Interviewing Naseeruddin: The Lion Roars

Well, he was really incredibly nice…but he certainly had little patience for stupid people asking stupid questions, so the possibility that he would lose his temper lent a certain charge to the proceedings.


I’m talking about Naseeruddin Shah, of course. The yin to Big B’s yang, the iconoclast, the evergreen, the lion of Indian cinema with over 150 films to his credit. From Umrao Jaan to Monsoon Wedding to Omkara, he disappears into a role so thoroughly, I usually have to check IMDB frequently to make sure it’s really him.

It’s just so refreshing when famous people turn out to be intelligent and really engage in a conversation. All too often it’s just rote PR fluff. Many mutineers seemed to like the Vik Sahay interview for that reason, so I thought I’d bring over these two Naseerudin Shah interview clips: Continue reading

Interview with Vik Sahay

Do you watch “Chuck”? That TV show about the secret, CIA-protected life of a tech dork who works the Nerd Herd desk at a Best Buy like electronics store? The first season was cute, the second sort of lost me, then they got Scott Bakula to play his dad and I’m hooked again. (Quantum Leap forever!)

One of the more amusing aspects of the show is that Chuck’s real world life at the Nerd Herd desk is as drama-filled as his intelligence/espionage secret life — courtesy of a scheming nemesis, Lester, played by desi actor Vik Sahay. vicsahay3-200x200.jpg

It’s a small role, but Sahay really owns it, milking every line for humor and dimensionality. So when MTV Iggy interviewed him, we vaguely thought he would be this, like, funny cocky guy and we’d edit it down to the best 2-3 bits. We certainly had no idea it would turn out to be one of the most searching, intelligent, thought-provoking interviews I’ve seen in years.

We ended up cutting something like 14 segments because all of it was interesting. That’s a ridiculous number, by the way. No one’s ever gotten that much play. Six clips were aired while we try to figure out what to do with the rest. Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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It’s Not Goodbye, It’s Iggy

Dearest SepiaReaders,

I know, it’s been too long. It’s not you, it’s me. This is going to be difficult to tell you, so, um, I hope we can still stay friends…

MTV came calling and I said yes.

I promise that the big huge website and shiny shiny videos had nothing to do with it! It’s not what you think! I’m with a quirky offshoot called MTV Iggy, a website that features interesting videos like this one about Chinlone – the art/dance/sport from Myanmar:

Cool, huh? I’d never heard of it either.

So they asked me to be the site’s Editor (of written things, not video. Would you trust me with anything technical?) and I’ve been rushing through the site, dusting and straightening in anticipating of your visit. (By this I mean I tidied the homepage and threw everything else in the closet.)

Iggy has original music, freewheeling interviews with heavyweights like Fareed Zakaria, celebs like Abhishek Bachchan (seriously, it does!) and John Cho (the new Captain Sulu, but always the Harold to our boy Kumar), a social change initiative to raise awareness about Kashmir, and in the near future, articles, reviews, written interviews and much more.

So please stop by and check it out. Don’t hold back your opinions (as if you ever would!) and tell me what you like, hate, love, loathe, etc. The site is still constantly changing and your feedback would be invaluable. I will still post on Sepia, of course, even about non-Iggy things! But I wanted you to know of this, because even though I have this new boyfriend, you will always be my first love. Continue reading

“I welcome you as my new overlord”

Nandan Nilekani, co-chair of Infosys, faced a blizzard of tongue-in-cheek questions last night from a curious and genuinely respectful Jon Stewart. Nilekani has a new book coming out on Friday, Imagining India, and the interview roamed widely over huge swathes of sociopolitical terrain.

Stewart asked why India would be a more preferable overlord for the U.S. than China (“don’t be modest!”), about the month-long elections in India (“if a voting machine breaks down, do you call someone in the United States?”), the biggest detriment to India’s future (NN says getting education right), whether U.S. is a good example for India or not, and how Nilekani inspired Thomas Friedman to title his book The World is Flat…JS: “did you think to yourself, I’ll walk across it and kick his ass for some royalties?”

The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are fast becoming the only TV outlets to regularly (several times a week!) feature authors as guests. That, coupled with incisive questioning and cut-the-crap clarity…is it still fake news if they’re getting laughs for pointing out the ludicrous aspects of real events?

Anyway, check out the clip. Nilekani ends up wowing Stewart, and as Jim Cramer can attest, these days that’s no easy task. Continue reading

How Many No Money Boyz are Named…


Our bittersweet SepiaIcon(TM), (aka M.I.A., aka Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam) and her musician/son-of-billionaire partner Benjamin Brewer welcomed a bouncing baby boy on February 11th. And then proceeded to name him…Ickitt.


Ickitt Brewer. I suppose it’s better than Bronx Mowgli. And as Shitals, Anoops, Chitranis, Vishalis, Gurpreets and so many more, we are not in a position to judge. Are we?

CUE debate over traditional inherited jaw-breakers v. attention-getting “creative” monstrosities.

So which is lickle Ickitt? I’m Sri Lankan, and I have to say I’ve never heard of it. But, to be fair, on my last visit in 2006, newspaper editorials were bemoaning the fact that new parents were ignoring traditional names in favor of made-up mash-ups. Yeah, there are Sri Lankan equivalents to Pilot Inspektor and Audio Science. (Ok, not really. I just wanted to throw those out there. The Sri Lankan parents were stringing together nonsensical syllables that sounded pretty, not naming kids after curriculum subjects from a technical college.)

I leave it to you, dear readers. Ickitt – have you heard of it? Does it harken to the desh?

Ah, screwitt, I guess it does have a certain ring to it.

