Saturday, March 31, 2007

Shantaram Buzz

click to enlarge this Mira Nair
image from mondavi.ucdavis

Last week I was asked by a friend to do a web Search
for Mira Nair for her contact info. Seems she has her
sights set on a project concerning The Beatles.
Well, I have listed Mirabai Films on this Blog for
awhile now, so no problem there - the info was sent
out in a couple of minutes. That set me Googling for
Ms. Nair
and led me to the discovery of her current priority:
Shantaram the movie.

Now the only Shantaram in my memory was the director
of Prabhat Studios in Bombay where my father was employed
as an artist during the '50s. But at Google, Shantaram
turned out to be a semi-autobiographical novel

by an Australian named Gregory David Roberts.
Remember that name for it's bound to show up everywhere as
the days progress. Not only because the talent of filmmaker Mira Nair
is involved, but because it brings her together with one of Hollywood's
highest-grossing actors, Johnny Depp

AND with Bollywood's most-beloved on-screen hero,

Amitabh Bachchan
Briefly, Mr. Depp acquired the movie rights to the book and after
Ms. Nair was brought on as director, Amitabh was signed on.
So what did the author of Shantaram do to generate worldwide
interest in his book ?

According to a page on his personal website, Gregory David
Roberts did a whole lot of things. A lot more than can be expected
to be covered in the average Hollywood blockbuster (which this will
be, I predict). Born in Melbourne, Australia, Mr. Roberts was a
Student activist, heroin addict, armed robber, escaped convict,
smuggler, Bombay Mafia recruit, Bollywood casting director and actor,
established Rock singer and......that's giving away too much.

So anyway, this ever-enterprising ex-you-name-it gentleman

is all legal now and sitting on a gold mine since he decided to document
his adventures. This is one Pirate who's gone beyond the Carribean
and then some, and I suspect this is what motivated Johnny Depp
to take on yet another lovable-bad-boy part. And why would Amitabh
or anyone else for that matter refuse to get on board with Depp and Nair ?
The film's in pre-production through 2008. Stay tuned, the buzz gets deep.
In the meantime, I'll try and find out if there's really any Nair-Beatles project.

Official Shantaram site

Good but Unofficial Shantaram site

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

You Did It Again

From: "Susan McCue," <>

Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 3:51:02 PM
Subject: You Did It Again

The ONE Campaign

Dear Fred,

You did it again. You spoke up for the world's poorest people. Congress listened, and you scored a major victory.

Two weeks ago, ONE members made thousands of calls asking senators to support a $2.4 billion increase to the international affairs budget above and beyond the president's request. In just two days, 22 Senators signed onto a letter in support of this increase. Nevertheless, just days later, the Senate budget committee made the largest cut to the international affairs budget, the primary source of poverty fighting funding, in recent history. It not only lacked the additional $2.4 billion in poverty fighting funding we asked for, but cut below the president's request by a devastating $2.2 billion.

Senators Dodd (D-CT) and Smith (R-OR) responded quickly by offering a $2.2 billion amendment to restore the cut. ONE members responded to a request for urgent action and placed thousands of additional calls urging their senators to support this important amendment. The Senate heard those calls, and unanimously passed the amendment.

Congratulations on this incredible victory. Please take a moment to thank your senators.

By restoring this money, the Senate's official position would increase the international affairs budget by $3.7 billion over 2007 levels. This was the first step in what could be the greatest increase to the international affairs budget in recent history. We still need the House and Senate to agree on a final budget resolution and then appropriate the money later in the year, but this was the critical first step.

The success of this amendment comes on top of a string of great victories for ONE in recent months.

In the closing minutes of the 109th Congress in December, after hundreds of thousands of letters and phone calls, we renewed a special trade benefit within the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which saved hundreds of thousands of African apparel jobs.

Then in January, again by e-mailing, faxing, and calling your members of Congress in both the House and Senate, you were able to not only protect $1 billion in poverty-focused development assistance that was at risk, but Congress actually increased the funding to $1.45 billion.

Please take a moment to thank your senator for supporting this amendment to fight extreme poverty and global AIDS.

This string of successes is no accident. The dedication and hard work of over 2 million ONE members like you made this happen.

Thank you for your time. Thank you for your energy. And most of all thank you for uniting as ONE to become a powerful anti-poverty advocacy force. We are saving lives, changing the American political scene, and changing the world.

Thank you,

Susan McCue,

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bollywood Gets Cologne-oscopy

The Bollywood machine marches on, aiming at global market
saturation. The wonderful Blogging tool
that is Technorati
tracks this and other blogs for any
mention of Bollywood and it
seems that Virtual Poona
is now unofficially a Bollywood tracker:

Posts that contain
Bollywood per day for the last 30 days.
Technorati Chart

Get your own chart!

