’t wait. The location is tentative – we were looking for a place to congregate around happy hour time that would also be all ages. We also are not sure if they will take reservations for bigger parties. We chose Harvard Square area to accommodate students. If you have another location that you’d like to suggest, please drop it in the comment section as well. I also kind of wanted to check out DJ Kayper later that evening.

Don’t be skerred. Meetups are fun. You get to meet new people, make new friends, and I may even turn on Sepia Destiny full force so you can get a date out of it. Meetups are open to everyone – from the adamant commenter to the quiet lurker. ALL are welcome! COME! Continue reading

Site Maintenance

Update: Maintenance is done. If you notice anything out of the ordinary let us know in the comments!

Kunjan and I will be doing some site maintenance tonight after 10 pm EST. During this time you may not be able to post comments.

This is a major technical upgrade for us. As long as things don’t go really bad (fingers crossed), you shouldn’t notice any difference tomorrow morning. As part of this upgrade, we may also be moving our server (again) to an undisclosed location in the United States (as part of our security measures) and so a DNS update can cause some of you to be looking at the site on the old server (depending on your ISP’s service or where you are in the world).

We will update this post once everything is back to normal. I’ll leave the comments open. After maintenance, please let us know here if you notice anything broken (if comments are working) or email me at chaitan [at]

Thank you for your support and patience while we continue to keep all the pieces working. Continue reading

Two turntables and a microphone (updated)

Update: The show in Houston is this Friday at the House of Blues. Admission is FREE before 11p.m.***

My friend Raj emailed me this morning with the ridiculous news that he is bringing BBC Radio’s DJ Kayper (*swoon*) here to the House of Blues in Houston next weekend (I missed her when she was in Austin for SXSW). After I got up off the floor from fainting I decided to post about it on SM. 25 year old Kayper, whose real name is Kaajal Bakrania, is impossible not to gawk at. She’s got skills.

Since 17 May 2006 she has presented the new show “The Hype Show” on the BBC Asian Network every Wednesday from 22:00 to 01:00. The show has now been renamed as “DJ Kayper”.

Hailed as one of the finest DJ’s pioneering new music today, British born DJ Kayper is a seminal force on the urban, mainstream and desi music scenes. Having been approached to host a mainstream radio show for the BBC’s Asian Network in 2006, the “DJ Kayper” show has now gone on to become one of the stations biggest exports with global listenership. The show has attracted no less than the biggest and best urban and pop music guests namely Common, Questlove, Lupe Fiasco, Nelly Furtado, Xzibit, Kelly Rowland, Omarion, Wyclef, Will.I.Am and The Game in addition to UK artists such as Estelle, Sway, Kano and Jay Sean. [Link]
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Actress Lisa Ray, Battling Cancer & Blogging About It

lisa-ray-blog-picture.jpg Via Chickpea and Nilanjana, I learned that actress Lisa Ray is battling cancer. Ray is best known for her roles in Bollywood/Hollywood and Water, though she also acted in a couple of Indian films in 2001-2002 (one Bollywood, one Telugu), and has done parts in a number of smaller films and TV shows since moving to Toronto several years ago.

Ray has multiple myeloma, which is “incurable but treatable.” It’s a tough diagnosis for the actress, which will involve aggressive treatment. However, she seems to be dealing with it with impressive poise, as can be seen in blog posts like this one:

The media here is reacting with support and sensitivity. I guess many actors or people in my industry rarely go public. I understand why. There’s practical repercussions as in, its become more expensive to insure you on a project. Some producers don’t want to- or can’t- take on that extra cost. So even when I’ve crossed over and joined the ‘Full Remission’ Club, there may be tough career and financial decisions.

It’s hard for me to live any other way than with full disclosure. (link)

She also seems to be enjoying the side effects of the steroids she’s on, which make her hungry:

On Steroids: you are HUNGRY ALL THE TIME.

When Dr. Ahmed Galal, my Warrior-Hematologist at Princess Margaret Hospital gave me my first cycle of meds, he capped his recommendation off with a charming gesture that meant: Beware of sweets.

Well. Sweet things aren’t the only temptation.

Every cycle of treatment, I’m on Dexamethasone for four days on, then four days off.

Who knew it would turn me into a free range chicken, pecking the landscape freely. I find it distracting to walk down my patch of Queen St without stopping for a nibble at the Pie Shack, scoping some sushi or sampling up kimchi and eggs.


All the best for you, Lisa Ray. Here’s hoping you’ll be able to enjoy the culinary delights of Queen Street (Toronto) for many years to come. Continue reading

Red Baraat: Bhangra, Brass and Bringing It

Bumping beats to rearrange heart beats, Red Baraat is “Hoi, hoi-ing” into the hearts of people across the nation. Established in 2008, this nine member New York City based “dhol ‘n’ brass band” has quickly risen to the top in the ‘world music’ circuit (and wedding circuit) of the NYC area. Red Baraat is now taking it outta The City with their first new album, Chaal Baby, set to drop January 2010 and a Midwest tour scheduled in Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago for Sept 17th – 20th. Never to fear, New Yorkers, Red Baraat isn’t leaving without a special show for you on Sept 11th at 92YTribeca w/ Nation Beat.

