Archive for the 'Entertainment' Category

Pakistan drone attack love song

Jon Boone from Islamabad in The Guardian:

In the long history of love songs the attention of a beautiful woman has been compared to many things – but perhaps only in Pakistan’s tribal belt would it be likened to the deadly missile strike of a remotely controlled US drone.

In a sign of how the routine hunting down and killing of militants by unmanned CIA planes has leached into the popular imagination, drones have been given a starring role in a new romantic song.

In most respects the track, which is proving popular in the largely Pashtun city of Peshawar, is faithful to standard themes of the genre. The lyrics mention rosebuds and wine. o blaring music it celebrates the allures of a temptress with “sweet lips” and a “smile fresh as early dew” which “ensnares lovers with amorous pangs”.

Then the repeated chorus: “My gaze is as fatal as a drone attack”.

The hit for singer Sitara Younis follows her success last year with another love ballad, which warns a besotted man to keep his distance: “Don’t chase me, I’m an illusion, a suicide bomb.” More:

You still eat with your hands? Oprah’s magical mystery tour of India

Rajyasree Sen at First Post:

Yesterday I had the dubious pleasure of watching Oprah’s Next Chapter: India on TLC. The name of the programme is pretty self-explanatory. And I’d already heard of her series, Oprah’s Next Chapter in the US where she “steps outside of the studio for enlightening conversations with newsmakers, celebrities, thought leaders and real-life families”. I’ve never been a great fan of Oprah’s – and the fact that she truly follows and believes everything that Deepak Chopra and Dr Phil say has nothing to do with it. I do think though, that she’s a good interviewer, she’s well-informed, an easy conversationalist and is well-travelled. But all that has changed after watching Oprah’s Next Chapter: India.

Myopic, unaware, ignorant and gauche. This was Middle America at its best worst.

Two episodes make up the India episodes. The first being the one I saw and which I think was shot during her visit to the Jaipur Literature Festival this year. This was Oprah’s first visit to India. Now whenever an American or a British TV show host visits India, he or she is always accompanied on his travels through our very exotic land by someone living in India, a sort of cultural friend, philosopher and guide.

So was Oprah. She was taken on a guided tour through a slum in Bombay by the prince of poverty tourism – Gregory David Roberts. He of Shantaram and deplorable sentence construction fame. Who has anointed him tour guide to the slums of India? Oprah seemed quite happy to have one of her ilk show her around through the by-lanes of the slum. And the slum is where Oprah’s “oh-my-god-how wonderfully-pathetically-quaint-to-be-so-poor” avatar stepped out in full glory. More:

In Solidarity with Oprah

Dan Husain at Kafila:

I recently read a scathing article on Oprah Winfrey. I was quite shocked. The journalist made such fuss about her honest observations as if it’s criminal to not know something. However, what were more astonishing were the serendipitous parallels between her journey to Indian and mine to US. And when I read the article, I almost felt as if someone was mocking at me. I felt outraged and decided that I’ll write this note in solidarity with Oprah. Perhaps then, people will see the injustice done to her. More:

Love Bites With Joey

Is Joey Matthew India’s answer to TV celebrity chef Nigella Lawson. Or Julia Child? Read here, here and hereLove Bites With Joey airs every Monday and Tuesday at 10pm on NDTV Good Times.

 

Poutine Masala

Sesame Street arrives in Pakistan

It’s always Sunny in India

Cordelia Jenkins & Appu Esthose Suresh in Mint:

New Delhi: It isn’t clear whether porn star Sunny Leone’s entry into the Bigg Boss house on 20 November has helped the TV show’s rating, but it has clearly helped hers.

 According to analytics firm Alexa.com, since the third week of November there has been a 630% increase of traffic to the website of the star of evocatively titled films such as Undress Me, Descent into Bondage, Busty Cops, and Shut up and F*** me.

