Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Yoga Yug

--Hari Kunzru decided not to go to the Maldives, after finding out the island is run by a questionable leader:

At the meeting I heard reports of torture, imprisonment and disappearances in these 'paradise' islands. Since 1978 it's been ruled by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. You can check him out, hob-nobbing with the British High Commissioner, former US president Bill Clinton, and other notables on www.presidencymaldives.gov.mv. Gayoom was elected for a record sixth five-year term in 2003 - though there were no other candidates - thus making him Asia's longest serving leader. His unprecedented popularity is assisted by his control over the Maldivian media and his practice of imprisoning people who criticise his regime. Government jobs and tourist revenue go to his cronies. Do the maths: per capita GDP is the highest in South Asia but nearly half of the population live on less than a dollar a day.

See my earlier post on Hari Kunzru's writing here.

--The Literary Saloon has been providing consistent coverage of the case against Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk (which will go before a judge in December). In their latest post, they have links to articles where Pamuk himself is quoted speaking about why he felt it important to mention the Armenian genocide. An earlier post also had a link to an Op-Ed by Salman Rushdie in the London Times.

--The winning essay in the Indian Express' essay competition on secularism is by Shashi Warrier, and is available here (more on it soon).

--Dilip D'Souza, one of the judges for the Indian Express competition, also posts other shortlisted essays in the competition here and here. (I linked to Uma's essay last week)

--B. K. S. Iyengar, one of the chief proponents of the exercise regime known as Yoga, is visiting the U.S., where he is apparently only a notch less famous than the Dalai Lama. Click on the link; the picture at Rediff is sure to cause a chuckle.

--Also visiting the U.S. are Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Preity Zinta, and a long list of Bollywood stars. They are filming a big Karan Johar picture in New York, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, which I'm sure will be as unexciting and overblown as every other Karan Johar movie (and sadly, I must admit that I've seen quite a few of them!). Rediff is apparently now paying U.S. based paparazzi to get 'snaps' of them. You know you've arrived when...


Blogger pennathur said...

Yoga is not an exercise regime - not even merely one. Asana - roughly speaking "right posture of rest" is one of the eight parts of Yoga. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi are these.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous DesiDancer said...

Don't even get me started on Kabhie Alvida Na Kehna or Jaaneman, currently shooting in NY/NJ... the way they're handling the desi & non-desi extras casting and dancer casting is something like the clowns in the VW bug act at the circus.

sigh. Alas, Shah Rukh Khan will have to go on without me ;)

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Rani said...

DesiDancer, tell us more. I got all these emails about extra casting and dancer casting (I am a dancer, though not a professional one like you), and was curious as to how it all worked.

Amardeep, I too have seen too many 'Karan Johar' movies. (I promise myself I will never, ever do it again, yet, somehow...) Karan Johar says, though, KANK will be 'different.' He claims he was moved by 'Black' and wants to make a 'different' sort of movie. He said that his previous movies relied purely on star power rather than story (duh!) and that KANK will be unique. We'll see...

10:48 AM  
Blogger Amardeep said...


Of course I know that Yoga is much more than exercise. What I meant was, that is how it is known in America. To really underscore it, I should have said something like "the American exercise regime known as 'Yoga'" ... or something like that.

And DesiDancer, I second Rani's request. I've heard some interesting stories about the 2nd gen 'handlers' they've hired to manage crowds while filming on location in NYC.

But do get started on the extras and dancers! (If Salaam Namaste is any indication, I bet they're going for blond & busty... People of Indian origin and people who can actually dance need not apply)

Rani, There is a movie you should see, called "Bollywood Calling." It's a funny, low-budget satire on filmmakers who claim their latest film is "different." (They all say it, you should never believe it.)

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Rani said...

Amardeep, 'Bollywood Calling' is on my (long) list of movies to watch. Soon, soon.

More KJ quotes about KANK: "It hasn't been easy. In terms of characters this is truly new territory for me."

"I hate it when I'm asked if my films are for NRI audiences. I make films for Indians everywhere from Bihar to Birmingham. 'Kabhi Alvidaa Na Kehna' will be no exception. But it will be a far more intimate study of human relationships than any of my films."

"In terms of relationships this is a ménage-a-four. You must understand 'Kabhi Alvidaa...' is one film which isn't about getting the stars together. I admit 'K3G' was guilty of that. But in my new film the stars will cease to be stars. The characters will take over completely. There're no major confrontation scenes, no drama, no dips and highs..."

Umm, yeah.

Yeah, what's with the busty blonde extras in films NOT set in India? Why don't those song-and-dance sequences include people of Indian origin and people who can actually dance? Amardeep, I think I said this when you were blogging at SM, but do you have any thoughts on how/why diasporic Indians are portrayed/stereotyped in mainstream Bollywood film?

2:13 PM  
Blogger Suvendra Nath Dutta said...

I second this Rani's request. I'd love to hear a Dalrymple'esqu diasporic tail wagging the mainstream film discussion. Although I must admit, I am confused by the diaspora's interesting in bad Hindi films. Much as I was confused by effusive commentary on them by chinese and russian fellow students when I first arrived in the US.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous SMR said...

"There're no major confrontation scenes, no drama, no dips and highs [in my new film]..."

Unnngh oh how I hate Karan Johar! The man is dreaming if he thinks his disposable candy floss flicks implicate any modicum of real drama!! Amitabh dying in Agneepath is drama. Facile drivel (like the hero dying of some bogus disease in the utterly pointless KHNH) interspersed with bubble gum pop ain't drama. God when will Bollywood fans be delivered from this man?

