Archive for the 'Entertainment' Category

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Gandhi reunited

This is not new, but in case you missed it:

Sir Ben Kingsley talks about his BAFTA-winning role as Mahatma Gandhi in Richard Attenborough’s biopic Gandhi.

Twenty-five years after its release, BAFTA celebrated Gandhi the film by reuniting cast and crew from the award-wining film.

And below, Saeed Jaffery talks about his role as Sardar Patel.

Meera Syal: My family values

In this YouTube video, Meera Syal reads from The Taming of the Shrew in this clip from Baby Cow’s ‘From Bard to Verse’ – Shakespeare’s greatest hits packaged into bite size chunks and performed by the UK’s hottest acting and comedy talent.

In The Guardian:

Inside our Punjabi household the atmosphere was one of familiarity and solidity, but outside the house things sometimes felt threatening. I have vivid memories of my parents and all their friends talking about a certain speech that Enoch Powell made. I always thought that the reason there were packed suitcases on top of every wardrobe was that we might have to leave the country in the middle of the night because of Enoch Powell. It was only years later that I realised that everybody’s families had suitcases on top of the wardrobe.

Punjabis are the cockneys of India. They are party people – gregarious, outgoing, very entrepreneurial, sharp-witted, loud, meat-eaters. Back in the Punjab, they are basically earthy, rural workers. And that was very much the atmosphere when we had friends around. It was incredibly noisy, loads of music, lots of loud voices and drinking, and I thought that was normal until I went to other people’s houses and I was shocked to discover that sometimes people’s families say nothing to each other during dinner. More:

Also at Wiki

The truth about being ‘Outsourced’

Anand Giridharadas in The New York Times:

Cambridge, Mass. – India is a challenging place to grasp even when you have lived there forever and are Indian. So imagine what it’s like to try to translate it into a half-hour American sitcom.

The new show “Outsourced,” which premiered last week on the American television network NBC, about a manager reassigned from Kansas to Mumbai to run his firm’s new call center there, has taken on two famously prickly communities: Americans who believe they have lost their jobs to outsourcing, and Indians (and Indian-Americans) wary of depictions of India as filthy and vaguely yogic, overrun with elephants and cows.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the show has offended members of both communities. And yet it is also, in a strange way, a flattering cultural document for both groups, making each of their distinct predicaments appear less serious than they may, in fact, be. The globalization of work is arguably more threatening to America than the show suggests, and, equally, less of a silver bullet for India’s afflictions than a casual viewer might assume.

The program, a rare exploration by mainstream television of the world of globalized work, has earned mixed reviews in the United States and India, from praise to yawns to outright anger. More:

Robot — A Tamil sci-fi movie

From The Times of India:

Why would someone go to a theatre at 5am to watch a Rajinikanth movie? Because tickets were not available for the 4am show. Chennai shut shop early on Thursday over worries on which way the Ayodhya verdict would swing, but now it seems it was only to queue up before daybreak for the first day, first show of  ’Enthiran (Robot)’.

Thousands jostled for an elusive ticket as theatres in Rajini city began screening the film on Friday before the crack of dawn. While the first show at the city’s Rakki Cinemas in Ambattur was at 4am, it was at 5.45am at the AGS Cinemas in Villivakkam and 6 am at Kasi Theatre. Even national exhibitors like PVR cinemas and Inox began shows in Chennai around 8am. Tickets were reportedly being sold in the black market at up to Rs 5,000 each.

Even in Mumbai, Bollywood took a backseat as thousands of Rajini worshippers lined up outside Aurora theatre where prints of the film were brought after being taken to a temple in a chariot. More:

Interview with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in The Indian Express

Rajini fever grips Chennai: in The Economic Times

How to clone a superstar: What went into making the Rs60 crore Rajinikanth lookalike in India’s most expensive film yet: in Mint Lounge

High on Coke Studio

Forget cricket. A Pakistani music show is breaking down barriers. Supriya Nair in Open:

For many Pakistanis, it was a reaffirmation of a long-held belief: their country made kickass music. “Music is perhaps the only area in the arts where Pakistan produces world-class stuff regularly and which gets local appreciation,” Ahmer says. “Coke Studio got the kind of response that authors, filmmakers, and drama serial producers would die for.”