And vendors in New Delhi’s Palika Bazaar, still the centre of a thriving trade in pornographic DVDs despite repeated raids by the police (the vendors now sell only to regulars), are offering a special multi-disc package of four Sunny Leone movies.

Leone, born Karen Malhotra to Punjabi parents in Ontario, Canada, has never had it so good—not even when the 30-year-old appeared, in 2006, in Fox’s reality show My Bare Lady 2, where four porn stars compete to see who can run the best business in Los Angeles.

Today, visitors to her site make up 0.01% of all global Internet users, and the traffic is driven almost entirely by an Indian audience. Leone’s website is now ranked 296 in terms of its viewership in India. The Indian Express comes at 311, and Mint’s site Livemint.com isn’t in the top 500. More:

Her Wiki profile here

Aalu Anday

With their song ‘Aalu Anday’, a parody of the current state of politics and mindsets in Pakistan, Beyghairat Brigade gained instant popularity when their music video went viral on the web. Nadeem F. Paracha in Dawn:

Just when one thought Pakistani pop music had eaten itself and choked on its own self-indulgences, comes a band called the ‘Beyghairat Brigade’ (the Dishonour Brigade).

The name says it all: A tongue-in-cheek take on what is called the ‘ghairat brigade’ (honour brigade), the band sarcastically embraces a title that the peddlers of ‘qaumi ghairat’ (national honour) spit at those who disagree with the brigade’s conspiratorial rants and an almost xenophobic brand of ‘patriotism.’

In the wee hours of the October 17, the Beyghairat Brigade (BB) uploaded a video of a song called ‘Aloo-Andey’ (Potatoes & Eggs) on YouTube.

It was not just another ‘funny song’ about a guy talking about his mom cooking some potatoes and eggs. Nor was it a ditty toeing the usual line taken by the many political spoof shows and social parody songs that have been doing the rounds of popular TV news channels in Pakistan in the last decade or so.

For years one has come to expect everyone from talk show hosts, to their ‘expert guests’ all the way to mainstream pop stars and actors to (as if on cue) roll-out a now much worn-out and self-comforting narrative about the awkward political and social ills besieging Pakistan.

This is how it goes: Politicians are corrupt, America is evil, Indians want to break-up Pakistan, acts of terrorism are either being carried out by US/Indian/Israeli agents or by Pakistanis trained by these agents, or by non-Muslims posing as Muslims, or even if they are Muslims they are not Pakistani and if they are really Pakistanis then they are .. errm … not circumcised. More: and here

The Indian Rope Trick

Penn & Teller’s Magic and Mystery Tour

Pakistan’s Paris Hilton

Wit, sex appeal and the shock factor make TV host Mathira Mohammad both adored and abhorred in her native Pakistan, writes Mark Magnier in LA Times

Raunchy. An inspiration. A sex kitten. Pakistan’s Paris Hilton.

TV host Mathira Mohammad has been called all that and more. Love her or hate her, she’s making waves, as critics in Pakistan accuse her of immorality and supporters laud her willingness to tackle taboo subjects such as sexuality, love and HIV/AIDS.

“A lot of people judge me by what I wear, say I’m not a good woman,” she said, loping through the lobby of a five-star hotel in Karachi wearing leopard-skin shoes and a sleeveless Ali Baba outfit, as jaws dropped and necks swiveled. “The clothes aren’t anything.”

Other celebrities show more cleavage and wear shorter skirts, but don’t catch on, said Mathira, as she’s universally known. “Whenever I go, the show starts. When I leave, it ends.” more

A conversation with Archie Panjabi

Archana “Archie” Panjabi is a British actress (East is East, Bend It Like Beckham) starring as Kalinda Sharma on the current CBS television series The Good Wife. Interviewed by Shivani Vora in India Ink, the New York Times:

Q:Talk about your upbringing. What were your parents like?

