On the Road to Sundance

Under an odd twist of fate, I find myself for the first time in my life actually interested in the glitz and glamor of Hollywood relocating to the cold hills of Park City, Utah. As mentioned in a previous post, I have had a minuscule bit of involvement with the book-to-movie feature film The Taqwacores which will be premiering at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24th. I have recently been asked to join the Taqwacore madness at Utah, from staying in the rented 4 bedroom punk house with 30 other actors and/or punks, to checking out the punk rock shows in Park City and Salt Lake City featuring The Kominas and Al Thawra. I will be blogging about my Taqx experiences for those two weeks at the tumblr site Taqx at Sundance. Additionally, I will also be crossposting/blogging for MTV Iggy about movies, actors and potentially interviews.

My mind is spinning with the prospect that this little blogger now has a press pass to access one of the coolest film festivals there is. And what an amazing year to join the madness. There are a few films at Sundance which I think are Sepia Mutiny worthy to keep an eye on over the next year:

It looks like a cute movie, and definitely is the shoe in for that one movie for this year’s Desi diaspora flick. I am really excited at the prospect of speaking to both Gurinder and Sendhil about their experience working on the film. Continue reading

Rasika Mathur Skates Into the Moshpit

the_three.jpg Kick, kick, push…. went our Sector 9 skateboards along the coast of the beach of Santa Barbara; my board was painted with surf waves, and hers was appropriately painted with an image of Ganesh. I was skating with Rasika Mathur, comedian, actress, and funny person extraordinaire. When I found out that Rasika was a skater chick, I knew that I just had to conduct our interview while skateboarding on the beach.

You may have seen her on MTV’s sketch comedy show Wild N Out or on the film festival circuit promoting her rap music sari tutorial, Sari (W)rap. Or maybe you’ve seen her in character as Nilam Auntie in a viral video. I caught up with Rasika just after she had just flown back from being on set in Ohio for The Taqwacores motion picture. Directed by Eyad Zahra, the movie was adapted from Michael Muhammad Knight’s fictitious book The Taqwacores and will be premiering on January 24th at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie revolves around the lives of punk rock Muslim characters that live in a punk house in upstate New York and their subsequent exploration of identity and shenanigans. The movie features Maxim sexpot Noureen Dewulf playing the burqa clad riot grrl Rabeya as well as featuring American Dreamz Tony Yalda playing the flamboyant Muzzamil (on the right in above picture), amongst others.

Playing the role of the activist Muslim punk chick character Fatima is Rasika Mathur. I first met up with her before she left for the movie set. She wanted some inspiration for her character, so I hung out with her for a day, taking her to the mosque and teaching her about “DIY”, “NOFX” and “circle pits” . I made her promise when she returned from set, that in exchange, I’d get a Sepia Mutiny exclusive interview. So here it is, my interview with Rasika Mathur.

On working on a “Muslim” focused movie, after being raised in a Hindu home:

It really helped me to expand my mind and break my perceptions. You took me to a mosque so that I could get some real hardcore research and so that I could get what the heck this book was describing this whole time. Maybe the best thing that people can do to become tolerant is to literally put themselves in other people’s shoes by doing a film. Because you have to study what the role is and I shifted my perception by doing this. Continue reading

See Gul

My friend Adnan, who I have previously blogged about, is touring the film festival circuit with his new animated short, Gul (flower). Next up is the Slamdance Festival in Utah starting Jan 22nd.

“Gul” (flower) A short film by Adnan Hussain (Trailer 2) from Adnan Hussain on Vimeo.

Gul, a young girl, is awakened by her mother’s dying breath. She struggles to recall her past. A child’s view illustrates conflicts between abuse, self determination, human rights, and the environment. Her world manifests through visual poetry. Raw, expressive, painted style computer animation is scored with masterful Sindhi Folk music from the villages of Pakistan. With all that she finds, can love create hope in the face of oppression? [Link]

I am really excited by this film for two reasons. First, Adnan is a phenomenal talent and I think more people should be exposed to that. When we used to go out to bars/music venues in LA he would bring his water colors. In the time it took me to down a glass of whiskey he had already completed a painting of the band on stage. Who needs a camera in their phone when you have skills like that? Second, the movie “looks” really original. I can’t remember seeing anything else that has the look and feel of the film that I am seeing in the trailer above. If I recall correctly, Adnan also worked on the 2007 film Beowulf.

If you get a chance to see this film let us know what you think.

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Light skinned…with no dialect

Over at Wonkette today they were asking a real brain teaser. Which one of these is not like the others?

Hey, they do it in every single Bollywood movie or Indian channel serial drama. Why not the official Louisiana Governor’s portrait too? As a comparison, here is his official portrait from the 109th Congress (also seen in the middle left photo). Over at The Root they are wondering if Harry Reid was right?

