Comedian Hari Kondabolu appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman last night and looked completely at home. In typical Kondabolu fashion, the comic covered everything from the time his father was mistaken for a cab driver, the immigration debate, and the racial demographics of the United States — all in under 6 minutes.
Another Example of How Viral Videos Usually Aren’t the Best Idea: The low-cost airline SpiceJet is in a lot of hot water after a video of an on-air Holi dance that reportedly took place midway through a Bangalore to Goa flight went viral. Mint reports that the video caught the attention of India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation and they were not impressed. As one anonymous official told the paper:
“They conducted eight flights on which there was dance in the aisle area harming passenger safety. The flights were reduced to a mockery, the centre of gravity of the aircraft could have been impacted,” the official said. “Mobiles were used to capture the show in violation of our rules. The dance could have provoked passengers into unruly behaviour. The captain came out and was dancing outside the cockpit.”
SpiceJet could have its license suspended because of the incident. You can judge the safety of the dance for yourself below (note that at around 30 seconds in you can see a member of the cockpit crew clearly enjoying the show):
Watch Danny’s Pudi’s Directoral Debut: Good news for fans of Danny Pudi and Marquette basketball — ESPN has put Pudi’s short documentary Untucked online. The film focuses on Marquette’s 1977 championship team and their iconic ‘untucked’ jerseys, which were designed by player (and fashion major) Bo Ellis. “It was kind of like a mini-tuxedo, but shorter,” was how one former player described the look of the uniform. It was also great to see the evolution of the jersey through the ages. The entire 15-minute film can be seen below. [ESPN]
India Urged to Declassify Report on Indo-China War: It’s been 52 years since the 1962 Indo-China War, yet an Indian army report on what went wrong remains classified. While parts of the report were leaked online earlier this week, those excerpts were quickly taken down. The Times of India and other major Indian papers and journalists are among those who are calling for the report’s release. [BBC]
British Baby Born in Pakistani Jail Will Remain There for Near Future: I see a Locked Up Abroad episode based on this story in the future. Khadija Shah, a 26-year-old British Pakistani woman, was pregnant when she was arrested for attempting to smuggle heroin in 2012. Her daughter Malaika was born inside the Adaila jail in Rawalpindi 16 months ago and has remained there with her mother ever since. [Daily Mail]
Sometimes I just want an oversized T shirt, boxer shorts, unkempt hair and unibrows.
I want armpit hair long enough to plait,
I want a clean face without a trace of make up
I want to look the way I do when I wake up.
The legendary singer, songwriter and activist Pete Seeger died on Monday at the age of 94. Scroll.in has a wonderful post on the multiple ways Seeger’s songs — particularly his civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome” — influenced Indian and Bangladeshi popular and protest music.
But most interesting of all was this recording from Seeger’s 1963 visit to India in which he sings the classic bhajan “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram.” While performing at the Academy of Fine Arts in Calcutta, Seeger announced, “I’d like to sing you a song that I learned from two students from India who were studying in America a few years ago. I probably won’t sing it exactly right, but it’s been one of my favorite songs ever since.”
“If I sing it wrong, you just go ahead and help me out like it’s supposed to be,” he advised the audience before beginning. (I actually thought his pronunciation was pretty good, what do you think?)
It’s been three years since actor Imran Khan first teamed up with director Punit Malhotra on the hit film I Hate Luv Storys. Khan and Malhotra recently collaborated again for their latest film Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, which opens in theaters today.
Khan plays Sriram Venkat, a disconnected young man who realizes that he has to change his life if he wants to win the affections of Dia Sharma (Kareena Kapoor Khan). We spoke to Imran Khan recently during the New York stop of his press tour. A slightly edited transcript of our conversation is below.
Congrats on the film. I know you were born here in the United States. How does it feel when you come back? Do you feel American at all?
I wasn’t just born here, I went to high school in Sunnyvale, California, and then I moved back to India and then I came back here and moved to LA and went to school here as well. I’ve kind of been back and forth for the longest time.
I never felt American. My friends, my family are back in India, so I’ve always self-identified as Indian. I feel like…somewhere emotionally or culturally that I belong there.
Do you feel at least a tiny bit at home here?
I feel like I understand the culture better than some people. I feel like I can blend in.
Great. So I was really struck by this film because it’s not only a love story, but it’s also a personal journey. Can you talk about Sriram’s personal journey and displaying that on screen?
There’s a tendency in Hindi films — we like to feel that our heroes are larger than life, basically superhuman. And I’ve never personally as an actor have never been drawn to those characters. They don’t excite me. I like flawed characters. I like characters that you can relate to, that you can look at them and think that you probably know that person.
Which is why I like Sriram. He’s not a very good guy, he’s selfish, he’s self-involved, he’s a party boy. He doesn’t really care about anyone other than himself. And the film is about this growth that he has. In order to win back the girl that he wants — the girl he wants to be with — he realizes that he has to grow up, he has to mature.
