Monday, April 09, 2007
The Beauty Academy of Kabul (2004)
Although not officially Bollywood, I figured any movie that shows a poster of Madhuri Dixit within the first 5 minutes is good enough for me to be considered a desi flick. The Beauty Academy of Kabul is a movie that my wife picked up randomly at our local Blockbuster. I had little interest in seeing it due to the fact that the subject matter (beauty parlors & Afghanistan) was not high on my 'must see' topics for movies. But it turns out this movie is much more than that and was one of the more interesting and moving movies I have seen this year. I had no idea that Afghanistan was such a progressive country prior to the Soviet occupation in the mid 80's or that it's citizens had so many cultural freedoms. And whatever your position on war, after seeing this movie I for one agree that Afghanistan (and humanity as a whole) is better off without the Taliban. In addition to putting crippling restrictions on what women could do in society they also banned all forms of movies, music and song. Learning about this amazing group of women who stood firm, literally risking their lives at times to bring beauty to their small corner of the world, is truly inspiring. For those fluent in Hindi/Urdu, you will be able to catch many words & phrases that are familiar to you - not enough to not need the subtitles but enough to appreciate the Pashto language. And just for fun, keep a running count of all the Bollywood actress posters in the movie - I got up to fifteen :)
To keep with the Middle Eastern theme of the post, today's song selection is Baaran by the band, The Third Planet, a multicultural band representing Italy, Algeria, Iraq and India. Their music seamlessly combines each of their heritages and adds a few more traditions besides. Lying behind their sound is the philosophy that disparate peoples have always, thoughout history, influenced each other's musical styles. The songs on this particular album (Kurdistani) are all upbeat with rhythms that are hard to resist. None of the songs are sung in English, so it's rather difficult to say what they might be singing about, but when you're dancing around your own living room, who really cares?
Finally, just wanted to give out a plug to a good friend - Sunkrish Bala. He is an actor (whom you may know from Greys Anatomy & My Name is Earl) whose new show Notes from the Underbelly debuts this Thursday (4/12) on ABC at 10 pm EST. According to him "the show chronicles the misadventures of young, hip thirtysomethings as they embark on life's greatest adventure (parenthood, not bungee jumping). I play a young father-to-be named Eric and it is very rare that actors of color are given the opportunity to play parts in which their ethnicity does not come into play. I can tell you that a good 50 percent of the auditions and parts afforded to me in the film and television industry require me to be rather conspicuously... well... ethnic. This new show has not once deferred to that lowest common denominator, I am just another proud dad-to-be and HILARITY ensues :) If you like what you see then write a letter to ABC letting them know how much you appreciate an actor-of-color playing an ethnically-ambiguous part on television, because yes, TV execs do read them." Check out more about Sunkrish & the show here