Okay, I acquiesce. I did it unconsciously. No, I didn't ! I need help!
But how to ignore stories like this one that documents the Bollywood
machinations inside the Agnes church, one of Cologne's most sacred
and beloved buildings ?

rom Deutsche Welle :
Cologne Does Bollywood But Not Everyone's Dancing

DW-world image

Apparently this is the tip of the iceberg for some burghers.
They are not amused or entertained, just shaken. And stirred.

Last year,
Indian film director Madusree Dutta in an interview
at the International Women's Film Festival, also in Cologne, said:

'Bollywood is killing Indian Cinema'

Previous Bollywood mentions in this blog

Like Arnold said, Ahhll be Bach.....

Saturday, March 24, 2007

India Traffic

Just a normal day driving on the streets of Hyderabad, India

The good news is no one was injured in the making of
this You Tube video.......this subject is a staple favorite !

I'm Having FON

First off, what I like about having FON is I got this free WiFi router, shipped
free via FedEx, as part of a giveaway to thousands of people worldwide.
No strings attached, don't want it, give it to someone who does.
Then I was given the opportunity to 'invite' three other persons to receive
a free FON router like I did. They in turn have the same 'invite' option, and
so on, thereby helping FON maintain its status as the
largest WiFi community
in the world. The router installation was super-fast and simple and I'm using
it all the time knowing that I have a security-enabled connection. But that isn't
the only good thing about being part of the FON community........

Martin Varsavsky is the brains behind FON, founded in November 2005,
a community-empowered company dedicated to building the world’s
largest global WiFi network bottom up, spreading the power of WiFi
around the world, with one million hot spots by 2010. Fon attracted
Skype, eBay and Google as partners and quickly became the largest
WiFi community in the world.
Martin is a long-time entrepreneur,
public speaker, philantrophist
and active blogger* to boot. A resident of
the US for many
years, he now lives in Europe.

*Martin on his personal experience with US vs. French Medical Care
- a definite eye-opener for many of us.

Visit the FON page and have some fun !

Friday, March 23, 2007

Brother John Mayer

click pic to enlarge

I'm sharing this one because it touches me that he
writes beautiful stuff like this, and gives us so much
to look forward to.

Daughters on You Tube videos
I know a girl
She puts the color inside of my world
But she's just like a maze
Where all of the walls all continually change
And I've done all I can
To stand on her steps with my heart in my hands
Now I'm starting to see
Maybe it's got nothing to do with me

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Oh, you see that skin?
It's the same she's been standing in
Since the day she saw him walking away
Now she's left
Cleaning up the mess he made

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Boys, you can break
You'll find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without the warmth from
A woman's good, good heart

On behalf of every man
Looking out for every girl
You are the god and the weight of her world

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too [x3]

Official John Mayer site

Monday, March 19, 2007

Shakespearana -wallah

Back in the old Bishops' School days in Poona, India*
I always looked forward to visits from the British Council -
sponsored Shakespearana troupe led by the legendary
Geoffrey Kendal and his wife Laura. After our lunch break
all the boys of this all-male bastion would sit on the floor of the
school Assembly Hall and be whisked away for a few hours into
a world of
old Bill's making. Time restraints did not permit
the dramatization of a complete play, but this only enhanced our
Shakespearan awareness since we were treated to enormous
slices from the vast output of
the Bard of Avon.

Many years later I watched
Shashi Kapoor** star in the first
film (IMDB link) Shakespeare-wallah
and realized that I had just seen a film based on real-life
characters from my school days. The Kendal daughters were
Jennifer and Felicity, who were to become BBC TV favorites of
mine in later years having already won my schoolboy admiration
for them in
A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice,
Macbeth, et al.

Which brings me many decades later (yes, I am that old) to the
BBC's Vincent Dowd who says that Shakespeare would be impressed
with a South Asian version of '
A Midsummer Night's Dream'

India Shakespeare play tours UK

*I am not alone in these recollections.
Deepak Sikand, Class of ’66-67 from Mayo College , New Delhi
: 'We would be taken to the Central Mess to watch the
Kendall family’s
Shakespearana’ perform short pieces from the Bard’s plays.
the young bachelor Shashi Kapoor kissing the beautiful Jenifer Kendall
on stage?
Those of you who went on to do your Senior Cambridge subsequently
were lucky
to do your Shakespearean play in your syllabus conducted by Jack.
I got to know all my Shakespeare, thanks to these plays.'

** Shashi KapoorInterviewed in 2005 by Poona's Deccan Herald

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Funky Yogi

This is me. '73. Pretty embarassing.

