Kailasa on tour

kailasa%20chaandan%20mein Kailasa on tour

Kailash Kher and his band Kailasa –  known for their own musical creations as well as Kher’s solid  co-career  as a playback singer – have just begun a US tour in Houston yesterday to support their latest CD Kailasa Chaandan Mein and the upcoming release for the US market called Yatra.

They were on this evening’s  line-up  for the Celebrate Brooklyn festivities at Prospect Park.   Next week it’s on to Philly and then points west.

If you’d like to listen to their last performance in NY at January’s Globalfest, you can catch it here.

And if you’d like to know more about the puckish Meerut native, here’s an interview  I did with him last summer.

Bollywood Hero Rides the Bus

In the lead-up to the August debut of the IFC mini-series Bollywood Hero, images of Chris Kattan, Pooja Kumar and Neha Dhupia have started appearing on a variety of buses around NYC (in this case, one of the tourist doubledeckers, and they’re also gracing the side of NYAS airport-bound vehicles too):

bwood%20hero%20on%20bus Bollywood Hero Rides the Bus

IFC has also complied a nifty beginners guide to “the amazing output of the world’s largest film industry”, containing a “starter kit”, a multimedia timeline, a playlist of music that takes you over to Saavn’s website (and directly into a video of mera pyaare pyaare Govinda writhing on the dancefloor to Soni de Nakre, a Top 10 list of actors, a couple of articles to explain Hindi movies to newbies, and a feature called “We Asked a Bollywood Star”.

While some might quibble over how much of a “top star” Tanushree Dutta or Sanjay Suri is compared to others interviewed (Anil Kapoor, Vivek Oberoi), regardless, it is kinda’ interesting to see what influences (Bombay se aur Los Angeles se) the various actors cite.   De Niro, Pacino and The Godfather have a big following.

Patiala pegs and Adam bashers

Indian English%20cover Patiala pegs and Adam bashers

I stumbled across this mignon little tome in Barnes & Noble one day a while back.   Along the lines of their phrasebooks, Lonely Planet has published Indian – English Language and Culture, and under that rubric they manage to stuff in all sorts of linguistic notes and cultural explanations.

My ties to the subcontinent began ages ago, heck, this whole filmi obsession dates back 12 years now.   I realized as I skipped around from one chapter to another that if I had had this wee volume back then, it would have put me in the HOV lane to knowing so many little factlets and details about Indian life that I’ve had to amass the hard way (over time and often purely accidentally, as a result of an interaction with someone, or something I saw in a film or read in a book).

Just to be clear, this is not a Hindi-English phrasebook.   Sure, there’s lots of Hindi translated, defined, explained, but there’s also some bits of Tamil, Punjabi, Maithili and Oriya, to name only a handful.

What this 224-page book sets out to do is explore that unique and wonderful variety of the English language that has bloomed in India, starting with the history, and for all you amateur linguists out there, wading into the origins of Indian English, European influences, British influences, Hinglish, pronunciations, grammar, word order (“When they are coming?” “What you would like to eat?”), idioms, and even gestures and body language (e.g. the various accompanying movements when making a promise).

Beyond that, the book explores lifestyles and society (everything from food and clothes to politics, sport and entertainment).   In the latter, of course the writers cover Indian movies and explain the origins of all the different -ollywoods out there, give a brief rundown of terms like “item number” and “picture chalegi” and then a quick (and quirky) list of   10 “household names” of the Indian filmi panthenon.   Amitabh, Shahrukh, Aamir and Ash are all there, and Mira Nair, but so’s Ajit also (illai, not the Tamil movie hero, rather Hamid Ali Khan, born 1922, died 1998) and Padma Lakshmi”¦”¦ ummm, okay”¦”¦er, wha??

In spite of that one dubious sidebar, I’d still recommend the book, because it also explores slang, underworld vocabulary from fillums like Company and Sathya and Sarkar, and does a nice job of covering the gamut of local languages, albeit briefly and succinctly.

