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.

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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

Rock Music In India: Breaking Through At Last?

IndiaRocks031.jpg As most SepiaMutiny readers know by now, I work for MTV Iggy. And I don’t mean to keep pimping that stuff over here, but whenever something that might interest you comes up, it seems a shame to not share it. A new special feature just went up on the rock music scene in India, with interviews, live performance footage, music videos, slideshows, and more. Arjun S. Ravi, the editor of a Mumbai-based site that tracks the Indian rock scene, contributed fascinating article on the highs and lows of being a rock music fan in India:

The easiest way to sneak alcohol into Rang Bhavan was to hide it under a girl’s jacket. The notoriously long queues of people waiting impatiently to enter Mumbai’s legendary open air theatre were predominantly male, which meant that the security guards at the gate would only frisk guys. A girl, depending on her stature and the size of the jacket, could slip in anywhere between four to eight cans of Kingfisher beer. Inebriation was as crucial to the Rang Bhavan experience as the Metallica-inspired, ’90s metal cover bands.

[snip]

In India, rock is a much maligned genre, mostly because it is totally misunderstood. India’s Bollywood-loving masses generally accept and believe the particularly damaging stereotype that rock music is overrun by dudes with knee-length hair screaming into microphones and groaning like cats being tortured by pitchforks. And until the late ’90s, Indian rockers did very little to change that impression.

He goes on to trace the changes (fan attitudes, new kinds of venues, advent of the internet, bands stopped noodling around) that contribute to the fact that Indian rock bands were recently invited to the Glastonbury Festival in the UK, and SXSW in Austin, TX. It’s long(ish) but you can read it in full here. The full special feature is here.

An video introduction to some of the bands (Jalebee Cartel, Shor Bazaar, Them Clones, etc.) is after the jump. Continue reading

“Children of a Lesser Google”

Hey, remember when Google’s motto used to be “don’t be evil?” Vaht, you thought they still had it? I did too, but this…might not be evil, but it certainly seems a little unfair:

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Google India had launched a ‘Doodle 4 Google – My India’ contest in August. The Doodle is the logo design you see on the Google homepage. The theme of this competition was ‘My India’. On November 12, Google India announced at Taj Ambassador Hotel that tech hub Gurgaon based 4th standard school kid Puru Pratap has won the competition…a laptop computer for himself, a t-shirt with his doodle and Rs. 1 lakh (approx 2100 US dollars) for his school.

But his counterparts in USA and UK won substantially more. According to Google their US winner “will win a $15,000 college scholarship to be used at the school of their choice, a trip to the Google New York Office, a laptop computer, and a t-shirt printed with their doodle. We’ll also award the winner’s school a $25,000 technology grant towards the establishment/improvement of a computer lab.”

So let’s see: Indian winner = laptop + T-shirt + $2100 (for his school) + $0 (for himself)
US winner = laptop + T-shirt + trip to NY + $25,000 (for his school) + $15,000 (for himself)

Let me see…let me do the math…I dunno, maybe you need a special algorithm or something to make these two things equal? Because to my eyes, it looks like the Indian kid is getting royally screwed. It looks like the same contest, run by the same company, is rewarding a far lesser prize to the winner from one country than to the winner from another country.

The writer of the quoted piece goes on to point of various other prizes that are awarded equally to winners from all countries. She concludes:

Are we children of a lesser Google? Or is the Indian market less important? Perhaps Bing has the answer.

Dammit. I like Chrome. Continue reading

Q&A with Aasif Mandvi: “I Just Make Stuff Up”

aasif_mandvi_sr.correspondent.jpgIf, like me, you’re addicted to “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart, then Aasif Mandvi needs no further introduction. If, for some reason, you don’t watch the show (what’s wrong with you? The internets flattened the world, remember? Click here to watch!) then you’ve seen him in everything from “CSI” to Spider Man 2, generally as a fleeting and funny brown presence. And if you happen to be a theater-going sort of person, you’ve seen him in all sorts of things, and may even know that he won two Obie Awards for his one-man play Sakina’s Restaurant. Multi-talented, is our Mr. Mandvi.