A. My mom was a teacher, and my dad had his own business, and both were very accommodating of other cultures. I used to go to Sunday school to learn about Christianity, and we celebrated Christmas with a traditional meal, a tree and presents. We even sometimes went to Midnight Mass.

But we were also very Indian in that both of them cooked traditional Indian food every day – they even made fresh rotis! And Indian holidays, especially Diwali, were a big deal for us. We used to do the puja (prayer), and we had a lot of family around so we would celebrate with them by swapping gifts and eating.

Q: You lived in Mumbai for two years – do you still have connections to the city? Do you ever visit?

A.I moved there when I was 8, and even though I was only there for a short time, being there really helped me get in touch with my Indian culture. I have family and friends there and try to visit every three or four years. It’s such an amazing city, and every couple of years, I need my fix. More:

What foreign films should Bollywood remake?

Farah Khan formally procured the rights to remake ‘After the Fox’ into last year’s hit ‘Tees Maar Khan.’

Beth Watkins in The Wall Street Journal. [Beth Watkins has been blogging for more than five years at Beth Loves Bollywood. She is an expert on Bollywood history and lore as well as contemporary movies and actors]:

It can be difficult to ignore the similarities between certain Bollywood films and earlier offerings from elsewhere in the world. Sometimes Mumbai borrows from Hollywood films that sank without a trace, as in the case of “Aap Ki Khatir” (2006), which met a similar fate to its source material “The Wedding Date” (2005). Of course, a dud in English does not guarantee a flop in Hindi. Director Farah Khan formally procured the rights to remake the 1966 British-Italian comedy “After the Fox” into last year’s hit “Tees Maar Khan,” turning a film that was panned on its release over 40 years ago into one of the biggest grossers of 2010 and demonstrating the crossover appeal of a Neil Simon script. Other remakes choose more obvious subjects, such as the thoughtfully adapted “Partner” (2007), pairing lovable comic stalwart Govinda and smooth-talker Salman Khan in an Indian take on “Hitch” (2005).

However, it’s a lot more fun—and constructive—to focus on Hindi cinema’s unique strengths and think how they might enhance and improve some foreign films. There are several classics from the U.S. and elsewhere that seem like such a good fit with filmi conventions that it’s a mystery they haven’t been turned into Bollywood hits. More:

Shammi Kapoor

Obituary in The Economist:

The stately descent of an eyelid; the five-minute burning glance; tears frozen on a heroine’s cheek; the moustachioed hero standing to pained attention; the slowly circling dance of attendants in and out of curtains to some interminable tune. That was old Bollywood, before Shammi Kapoor came along. He could do old-style too, keeping chastely still and delivering his laments and what not, because it ran in the family’s famous blood. But in 1957, frustration boiling up inside him after 19 films which had made him precisely a nobody, he took a different tack; shaved off the pencil moustache; cropped his long hair into a Presley duck-tail, tossed his head sideways, spun round, shook his hips, and exploded on to the Hindi film scene.

The film was “Tumsa Nahin Dekha” (“Never Seen Anyone Like You”). And India never had. Suddenly, stasis and convention were thrown out of the window. On screen at least, in packed and humid cinemas across the country, everything changed. Shammiji never came that much closer to his heroines, but he seethed with Westernised sex appeal. He was a playboy and a clown, a ceaseless ragger of the girls he loved, who would serenade them on moving trains and dangling in bathrobes from helicopters, and who in his most monstrous hit, “Junglee” (“Wild”), in 1961 slid on his front down a mountainside of snow, leapt up (leather jacket sexily torn open), sang to his heroine that people could call him wild, what could he do, swept up in love, and then roared out over the ice-bound forest, “YAHOO!” His teenage audiences yelled out with him, suddenly liberated. He had won the girl just by being his mad self, and had apparently not asked his family or hers. More:

In Pakistan, a new film touches a nerve

Sonya Rehman in WSJ:

Pakistan’s movie industry, often called “Lollywood” for its home base in Lahore, is best known for straightforward damsel-in-distress and good-versus-evil plots. But a new film, addressing such potentially incendiary topics as Islamic fundamentalism and hermaphroditism, has become an unexpected hit in the country.