Now check out this Video:

Former Urban Species lead guitarist Yogi Naik plays a funky
on his sofa. Click this if you have a fast connection !
To say hello to Yogi write to yogiguitar@hotmail।com
To say hello to me or to post comments,
write to frdmill.2005(at)blogger(dot)com

Watch more great videos at

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Norah Jones : The Fantasy Album

Grammy winner
Norah Jones
(born Geethali Norah Jones Shankar )
opened up to Katie Couric on CBS' 60 Minutes the other day and
finally revealed that she had rekindled her
ties with her father,
world-renowned Sitar player Ravi Shankar.
Her parents never married, and Norah considers herself not half-Indian,
but rather a Texan/ New Yorker since she was raised in Grapevine, Texas
and lived in NYC during her formative years.

Now, about that Fantasy Album in the post title :
will someone out there
please listen to me and get Norah,
sister Anoushka and Ravi to collaborate on an album before
he passes away ? I'm seeing Grammy potential here !

60 Minutes video clip courtesy of Yahoo! news.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Marcus Miller on Bass Player TV

As a former Bass guitar player I started to save this video
and then I thought I'd share it here.....hope you enjoy the
brilliance of this Bass Master !

Click this link to view the video

See all the videos at

powered by performancing firefox

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

This Old Sari

Painting by Raja Ravi Varma


Chantal Boulanger, French author, cultural
anthropologist and researcher, regarded as the
ultimate authority on Saris :

'I didn't make this lengthy and difficult research for the past.
I made it for the future. This book is not an achievement,
but a beginning. I hope it will raise an interest in drapes,
not only in India but in general. Archaeologists, ethnologists,
artists, stylists, etc. need such studies to understand the
clothing of the past, present and future.
To a large part, saris are also the expression of women's
creativity and could become anyone's inspiration.
I don't think that these drapes should simply be recorded
and have for only future the dust of libraries.

Most of us, Westerners, think that people drape because
they don't know how to stitch. This wasn't true of the Romans,
and Indians have always had additional stitched garments.
Even though Indian women, clad in their elegant saris, evoke
in us visions of our Antiquity, they live right now in the
20th century. Drapes have many advantages over stitched
clothes, especially when beauty is an important value.
Saris are much more practical than we think, especially since
they can be so easily modified.

Saris are fun to wear. From the material of this book, they can
be tried by anyone, and more styles can be created.
By teaching workshops on draping, I learned that there is
for each woman one drape that fits her perfectly. It's not
often the modern sari, and can be any of the styles in my
book on "Indian Drapes", or even one the woman invents for
herself. I also made this work for anybody who wants, at least
once, to wear a drape, any kind of drape.

Draping is an art. I hope my book will help it take its place
as a heritage of mankind'

Like Liz Hurley elegantly attired in the right sari for her
Desi re-nuptials, today's woman is almost instantly endowed
with regal status upon donning a Saree*. Sari. Sorry.

*This thought is not lost on the most visible folks on the planet,

Celebrities as presented by Ebay vendor Sabira.

Finally, here's eye candy in a gold-and silk gem of a sari.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Ferry Halim : Flash Grandmaster

First off, this link may be old news to Gamers and users
who have been on high-speed connections for a long time.
For me it was a source of hidden treaures, filled with delightful Flash
animations that I figured would keep my neice's
5 year-old son
mesmerised forever. Only as I delved deeper into the site,
away from
all the games did I realized how carefully the site was aimed
as a
diversion for the whole family. No gore or eroticism here, just
pastel backgrounds interloped with nursery-like images -
mainly animals -
as the main characters in an astonishing array of games.
For starters:
Watch the Orisinal trailer

Okay, so that was all hi-speed Flash and sound effects roaring through
your surround-sound system and it didn't quite blow
you away since you see
trailers attempting to grab your attention
all the time. Good. Now you're ready
to lay back and relax, courtesy
of Fresno, CA-based Ferry Halim, who is the
prolific twenty-something
genius behind all this. This was his output after two
years in the USA, with
no formal training in Flash animation whatsoever.
Updates are frequent so it'll
take you a long time to go through all the stuff here
- there's so much of it. Don't forget to check out his Portfolio !

Quote from a 2002 review :
'Ferry Halim -- a 28-year-old accountant from Fresno...doesn't need the latest
version of Flash for his website to stand out...Instead, Halim has created dozens
of what may be the world's most addictive video games using Flash 4.
They also may be the world's simplest.'

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Outsourcing Canada

2 min 30 sec - Mar 8, 2007
Description: ADG Security Ad

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Add it at

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try copying the following URL into your browser:

Thursday, March 08, 2007

International Women's Day : Blogged

International Women's Day
The United Nations Organization :
'an occasion marked by women's groups around the world.
It is designated in many countries as a national holiday.
When women on all continents, often divided by national
boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic
and political differences come together to celebrate their Day,
they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine
decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.'

