The two-woman show, “Cowgirl & Indian,” written and performed by comediennes Margee Magee and Angeli Millan, finishes up its three-week run at the L.A. Comedy festival this Friday, May 16. Magee and Millan met at The Groundlings Improv/Comedy school. As they embarked on their careers in acting they became co-conspirators in comedy.
“Despite how different we might appear, we’ve really endured a lot of the same experiences as actresses, comediennes, dating, despite various stereotypes that we both get put upon us,” says Millan. If you’re in L.A. this Friday and curious to know more about their satirical take on the shared experiences of a “Cowgirl” and “Indian,” visit the show’s website for event details and ticket reservations. Millan adds that the show will include experimental comedy, running the gamut from sitcom spoofing to powerpoint presentations of their lives, plus audience interaction and “a male mannequin taking center stage to tell of our exploits with the opposite sex.”
The 2008 Indian Film Fesival of Los Angeles (IFFLA), starting tomorrow April 22-27, includes a tribute (Update: “Due to a family emergency, the Tribute to Madhuri Dixit has been canceled.”) to Bollywood dancing queen and Padma Shri recipient Madhuri Dixit who will appear in person for discussion. Two films released in 1997 will display her diversity, The Death Sentence (Mrityudand), set in a remote village in Bihar where class conflicts affect the personal lives of three women, and the dance dramedy My Heart is Crazy (Dil To Pagal Hai) featuring Dixit as a new dancer who falls in love with her troupe’s director (a pre-Lux SRK).
As usual, IFFLA has an impressive program of films to pique my curiosity (plus one that I can heartily recommend—the charmingly hilarious Loins of Punjab). Here are a few:
“Silent Hues.” Veteran actress and former child star Rohini provides an emotional peek into the lives of child actors in the Indian film industry in this documentary.
“Beast.” Tagline: There’s more to the mousy Indian girl in the next cubicle than meets the eye. This short is by Geeta Malik—you may have seen another one of her shorts, Aunty Gs. Also interesting is her short doc on South Asians (in the US) and skin color, “Not Fair, Still Lovely.”
“Quamar — Working to Live.” In this documentary short, Quamar, a 10-year-old girl who works with her mother making bangles tells her story directly and with heartbreaking knowledge that her childhood (and future) may already be lost.
Previously: IFFLA 2007.
Plus: “Bollywood Comes to Hollywood for Sixth Annual IFFLA” (LA Weekly); “Madhuri Mania in Los Angeles” (IndiaInfo.com); “I was introduced to India early, watching Indian films in Greece as a teenager” (ScreenIndia.com’s interview with IFFLA Founder-Director Christina Marouda).
Known for his web site www.sikhpioneers.org documenting the history and culture of Punjabis and Sikhs in California and the Pacific Northwest, Tejinder Singh “Ted” Sibia, who recently died of leukemia at age 70, also took an active role in promoting the inclusion of Punjabi history in state textbooks and Punjabi language study at UC Davis. While heading UCD’s Shields Library research unit for biology and agriculture until his retirement in 2006, Sibia, who immigrated from Punjab in 1960, mentored Punjabi students and served as an ambassador of Punjabi culture on campus. “He wanted people to know who they were, what they were about,” said Carrie Rushby, his library assistant for 12 years (The Sacramento Bee).
His work online documenting Sikhs and Punjabis in North America is an extremely valuable resource that includes rare historical photographs of the Komagata Maru incident, the Gadar Party, an old photo of Sibia himself working in California’s peach orchards as a young man, and more recent photos of a group research trip to Angel Island in San Francisco bay, where his wife Manjeet, who with their daughter survives him, translated several words scratched in Punjabi on a wall of the historic immigration detention center.
Enthusiastic in his support of Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul, Google software engineer Vijay Boyapati flew down this past summer from Seattle to see Ron Paul speak live at his employer’s Mountain View, California, headquarters. (Vijay makes his appearance at 42:31, clad in Paul t-shirt and cap and and mentions that his check for Paul would be blank if it wasn’t for Uncle Sam’s restrictions.)
Boyapati’s support didn’t stop with the $2,300 check he wrote for Ron Paul that day. The 29-year-old left his employer a couple weeks ago to move to New Hampshire and work as a full-time volunteer. He created “Operation Live Free or Die” an online initiative to help canvass for Paul that is now seeking 1000 volunteers to come to the state. “I can’t express how excited I am to finally travel to New Hampshire and begin helping Ron Paul’s grassroots movement win the most important primary in the coming Presidential election,” wrote Boyapati on the site’s blog in a post entitled “New Hampshire or bust!”.
Australia-born Boyapati has lived in the U.S. for seven years and recently became a citizen. In a video interview he talks about Paul’s anti-war stance, respect for the Constitution and message of liberty (I think that last part is campaign-speak for limited government), among other things that drew him to the candidate.
