West Bollywood

“He is so sexy. Sexy man!” she screamed. [Link]

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And this was no tween pining from behind a roadside barrier. The ‘she’ in question paid upwards of $100 for a ticket to the premiere of Mani Ratnam’s Guru, held at the gorgeous Elgin Theatre last night. As in, she was inside. And still screaming. Frenzy does not even begin to describe the spectacle that is a Bollywood West premiere. Short video of the madness here. Had TMBWITW not discovered my (sizzling) relationship with Abhishek (call me!) perhaps I too would have been a part of this much-hyped affair. Kaash

Last September, when Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival, the story goes that far more people turned up at its screening than at the Babel screening which happened on the same day. Brad Pitt in the flesh could not conjure crowds like the Bachchans and SRK. The year before, Lisa Ray and John Abraham appeared on an Eye Weekly cover after Water’s debut. Eye is a highly popular Toronto magazine that provides excellent insight into arts and culture happenings. Its covers are usually dedicated to indie bands and other hippy shit. To think that John Abraham, he of little faith in barbershops, is now actually a part of that hippy shit…It makes me proud.

If there’s one thing Toronto does well it is luring film dollars to town. Hence the frothy excitement generated by Guru’s premiere among suits on both sides. Numerous Bollywood productions have used Hogtown as their backdrop and City Hall is finally realizing that there’s more to film than production. With South Asians poised to become the largest minority group in Canada within ten years, the domestic market for such films is – to put it lightly – huge. Ever so in love with all things multiculti, our Mayor Miller personally extended an invitation to Bachchan and Rai to grace the premiere with their fairy dust. Continue reading

Reva Nation

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I thought I had eyeballed the future when the first Smart car crossed my eyes, speeding down Sheikh Zayed road a few years ago. In a city like Dubai where petrol is cheaper than pop yet parking mostly comes in either the illegal or the parallel form a Smart car looked like it just might live up to its moniker. I was naive. It is today that I am really peering into that which is in store and yes it is also a small car. I like small cars but I like electric cars better.

Via Popgadget, a Bangalore-based company has been making the coolest little electric car known as the Reva since 2001. According to the site the Reva goes 85 KM on one charge through a 15 Amp socket. It boasts dent-proof ABS body panels, a dual-breaking system, climate control seats, and over 2000 colours to choose from while “elevated seats and a wide door provide excellent ingress/egress especially for ladies in saree and senior citizens”. Much better than having to sit sideways on a scooty.

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Last year the Reva Electric Car Company produced a super prototype of the next generation, an electric roadster called the Reva NXG. This bad boy comes equipped with a modem, GPS navigation, MP3 player, and a 125 mile range per charge. Plus it just looks cool.

The Reva has sold 900 units in India and is also on the roads in Malta and the U.K. The base price in India is Rs. 250, 000. Having never so much as looked at a car’s price tag there I don’t know how expensive this is in comparison to other cars on the road. Please feel free to enlighten. Have any Mutineers spotted or driven these vroom-vrooms in their town? Continue reading

AIDS ’06

Last week Toronto played host to the 16th International AIDS conference, a biennial summit that brings together HIV professionals, philanthropists, politicians, artists, writers and victims from all walks of life. It was a week of solidarity, hope and action through future thought for the 30, 000 participants representing the close to 40 million living with the infection/disease today and those 25 million who have died as a result of it. The theme for AIDS 06 was “Time to Deliver”, they should have added a “Now” at the end of that…

Two news items relating to the twin weapons of prevention and cure require mention here while at least two G-8 governments require a duo of tight slaps.

First up, courtesy of a great post on Pass the Roti (Thanks, Ennis!) we have details of a Bangladeshi group ‘Durjoy Nari Shangha’ having to close down sex-worker aid and education centers in Dhaka in order to keep in accord with US funding conditions:

The sex workers collective — its name translates roughly as “organization of women who are hard to repress” — had 20 drop-in centers before December, offering sex and literacy education as well as moral support, toilets and a place to wash and rest for up to 5,000 women. It closed them after signing what aid groups call the “prostitution loyalty oath” that requires groups receiving USAID funding to have a policy opposing prostitution and sex trafficking. The group now has just four centers, geared to children and children’s rights. Bagum said that before the centers closed, the group sold 73,000 condoms a month. That has fallen to 30,000, even though health experts agree that condoms are the best way of stopping the spread of AIDS.[Link]

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Go Team!