“Bol,” which is Urdu for “Speak,” was directed, written and produced by Shoaib Mansoor, a well-known Pakistani filmmaker, on a budget of 10 million Pakistani rupees (roughly $115,000). It opened in late June, and while official national figures are difficult to obtain, the film’s producers estimate that it made 22 million Pakistani rupees in its first week. The Hindustan Times and Pakistan News Service, among other outlets, said that it appeared to break box-office records recently set by “My Name Is Khan,” a popular Indian film, in its first weeks.

Its storyline revolves around Hakim Sahib (played by Manzar Sehbai), a religious man in inner-city Lahore who is married with five daughters but longs for a son.

His wife eventually bears him a boy, Saifu, who they discover has been born with both male and female genitals. More:

A Hindi film 20 years in the making

The characters in “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (You Only Live Once),” directed by Zoya Akhtar, are the finished products of reforms begun when Manmohan Singh, now prime minister, was the finance minister. Manu Joseph in IHT:

In the hit Hindi film of this season, three Indian bachelors and a Hermès handbag, which they have named Bagwati, go on a road trip in Spain. Their objective is to endure three extreme adventure sports. On the way they meet a beautiful Indian-British diving instructor, a Spanish girl who apparently will let any man into her bath as long as he asks “May I enter?” in Spanish and the artist father of one of the bachelors who had abandoned the boy when he was still in the womb.

Directed by Zoya Akhtar, this joyous film, titled “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (You Only Live Once),” is set against a backdrop of affluence, easy sex and relentless reminders that life is meant to be fun. Such ideas and protagonists in a mainstream commercial Hindi film would have been unthinkable in an earlier time. Which is one reason the film was 20 years in the making, almost exactly 20 years.

Ms. Akhtar might view such a statement as an outrageous factual error.

But it’s true.

Her film had its beginnings in a moment in Indian history whose 20th anniversary went by a few days ago, unobserved by an ungrateful nation. On July 24, 1991, when Manmohan Singh, now prime minister, then finance minister, rose to present the national budget, India was in deep financial trouble. It did not have enough foreign currency to import supplies and had to pledge its gold reserves to secure an emergency loan.

It was not hard for Mr. Singh to convince Parliament and the people of India that the country had no choice but to initiate far-reaching economic reforms, to privatize, to liberate itself from socialism and the philosophies of obsolete men.

The characters in Ms. Akhtar’s film are the finished products of Mr. Singh’s reforms. More:

In conversation with Amitabh Bachchan

Image: bigb.bigadda.com

In The Economic Times:

“At this age, I feel I am going to have a problem signing my cheques very soon. Really, you can forget how to do your own signature and that’s a problem. At this age, your hands are not steady….your handwriting deteriorates, that is already noticeable now with me…” He smiles, and then, for a moment, looks at his hands calmly resting on the table. Hands that wave at cheering crowds; helping hands that reach out to Rahim Chacha in Deewar; big, long hands that many beautiful women once hoped to hold. “So, I deliberately do as much as I can, if I can, with the pen and not use computers,” he smiles again. It’s Tuesday evening at Janak, the new bungalow behind Jalsa, his home.

There is a buzz outside the room in the office of AB Corp, where officials of the entertainment firm and its partner are covering the last mile before the release of Rs Buddhah Hoga Tera Baap. The firm is the new avatar of ABCL, the first effort at corporatisation in Bollywood; a firm whose name evokes images of a near bankrupt superstar, messy legal tangles, damaging controversies and bitter lessons that its founder will never forget. Few could sense back then how it was to become the harbinger of a spectacular turnaround story – of hard work and brand power, and not stuff like financial engineering that most corporate case studies are made of.