In addition to blanket broadcast coverage, the show’s music and videos were instantly downloadable for free on the Coke Studio website. In cities and towns, in homes and along highways, on vehicle stereos, radio channels and mobile phones, there was no resisting the music anymore. Crucially, it soon suffused the desi diaspora worldwide. Word spread.

The official Coke Studio fan page on Facebook has just under 300,000 fans, and the official YouTube channel—the videos, of course, proliferate via other IDs too, often with English subtitles or interspersed with portfolio shots of stars—counts some 8.5 million views. This may seem modest in the internet-savvy US, or even in India, especially in contrast with the traffic anything Bollywood generates, but for music thought to have only niche appeal, it is quite something. More:

Pakistani rock star declares ‘rock & roll jihad’

From Radio Free Europe:

Salman Ahmad was a 19-year-old medical student in 1982 when he performed music on stage for the first time in his native Pakistan.

Having just returned from six years in the United States, where he’d earned enough money clearing restaurant tables and delivering newspapers to buy an electric guitar, the future Pakistani rock star began to play a song by the rock group Van Halen at a talent show in Lahore.

Suddenly, Ahmad heard cries of rage in Urdu from a gang of bearded young men who stormed toward the stage. They were an early manifestation of the Taliban: Islamic student extremists affiliated with a local religious party, acting as self-appointed music police.

While some of the extremists threw burqas and chadors over the women in the audience, Ahmad says one bearded student jumped on stage and grabbed his electric guitar — “his eyes filled with a madness that has nothing to do with God” as he smashed the precious instrument beyond repair.

Ahmad tells RFE/RL it was a transformational moment in his life — the moment when he declared “rock and roll jihad” against the “ideology of hate.”

“The Taliban and their brand of Islam is not Islam at all. Islam doesn’t teach you to kill innocent women, children, and men. Islam doesn’t teach you to commit suicide,” Ahmad says. “That’s haram,” or forbidden.

Ahmad says that “as long as the Taliban pursue a strategy of violence, subjugation of women, destroying girls schools, killing musicians,” he doesn’t see how anyone can “reconcile with that sort of mentality and ideology. The ideology of hate, the ideology of terrorism, has no place in Islam, or anywhere else in the world, and I will continue saying that.” More:

Bappi Lahiri tribute to Michael Jackson

Bollywood music composer and singer Bappi Lahiri’s tribute to Michael Jackson:

Also read.

Rani Taj the dhol player

The dhol has traditionally been played by men at Punjabi weddings and Sufi shrines. Rani Taj, the first professional British-Kashmiri female dholi, trained by the Dhol Blasters and Azaad Dhol, plays the dhol at public events.

The magestrial clout of two Indian epics

Even as it modernizes, India has carved a place for its mythic past, as witnessed by recent films — Raavan and Raajneeti — that draw on the two great epics of Hinduism. Somini Sengupta in the New York Times:

Can an epic poem, composed more than 2,000 years ago and transcribed in an ancient language that only a handful of people can read, thrive in the age of Twitter?

In India, yes. And not just one epic but two.

The most talked-about movies in India this summer are based on the two great epics of Hinduism: the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

It isn’t just Indian cinema that is smitten with those two works. “The Difficulty of Being Good,” a recent book that uses the Mahabharata to examine contemporary business and politics, has become an unlikely best seller here. This year India’s law minister, M. Veerappa Moily, who has written a new reinterpretation of the Ramayana, credited its chaste, long-suffering female protagonist, Sita, with having inspired a women’s rights bill. In Bangalore, India’s technology capital, a contemporary-dance company recently performed a piece based on the principal women of the epics. The myths are retold too, in children’s cartoons and comic books.