Haven’t heard the sounds of Red Baraat yet? Well you can check out their YouTube videos and, exclusively for Sepia Mutiny readers, you can download their track Balle Balle for FREE. Right here. If you enjoy the track, you can go to and download a ringtone of Chaal Baby as well. That’s right, I pull strings for you. Because I love you.

<a href="">Punjabi Wedding Song (Balle Balle) by Red Baraat</a>

Enjoy the track as you listen to my interview with drummer Sunny Jain and trumpeter Sonny Singh as they talk about music, fusion, inspiration and more.

1. How would you describe Red Baraat’s music?

Sunny: Well, the sound of the band is based on acoustic instruments bringing a powerful primal sound: dhol, percussion, sousaphone and several horns. While the foundation is North Indian Bhangra, there is a multitude of musical elements clashing together, such as funk, hip-hop, go-go, rock, jazz, Latin. Also, there’s a good deal of vocal interaction with the audience, from Punjabi singing, to English rapping, to group call-and-responses.

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Joe Wilson is “passionate” about illegal immigrants

…So much so in fact that the Republican congressman from South Carolina yelled “lie” when President Obama made the following statement earlier tonight:

“There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally,” President Obama said. [Link]

Yelling at the President during a joint session of congress is pretty much unheard of. What is this the British Parliament? Even McCain condemned the outburst.

There is fiction and there is truth. Here is’s take:

The bill is designed to exclude those immigrants, though some Republicans have called for more explicit bans on funding for illegal immigrants and have claimed the bill will funnel money to illegal immigrants. described those claims as “false” and noted that one version of the legislation already includes an explicit bar on federal funding for illegal immigrants’ health care. [Link]

Joe Wilson should be a familiar name to Indian Americans. He is the former co-chair of the House India Caucus. Here is an excerpt from a 2003 interview:

Q. One of the criticisms of the Caucus over the years has been that all members like to proudly declare how large the Caucus is whenever they attend some Indian American function, but when it comes to real tangibles, there are not more than a handful of members who are really committed and involved. Is this something you hope to change during your tenure in terms of resurrecting or to be more charitable, rejuvenating the Caucus?

A. It will be. In fact, on my election I had a number of members of Congress tell me that they wanted to become more involved. Over and over, I have had topnotch and very enthusiastic members of Congress tell me they want to become involved. We will be more active and again a reason that we are going to become more active is not just because of a change in leadership but because the Indian American population of the U.S. has become more active and better organized itself.

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SM Reader (and my cousin) Manan Trivedi for Congress (PA-6)

I have been waiting all summer to do this post and would have posted yesterday (right as the gag was lifted) if not for the fact that I was en-route back from a vacation. My cousin Manan officially hopped in to the race for U.S. Congress from the 6th district of Pennsylvania as a Democratic candidate. This district stretches from the northwest suburbs of Philadelphia into Mennonite country toward the middle of the state where Manan grew up (Fleetwood, Pa). The incumbent here is Republican Jim Gerlach, but he is set to vacate the office at the end of this term to run for Governor. Thus, it is an open seat that the DCCC really really wants in a district that leaned Obama in 2008.

This is a new kind of political post for me here on SM because it’s the first time I have “skin in the game” with regards to a candidate I am writing about. What I can tell you about Manan is that he regularly reads Sepia Mutiny and sends me tips all the time on various political stories. While practicing medicine at UCLA he also took policy classes with our blogger Taz and he earned a Mater’s degree in Public Policy. He is pretty much a health care policy wonk that just finished a stint with the Surgeon General of the Navy’s Office. Oh, he is also a medical doctor and a Marine Devil Doc that served on one of the first ground units to enter into Iraq in 2003. He treated (on both sides) a lot of the worst kinds of injuries that you might expect to see when you are on one of the first units in to a war. Manan received the Combat Action Ribbon and his unit also received the Presidential Unit Citation.

“I was raised in this district by working-class parents and experienced what many families are going through now with the loss of their jobs and their pensions. But I also learned the importance of serving others and working hard for things that matter. These principles have guided my career, from the battlefield to the emergency room,” said Trivedi.

“I am now prepared to serve my community in a new capacity: in the halls of Congress. We have some big challenges facing our nation. Our health care system is broken, we’re engaged in two wars, and our economy continues to struggle. I know how to get things done under extremely difficult situations, and my direct experience with these challenges will give the working families in my district a strong and credible voice in Washington,” Trivedi concluded. [Link]

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