[/end rant].

DesiDancer - I'm adding my voice to the chorus. Details please!

5:17 PM  
Blogger pennathur said...

How do you manage to bat back my angry objections so gently? Again?

As for KJ's latest after the mediocre Kal Ho Na Ho it was Alvida time. This is simply hopeless. Can't the NY/NJ desis folks find something to fawn over? And when will Bollywood women stop dyeing their hair brown/blond/platinum? My daughter is besotted with the idea of brown hair even after a colleague shocked said, "But dear you have such lovely dark hair! Why would you want to color it?" OTOH in Toronto my aunt tell me that her Swedish-Canadian colleague hasn't still gotten over the shock of her daughter's dyeing her blond hair jet-black!

10:03 PM  
Blogger pennathur said...

No fisticuffs over the definition of Yoga? What a disappointment. I will keep trying. Some day you will be provoked into a silly argument. Until then relish your victories in the battle to stay polite, and reasonable.

The BKS picture is really funny. BKS's brother-in-law's yoga centre (run by his children) in Madras, Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram is still going strong. No leaping leopards and crouching cats. KYM is the original and is a great place to learn Yoga. No movie stars either.

10:12 PM  
Anonymous DesiDancer said...

now i'm afraid I hyped it too much... it's not so juicy as it is I'm sick of KANK already and it's just started shooting.

Let's see. Mostly my gripe is that nobody seems to know who is in charge. I'd gotten some calls *months* ago about how they were casting non-desi dancers for an Amitabh sequence in the movie, to be shot in India. They weren't going to pay, but they'd cover expenses and hospitality for the shoot and rehearsals. I'd been working with one "casting person" who actually became a second, then a third then a fourth casting person. I have no idea to this day who is actually in charge on this film.

So some of my dancers go to the audition, which had a gauri choreographer teaching a combination to KHNH's "Maahi Ve". Except that the choreography was a cross between Arthur Murray ballroom and the bend-and-snap move from Legally Blonde. (not lying!) It was really heinous. All these broadway wanna-be chicks went for the audition, but I couldn't help thinking "why would *you* take this gig, spend 2 weeks in India, and work on a project that NOBODY you know is going to see??" go figure.

They were supposed to hold call-backs, as well as auditions for desis to dance in other dance sequences. That never happened, since shooting resumed on Jaaneman. (apparently Salman Khan was allowed to leave the country again...) THAT project was a complete nightmare. We auditioned 4 times, for 4 different people, for the same dance sequence. They called it "salsa" but damn if it wasn't really crappy ballet-style stuff. Oh but all these western dances are the same, hena ji? :P

The usual irritations- getting emails approximately 12 hours before the shoot day commences, asking if you're available. No sense of scheduling, planning, etc. Whoever scheduled SRK's appearance at the Eagle theatre in Jax Hts last week totally dropped the ball-- there were fans waiting in the pouring rain from 6pm and supposedly at 9pm he ran out, waved from the car, and the whole crew took off.

Could tell you more, but it's all basically the same. (and this isn't my blog) From the experiences of (not) working with both of these productions, and another production, I seriously wonder how on earth any of these movies get made. So disenchanted with the industry... it's like somebody told me there's no Santa Claus.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Suvendra Nath Dutta said...

Desidancer, why don't you have a log? Sounds like it would be fascinating. Your world sounds utterly different from the one I inhabit with hardly any intersection.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous DesiDancer said...

Bonus story:
several of us get called yesterday for KANK shooting today. WITH Mr. Shah Rukh Khan himself. However, today being fasting days for both Ramadan and Karwa Chauth, I don't know how they'll get people today...

Sorry Shah Rukh, hope you understand my husband is more important to me than you are ;)

8:57 AM  
Anonymous SMR said...

Thanks for the stories. Quite disappointing, esp with all the recent stories about bollywood's new found professionalism. How DO they manage all those songs in all those movies? ("functioning anarchy" is a term that springs to mind again)

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patanjali says only that ne should adopt a comfortable posture (asana). So theoretically, one can be doing Raja Yoga on the bus. The contortions are later--medieval, if you will--elaborations.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Rani said...

More on KANK and Janeman at Rediff.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Desi Dancer -- I can totally relate, I got a call to be an extra in the movie 12 hours before it was supposed to be shot ... when I mentioned to the casting agency that the notice was extremely short, she was actually apologetic. The casting agency that called me is an American outfit and according to her even they don't get the notice for seeking extras more than a day in advance. I read BombayJen's blog at BombayJen.net and decided that waiting around in holding rooms and putting up with overbearing security guards is not something I was willing to do. Although I totally respect and understand Bombay Jen's decision to travel 800 miles to be an extra. But really, I wasn't cine-struck enough to stand around only to be background scenary.

But there's tons of people trying to figure out how to be an extra and how to meet the stars and get autographs. All that I've read has made a big deal out of keeping the hotel where they're staying secret. But if you just read a couple of articles, it's pretty easy to figure out that 90% likelihood is that the "stars" are staying at the Radission Lexington on 48th and Lex. I don't live in NYC anymore and have a day job that pays too damn well to go hang out as a groupie, but it amazes me that the people so eager for celebrity sightings have not figure this out ... pass along my "hint" to those who might be searching for the stars :-)

10:57 AM  
Anonymous yoga teacher said...

Yoga is a journey of self discovery throughout life. Each person can define it for themselves.

10:54 AM  

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