Anyway, the play was recently remade into a film (Today’s Special, also starring Aasif Mandvi) that’s been well-received in international film festivals. He was besieged by other press people (damn you, BBC!) at a screening in NY, but he kindly let me email questions which he promptly answered via Blackberry. Get ready for a formal exercise in true journalism (by that I mean ridiculousness):

What was it like to translate your play, Sakina’s Restaurant, into the film Today’s Special? Was anything lost in the process? Yes, we lost all the Monologues, and the fact that it was a one-man show, and we lost most of the characters in the play, and we came up with all-new characters and a new storyline and all-new lines for the characters to say and… come to think of it, I don’t think the two things are related at all.

Hmm… awkward.

[snip]

Your family left India for England when you were one, then moved to the US when you were 16, according to Wikipedia. How much did it suck to move as a teenager? Have you been back to India? It did suck, and yes I have been back to India…But don’t tell Wikipedia cos he doesn’t know yet…Shhh.

What’s the most offensive thing anyone’s ever said to you? I don’t remember the most offensive thing, but the second most offensive thing anyone ever called me was: a motherf@ckingdotheadtalibanterroristeatingpu##yfacedc@$ksuckera$$holesh!tstaincoloreddotragheadsandnegropakiwalacurrybreathingsh!tlicker.

Which I definitely thought was inappropriate.

(More with Aasif on being Muslim, the secret to getting hired at The Daily Show, sleeping with Margaret Cho, and light sabers. After the jump.) Continue reading

Q&A with DJ Kayper: “What Is a Girl to Do?”

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She’s young, talented, cute, and smart. Serious about what she does, no ego, respects the roots of the music she loves. In short, she’s amazing, and sepia loves her.

>>burning envy< <

Seriously, though, it’s hard to hate DJ Kayper. She’s just too amazing. We squeed back in September, when Abhi blogged about her gig at the House of Blues in Houston. Taz and the rest of the beantown mutineers tried to catch her Boston show a few days later as the final touch on an fabulous night. Her skills are ridiculous, her taste is excellent, and she’s so low-key it’s always sort of exciting to get to know anything about her.

So of course I tried to get to know all about her. Recently fired off a batch of unconscionably inquisitive questions…and to my immeasurable delight, she answered them all! Even about being a DJ with breasteses!!

So let’s start with the obvious question — how did an Indian girl from Croydon get into hiphop?

I grew up during the golden era of hip hop and was influenced a lot by what my older brother was listening to. He listened to all types of music but in the early ’90s everyone was a fan of hip hop so that’s really how it all started for me. Continue reading

M.I.A. Slams Obama, Fails History

So our favorite Sri Lankan rude girl tweeted her surprise about Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize:

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“Obama winning the nobel peace PRIZE? he should give it back like john Lennon sent back his MBE” — @_M_I_A

GROAN. Really, Maya? The sitting U.S. president should give back a Swedish (decided by Norwegians) prize because it’s like a British citizen receiving a British honor… how, exactly? And the Nobel carries the taint of its dynamite origins, sure, but is that the same as the bloody history of the British Empire?

And speaking of history!! Lennon DIDN’T give it back until FOUR YEARS AFTER he accepted it: Continue reading

Desi Hippie Wild Thing

Imaad Wasif worked with Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) on the Spike Jonze directed Where The Wild Things Are movie. (Btw, excitement level for that movie? So incredibly high. But are only hipsters hyperventilating over it? Thoughts in the comments, please!)

Anyway, back to Imaad. From the Iggy blog:

Wasif grew up in Palm Springs, California, transplanted by two Indian parents who had eloped. They were both artists, natch and in the boat from India, their classical Indian records got drenched. The covers all melted together-but they still played. In the desert, he grew up listening to those and all the pop tunes that would warble in faintly over an old Sears radio. It’s those aesthetics that Wasif has since sought to combine-classical trills, pop weighed down by static, and the psych-folk inherent in a hippie-dippie desert upbringing.