I find those characters more compelling.
So these characters are better than an action hero, super hero type?
Even an action hero — you know, Hindi movie heroes, for whatever reason they tend to be absolutely perfect in every way. The greatest guy, the greatest husband, the greatest lover, the greatest everything. They are larger than life. It’s not necessarily that it’s an action hero, it’s just that perfection…[Khan makes a face].
There’s a lot of social justice in this movie and I know that in your family, your uncle Aamir Khan in particular, does a lot of social justice work. Do you connect to those messages at all?
Personally I kind of draw a line, I kind of separate my personal life from my movies. I’ve never understood — I’ve never felt a need to have any kind of social relevance or meaning. It’s all well and good if you want to put that in your movie and you feel there’s a need. But I don’t feel like there’s any requirement or compulsion.
For me, a movie is just about entertaining people. Making them cry, thrilling them, scaring them. Whatever that may be. Any kind of social activism, social justice work, the reason to do that is because you want to. You believe in it and you’re compelled to do that from within. For me, I separate them.
What’s a story about working with Kareena that people would not know?
Kareena is a very… frustrating actor to work with. Because, she’ll sit on set and not pay attention to the director at all. So, the director is just running through the character’s emotional turmoil and explaining how [her character] has just broken up with her boyfriend and she’ll just be like [here Khan mimics typing away on a Blackberry while in a completely different world.] Just scrolling through her Blackberry and just looking up and saying “uh huh, uh huh.” And I’m sitting here looking at her and thinking “She has no idea what she’s doing. She has no idea what is going on.”
But then the director rolls the camera and calls action and it’s like a light comes on. It will blow you away — and this has happened more than once. And it’s so good that I’m in the scene with her and I forget my line.
And just before it’s like [Khan does his Kareena-on-a-Blackberry imitation again]. It’s frustrating. You swear that she’s not paying attention and then — [He snaps his fingers] — she nails it.
And then you have me who sits there with a script and [He flips through an imaginary script], with my nose to the grindstone and working, working, working and she just breezes in and makes us all look bad.
So you can’t be on your Blackberry and then just jump into a scene? You have to be in character the whole time?
I can’t. I have to plan it all out and be in the zone. She just switches on and makes us all look bad.
And I know that your wife also has a small role in the film?
She’s in the background. You’ll never see her. (laughs) Avantika has tended to be very friendly with most of my directors. It’s always kind of — the films always have a very handmade feel. Friends and family hanging out and making a film and having fun together. So there are times that she has turned up in the backgrounds of films.
If you actually look around [Khan gestures around the hotel suite set up for his press interviews] a lot of these guys have been with me a long time. I feel like it’s very important to have a team that has a personal stake in my work. My makeup artist, my hairstylist, they’ve been with me since Jaane Tu… They know me, they like me. So for them it’s not just a job. They do personally want to be around and make sure I look my best. That counts for a lot.
And obviously you’ve worked with director Punit Malhotra before on I Hate Luv Storys. How is this film different? You’ve both grown up in a way since then. Does it feel different?
It does. I do have to admit that I’ve been very impressed with Punit’s growth. You expect a director to grow from film to film, step by step. But Punit seems to have jumped a couple of steps since then. His craft and his control on the film was a lot more than what I would have expected from someone’s second film. It’s what you’d expect from a third film or a fourth film. Being a friend, it makes me very happy that he’s grown so much.
Were you surprised at the success of I Hate Luv Storys? It’s one of those movies people have a connection to.
I had a good feeling about it while we were making it, I’ve got to tell you. I got the sense that we were making a film that would be hard to dislike. It’s simple, sweet, genuine and honest. It’s hard to dislike.
And does Gori Tere Pyaar Mein have some of those elements?
The first half is certainly going to be reminiscent of that. Because it’s a space that Punit and I had visited before, so we kind of used it as a springboard. So the first half is going to have a similar feel, but the second half takes a completely different turn into the rustic and rural.
And what was the ‘rustic and rural’ like? Did you have to prepare at all?
No, because it is a fish out of water story. It’s this urban guy who’s never been out of his comfort zone and now he’s in the middle of a village. He’s never dreamed that life could be like that. And it is one of those situations that’s inherently funny. Ripe for comedy. Really, anything you do in that situation is going to be funny.
When you were in high school here, did you feel like a fish out of water then? Did you play sports or act in plays?
I was in AV Club. No, no plays. At that point, I wanted to be a director, I wanted to be a filmmaker. So I kind of focused my energy towards that. So writing and AV Club. But I did feel a bit like a fish out of water in high school. I never quite fit in.
So when did you decide to focus on acting rather than directing?
Weirdly enough, I went to film school to train as a director and a writer. The acting gig came up because I ran into Abbas Tyrewala, who was making Jaane Tu… and he offered me a role. It was straight out of left field. I wasn’t thinking [about acting]. He did one of those [Khan imitates Tyrewala pointing at him], “You! You should act in my film!” And I said, “Me?”
