SAIFF 2010 Opening Night

On an unusually warm and humid autumn evening, a wave of film folk arrived at the SVA theater on West 23rd street for the opening of the 2010 South Asian International Film Festival.

 SAIFF 2010 Opening Night

The man of the night was director Anurag Kashyap, here to present his latest: That Girl in Yellow Boots.

 SAIFF 2010 Opening Night

While posing for pictures, he ran into NYC-based actor and musician Samrat Chakrabarti, hot off his debut this week in HBO’s latest season of In Treatment (as the son of Irrfan Khan).

 SAIFF 2010 Opening Night

Loins of Punjab Presents alum Seema Rahmani and Manu Narayan were there, along with Sudhish Kamath, who has directed them in his Good Night, Good Morning, a film about long-distance love in the digital age.

Seema%20and%20Manu%202 SAIFF 2010 Opening Night

The festival has garnered more media coverage than I recall seeing last year or the one before that, with stories appearing in the Village Voice, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and on WNYC radio.

Beyond the opening night selection, several other films have arrived with buzz surrounding them, for a variety of reasons: Harud, Paan Singh Tomar, Slackistan, West is West and Gandu.

The festival runs through next Tuesday night, November 2nd.   Ticket info here.

At Home with Madhur Jaffrey

 At Home with Madhur Jaffrey

Author Madhur Jaffrey with IAAC founder Aroon Shivdasani

Last week the Indo-American Arts Council hosted a book launch event to celebrate actor and author Madhur Jaffrey‘s latest release, a cookbook designed for busy people who love Indian food but find the prep time overwhelming.   Loins of Punjab Presents star Ajay Naidu stopped by briefly to offer his good wishes, followed later in the evening by author, former diplomat and Minister Shashi Tharoor, with his recent bride in tow.

At Home with Madhur Jaffrey: Simple Delectable Dishes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is full of enticing photographs and uncluttered pages, accented by Jaffrey’s charming illustrations on the chapter dividers and her own adorable variation on the Knopf Borzoi.   The book starts with starters – even though, as the author explains, the service of a first course is a concept Indian restaurants adopted to please non-Indian diners – and proceeds to cover vegetable dishes, meat, fish, rice, breads and desserts.

Madhur Jaffrey’s purpose in writing this book was to help those pressed for time spend less of it grinding spices and browning and the like, by exploring flavorful shortcuts that one could use “and then go and watch Mad Men.”

I am particularly keen to try her recipe for sweet-and-sour butternut squash (given that we’re in that season right now) and to try the kheer.   As we discussed her early days in New York as a United Nations tour guide and friend to Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, I confessed to Madhur Jaffrey that as much as I love Indian food, I find replicating it at home rather intimidating.   “Then this is the book for you!” she exclaimed.

(As soon as I have a chance to try out the recipes – maybe for Thanksgiving? – I’ll provide an update.)

Madhur Jaffrey got into the cookbook line by accident, finding herself alone in London and missing her mother’s ghar ka khana.   Soon, her Mum was sending detailed instructions in her letters, and Madhur was on her way.   I asked if she still has those missives, and she confirmed that she does indeed.

If you’d like to read more about a day in the life on the road for the author as she cooks and chats with people in Dublin, check out this Irish Times article on her recent visit.

And if you’d like to see some of her recent wonderful film work, catch her in a moving role that will break your heart in Hiding Divya and as a web-surfing, matchmaking Mom in Today’s Special.

At Home with Madhur Jaffrey: Simple Delectable Dishes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka
Knopf – 320 pages – $35

Free today: Rakesh Satyal’s novel Blue Boy

blueboy%20cover Free today: Rakesh Satyals novel Blue Boy

Received the following heartfelt message from author Rakesh Satyal this morning.

Do pass on the word to anyone you think might benefit from a free download of his funny and touching debut novel, Blue Boy, and its tale of the irrepressible and gifted Kiran, a young boy who loves boys (and fashion and music and dance and so much more) and uses his talents to cope with classmates’ bullying.   The offer is only valid today, October 6th:

Dear friends:

Whenever people ask me why I wrote BLUE BOY, I always say that I wrote the book that I needed as a kid but didn’t have.   Every week, I receive messages from people around the world who have come to the book one way or the other, and it is always very heartening to see that books really can change people, that they have the chance to transcend boundaries and difficulties.

In light of the tragic news stories of the past couple of weeks, my publisher and Amazon have been gracious enough to make the book available for a free Kindle download today, October 6.

Kiran, the main character of BLUE BOY, is spurned by his classmates and peers, but the point of the book is that children, even when faced with tough circumstances, can have a beautiful resilience that sees them through their dark times if they trust their own imagination, creativity, and spirit.   I think that this is a point that continues to be of the highest importance, especially now.

To purchase a Kindle edition of the book for free, please follow this link:

Please help me spread the word by sending this along to any avid readers you know — or just to that one person who might benefit from reading Kiran’s story.   Thank you very much, and please take care.