UPDATED: Listen to Goldspot


Five years ago, Abhi first brought the Mutiny’s attention to Goldspot, the Los-Angeles-based band founded by multi-talented frontman Siddhartha Khosla. Remember their first album, ‘Tally of the Yes Men?’ This past fall, Goldspot released their second full-length album ‘And the Elephant is Dancing,’ which I’ve been playing in heavy rotation on iTunes for the last few months. Their work, often described as ‘Bollywood-inspired’ and ‘Beatles-influenced,’ is getting even more attention this time around. In the past year, Goldspot has gotten play on television shows such as ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ and soundtracks including ‘Today’s Special,’ starring Aasif Mandvi and the Bollywood release ‘The President is Coming.’ Continue reading

The Homeless Sikhs of Southall

I recently spent an evening with twenty hearty souls in steady British rain to sleep out in a park to raise awareness about the plight of the homeless Sikhs of Southall.

Actually, there was not much sleeping — it was more of a Hang Out than a Sleep Out and we had pizza and burgers — but the issue wasn’t lost. Finding warm and dry shelter is a challenge for an increasing number of South Asians, mostly Sikh men, in the southwest London neighborhood of Southall.IMG_6358.jpg

Lodging isn’t supposed to be a problem. Southall is the center of London’s vast Punjabi community, one of the most significant Little Indias in the world, home to one of the largest gurdwaras outside India, and a cultural nexus that brought the bhangra phenomenon to nightclubs around the globe. It’s also a hardscrabble quarter that, like New York’s Lower East Side, gave immigrants the means to establish themselves in a new land. The community took care of its own and looks back fondly on its achievements.

So it has come as a shock that in 2010 there are about a hundred homeless men, mostly Sikhs but including Sri Lankans and Somalis, sleeping rough in one of London’s proudest immigrant neighborhoods. Continue reading


SAMAR Magazine just dropped their latest issue and highlighted a campaign I knew little about – the FreeFahad Campaign.

On February 10, 2010, SAMAR in collaboration with THAW (Theaters Against War) put out a call for letters to be sent to Fahad Hashmi at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC). Fahad has been held in pre-trial detention at the MCC for over 850 days in severe solitary confinement. He has been detained over 1,350 days in all (more about Fahad’s case: freefahad.com). [samarmagazine]

The following mini-documentary enlightens us more on the who Fahad is and the situation he finds himself in.

It’s a horrible situation, and the charges against him are reflective of a civil rights injustice that continues to establish how Desis, 2nd-generation immigrants, and Muslims are not given equal rights provided to the “other” Americans. At nine years after 9/11, this case is clearly evidence that the South Asian American community is still feeling the repercussions of the Patriot Act, at least in the legal system.

The FreeFahad campaign is asking for people to write a letter to Fahad in prison. Though the chances of Fahad receiving the letter is slim, the campaign hopes the act of writing the letters will “offer a simple and necessary challenge to the inhuman conditions of Fahad’s detention and help send a message to Fahad’s jailers, the U.S. Government and Attorney General Holder, that the world at large cares for Fahad and is outraged at the violations of his civil and human rights.” Continue reading

Always The Sidekick

Prime Time Desis.jpgIt’s not that it’s a bad thing that there are South Asians on prime time television. It’s just that it seems that they are always playing the sidekick character. Fine, maybe not “sidekick” as much as “part of ensemble cast but definitely not lead actor” role. NBC Thursday night is a perfect example. You have Danny Pudi playing Abed on Community, Aziz Ansari as Tom on Parks and Recreation, Mindy Kaling as Kelly on The Office, and Maulik Pancholy as Jonathan on 30 Rock.

Not since Margaret Cho’s 1994 TV-series All-American Girl has there been an ensemble cast entirely of Asian Americans on prime time television. The show infamously imploded as cast and execs clashed and Cho has not been quiet about it. That was sixteen years ago.

Since then, we have seen the rise of Desi ensemble casting but…in other countries. You have the Kumars at No. 42 from the BBC network; Brazil’s Indian themed soap opera Caminho das India; and yes, I’m even counting Canada’s CBC sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie. Well, it looks like network U.S. network execs are finally jumping on the bandwagon.

They are the two comeback stories of this pilot season, projects developed years ago that have been resurrected and have landed orders at the broadcast networks…The two comedies — “Nirvana” at Fox and “Outsourced” at NBC — have something else in common: They both are ensemble shows about Indians and Indian Americans.

