As most of you know, a couple weeks ago I trekked out the snowy mountains of Park City, UT to take part in Sundance mayhem, Taqwacore style. I was there to blog on behalf of The Taqwacores motion picture – and you can read my full experience here. I ended up having one of the best (and most surreal) times of my life, hanging out with The Kominas, getting to interview celebrities (like in the video above of Gurinder Chadha and Sendhil Ramamurthy), and watching a ridiculous amount of movies. It was also a surprisingly mutinous adventure, and by the end of Sundance week I was literally introducing myself to every Desi person at Sundance. So, let me see if I can give you a celebri-Desi mutinous rundown of what happened at Sundance 2010.
The biggest highlight to my week was getting the opportunity to interview Bollywood movie star, Aamir Khan. He was there to promote the movie Peepli Live which was being released out of his production studio. With The Kominas as my hilarious Flip camera crew, we talked to him, first time director Anusha Rizvi and actor Omkar Das Manikpuri. Peepli Live is the first Bollywood movie to make it into competition in Sundance, and I really enjoyed the movie. It was an indie comedy with a Bollywood look, but without the cheesy song and dance numbers. And Aamir Khan was super normal, sweet and nice (as well as his wife Kiran Rao, who started talking to me in Bangla when Basim, Shahj, and Imran were talking to Aamir in Hindi). Check out the first part to the interview and visit MTV Iggy for the full run down.
I was also really excited about meeting Gurinder Chadha, who directed one of my favorite movies, Bend It Like Beckhem. Of course, it should be no surprise to the mutiny how drool-worthy I find Sendhil Ramamurthy, who plays the leading man in Chadha’s latest movie, It’s a Wonderful Afterlife. The interview was fascinating as the conversation revolved around the comparison of Brit Desi and American Desi film and cultures and I only lost my composure once – it was when Chadha talked about giving Mr. Ramamurthy a shirtless scene in the movie and all I could respond with was a “Thank you!”
Sadly, tried as I wanted to, the movie was disappointing in what I can only describe as orientalizing dark comedy. To read the rest of my review and check out the full interview go to MTV Iggy here.
The first couple nights there, I went to a party that DJ Rekha was spinning. It was my first time meeting her and I was kind of giddy since I had just named her a top Desi Woman of the Decade. Also at the party was My Pet Dragon’s Reena Shah who was teaching everyone at the party to bhangra, and Toronto tabla extraordinaire Gupreet Chana. Also there was the director of Punching at the Sun, Tanuj Chopra. While dancing with Rasika Mathur (she’s in The Taqwacores) on the dancefloor, we were introduced to Tanuja Desai Hidier, the author of Born Confused. My jaw dropped as she talked about being a fan of Sepia Mutiny. It’s easily one of my top twenty books, and I was excited to learn that the book had been turned into a screenplay. Read the full party review (and an interview w/ Tanuj Chopra) at MTV Iggy here.
I also got to meet 10-string violinist Gingger Shankar who talked about her amazingly eclectic musical background. She talked about scoring movies for Mel Gibson, singing soprano opera at Carnegie, going on tour with Smashing Pumpkins, and how her parents toured with George Harrison in the 70s. Read the full interview here.
There were other random encounters too. We met up with actor and musician Riz Ahmed (of the movie Britz) at a sports bar. He was there with his fellow cast members to promote Four Lions, a comedy about jihadists. I met director Samina Akbari at a bus stop – she was there to promote her short The Visitors which was screening at Sundance. We went to a party hosted by Noureen Dewulf, who’s performance, by the way, as the burkha clad Rabeya in The Taqwacores was surprisingly stellar. She was super nice in person, and super normal.Spoken word artist Dawah Poet, who was in town to support the movie Bilal’s Stand, stopped by the Salt Lake City taqwacore concert. Actress Nidhi Singh from the play The Domestic Crusaders also stopped by The Taqwacores premeire party Monday night where The Kominas performed.
Finally, of course, of course, was all the punk rock antics I had access to by staying at the punk house with the cast, the crews, at the punks in town for The Taqwacore world premiere. I got some great interviews with the cast (check out the video of my interview with Nav Mann who plays Umar in the movie). There were some silly antics with The Kominas (such as hanging out at a gifting suite with Imran and meeting the guy from My Name is Earl or checking out Kim Badawi’s photo exhibit). And we were all there for the movie, which was fantastic (my first review here and second review here). The concert (w/ The Kominas, Al Thawra and Filmstrip) was pretty Epic too. I’m not sure when the The Taqwacores motion picture will be near a city near you, but it did get accepted into SXSW (along with the documentary) so if you are in the Austin area, be sure to check it out.
So that’s it Mutiny – Sundance with my mutinous twist. To check out the MANY videos I collected along the way, visit my YouTube account, and of course, for the full unedited story, go to Taqx at Sundance. I do have to say, it was totally amazing to be ‘just a blogger’ and to have access to all these amazing people. To call it surreal doesn’t even cover it. Till the next adventure…