Research strongly suggests that white voters do favor lighter-skinned black candidates. Political scientist Nayda Terkildsen studied the effect of skin color on white voting preferences in her 1993 paper, “When White Voters Evaluate Black Candidates: The Processing Implications of Candidate Skin Color, Prejudice, and Self-Monitoring.” In an experimental study, she presented a random sample of adults descriptions of “one of three fictitious candidates running for governor.” Each candidate was described in identical terms with the only difference being an attached photograph of either “a white male, a light-complected black male, or a dark-complected black male.” Terkildsen found a statistically significant effect that “black candidates were penalized by white voters based on the candidate’s race, skin color, and individual levels of racial prejudice.”

Put another way, when presented with otherwise identical candidates, white voters generally preferred the white candidate to the black candidates and the lighter-skinned candidate to the darker-skinned candidate. (Terkildsen’s analysis only looked at white voters, but perhaps Reid’s remarks will encourage someone to study the effect of skin color on candidate preferences among blacks, Latinos and Asians, too.) [Link]

I bet you, as alluded to in the last sentence, that studies will show that African, Latino, and Asian voters will either conciously or subconciously vote for the lighter skinned candidate too. Like I said, all I have to do is turn on Zee TV to prove this. So I am not going to be overly critical of Jindal for the lighting guy he chose. I am however, going to bow my head in disappointment.

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Live-Blogging the Indian Women Leading the Culinary Wave Panel

RIGHT NOW. Well, in an hour. I’m sitting here by the service station while they set up dinner. The glamorous life of a blogger, eh? Anyway, Padma Lakshmi is on this panel. Maybe she’ll get carried away on a haute cuisine high and spill the deets on the baby daddy?

As longtime readers know, I’m all thumbs. So this should be fun! Will be liveblogging for MTV Iggy here.


Unconventional. Indian Women. Leading Culinary.
At Vermilion. January 12. 6-9pm

Food has never been so fashionable. Meet the leading women behind different facets of cuisine and beverage, all of whom have made unconventional career choices given their backgrounds and Indian origins. Learn about the ins and outs of what’s behind the “foodie” wave we’re all swept in – behind the most successful food shows (Top Chef, Check Please!), the business of opening and operating restaurants, wines and the economics of a beverage program, the art of cooking and being a chef, and writing on food & wine. More info here.

Meet Your Panelists:

Padma Lakshmi: Emmy-nominated host of  TV show “Top Chef,” award winning author, actress, and model

Alpana Singh: Master Sommelier, host of the Emmy-winning TV show “Check, Please!” and author of Alpana Pours

Rohini Dey: Owner/Founder of Vermilion Restaurant, formerly of McKinsey & Co. and the World Bank

Maneet Chauhan: Vermilion Executive Chef

Moderator: Vijay Vaitheeswaran (award-winning Editor of The Economist, author of Zoom)

Okay, so my typing is pretty crap. But this should be a fun conversation between several very sassy women. Let’s go!

6:35: Panel starts at 7:30 I’m told. Alrighty then. Hang out with me people :) I’m scoping out Padma’s bodyguard as he scopes out the place. Read live here. Continue reading

Ol Dat M.I.A. Sees

M.I.A. just tweeted the above video, “There’s Space for Ol Dat I See.” (She’s also been tweeting a lot about Sri Lanka’s portrayal in the NYT article Sugi blogged about, but I’m not gonna link those pictures.) I’m kinda diggin’ how basic the song sounds in this video.

MIA says she expects her third album to be released as early as this early spring…”I wanted it to be like, no gimmicks,” she declared. “It’s my third album and I have to kind of confront whether I am a musician or not… I wanted to make something that you could play that isn’t like trendy just for three months, or the length of a DJ’s attention span.” [nme]

Can’t wait, especially with songs with titles like, “I’m Down Like Your Internet Connection.” Continue reading

The Deaf Muslim Punk Playwright: Interview with Sabina England

She writes plays, directs and acts in comedy mime skits, moshes in punk pits and reads lips. Sabina England is a 20-something Midwest girl that fits no typecast. I stumbled across Sabina on twitter as the @DeafMuslim when all Taqwacore scenesters would retweet her plays and videos. I was already curious about the Deaf Desi community since meeting a few in DC, but was even more intrigued after checking out her site, her comedy skits and reading the stories and plays on her blog. How could I not be? I sat down (virtually) for a fascinating interview where she talks about acting as Helen Keller in a high school play, to having a Mohawk and wearing hijab, to prejudices against the deaf community by fellow Desis.

You have written a few plays, with some relatively controversial content. How do people react to your plays?