> A third project, a U.S. version of popular British comedy “The Kumars at No. 42,” about an immigrant Indian family, also is poised for revival. Eight years after NBC took a stab at the format, the show’s British producers are shopping it to U.S. networks, including FX. [[thr](http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/television/news/e3i7da84139be87c4e229c0d88cbc815b1f)] Continue reading

Slumdog-mania is Officially Over

As I watched last night’s Academy Award presentation, I couldn’t help but think back to the 2009 awards nostalgically, a time where Slumdog mania was in full force, Bollywood stars were taking the stage, and saris were seen on the red carpet. At last night’s ceremony, though the one shoulder dress was the trend, not a sari was to be seen. Nor a desi person in the crowd. Who woulda thought – there actually was an end to the Slumdog Millionaire madness.

But there was one film. I hadn’t heard of it till last night, but as I saw the nominees scroll for short films, I saw Kavi scroll by. Though the film did not win last night, I was still curious to see what it was all about.

‘Kavi’, American director Gregg Helvey’s short film about an Indian slave boy has lost out the Oscar in the Best Short Film (Live Action) category to the Danish entry ‘The New Tenants’…The 19-minute-long fictional film in Hindi, was the only India connection at this year’s Oscars, as opposed to last year when the Mumbai based potboiler ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ bagged eight golden trophies. [ptinews]

I’m not usually a fan of shorts, but I may have to check Kavi out. I do find some of the language on the movie’s website slightly problematic though, and I wonder if the film has a similar undertone. Has anyone out there seen the movie? Also, thoughts on last night’s Academy Awards in this post Slumdog era? Continue reading

Housing discrimination near Dallas?

Straight out of Euless, Texas (which it turns out borders DFW Airport and is kind of part of Dallas) comes this discouraging news video about alleged discrimination against South Asian Americans and Muslims:

A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today called on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to investigate allegations that a Texas apartment complex had a policy of refusing to rent to Muslims or segregating them in buildings away from other tenants.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity to determine whether StoneBridge at Bear Creek apartment complex in Euless, Texas, violated federal fair housing laws.

According to an investigative media report, former leasing agents for the complex say Muslims, whom managers referred to as “curry people,” were routinely refused apartments even when there were vacancies. The leasing agents said they were told by their supervisors that they could only rent to Muslims if they were all kept in two buildings of the 21-building complex. [Link]

The one thing that is obvious from the story is that when it comes to even talking about discriminations, Muslims, South Asians, Arabs, etc. are often all conflated. Any shade of brown with a “funny” name or associated with “smelly” food falls into the same category.

The folks at CAIR weren’t too surprised that this type of thing happens given some Gallup Center for Muslim Studies poll data from last month:

More than 4 in 10 Americans (43%) admit to feeling at least “a little” prejudice toward Muslims — more than twice the number who say the same about Christians (18%), Jews (15%) and Buddhists (14%). The findings are based on a new Gallup Center for Muslim Studies report, “Religious Perceptions in America: With an In-Depth Analysis of U.S. Attitudes Toward Muslims and Islam,” released Thursday. [Link]

That being said, if these allegations turn out to be true it is encouraging that these two women were willing to stand up and blow the whistle on such practices. As for the Curry smell, Pavani points me to a similar incident in California a few years ago.

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Mummy, Daddy I Want the ‘Love Marriage’

Happy Humpday, SM readers! Hope you’re having a great week. Whilst stalking my friends’ Facebook pages, I came across the best music video EVER via Sugi. Behold: the Interwebz phenomenon that is Wilbur Sargunaraj, who apparently first came to attention through ‘Blog Song’ back in 2007. Since then he’s done many, many videos. But man, am I loving this beat right here. It doesn’t hurt that he has those adorable aunties self-consciously throwing it up in the back. Seriously, this song needed to be my ringtone yesterday. Enjoy!

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Intimate with Aziz

Aziz Ansari.jpg

Not really new news, but new to me news – In January, comedian Aziz Ansari premiered his Comedy Central stand up special: “Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening.” We’ve talked about Aziz plenty of times on Sepia Mutiny in the past as the latest up and coming funny man. He can also be seen on Parks on Recreation on NBC Thursday nights, otherwise known as ‘every show has a Desi sidekick’ night. The clips from his Comedy Central special are up [NSFW] and I wanted to share. (h/t Channel APA)

Russel Peters is the only other Desi person I know to have had a Comedy Central special, though I could be wrong on this one. What I do find interesting though, is how different Peters and Ansari’s comedy styles are from one another. I could be snarky and say style differences reflect a Canada vs. U.S.A. thing, but that could just be the residual Olympic effect speaking. In reality, it seems that Peters relies on his Desi background for his jokes, and Ansari has moved away from that, using Desi references more as seasoning than crutch. But maybe, that really is reflective of a Canada vs. U.S.A. thing.

More from an ‘Intimate Moment for a Sensual Evening’ after the jump. Continue reading