As someone who’s been devouring books on India for two decades, watching movies for more than half that, while also dabbling in Hindi and Tamil, and traveling back and forth every year in the new millennium, I still made little discoveries like the poet Nissim Ezekiel, the belief that you should not pick curry leaves after sundown and the origin of the word “pariah.”

For its size (a little wider and thicker than an iPhone) and price (US 8.99/UK 4.99) it is jam-packed with tons of info you’d be hard-pressed to find all in one book elsewhere.

Bamboo Shoots: The star-spangled manner

Bamboo%20Shoots%20Rooftop%202 Bamboo Shoots: The star spangled manner

Here’s a profile I did of the band Bamboo Shoots as it ran in India Abroad’s July 10, 2009 issue.   They’re a homegrown Jersey-based rock band, but with a variety of Indian influences – everything from classical to filmi music – in their pasts.

Avir Mitra, Karl Sukhia and Shiv Puri were gathered, one recent evening, in the basement of Ankur Patel’s family home in North Brunswick, New Jersey.

The mood was euphoric; the four – who when rocking on stage go by the name of Bamboo Shoots – had just returned from a successful tour of India; they had the release of their debut album with a major label looming ahead.

There is the classic rock band composition: three guitar (Avir, Ahmed and Karl); percussionist Ankur who, besides the conventional kit, also uses the dhol and other instruments more familiar to Indian pop, and a keyboardist, the Egyptian Ahmed Mahmoud who had skipped the day’s rehearsal owing to some prior commitment.

The band writes all their own music and songs, with Avir and Karl sharing song-writing responsibilities, while the former sings lead, with Karl and Ankur backing him.

Bamboo Shoots are the sons of the Jersey soil, having grown up in proximity in the Garden State and being currently scattered across Parsippany and Cherry Hill as well as North Brunswick and Jersey City.   The group grew out of a childhood friendship between Avir and Karl, with Ankur appearing at a practice session.

“My older brother is friends with one of Karl and Avir’s friends.   I just showed up and Karl had a mrindangam and said “˜Try this out!’ and I told him I had a dhol and we did a couple of fusion things, playing around with different ideas.”

All five eventually jettisoned daytime jobs (in Shiv’s case, a promising career on Wall Street) and studies (Avir had been accepted to medical school) to play music full time.   “Our parents are sort of pleased and worried,”   says Avir.   “They realize we’ve got an opportunity in front of us that we have to give everything to try and make this happen,” Karl adds.

“We’ve all been wanting to do this since we were little kids, and when the opportunity came up, they saw that we have to grab it.   We’re worried too but we gotta do what we gotta do.   It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”   [Read more...]

Sunset Bollywood

Bhagyashree%202 Sunset Bollywood

The Sundance Channel ran the 2005 documentary Sunset Bollywood this evening.

Just under an hour, it tells of the rapid success and almost equally prompt descent back to earth of Rahul Roy, Kumar Gaurav and Bhagyashree after their initial hits, and the halting attempts made by all to get back on top.

In between interviews with three actors themselves, several filmi magazine women opine about the   trio’s career trajectories and there’s a very liberal dose of Mahesh Bhatt and daughter Pooja.   (Roy had his debut in Bhatt’s 1990 film Aashiqui.)

It was interesting for the human stories and the small insights into the industry, to say nothing of the flashbacks to the clothes and hairstyles of the time.   Of the three, Bhagyashree seems to have found the most happiness both professionally and personally, with some TV work mixed in with her motherly duties.   Gaurav says at the end that once his girls are grown, he’d like to go off to an island on his own, with just a fishing rod and some kerosene for a lamp.   No mention of where his wife Namrata Dutt fits into that picture…

Waking Up to B’wood at the IFC Channel

wakeup%202 Waking Up to Bwood at the IFC Channel

Leading up to their August mini-series Bollywood Hero with Chris Kattan and Neha Dupia, the IFC Channel started a monthlong 12 weeklong Sunday morning screening of a recent Hindi movie, at 10am, called Wake Up to Bollywood.

The debut flic on July 5th was Johnny Gaddar, to be followed by Bheja Fry, The Blue Umbrella, Ghajini, Don, Sarkar and many more.