Former Google Employee Engineers NH Ground Campaign For Ron Paul
2006 profile of Boyapati from his alma mater ANU
Mukhtar Mai is scheduled to appear in Sacramento on December 11 for an event presented by the Sacramento Valley Chapter of the California Credit Union League (see site for event details) and the Pakistani American Association of Greater Sacramento Valley. “An Evening with Mukhtar Mai: Building Schools of Hope Fundraising Event” includes a private dinner, public reception and opportunities to ask questions of Mukhtar Mai. Proceeds of this event go to the Mukhtar Mai School Fund to support the expansion, staffing and ongoing education of her schools.
Sentenced by tribesmen in Pakistan to be gang-raped because of an infraction supposedly committed by her brother, Mai rose to international acclaim in the years following by fighting back and testifying against her attackers and using her compensation to open schools in her village. She travels internationally to speak on behalf of women and continues to expand her schools.
Related: Mohammed Naqvi’s documentary on Mai, Shame, illustrates the international reception Mukhtar Mai has received as a cause célèbre. In this interview, Naqvi takes questions about the implications this international attention has had for her personal privacy and safety, as well as her mission of educating children in rural Pakistan.
Vanisha Mittal Bhatia, daughter of Indian-born, London-based steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, tops a list of heiresses compiled by Forbes of women under 40 ranked according to their father’s or mother’s most recent net worth. Vanisha is active in her father’s industrial empire, holding a seat on Mittal Steel’s board. Dad, whose net worth is estimated at $51 billion, threw his daughter what is believed to be the most expensive wedding in history, a $60 million, week-long extravaganza in 2005 for some 1,000 guests in Paris, including a performance by pop star Kylie Minogue.
Josie Ho Chiu Yi is another heiress on the list. Daughter of one of Hong Kong’s richest men Stanley Ho ($7 billion), she is known to fans of her indie rock music as Josie Ho. Two of the top heiresses, Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($11.5 billion), and Paige Johnson, daughter of Black Entertainment Television founders Robert and Sheila Johnson ($1 billion) will be competing against each other for a spot on the Olympic equestrian team.
A levitating Santa on a blissful yoga break is an Adbusters mascot for Buy Nothing Christmas.
Not a bad message to take to heart for the rest of the year, in addition to this season of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and free shipping deals.
At last month’s Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, film editor Geeta Gandbhir won one of the coveted winged statuettes for her work on Spike Lee’s HBO’ documentary “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts.” She won the Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Picture Editing in Nonfiction Programming and shared it with supervising editor Sam Pollard and editor Nancy Novack.
The film, which received three Emmys, portrays New Orleans in the wake of Katrina’s destruction with powerful music, imagery and words. It includes interviews from 100 people selected from diverse backgrounds, including Louisiana’s Governor Blanco and rapper Kanye West and has been described as the “opposite of a Ken Burns documentary.” (NYT). Clips: 1, 2,3, 4.
Read on to learn how Gandbhir, who has worked in the industry for over 15 years, got her start in editing, her other projects, and why babies and Emmys don’t mix.
How did you get interested and started in editing?
I originally worked in animation for a Harvard professor, until I met Spike Lee. He gave me a job as an intern in the edit department on his film “Macolm X” and that was the start of my edit career. I studied art and animation in college and have always been interested in storytelling through film and theater, so editing seemed to be perfect for me – telling stories through a visual medium. Read the rest of this entry »
To commemorate the upcoming Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Gandhi’s birthday, non-profit Saheli organized a 5K Run/Walk to Stop Violence Against Women in Burlington, Massachusetts, for Saturday, September 29, with co-sponsor Burlington Police Department (The Boston Globe). Over 1500 Indian residents live in the town according to the Institute for Asian American Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.
In Hindi Saheli means “a female friend; a shoulder to lean on,” explained Rita Shah, director of Saheli, which was founded in the Boston area 11 years ago and dedicates itself to helping South Asian women. The Run/Walk was planned to raise money for its Women’s Assistance Fund, which helps women on an emergency basis without requiring committee approval. The program assisted 23 women this year.
For more details on the organization, Saturday’s Run/Walk and to register visit Saheli online.
Abstraction-friendly rapper and producer Madlib has released a new album titled “Beat Konducta Vol. 3-4: In India,” released last month on the Stones Throw recording label and reviewed today in Dusted magazine. “In India” uses vocals, dialogue and music from Indian cinema, deconstructed and reworked into a pastiche that sharply differs from previous marriages of hip-hop and Bollywood. It’s unclear which track on the album matches the video below, but it’s still amusing and refreshing to see that there’s a little Tollywood, Kollywood and Mollywood in the mix.