I stumbled sideways into it. It was a mistake.
But it worked out.
Yeah, it’s weird how it worked out.
I was actually at the press conference for Break Ke Baad 3 years ago, and that was just after you got engaged and were about to get married. Has marriage changed you at all or affected the roles you take?
[Vigorously shakes head.] No. People ask me all the time, “What’s it like working with Kareena? You’ve worked with her before she got married, you worked with her after.” And I don’t know how to answer that.
Do you think marriage changes people?
No more than a haircut does.
Well, everyone makes it sound like a life altering thing?
I think those people are not actually married. It changes your life as much as you want it too. I truly would compare it to a haircut. It only changes your life if you want it to.
But then a haircut grows out and then you can start over and change it.
That’s what I’m saying. That how big a change it is. You sign a document, you get a piece of paper. What matters is your commitment to someone.
So do you find it annoying that so many people ask you about your wedding?
I find it irrelevant. It’s like asking about dinner.
A new Pakistani-American comic book heroine: Marvel Comics just announced that its newest series will feature a lead character named Kamala Khan, who is “a teenage Muslim girl living in Jersey City.” (The New York Times)
Mission to Mars: India launched it’s first rocket to Mars on Tuesday. The Mars Orbiter Mission, or Mangalyaan, is expected to reach the Red Planet in September 2014. Reuters reports that “[t]he probe’s 4.5 billion rupee ($73 million) price tag is a fraction of the cost of NASA’s MAVEN mission, which is due to launch this month.” Additionally, while some critics say India should not be spending its resources on a space mission, writer Leo Mirani argues in Quartz that the country “is quite capable of sending a rocket to Mars and fighting poverty at the same time.” (Reuters, Quartz)
Are we running out of coconut water? You may have noticed that coconut water has suddenly become mainstream over the past couple of years. Demand is so high that the U.N.’s Food & Agriculture Organization warns that it is outpacing the rate of production in Asia, where approximately 85 percent of the world’s coconuts are grown. (Quartz)
A call to boycott the Maldives’ famed resorts: Human rights activists in the Maldives took over the Twitter hashtag for the World World Travel Market this week while urging travelers to boycott the country’s resorts. As The Guardian reports, the activists completely hijacked the hashtag by “posting pictures of alleged Maldives police brutality and criticising one of the country’s most powerful hoteliers.” (The Guardian)
The Brooklyn Public Library celebrates Diwali: The youngest patrons of the Brooklyn Public Library learned how to draw rangoli designs on Monday. Check out what they came up with in this post. (Bookish Desi)
New music from Raje Shwari: The Timbaland protege recently released a new music video for her song “Get Your Life.”
The Pete Holmes Show debuted on TBS last night and one of the very first guests was one of Holmes’ old friends, fellow comedian Kumail Nanjiani. The pair reminisced about their early days as comics, when they would travel to various college towns of the country together while on tour. Nanjiani then urged Holmes to tell the audience what he used to call him back then, promising the audience that they would then get to decide if it was “racist or super racist.”
For his part, Holmes insisted that everything said back then was said inside their “friendship bubble.” Watch the segment below and decide for yourself.
Also check out how Nanjiani answered when Holmes asked, “What happens when you die?”
CBS announced on Wednesday that it would be cancelling We Are Men, the low-rated comedy starring Kal Penn, Tony Shalhoub and Jerry O’Connell. The network decided to can the show after just two episodes, making it only the second show to be canceled this season (the first was ABC’s Lucky 7.) There are no plans to broadcast the remaining unaired shows.
A sampling of coverage of the cancellation is below.
TV.com: “CBS Cancels We Are Men, Mercifully Freeing Kal Penn and Tony Shalhoub; Mike & Molly Will Take Its Place”
EW.com: “We Are Men. We are low rated. We are gone.”
So what’s next for Penn and the rest of the cast? That’s still unclear. We liked this scenario proposed by TV.com’s Tim Surette: “Now Shalhoub and Penn can go do something better, like guest-star as romantic interests on The Mindy Project.” (Though Shalhoub is probably a touch too old to play a romantic interest for Mindy. He received news of the cancellation on his 60th birthday.)
Sad news for One Direction fans: Zayn Malik is officially off the market.
The 20-year-old is engaged to longtime girlfriend and fellow singer Perrie Edwards of Little Mix. Edwards raised eyebrows after she was spotted wearing a huge ring at the premiere of This Is Us, the new One Direction film, on Tuesday. The couple’s rep confirmed the engagement to the Mirror on Wednesday.
When asked by a local radio station about his thoughts on being engaged, Malik replied, “It’s cool, yeah. We’re really happy, it’s cool.”
The reaction to the engagement was swift on social media, with Malik’s teenage fans expressing both dismay and congratulations (the hashtag #congratszaynandperrie was a trending topic for hours). A sampling is below.
Aye haye has apna @zaynmalik got engaged to Perrie? Avsos girls, be strong…