O-kay. All right-y, then. Let's put it in a nutshell and say that even if
you were abandoned as a child, right now you're probably seated
in front of a PC reading this. You turned out alright. But somehow,
somewhere a woman in your life remains in your head and probably
pops up at times like these. So after all, would you say, "You've
come a long way, Baby !" Huh ?


are marking this day everywhere. I noticed these :

Not A Feminist, But.... Blog
which is just that, musing on women from a
'Gin swilling feminist with a tendency to swear too much,
a super sweet tooth and a satchel full of rants to share'.

I can dig this because it's of Indian origin. Like me.

BlankNoise Project
Flickr Photos

I miss my Mom, my sisters, my nieces and female cousins
today.....actually, everyday.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The One Campaign

Today I was checking out some really nice photo slideshows
at the website and shortly
thereafter decided to sign up
with them. Even more shortly than the
thereafter, I received this e-mail from

'Thank you for taking action with
ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History.
Your voice DOES make a difference!

But there is still more you can do to help get the word out :

Get local with ONE in your community

Please help us
tell your friends and family about The ONE Campaign
and how they too can lend their voice to help beat global
AIDS and poverty.
Tell them to sign the declaration now at
ONE by ONE, we can make the difference.'

So, I'm letting you know. Spread the word about this
campaign. Sign Up HERE

You might have heard of some of these people who have
signed up :

Penelope Cruz* George Clooney* Brad Pitt* Salma Hayek* Bono*

Antonio Banderas* Jamie Foxx* Ellen DeGeneres*

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Now Berkeley Succumbs

A Bollywood dance team competes in the
Bollywood Berkeley dance competition in
Oakland, California. (AP)

A couple of days ago this blogger sat up and took
notice of the Bollywood dance frenzy in Yorkshire, UK :
Play That Desi Music, White Girl

Around the same time a related AP article * appeared
in Gulfnews, a newspaper in the UAE, about UCLA
and other institutions delving into the Bollywood angle of
India's World Market penetration.

*an excerpt:
The rise of popular culture as an academic discipline,
which brought analysis of hip-hop and "Star Wars" to
university classrooms, has also led to a recent scholarly
examining of Bollywood, says Robert Goldman,
professor at UC Berkeley's Department of South and
Southeast Asia Studies.

"It's like junk food," he said. "It's schmaltzy. You know
it's not the most intellectual stuff in the world, but it's fun,
it's entertaining."

The Bollywood Berkeley Dance Competition is in itself
an anomaly, meshing Bollywood with local dance 'flava'
while all along Bollywood had been borrowing beats and
dance moves from their Western counterparts, creating
a 'Masala', or mix. This is like the early Beatles copying the
American R-n-B groups, who in turn hoped to stay potent
on the music charts by copying the Beatles Pop-Rock harmonies.
Back and forth, feeding off each other all the while adapting to
an ever-increasing
global cultural sensibility.

And so it goes with this blog....slowly but surely, as our
global differences diminish, it succumbs to everything Bollywood.
And not a moment too soon. For now, we must press on to even
more penetrating things. Like the real-life Bollywood Dreams of
recently-wed Elizabeth Hurley. I will refrain from saying the Hurley
bird got the worm, for that would mean
Indian Biz Mogul Arun Nayyar
is a worm. I don't know him like that, and I wish them a long and happy

Gratuitous pic here.
And here.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Global As I Want To Be

Virtual Poona is now officially registered and
on the map ! ClustrMaps is keeping tabs for
me free of charge and it is heartening for me
to know which of my friends worldwide are visiting
and reading and who else is tuning in/lurking from other
continents. Thanks a million, come again !

Walk The Night


This year on International Women's Day, March 8,
Blank Noise
supported by
Radio Indigo invites you

We are meeting at Rest House road, (off Brigade Road)
park at 6 30 pm. The walk begins at 7 pm. We conclude at 9 pm.

All we need is you and your enthusiasm!

Please email us immediately at
or Phone at 91 98734 85284 (In Delhi)
+ 91 98868 40612 (Bangalore)

Bring along your friends, family, neighbours anyone, any age group!

Fun. Thrill. Action. Guaranteed!

Blank Noise

Friday, March 02, 2007

Play That Desi Music, White Girl !

click to enlarge this BBC image

Choreographer Zoobin Surty, formerly of Mumbai,
holds dance auditions for Bollywood Jane in between
attending to his duties as a cultural dance ambassador
for South Asian Arts in Yorkshire.

First Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber gave us Bombay Dreams.
Then came
The Guru with Jimi Mistry dancing his socks off
to the Bollywood beat. And now Bollywood dance fever has
gripped Yorkshire,
resulting in hot and heavy auditions for
Bollywood Jane
a play which runs through June at the esteemed
West Yorkshire Playhouse. It's hoped that staging the play will
add to the buzz that is already being felt across
Yorkshire in
anticipation of the 2007 Indian International Film Academy
awards which are being held in the region
this summer.

BBC Slideshow of Yorkshire dancers