Indian modernity is beguiling. In this fast-churning, seemingly Westernizing, increasingly English-speaking nation, the mythic past is also very much present. For ages the epics have been told, retold, fiddled with. They still resonate, in new but recognizable ways.

“The Mahabharata and Ramayana, they sort of permeate our consciousness,” said Bibek Debroy, an economist who published the first of a 10-volume unabridged English translation of the Mahabharata in April. “The stories are deeply ingrained in the minds of Indians.” More:

Bollywood’s script thieves

The Hindi film industry is notorious for lifting stories. Rahul Bhatia in Open:

When Manoj Tyagi gave up a career in banking to join the ranks of film writers in Mumbai a decade ago, he was introduced to what he calls “DVD meetings”. Tyagi, who wrote Page 3, Corporate, Jail, and directed Mumbai Salsa, recalls gatherings where producers, directors, and writers “sat around and talked about movies they had watched the night before”. The purpose of these meetings was to plot stories and lift ideas from the DVD or portions of the movie they’d just seen.

Tyagi says that when Indian filmmakers see a successful foreign film—or a music video—they think they can remake it. “They believe it will work because seeing is believing. Not many people can visualise a document.” He imitates them when he says, “Yaar, maine dekha, yaar, aur box office ka result bhi saamne hai. Iska pata nahin kya hoga, kaise hoga. Iss se achcha tu ye bana de. Ek star bhi ready hai karne ke liye.” (“Dude, I saw this movie, and it worked at the box office. I don’t know about the script you’ve got, but you could remake the movie I saw. There’s a star ready to work on it.”) If it wasn’t a DVD, it was a screenplay. Usually, someone else’s screenplay. “The first time we copied was when we made Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin,” says the writer Robin Bhatt, who formed a successful association with Mahesh and Mukesh, his brothers. “Aamir gave Mahesh a book called 20 Best American Screenplays, and asked him to read the first one, It Happened One Night. Mahesh very conveniently passed it on to me. I read ten pages and said, ‘Mahesh, this is Chori Chori.’ But I realised that Chori Chori did not use the climax of the screenplay. I told them that we should take the entire thing as it was. Let’s not fuck with the original script.” Bhatt says he couldn’t procure the movie when he adapted the script. But in a remarkable coincidence, he says, he finally saw it on a hotel channel while the movie was being filmed in Ooty. Aamir and Mahesh rushed to watch it with him. More:

Julia Roberts now a ‘practicing Hindu’

Julia Roberts, star of the new movie “Eat, Pray, Love,” which tells the story of a soul-searching character, is now a practicing Hindu.

In an interview with Elle magazine, Robert says she worships with her husband, cameraman Danny Moder, and their three children.

She was born to Catholic and Baptist parents.

From New York Daily News: “I’m definitely a practicing Hindu,” says Roberts, adding that she takes her entire brood – including husband Danny Moder and their kids Henry, 3, and 5-year-old twins Phinnaeus and Hazel – to temple on a regular basis.

More here in Mercury News, here at Elle and in TOI

TV bed: too hot and warm

From The Telegraph:

Calcutta model Dimpy Ganguly, who became Mrs Rahul Mahajan through a televised swayamvar, walked out on her husband yesterday alleging domestic violence but he claimed today she was back in his bed.

“Right now, she is in my bed, sleeping and I am lying next to her. I gifted her a puppy for her birthday this week and by the time we celebrate our first anniversary next year, I will gift her a Pappu (child),” he said. “Many channels have approached us for shows where we feature as a couple. You will soon see us working together in a television project,” he added.

In the early hours of Thursday, Dimpy fled the Mahajan home in Mumbai’s Worli after she was allegedly roughed up by Rahul, son of late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan.

Dimpy’s cellphone remained switched off on Friday but she was quoted as saying: “I received an SMS on my cellphone at about 3am and Rahul suddenly got violent after he couldn’t read the message because the phone’s keypad was locked. He slapped, kicked and dragged me by my hair. I called up a friend who took me away from Rahul’s house at dawn.” More here and here

Auntie Netta Returns

Via Sepia Mutiny:

Nimmi Harasgam is a Sri Lankan movie star based in London.