UPDATE: It’s a hoax, I was had…now I’m off to tell the blog that broke this where to stickitt. Continue reading

Sri Lankan Cricket Team Attacked in Lahore

In what’s being called the worst attack on a sports team since Palestinian militants killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olymic games, gunmen with rifles, grenades and rocket launchers ambushed the Sri Lankan cricket team today in Lahore. Seven players, an umpire and a coach were wounded. Six Pakistani policemen and a driver for the Pakistan Cricket Board were killed.


blockquote> The attackers abandoned machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and plastic explosives…They carried backpacks stuffed with dried fruit, mineral water and walkie-talkies — provisions also abandoned at or near the scene, officials said.

Sri Lanka had agreed to this tour — allowing Pakistan to host its first test matches in 14 months — only after India and Australia backed out of scheduled trips over security concerns. The assault will end hopes of international cricket teams — or any sports teams — playing in the country for months, if not years.

Tuesday’s attack came three months after the Mumbai terror strikes that killed 164 people. Those raids were allegedly carried out by Pakistan militants, and the assault in Lahore resembled them in many respects. Both were coordinated, used multiple gunmen, apparently in teams of two, who were armed with explosives and assault rifles and apparently had little fear of death or capture.

Authorities will also consider possible links to Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger separatist rebels who are being badly hit in a military offensive at home, though Sri Lankan military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said it was unlikely the group was involved.

Two Sri Lankan players — Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavitana — were being treated for bullet wounds in a hospital but were stable…Umpire Ahsan Raza was hit in his abdomen…Team captain Mahela Jayawardene and four other players had minor injuries…British assistant coach Paul Farbrace also sustained minor injuries.

Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona said little could be done to stop such an attack, saying “there is never enough security to counter a well organized and determined terrorist group.” link

Update: Commenter pingpong points us to this great article in the The Economist that provides context re the Sri Lankan team’s bravery in agreeing to play, and the tragic ramifications for Pakistan.

Continue reading

Bangladesh Mutiny: The Aftermath

In the aftermath of last Wednesday’s shocking Border Patrol (BDR) mutiny, Bangladeshi police, rescue teams and firefighters are faced with the grisly task of uncovering and burying the dead. Numbering around 70,000, the BDR’s main role is to secure Bangladesh’s long, porous borders with India and Myanmar.

The truth of the situation still remains unclear, but so far, this is what we know:

  • The 33-hour standoff ended Thursday night
  • 72 officers are missing (link)
  • A total of 76 bodies have been found
  • 48 bodies were discovered buried in two graves that each measured about 20 feet by 10
  • Bodies being unearthed in manholes, sewers and shallow mass graves show signs of being shot and badly mutilated with bayonets
  • PM Hasina promised amnesty on Thursday, but on Friday rescinded amnesty for killers. 200 BDR members have been arrested (link)
  • Maj. Gen. Shakil Ahmed, commander of the Bangladesh Rifles border force, and a woman that authorities believed was his wife are among the dead (link)
  • The government has ordered a 10-member committee to investigate the mutiny link

The weather, hovering around 30 degrees celsius, is not helping matters:

Bangladesh firefighter Arif Ullah reaches for a handkerchief and retches, overcome by a thick stench of bodies, as he combs a sprawling military compound for victims of a deadly mutiny by border guards…

“It’s hot and it stinks,” Ullah said, as flies buzzed around the flaps of green khaki tents erected over two mass graves into which many bodies had been hurled by the mutineers.

“But we’ve got to keep going. It’s been three days since these guys were buried. They’re badly decomposed.”

Sheikh Mohammad Shahjalal, a hardened veteran of rescue operations…says he is at a loss to explain the savagery of the killings. “It’s beyond comprehension how one human being could have done this to another. They not only shot them dead but some of the bodies were badly mutilated with bayonets.” link

Commenter dudeDAC lives in Dhaka and has been updating us on the situation in the previous post. He also took a series of stunning pics of tanks rolling through a busy downtown intersection.

Picture 2.jpg

February 25-26: we were discussing the security threat and the situation when the intersection went into turmoil, people running and simply standing gawking….We heard a rumble, growing, shaking the ground, and when the first tank (one of 10-12) rolled past, we knew the jig was up, it would either end in massive casualties, or quick diffusion.

Have you seen a tank up close? No matter how old or run by whom, it is a frightening sight. Only the naive and stupid think it is fun, or something to laugh about. The tanks can cause severe damage without ever shooting a round. Army is/should be the last resort, and heavy artillery the end of even that option.

More photos, with dudeDAC’s captions and on-the-ground sense of the situation, are below. Continue reading

Breaking: Mutiny in Bangladesh

The Dhaka headquarters of the border guards known as the Bangldesh Rifles (BDR) was under siege yesterday, as renegade soldiers took civilians and army officers hostage.


The violence appeared to stem from the border guards’ longstanding grievances about better pay and treatment from their army commanders…

Around 9 a.m., they took an unknown number of army officers hostage, and a number of women and children were apparently caught inside.
To quell the mutiny, soldiers surrounded the narrow lanes surrounding the building. Two army helicopters hovered nearby, taking fire…

The Bangladesh Rifles has more than 40,000 members. Its rank and file are under the command of the Bangladesh Army. The mutinous guards’ demands included better pay, the ability to participate in lucrative United Nations peacekeeping missions and a change in the command and control structure of the border force. link

In the immediate aftermath, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) paramilitary troops to lay down their arms, offering a general amnesty, but by all accounts the unrest is spreading, with six other towns reporting violence.

At least 50 are reported dead, and now PM Hasina is taking a harder line, warning:

Do not force me to take tough actions or push my patience beyond tolerable limits. link

Details are still sketchy.Q&A about the situation from Reuters here. Readers in Bangladesh, our thoughts are with you. Please update on the situation in the comments. Continue reading