I don’t mean to go all ‘jumping jack‘ on you at such an early date with craptastic image quality and poor sourcing to boot but these circumstances cannot be helped.

Take a long look at the ANTM Cycle 7 contestants and tell me you haven’t been this excited since Cycle 3:

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Name: Anchal, Occupation: Sales Clerk, Age: 19, Hometown: Homestead, Fla. [Link]

I just wanted to get that off my chest. Blood pressure normalizing. Continue reading

Posted in TV

Social Activism Made Easier

A wise man once said, “When the world around you is full of shit, it is a good idea to pick up your shovel” That man is probably my dad, it sounds like something he would make up on the spot and in turn attribute it to some credible source (“Confucius said it”). The words do ring true but anyone who has ever picked up that shovel will know that between shovel and shit there exists a whole barrage of questions. Where do I begin de-shiting? Will this shovel do OK for all this shit? It is too much shit, how should I get others to help me in getting rid of it all? Snakes on a plane?

Twenty two year old British Columbia native Dev Aujla’s organization Dream Now appears to have some answers. Dream Now is a great initiative that helps youth organize their efforts in creating and running grass roots non-profit projects. They provide management tools and, more importantly, mentorship to participants around the globe. It all starts with an idea and rest is made easier with step-by-step guide from brain storming to project completion.

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Dev’s younger brother, Aaron Aujla has also begun spreading the good word through his clothing label Auj. Every cashmere tee has an access code which, when entered, will result in a phone call from a Dream Now mentor. Cashmere tees? Yes. Preppy? Most def. Making saving the world sexy? Hopefully. Current customers include students who patented a free water purification system in Uganda, a “future dentist” who is starting an organization to bring relief to children, and Simon Jackson.

The two brothers, who have relocated shop to the centre of the universe a.k.a. Queen St. West, Toronto, have been featured in CBC’s new docu-series ‘Make Some Noise‘. The series chronicles the efforts made by young people to create change in the world around them. Watch their segment. Watch it! Makes my cynical bones itch with enthusiasm.

Big ups to the Aujlas for their energy and dedication to making and helping make do-good dreams come true.

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Spice! Body Art! Fun!

The weekend is upon us, almost, perfect for a festival of some sort. Something like MASALA! MEHNDI! MASTI!…Y’ALL! In its sixth year running, M! M! M! is going large and fabulous at Exhibition Place (Toronto), starting with the opening reception tonight and continuing on till people are dropping with dance fever (for real, this happens) on Sunday. The incredibly varied programme brings together artists, authors, performers, instructors, and anyone I’ve left out from Canada, USA, UK, France, New Zealand, Trinidad, Guyana, and India.

This year’s headlining act is Trickbaby (of Bluffmaster fame) as part of the Brit InvASIAN showcase, which is presented yearly courtesy of the British Council. And if you Taraana Mutineers were wishing you could have gone to see some Rajasthani folk music tonight then hold up because Kerap is going to be on stage this Friday evening. I love me some Marwari music. Strangely enough they are also “from France!” The “Chillin’ in Your Brown Skin” seminars are back facilitating dicussion on different social issues. A spoken word fest (with Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Sheniz Janmohamed and Muslim Rizvi) and book readings galore. There’s even a couple Laughter Yoga Club sessions on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Need I say any more? Check the listings for your fix.

Like I said, M! M! M! has gone big this year with an impressive corporate sponsor (Rogers) and a spangly new venue, much needed after they hit the 100, 000 people mark last year. Admission price is still a big juicy zero, thanggod. So go forth and machaao-fy some dhoom dhaam, it’s a brown town this weekend (well, actually, every weekend, but this weekend especially so :-) Continue reading

Yeh Shaam Mastani

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Toronto Mutineers, hitch up your lungis and roll those kurta sleeves because the Indian Electronica festival is coming to your town. Festival mastermind Qasim Virjee, he of Dishoom fame, has brought together some choice performers like LAL, Omnesia ensemble, dancer Monkia Monga, and of course himself, as his badass alter-ego, Abdul Smooth.