Aamir Khan: The box-office economist

Sanjukta Sharma in Mint Lounge:

Okay, there’s one thing that unsettles Aamir Khan. The stock market. “The stock market? No!” he exclaimed, and looked nonplussed when I asked him if he followed market trends. Leaning forward on the couch he was sitting on, he explained why, without choosing his words as he usually does: “I have no idea how it works. I have tried to understand it. When you say somebody is worth 3,000 crore, I’d like to think he has Rs3,000 crore. I am corrected, I’m told his shares and investments add up to that much. So then, if he sells everything, will he have that much? But no, if he sells them, his worth will immediately fall. So what does he actually have and why is he worth 3,000 crore? The market is all fantasy and illusion, you believe me.”

Khan’s public persona is crafted cool. He has a disarming candour, the kind which, for the short while you are sitting next to him, strips him of star trappings. He measures his words, but not in an obvious way—like all stars, he wants to be perceived as a good person or an interesting person. His sense of humour comes across as self-deprecating. He can also be a natural mimic. And unlike many stars, actors even, he looks at you intently, and listens to every word you say. More:

A new label’s mission: Indian music

From The New York Times:

Could there be more global hits like “Jai Ho” in the future? Universal Music thinks so. “Jai Ho,” the Academy Award-winning song written by the Indian composer A. R. Rahman for “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008), raced up pop charts worldwide as its catchy dance beat shimmied across borders with ease. And Universal, the largest of the four major record companies, believes that Western audiences might have an appetite for more music with an Indian flavor.

Universal says it has agreed to team with Desi Hits!, a company that promotes South Asian entertainment on, to create a label for musicians from India or with South Asian roots. The goal is to reach a global audience.

“There’s a huge amount of amount of opportunity, given that it’s relatively untapped,” said David Joseph, chief executive of Universal Music U.K., referring to South Asian pop music. “It’s far from a vanity project for us.”

Anjula Acharia-Bath, chief executive of Desi Hits!, which is based in New York, said the new label, called Desi Hits! Universal, is going “to give this genre a home.” More:

Manohari Singh, maestro of the saxophone: 1931-2010

Samanth Subramanian in Mint:

In 1969, a group of musicians from Mumbai accompanied Kishore Kumar on a three-month tour of performances, visiting the West Indies, the US, and the Netherlands. It was during this tour, when the troupe hit New York, that Manohari Singh purchased his adored saxophone—a Selmer alto sax, plated in gold. “He was in love with that sax,” says Kersi Lord, a fellow musician, a colleague in R.D. Burman’s extended orchestra, and a close friend. “He would never even let anybody else carry it.”

Love affairs between musicians and their instruments aren’t unusual, but they are nevertheless memorable, and this one more than most. Singh, whose exuberant saxophone lit up classic film songs such as “Roop tera mastana“ and “Mehbooba mehbooba”, and even films as recent as Chalte Chalte and Veer Zaara, passed away on Tuesday after suffering cardiac arrest at the age of 79.

Like his father, who played for Calcutta’s police bands during the British Raj, Singh started his career with the key flute, and he never deserted it entirely. Even in 1967, well after he became famous for the distinct sound of his sax, Singh contributed a flute strain to the song “Ek haseen shaam ko”, from the film Dulhan Ek Raat Ki—a sweet snippet that seems to respond playfully to the plaintiveness in Mohammad Rafi’s voice. More:

The Art of Bollywood

In The Indian Express, a review of The Art Of Bollywood by Rajesh Devraj and Edo Bouman (Taschen):

Old-timers in the movie business get nostalgic at the drop of a billboard. Om Prakash Katyal a.k.a. Chachaji, who’s been around in showbiz for more than five decades, talks wistfully of a time when the size of posters and hoardings would be a matter of fierce competition: Bhala unka poster mere poster se bada kaise? At a time when movies were getting bigger with every release, size mattered.