The success of AB Corp will depend on the power of the Bachchans, their ability to attract other stars and directors, and what the future holds for Abhishek, who is battling through a rough patch. But there’s something more pervasive that worries Amitabh Bachchan , something that could swing the fortunes of not just his company but other corporates that dot the Bollywood landscape. “The Americans are here. They will buy us out…. They have very cleverly entered the Indian market. Everywhere they have gone, they have destroyed that market. They went to the UK, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, and Hollywood destroyed their local industries. It’s fearsome,” he says. More:

Coke Studio India

This isn’t a patch on Coke Studio Pakistan.

Coke Studio India

 

The Bollywood lie

Cannes may have been awash in Hindi movie glamour, but the truth is that Bollywood is hardly a blip on the radar of world cinema and culture. Derek Malcolm in Mint Lounge:

The real influence of Bollywood on anyone other than the diaspora is practically nil. It’s thought to be a bit of a joke—a huge engine that spews out dozens upon dozens of films a year, some of which make large profits but most of which sink without a trace. A couple of years ago, the main companies distributing Bollywood in the UK organized press shows for British critics. They duly went along to the first two or three. But the reviews were short and often negative, and soon the idea of adding to the 10 or 12 new films opening in London each week with a slice of Bollywood was quietly dropped.

If the sheer gigantomania in India’s film factories has indeed attracted bemused attention in recent years, it is largely because of the omission of Indian cinema from most global histories. Dozens of books have been devoted to the history of Hollywood in the West. Very few have even tried to tackle Bollywood, which, until it realized that as much money could be made abroad as in India itself, frequently seemed to come from a vast, enclosed world nobody but Indians knew a great deal about.

The idea that Indian commercial cinema, whether from Mumbai or not, is made for the illiterate masses and seen by no one even slightly sophisticated, dies hard in the UK. It was always a view verging on sheer ignorance and, even today, when it could be claimed that India’s cinema has been technically strengthened but culturally weakened by Western influences, it’s not entirely true.

It certainly wasn’t so in the post-war decades that produced a whole series of film-makers, stars, musicians and playback singers worthy of anyone’s attention. I have soundtracks from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s that combine Indian classical, folk and traditional music with memorable skill. Would there were good-quality DVDs of some of the lost films. M0re:

Sesame Street comes to Pakistan

US government aid agency sponsors $20m Pakistani remake of the American kids’ TV show. In The Guardian:

There’s no Cookie Monster, no Big Bird and no Count von Count.

But Pakistani children will soon start experiencing what millions in the west have done for more than four decades – the joys of Sesame Street.

In a $20m (£12m) remake of the classic American children’s programme, the setting for the show has moved from the streets of New York to a lively village in Pakistan with a roadside tea and snacks stall, known as a dhaba, some fancy houses with overhanging balconies along with simple dwellings, and residents hanging out on their verandas.

The Pakistani version, in which characters will speak mostly in Urdu, will feature Rani, a cute six-year-old Muppet, the child of a peasant farmer, with pigtails, flowers in her hair and a smart blue-and-white school uniform. Her curiosity and questions about the world will, it is hoped, make her a role model for Pakistani children. More:

Hum Dono in colour

Yes, ‘Hum Dono’ is back. In colour. Dev Anand’s cult classic is out in colour.

Endhiran a.k.a. Robot

From Enthiran, a 2010 Tamil science-fiction film featuring features Rajinikanth in dual roles — as a professor and an android robot. Aishwarya Rai and Danny Denzongpa play other lead roles. The film’s background score and soundtrack was composed by A. R. Rahman. Its Hindi version is titled Robot.

No country for old artistes

Do artistes and penury have some sort of tragic, karmic connection? In Hindustan Times, Namita Bhandare looks at the plight of 95-year-old veteran actor A K Hangal to see the same story being repeated, again.

