Über Desi

Keeping it real, desi ishtyle

Kajra Re – at the Olympics?

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I must admit – I have been sneering at the Winter Olympics a bit , because it seems to be a white-wash – if you get my (snow?) drift. Skiing , curling ,luges etc  do not seem to encourage diversity.

The US Figure skating team of Meryl Davis and Charlie White , defending US champs, placed second at the time of writing with this rollicking Bollywood routine and made me happy :-) .I absolutely loved the costumes.

SeeBollywood routine via NBC.com

Jews in Bollywood

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Not unlike Hollywood of today, Jews were quite prominent in Bollywood in the early 20th century. [TabletMag]

ruby_myers_sulochana_1907-1983The TableMag, a Jewish magazine, has an interesting take on actors of Jewish origin in Bollywood movies, in the early half of the 20th century, particularly two leading ladies, Ruby Myers (Sulochana) and Farhat Ezekiel (Nadira).

Of course, we all know that Raja Harishchandra by Dadasaheb Phalke, was the first Indian movie. A side story to this movie is the fact that the movie had an all male cast, even the female characters were male, largely due to the restrictions placed on Hindu and Muslim women by Indian society in those days. To alleviate this issue, movie makers started featuring women from Anglo-Indian and Baghdadi Jewish backgrounds. Ruby Myers who went by the artiste name, Sulochana, was one such Jewish female actor, who was popular in the 1920s and 1930s. The irony of Ruby a.k.a Sulochana’s Bollywood career is that she played the chaste Hindu woman in a lot of movie because Hindu women were “too chaste” to act in movies.

Farhat Ezekiel a.k.a Nadira, came along in the 1950s but she was a trendsetter in her own right. For starters, her debut movie Aan was Hindi cinema’s first technicolor movie. She was known for her choice of, what in those days were, unconventional roles.

The feisty and boisterous Nadira not only took leading roles, but also went on to accept negative roles, for example the one in “Elaan”, and the one in “Shri 420″ containing the song “Mud mud ke na dekh mud mud ke…”, which continues to be popular even now. And who can forget “Ajeeb dastaan hai yeb…” from “Dil Apna aur Preet Parai”, picturized on Nadira, Raaj Kumar and Meena Kumari.

Nadira thus reigned supreme in the 1950s and 1960s. Thereafter, she appeared in character roles where she played the mother, an aunt, or older woman, adding poise and dignity to these roles. And it was in “Julie” (1975), in which she played the leading lady’s (Laxmi) Anglo-Indian mother that she bagged the award for “Best Supporting Actress”.

For our readers’ viewing pleasure, a trip down memory lane to one of Nadira’s greatest hits, “Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh” from the movie “Shree 420″.

When iTunes discovers Bolly-chic (Update)

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Warning: An alert reader, Arti, points out that this may just be a concept being floated around. We’ve still been unable to determine if this is an official Apple campaign.

iTunes style ad features the Bollywood song “Bachna ae haseeno” in the iTunes trademark style featuring the protagonist with the earphones dancing against a technicolor silhouette. (tip Kiran via email)

I blogged about cross-pollination between American Top 20 and Bollywood filmi music a few days back. This iTunes style video seems to be inspired by the recent movie with the same name as the song title which was inspired by the song title of a 70s movie, which incidentally featured the father of the protagonist from the 2008 movie. The music director of that 70s movie, no disrespect to him, often derived inspiration from 60s rock-n-roll and 70s disco songs and judging by the disco-jazz fusion it’s hard to debate some influence right there. It’s funny how these things come a full circle.

Fans of Bollywood music accustomed to music piracy may scoff at the idea of downloading paid Bollywood music on iTunes. But Apple could probably try to cash in on the Bollywood mania unleashed by the recent success of “Slumdog Millionaire” and it’s soundtrack, which probably means the target audience is more likely Americans who’re taking a new liking to this whole “Bollywood thingy”.

iTunes style ad (2009)

Bachna ae Haseeno (2008 movie)

Bachna ae haseeno (1977 song)

Bollywood channels Bush

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After the economic downturn, America is all set to experience a downturn of another kind, a downturn in bushisms. With Bush’s 8 years in office drawing to a close, late night comedians are dreading the prospect of an era bereft of bushisms.

Bushisms hit Bollywood
img: via BBC

But Bollywood seems to be riding the Bush train for all its worth, with a movie featuring Bush titled “The President is Coming” based on Bush’s 2006 visit to India. [BBC]

The film, an adaptation of a play by the same name by Anubhav Pal, is about the visit of Mr Bush to India in 2006 when, among other diplomatic and political forums, there was a meeting scheduled with the bright young things of the New India.

That is where fact ends and the imagination of the writer takes over.

The film depicts a contest to identify one such bright Indian, less than 30 years of age, who will get to shake hands with the president. Six take up the challenge and will do anything to grab the chance.

Apparently this is also where creativity runs out and confusion takes over.

Ramesh Sippy, the producer of this movie sounds a bit confused while talking about the movie.

“It is a fictitious tale. It is a comedy. It is about the president wanting to meet young Indians and how people in India get all excited.

“The real story is between the characters who want to be the one [to shake hands] and their relationships, their jealousies. It is all in good fun.”

Bush wanted to meet young India, people wanted to shake hands, relationships, jealousies, can someone please translate that for me?

Not that the director Kunal Roy Kapoor does a better job of explaining:

“People in India are now warming to light satire in films and we hope this works. We have shot it in a ‘mockumentary style’ which adds another dimension to the film.”

To cut a long story short, the movie appears to be a satire about six young people competing to meet President Bush on his India visit.

The movie uses some real footage from Bush’s India visit. Will this movie successfully incorporate satire based on the soon-to-be-former POTUS in a periodic “mocumentary” style movie or is this just a lame attempt to milk the last vestiges of the laugh-a-minute Bush presidency, remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, there will be plenty of bushisms, speaking of which.

American director to make Bollywood ichhadaari snake movie

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Finally a story worthy enough for Über Desi. [HT]

Do I make you horny, baby?
img: via HT

Just so this post does not come off an inside joke, a lil’ Über Desi history lesson for the curious minded. Unlike other blogs, forums, websites and what have you, Über Desi was the brainchild of two drunk FOBs and that is what sets us apart. Also, before we were bloggers, we tried our hands at a bunch of motley professions and hobbies, including but not restricted to effigy manufacturing and snake charming. These days, while we often discuss politics, entertainment, racial and social issues and other such serious topics and matters of utmost import, we also periodically pay homage to our humble beginnings. This is more than evident not only in our collection of banners and (shameless plug) apparel but also in our choice of quirky but humorous stories.

Here’s one such story: Jennifer Lynch to direct “Naagin – The Snake Woman”. Much opportunity for fun-making awaits after the jump. [HT]

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