The Art Of Bollywood by Rajesh Devraj and Edo Bouman is a magnificent ode to an extended period of Hindi cinema that doesn’t exist anymore. The book starts from the early 20th century and traces the tumultous growth of the film industry. Cinema filled Bombay and made it synonymous with the movies, harkening to a future when it would be called Bollywood. And it filled our imagination: nothing unites Indians, anywhere on the globe, quite like its movies.

What Devraj, filmmaker and screenwriter (also formerly of Channel V where he created Quick Gun Murugan), has done along with Bouman, an Amsterdam-based collector of Indian film posters, is create a uniquely wrought, painstakingly researched, well written history of Hindi cinema, from its beginnings to the mid-1990s. Back in the day, shows of movies would be accompanied by what the trade called “booklets”. These would be prized possessions because they would have photographs from the movies and some would even have the lyrics of all the songs. Cinema halls would display large hoardings with imaginative cutouts of the stars. Posters would bring the movie out of darkened halls. They would be plastered on the walls, on the sides of buses, everywhere. They were pop art. They were kitsch. They were street shows. More:

Arif Lohar & Meesha, Alif Allah. Coke Studio

This one from Pakistan truly rocks.

And equally brilliant: Arieb Azhar – Husn-e-Haqiqi

Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons, and Rajasthani folk

Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons, and traditional Rajasthani folk collective the Dharohar Project teamed up for a collaborative album of recordings they made during a recent Indian tour. Watch clips here at The Guardian.

Pakistan’s burqa drama

For some, “Burqavaganza” is a funny love story in the time of jihad. For others, it mocks Islam. The government’s recent ban on the play highlights Pakistan’s liberal-conservative divide. From The New York Times:

Bollywood to make Hitler film

Ben Child in The Guardian:

He is a stalwart of Indian cinema who once played Gandhi on the small screen, while she is a former Miss India best known for her romantic comedy roles. Together, Anupam Kher and Neha Dhupia are to play Adolf Hitler and his mistress Eva Braun in a new Bollywood film set in the last days of the Third Reich.

According to reports, the curiously titled Dear Friend Hitler will centre on the relationships between the Nazi dictator and those who were close to him, including Braun, his long-term lover who he married in his final days in the Berlin bunker. “It aims to take the viewer into close quarters with the enigmatic personality that Hitler was and give a glimpse into his insecurities, his charisma, his paranoia and his sheer genius,” a source told the Mumbai Mirror newspaper.

Kher, who was chosen by the film’s director, Rakesh Ranjan Kumar, for his apparent resemblance to Hitler, told reporters on Sunday that he was looking forward to the challenge. “I already have an image, I am a known actor, so it will be doubly hard work for me to take away that image,” he said. “He’s one of the most interesting characters of our times.” More:

Playing Hitler will be challenging: Anupam Kher

From DNA:

“For me… I already have an image, I am a known actor, so it will be doubly hard work for me to take away that image, and an actor likes taking challenges,” said Kher.

Actress Neha Dhupia would be playing the role of Eva Braun, Hitler’s lover, and said she is very excited to work with Kher.

“I am really looking forward to working with Anupam Kher, and it’ll be exciting, it’ll be educative. I’ll learn things on the set everyday. We are going to be doing some workshops together to make sure,” said Dhupia.

The director of the film, Rakesh Ranjan Kumar, said that the film would be released in both the Indian and international cinemas.

He added that Hitler was the most successful loser of the twentieth Century and he wants to interpret the reasons for that. More:

‘Slumdog’ composer A.R. Rahman seeks global pop stardom

Jacob Adelman, Associated Press:

With scores of dancers moving in unison atop trains, singing amid ancient ruins and running across cricket fields, the average Bollywood production is a grand spectacle.

Taking such a show on the road would seem to require significant downsizing. Not for A.R. Rahman, who garnered worldwide exposure with his Academy Award-winning score to “Slumdog Millionaire.”