Because Subrata Kundu had been fairly regular on the page 3 circuit at a time when I was a fairly regular journalist on page 3, his passing recently caught my eye. You couldn’t miss him, that man with a broad smile and thick mop of hair. Then, suddenly one day, the photographs stopped and newbies with names like Kitty, Monty, Thenny, Ronny took over. I failed to notice that Kundu seemed to have faded away.  

I did not know that Subrata had taken a serious hit when the art market nosedived during the recession. I did not know that he was suffering from liver disease. I did not know that he had tried to kill himself. I found out all of this one sad day in September when I read with shock that this 51-year-old artist had been found unconscious in a temple at Ranaghat, Kolkata where he had been living. He died a few days later.

I remembered Subrata again when I read in the papers of the hard times that have fallen on actor AK Hangal. Bedridden with kidney disease and asthma, this 95-year-old actor who has entertained us in over 125 films, including as Rahim chacha in Sholay, must now depend on the kindness of his few remaining friends; Asha Parekh, for instance. Bills for medicines alone amount to R15,000 a month. And the only family member left to look after him is Hangal’s 74-year-old son, Vijay, a retired photographer. more

In Times of India, which broke the story about Hangal’s plight, Bharati Dubey has some good news as aid comes in from the industry and from outside sources. Read that story here.

Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan: Married to movies

Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan on making a film together, who gets to be the boss on the sets and a love story that started with a pair of earrings. Harneet Singh in The Indian Express Sunday magazine Eye:

When a husband-wife team works on a film set, what’s the equation like?

Aamir: Same as home. She’s the boss!

Kiran: Yes, my love, if that’s how you really feel. Personally, I had trouble with the new equation. We still struggle with it, don’t we?

Aamir: See Kiran, it’s like this — when you are close to a person, you have a tendency to take him/her for granted.

Kiran: Yes, we don’t need to wear the mask of politeness. We get impatient with each other.

Aamir: If I’m working with another director and we have a difference of opinion, I’ll think of the right words to express myself. Like if it’s Rakeysh Mehra, I’ll be like, “Look Mehra, it doesn’t work like that.” But with Kiran, I can be like, “Arre, you don’t know anything.” Likewise, Kiran is more careful and patient with other actors while with me she can just say, “Keep quiet, yaar.”

Kiran: When I get irritated with him on the sets, I can show that irritation to him.

So who says sorry first?

Kiran: Whoever has messed up. On a film set, the meter is always ticking so we can’t afford to sulk. We thrash it out in two minutes. I think we work well. I value his mind.

Aamir: I agree. As an actor, it’s important for me to have complete trust and faith in my director. I feel safe in Kiran’s hands.

As a director, what is her special quality?

Aamir: She views things with great delicacy and gets to the heart of the shot.

Tell me an Aamir Khan quirk.

Kiran:: I don’t know if it’s a quirk but he’s a very generous actor. He is very considerate about his crew and co-actors. Even if it’s something simple like putting a mic on his shirt he’ll think of the crew. He’ll tell my technician, “I should put the mic on this side so that it doesn’t rustle, otherwise you’ll have trouble.” It’s an amazing quality. More:

Dhol moment

About Red Baraat, the nine-piece New York City-based dhol-n-brass band that melds bhangra with brass-infused funk and jazz. In Mother Jones:

MJ: Your recent side-project album, Taboo, seems pretty controversial in the cultures (Sufi and Punjab) that the music is drawn from. How has it been received?

SJ: I honestly haven’t received anything but positive responses. Taboo is a set of new works I was commissioned for by Chamber Music America in 2007. I was then commissioned in 2009 by The Aaron Copland Recording Fund to release the music commercially. The project started through a desire and a sense of obligation to use my music as a platform to address social justice issues, and specifically speak to the South Asian community, where these matters are often considered taboo: sexual orientation, inequality, violence upon women, and the juxtaposition of religions. The artistic inspiration was derived from ghazals, love poems that have their origins in the Arabian Peninsula and eventually made their way to India in the 12th Century.