It varies. No matter what Muslims do, every time a Muslim makes a film or writes a play or whatever about Pakistanis or Indians or w/e who aren’t “typical” they still get hate about it. It makes me so mad. Some Muslims ask me why do I write about “Muslim whores” and I’m like, why the fuck not? They exist. My sister hates my plays and always complains why am I “weird” and why can’t I write “normal” plays. Some feminists are offended by my plays, but I get mostly great feedback from women about my plays because I tend to write strong, interesting female characters.

> I don’t have any of my plays on videos; my videos are just comedy sketches. They’re very different from my plays, my plays are very dark; I call them “tragicomedies”. I had a play run in London on late September to early October for 3 weeks. The next project I have, my play (the same play, called [*How the Rapist was Born*](http://deadamericandream.blogspot.com/2009/09/how-rapist-was-born.html)) will be staged at East 15 in England on May 2010 with a different director and cast. I am trying to get my plays produced in NYC, but the truth is NYC’s theater scene isn’t as vibrant as London so I’ve had my eyes and heart set on London for a long time. Recently I read an article some weeks ago, a lot of critics and journalists have declared that this is The Golden Age of British theater right now in London. I want to be part of it. Continue reading

Travel Writing, Annotated

In the time-honored journalistic tradition of lists (o, you home of nuance and subtlety and click-worthiness), the NYT exoticism Travel section gives us The 31 Places to Go in 2010.

1 on the list? Sri Lanka. Wouldn’t you know it, but “for a quarter century, Sri Lanka seems to have been plagued by misfortune.” Seems that way, doesn’t it? “But the conflict finally ended last May, ushering in a more peaceful era…” Timesdudes, is that misfortune all GONE? Sweet! Except for all the people dealing with the conflict’s aftermath! Including the hundreds of thousands of displaced! Not to mention all the bereaved!

(Also on the list… Mysore, Mumbai, and Nepal. The last may be the “next gay destination.” Trend-o-RAMA! (h/t to Anup))

Let’s annotate, just for kicks. Continue reading

Daisy Rockwell at Twelve Gates Art Gallery

Twelve gates2.jpg This past summer, in the hopes of finding something of interest to you mutineers, I Googled a random bunch of terms and stumbled upon Twelve Gates Art Gallery, Philadelphia’s first South Asian art gallery. The gallery, which opened in May, features the work of a variety of contemporary South Asian artists. In addition to exhibiting collections, Twelve Gates also hosts film screenings, poetry readings and musical events. (So heads up, Philly mutineers. You are now in ‘the know.’ Thank me later.)

Before hitting up their latest exhibition, I caught up with Aisha Zia Khan, herself a sculptor who owns the gallery together with her partner and husband Atif Sheikh, to ask her about the gallery. Khan moved from Pakistan nine years ago and immediately immersed herself into the art scene. Continue reading

Posted in Art

Maya’s Slim Chance – Bone Marrow Donor Needed

maya.jpgHere at Sepia Mutiny, we have covered many bone marrow campaigns over the years. As you know by now, South Asian Americans have a 1:20,000 chance of finding a match in the bone marrow registry which is a stark difference to Caucasians who have an 80% chance of finding a match. To put that in terms of numbers, as of Jan ’09 there were 5,408,623 Caucasians in the donor registry, and only 139,460 South Asian donors in the registry. The mutiny has helped to publicize the the Help Vinay & Sameer campaigns, which added 25,000 new South Asian names to the national registry.

But there is a new little girl that needs our help, the precious four year old Maya Chamberlain.

In September, 4-year-old Maya Chamberlin was diagnosed with a rare blood disease known as HLH. Her chances of survival depend on finding a suitable bone marrow donor…. Maya’s mother, Dr. Mina Chamberlin, says her daughter’s illness, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, affects the immune system. [kpcc]

The reason that makes a match especially tough? She’s half desi.

The pool of potentially mixed-race donors is made even more difficult because blood relatives of patients often don’t qualify, and trying to find a volunteer with the right racial combination can be extremely tough, experts said. Marrow transplants are also more complex than those involving organs. [latimes]

> “It’s difficult with Maya because she comes from a mixed genetic background,” Chamberlin says. “I myself am from India and my husband is Caucasian — German and English descent — so the combination of the two is making it more difficult to find a match.” > > A donor’s compatibility is based on their HLA — or human leukocyte antigen — type. “And HLA is basically inherited. So the probability of finding a suitable donor is highest among people of your own race,” Chamberlin says. > >She says the chances of finding a donor are “pretty low — pretty, pretty low… But it is not hopeless. I mean, I know there is that one person out there.”[[kpcc](http://www.scpr.org/news/2009/12/27/4-year-old-girl-faces-long-odds-in-search-for-dono/)] Continue reading