Hot deets, get your hot deets right here:

When? Thursday, July 20th
Where? El Mocambo (464 Spadina, just South of College)
How? Tickets are $10 online, $15 at the door
No really, when? Keynote on ‘Developments in South Asian music since the Asian Underground’ at 8 pm, first act is up at 9 pm
What should I bring? A camera if you’ve got one because that SM flickr group is looking kinda skimpy.
Will Neha be there even though she has a deadly meeting at 9 on Friday? Hell yes!

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For those on the other side of the pond, take in the festival’s August installment in London town. Featuring the likes of Pathaan, Bobby Friction, DhakFu, Eagle-i, Ges-e, Nerm/the Shiva Soundsystem, Fusing Naked Beats, Yam Boy, and Visionary Underground. Continue reading

Mole Revealed in GTA Bomb Plot

shaikh-mubin060713.jpg June’s terror raids in Toronto that ended with the arrest of 12 men and 5 youth came as a shock to the general Canadian public. In my household it raised more than few questions on how exactly the RCMP came to know minute details of the group’s activities, which resulted in some very specific terror-related charges. What we decided as the best answer is not much of a surprise. Attempting to charge someone with plotting to blow up the CBC and beheading the Prime Minister becomes easier with a pair of ears and eyes on the inside.

Mubin Shaikh is the 30-year-old son of Indian immgrants who spent six years in the Royal Canadian Army Cadets and embraced Islam 10 years ago, after taking in trips to South Asia and the Middle East. He is a fierce supporter of Sharia law in Ontario and runs Canada’s only Sharia law arbitration centre. He is about as orthodox as Ontario Muslims come. Mubin Shaikh is also a mole. Continue reading

Pass de Dutchie pon de Left Hand Side

After a long day spent playing Pauly Shore to my Stephan Baldwin in the bunker Biodome, my roommate Rajni likes to unwind by smoking her funny-smelling monkey cigars. The cigars usually arrive once a month in an unmarked brown box from I dunno where. Initially I thought Cuba but IÂ’ve had my fair share of those and these are definitely not those.

Anyway, once sheÂ’s good and stoned ready we break out the Myst and get to work. Rajni likes to control the mouse while I scribble furiously in our Myst journals and thumb walkthroughs for hints. This is a terrible arrangement. I swear, those cigars turn Rajni into a space-monkey. Not spaced out like her celebrity crush Baker (heee!) but spacey as in staring at every little leaf and rock for minutes on end. While all I want to do is solve the puzzles. In this life sometime.

Last night we fought about this arrangement. Well, I fought; she was just like, “Got any bananas, pathetic human?” So, I’ve given up Myst and started a new hobby. No, pyaare people, not smoking cigars. I’ve started making dreadlocks out of Rajni’s fur while she zones. She looks a hot mess now but whatever, you doob you lose. Read that, Rajni? The soundtrack I use to keep our dopey dwarf in check while I tease and tangle is Kush Arora’s wicked new album, ‘Bhang Ragga: Dancehall, Bhangra, in Future Dub’.

Last month my one and only XLR8R mag had the following to say about this boy from the Bay: Continue reading

Free HIV Drugs in India

With statistics being released last month of IndiaÂ’s HIV rate of 5.7 million total infections the following news makes me want to yelp with joy. Yelp!

India plans to provide free anti-retroviral drugs to combat HIV — the virus that causes AIDS — to around 100,000 people by early next year, a top health official said, as this nation struggles with the largest number of AIDS infections in the world. [Link]

Armed with a budget of about $200 million U.S., availiability of free ARV drugs is going to expand from 52 clinics supplying 35, 000 people to a whole 100 clinics:

“By August, we will be able to reach anti-retroviral therapy drugs to around 85,000 people infected with the virus,” Rao told journalists. “But by early 2007, we will have drugs made available to 100,000 people with HIV.”

According to Sujatha Rao (Director General, National AIDS Control Organization), treatment is going to supplement a newly strengthened AIDS awareness campaign:

Among the new initiatives is a program to reach out to pregnant mothers so that mother-to-child transmission of AIDS can be controlled. So far, only 4,500 pregnant mothers had been given doses of nevrapine — a drug that prevents the transmission of the virus from an HIV-infected mother to a newborn infant.

Continue reading