The Indian film composer is trying to orchestrate his own rise to international stardom by making his production even bigger to dazzle audiences in massive concert venues across the Western Hemisphere with elaborate stage shows teeming with dancers, acrobats and high-tech lighting.

The tour begins June 11 at New York’s Nassau Coliseum and wends through North America and Europe before ending at London’s Wembley Stadium in late July, with ticket prices for the roughly three-hour-long shows ranging from $45 to $1,000.

Through the concerts, Rahman is attempting something many performers from outside the English-speaking world have tried and failed to do: transcend a regional, ethnic niche and become an international mainstream superstar. More:

Inside Pakistan’s adult film industry

Fawad Ali in The Express Tribune:

The studio initially hired commercial sex workers for their films. Soon, though, they began to expand by hiring enthusiastic volunteers. They felt it would make the performances look more natural. During the filming none of the actors are allowed to use condoms. “Condoms take away from the viewer’s pleasure,” is Junaid’s calculation, proffered with a loud smile. He does not think it necessary to carry out HIV tests before employing performers. Defying all odds, the producers of both of Pakistan’s leading adult film-studios claim to never have encountered a single HIV-positive actor in this field.

Beena, 24, volunteered for a movie in 2007 and has appeared in seven since. She says, “My friend Aliya worked in them and would tell me stories. One day I asked her to take me with her to a shoot and she agreed.” After attending, she decided to give it a go herself. Zunaira, who is 5’6 and has blonde streaks in her hair, followed a similar path to the adult film industry. “After attending classes at college I would come to the studio. It turned into a sort of addiction.” Twenty-three-year-old Zubaida is sitting in a well decorated ‘guest room’ at her Tariq Road flat. Located in a commercial building, the interior is adorned with colourful prints.

There are four other people in the room; three men aged between 30 and 35 and Binda, a girl in blue jeans and a red T-shirt, who joined the industry two years ago. In 2006, Zubaida ran away from her home in Gujarat with a boy she loved. “He used me for 10 days and then sold me to a man from Gulshan-e-Iqbal. The man raped me for a month and then put me up for sale again.” More:

Love marriage

The singers of Bollywood

Aakar Patel in The News:

A few years ago, I was invited to a friend’s house for dinner where one other person was present. This man, who was quite young, was a singer and after dinner performed for about an hour. He sang without music and, given that there wasn’t much of an audience, with feeling and enthusiasm.

After he finished he spoke about his life and his work and how he wanted to find work in Bollywood. He was living as a paying guest, which means someone who rents a room in an apartment.

He was Kailash Kher, and when he became popular with his first hit, Allah ke banday, neither I nor his host that night was surprised. Because Bollywood is so dominant as a cultural presence in our lives, we feel close to its singers, especially the older ones.

Kishore Kumar was eccentric in a wonderful way. His screen character was often unscripted and he would take off as he might otherwise in life. I suspect much of his role in the great movie Padosan was improvised as the camera rolled.

Kishore was wary of Bollywood’s producers, who would lie and delay payments, trying to make them as close to release as possible. This is because if the film flopped, they could ‘put up their hands’ (haath ooper kar dena), as we say in India, and claim that they had lost too much money to be able to pay. If the film worked, there was no problem. So producers would share their risk with the performers but not, naturally, the profit. More

Salman Ahmad, lead singer of Pakistani band Junoon, on Sufism, jihad and peace


Sally Quinn in The Washington Post:

There is something unusually compelling about his combination of total coolness, gentle innocence and self-deprecating humor. At 46, he still has a child’s heart. At last year’s Brookings Institution conference on Muslim-American relations, in Doha, Qatar, he sort of owned the place: With every appearance, he was immediately surrounded by admiring wonks, wanting to bask in his aura of peaceful energy. There is even a healing quality about him. Perhaps it’s because he has just been dowsed.