His new album is due on October 13th. Check out his video for “Oceanic.” He’s backed by Two Part Beast:

Uh, so that mask is pretty terrifying. Photos of his uncovered face and other videos here. Continue reading

More Naseeruddin to Love and Admire

What the people want, the people get!

(Sorry, Joolz, not Keegan Singh.)

Due to popular demand I’ve got three more segments of the MTV Iggy interview with Naseeruddin Shah. Looking back, I can’t believe we asked some of these questions. He continued to be gracious, thoughtful, and startlingly candid:

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What’s the difference between theater and film? Legendary Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah explains to us why the two should be starkly delineated. “I can’t understand why they remake movies as plays — and then do them exactly like movies!” he says, referring those well-known Broadway plays in which helicopters crash and ships sink onstage. With his theatrical company, Motley, Naseeruddin is bringing back the lost art of Dastangoi, the ancient practice of storytelling in which the end of one story leads to the beginning of the next — bringing theater back to its original intent: one actor, one audience:

Continue reading

Meet a Model: Lakshmi Menon

So naturally the comments in the Oprah/Ash/Abhi thread devolved into an argument about skin color. Naturally. It’s like the Godwin’s Law of all things desi-related.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m heartily sick of the topic. But listening to dark-skinned model talk about it? A dark-skinned desi model? A famous international dark-skinned desi model?

[OMG. Before you even think about arguing whether she's dark or not, just. stop. She thinks she is, mmkay?]

From the MTV Iggy blog archives:

If you’re a non-white woman, how many skin whitening products have you come across? Quick, GO!! (You all thought of Fair & Lovely, didn’t you?) Want to know what a fabulous international supermodel thinks about this?

Meet Lakshmi Menon, runway star, fashion editorial darling, face of Hermès, and a native of Bangalore, India. When it comes skin color and beauty, she would know of what she speaks. And sweet heavens above, does she ever!! Post-colonial hangups, “wheatish” complexions, Lakshmi lays it out:

Continue reading

Ash and Abhishek on Oprah: “The Most Famous Couple In THE WORRLD!”

Yeah. TMBWITW is now one-half of TMFCITW. Ash and Abhi flew in from Mumbai to chat with the talk show Queen today, and sadly, it was still a clusterf*ck of embarrassment: aishwarya_rai_bachan.jpg

It was as if she didn’t believe in the Bollywood titans’ fame. Or had to put it in terms that Westerners understood.
“They’re the world’s most famous movie-star couple. More famous than Brad & Angelina, anybody…”
Some pictures flashed onscreen of Justin Timberlake skirting paparazzi as he flung himself into an awaiting limo.
“Now imagine that kind of attention times 1000.” She showed footage of them with some Dutch girls in the stereotypical peaked Dutch caps. “They have FIVE! BILL-YON! fans. In Asia, Europe…” etc.
Then, of course, she had to explain that Julia Roberts had called Aishwarya the most beautiful woman in the world, as if only the opinion of a white celebrity could mean anything to her audience. And she couldn’t let them on without mentioning the issue that tickled her last time Aishwarya was on. “Here’s the best part,” Oprah said, gleeful. “They live at home with his parents.”

Aishwarya was wearing a sari and was gorgeous, etc. Abhishek was his handsome self in a velvet suit. Behind them, Oprah’s set background showed an image of shooting stars, upon which the phrase: “Famous Around the World” had been printed. It looked like the banner you sign at someone’s bat mitzvah. When she tried to make a big deal of how this was their first American national TV interview, Abhishek wasn’t buying it. “We sit together all the time.”

He explained how he had proposed to her on the same balcony where he had first longed to marry her. You could hear the “ahhhh…cute” sighs in the audience.

For some reason, the host thought it would be a good idea to keep talking not about the content of their work or Bollywood versus Western cinema types, but just about how amazingly famous they are.

More on the Oprah Bachchan segment on the MTV Iggy blog, and a full recap of the show (the Julia Roberts/Daniel Craig of every country!) in a second post. Continue reading