Each composition draws upon one Indian raga to present a mood specific to each work. While the music in its entirety is influenced by the Indian and African diasporas, the players bring their own unique musical personalities, and collectively we aim to blur the lines of genre.

Teach Me How To Dougie – Indian version

The Munni-Sheila sisterhood

Nikhat Kazmi in The Times of India:

2010: The year when men might have truly been on Mars. For, when it came to grabbing headlines, it was women all the way, all the year through. Be it politics, business, sport or entertainment, it was She-La ki Kahani that had the twists and turns, despite all the brouhaha about Dabangg He-men making old-fashioned comebacks.

They may be branded as mere item numbers but Munni Badnaam Hui and Sheila Ki Jawani have become the exultant cry of a breed of post-feminism femme fatales who are determined to celebrate woman power like never before. If a risqui Munni saw nothing wrong in becoming a Zandu balm, or an item that’s aam – in short, totally badnaam – for her paramour, then Sheila seemed to be totally self-sufficient with her uber sexuality.

In a blatant display of narcissism, she declares she wants to hug and hold herself: Ab dil karta hai haule haule se, main toh khud ko gale lagaun. Kisi aur ki mujhko zaroorat kya, main toh khud se pyaar jataun…Read between the lines and see how the traditional stereotype of the woman gets busted with something as simple as Bollywood lyrics. Enter the new singleton who doesn’t necessarily need a husband, a boyfriend, to define herself. On the contrary, like Krishna Verma (Vidya Balan), the spirited and unencumbered protagonist of Ishqiya, she prefers a world where options exist and the straitjacket of conventional morality has been blown apart. More:

Munni or Sheila? Choose your favourite item number

In India, workers find humor in ‘Outsourced’

Heather Timmons in The New York Times:

Gurgaon, India — The laughter was coming as fast as the stereotypes.

When a buffoonish American on the NBC show “Outsourced” warned his colleague not to eat the food in the Indian cafeteria or he would be on the toilet for five days, the roomful of workers watching the show in this outsourcing boomtown south of New Delhi erupted in guffaws.

“Indians are very proud of their spicy food and their robust digestion tracts,” one software specialist explained later.

The show’s explanation of the Indian head bobble, an indeterminate sideways nodding gesture that can mean yes or no, prompted chuckles. And the sight of a silent, slightly menacing Sikh character who kept storming offscreen drew more laughter, as well as comparisons to a co-worker, Angad, who was also watching the show.

He “never sits in his seat, so there is a lot in common,” explained a manager named Nitin S.

“Outsourced,” NBC’s new Thursday night sitcom, is about a Kansas City novelty company that moves most of its jobs to India and sends an American manager to run things. To see how the show compared to real life, The New York Times took two episodes to an India office of UnitedLex, a company based outside Kansas City, Kan., with most of its employees in India, and asked them to review it. UnitedLex agreed to participate if employees’ last names were not used, to prevent rival companies from poaching them. More:

Google to launch music service in India

From Wall Street Journal:

Google Inc. launched a music service in India to help users search for legal online streams and downloads, a move aimed at combating rampant digital piracy that has held back the country’s entertainment industry.

The U.S. tech giant partnered with three digital music providers who together have the rights to hundreds of thousands of Indian tracks, from Bollywood hits to Indian classical tunes. Google made the service available Friday and will eventually integrate it into its main search bar, according to people familiar with the matter.

When Web users in India type a song into Google’s search bar, the top links in response would be from Google’s partners, including India’s largest music label, Saregama India Ltd., New York-based media company Saavn, and Web portal In.com. Clicking on a link will launch a pop-up music player where the requested content will be streamed for free, the people said. More:

Malaika Arora Khan — the ultimate Bollywood spice girl

Harneet Singh in The Indian Express Sunday magazine Eye:

Malaika Arora Khan is not an actor, never mind the odd itsy-bitsy role in the odd forgettable film. Yet she has lasted in the film industry for over a decade. “I’m pretty much peripheral in terms of Bollywood, but yet in a way, because of the family I am married into, and my songs, I am Bollywood,” she says.