Samina, Ahmad’s wife, whom he met and fell in love with at age 17, is a holistic health counselor. Both are, in fact, physicians–though he had always wanted to be a musician, his parents persuaded him to become a doctor. She’s also accomplished in the kitchen and for six years had her own cooking show on television. She was, he says, the Martha Stewart of Pakistan. Samina recently learned to dowse, which is done with a pendulum-like mechanism. “It’s like prayer,” he says. “It uses positive energy from the universe. It’s not distant from the Muslim tradition.”

“I know,” he says with a laugh, “that it sounds like hocus-pocus, and I was skeptical at first. It’s like a spiritual ouija board. It raises people’s energies.” He says it’s certainly hard to describe, and that it’s not like the divining rods that westerners used to find water. His wife started dowsing him in June, and when she does, he recites a Muslim prayer: I seek refuge in the Lord of Daybreak. He focuses on a specific issue that may be bothering him, making him melancholy or anxious. “It’s a cathartic process,” he explains. “Through prayer and talking, you lift yourself out of it.” More:

Lunch with Shah Rukh Khan

From The Financial Times:

I wait to meet Khan in the coffee shop at the Courthouse Hotel, off Regent Street in central London. A former magistrates’ court, its grey façade and quiet lobby feel too restrained for a Bollywood superstar.

I had been warned earlier in the day that the star was feeling unwell and that lunch would be delayed. Eventually, after a three-hour wait, I am ushered up to the star’s suite on an upper floor, where Khan, looking tired, greets me warmly.

He is wearing a slim-fitting black suit, a sky-blue shirt with open-necked white collar and shiny black shoes. He plays with his glasses as we talk.

We go into the sitting room of Khan’s suite, a wood-floored, wood-panelled room with armchairs grouped around a coffee table and windows overlooking the street below. The hotel has set up a small buffet table, and a waiter puts rice and chicken curry on a plate for Khan, who normally spurns carbs to maintain his six-pack. He has made an exception for this lunch.

I ask the waiter for chicken and rice with extra lentils and salad on the side. We eat with our plates in our laps, until Khan breaks off to light a cigarette. More:

Casualty and Holby perform ‘Jai Ho’

From BBC:


When Jewish women were the leading ladies of Indian cinema


Above, Nadira a.k.a. Florence Ezekiel in Raj Kapoor’s Shri 420.

From Tablet, an online magazine of Jewish news, ideas, and culture (via Ultrabrown):

Rose Ezra. Ruby Myers. Farhat Ezekiel Nadira. From the earliest years of Bollywood, these and other Jewish actresses garnered starring roles. And while they may have looked somewhat exotic to moviegoers, they came from Baghdadi Jewish families who had been living in India for decades. Reporter Eric Molinsky speaks to film scholars, as well as friends and relatives of these once-beloved but now mostly forgotten stars of Indian cinema, to find out how they became the “go-to girls” for leading female roles in the 1920s, ’30s, and beyond.

Click here to listen to fascinating lecture.

My life as an extra

Shubhangi Swarup in Open:

My career as an extra began when my friend, who was directing a music video on a shoestring budget, desperately sought fillers-in for her nightclub sequence. For free. With good intentions, I washed and conditioned my hair, wore a slinky dress at 9 am and showed up. Only to be insulted by the make-up dudes, who thought my hair needed re-doing and caked my face like the Joker from Batman.

If watching life pass by is a hobby of yours, then I would recommend the patient, thought-provoking job of an ‘extra’. On the music video set that day, while I tried to catch up with my favourite author Naguib Mahfouz, some models snorted a line of coke or two (for inspiration, I’m assuming). As your role increases, the pressure to be inspired does too.

When it was time for my two minutes of fame—a shot where I try to seduce the singer away from his lady love—I screwed it up royally. I had to sing the following lyrics in a seductive way: ‘O mere raja, paas to aaja, dono milke naachenge.’ (Oh my king, come closer, let’s dance together.) My laughter got worse each time I’d repeat the lyrics, and I just couldn’t get myself to look into his eyes and sing those words with a straight face. In the end I was in splits, with tears in my eyes. More:

also read Adventures of Shubhangi