She is, rather, Bollywood’s Shakira of item numbers, the

Item No. 1. A 35-year-old mother of a seven-yea-old son, and still the stuff of male fantasy: when she teases a small town in Uttar Pradesh to distraction as Munni in Dabangg, the front-benchers and multiplex janta both go wild. She is also, by the way, the producer of Dabangg but Malaika will forgive you for letting that fact slip. “With me it’s always the songs… it’s for my item numbers that I’ll be part of this country’s cinema library.”

It all started on top of a train. The year was 1998 and the film Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se. Malaika did the Chhaiyya chhaiyya with Shah Rukh Khan and we all know how that turned out. Twelve years later, the “item number” is alive, though perhaps not flourishing, and she is still at the top, offered “a song a day toh pucca”. It’s a fact of the business: if an item song is the masala your film needs, Malaika is the go-to girl. In an industry where leading ladies turn into wallflowers in less than half a decade, what’s the secret of the dream run? “She’s sexy, she’s beautiful and she’s a very good dancer,” says choreographer and director Farah Khan, “but then so are a lot of girls out there.” The difference, Farah says, is in the way she has planned her career. “Malaika has an edge because she has chosen her assignments wisely, maintained her exclusivity and is extremely professional. That’s the reason she has lasted so long,” she says. That, and the backing of one of Bollywood’s most powerful film families. More:

Absurdistani: The house of Big Boss

Gautam Pemmaraju at 3quarksdaily:

Abbas Kazmi, the defense lawyer for Ajmal Kasab, the lone Pakistani terrorist who participated and survived the Mumbai attacks of 26 November 2008, shares a double bed with Rahul Bhatt, the son of Mahesh Bhatt, renowned filmmaker and desk-thumping arbiter of public culture. A gym trainer and famous person in waiting, Rahul Bhatt came into the limelight late last year due to his friendship with David Coleman Headley, the incarcerated terror location scout and ‘double agent’. Begum Nawazish Ali, the cross-dressing Pakistani TV presenter known for catty interviews with prominent Pakistani personalities, who deftly commutes between a variety of gender roles and inhabitations, however, has a swank ‘delights room’ all to himself, herself and the several iterations thereof. Ali, having been voted the ‘Captain’ of the house, has been awarded the privileged use of this exclusive room unto which he had laid immediate claim at first sight. In defense of this territorial claim, Begum and Ali, speaking as one, offer cheeky philosophical insight by saying that since two souls reside within his one body, a little more space is required than otherwise. Seema Parihar, a reformed bandit from the (in)famous central Indian Chambal Valley, still battling numerous court cases, wafts about benignly, guileless and asynchronous, offering on occasion the chorus of a folk song, affectionate banter, and advice on the tossing and catching of pebbles skillfully. This child’s game is no scruffy proof to the provocative dystopia within which thirteen residents find themselves sharing beds, food, household tasks and South-Asian schadenfruede, a unique idiomatic expression that is common despite the geo-political boundaries that separate the sub-continental nations. Clearly this is no child’s game.

This is the fourth season of Bigg Boss, the Indian version of the global hit TV reality show, Big Brother, hosted this time around by the resurgent Bollywood star Salman Khan, heady with the success of his recent ‘super hit’ film Dabangg, a hugely successful throwback to the formulaic 80’s pan Indian film which showcases the virtues (and a few well timed wrist-slap worthy vices) of the ‘hero’ – all for love, honour, mother, nation, the collective flame of which is kept alive by copious amounts of desi ghee. Heaving bosoms, exaggerated swaggers and sharp bravado work in tandem to re-articulate the claim of the Hindi heartland over the nation at large. More: