Monthly Archives: January 2014

MUSIC: The BEST Indo-American Fusion Pop Songs EVER

American pop culture is near ubiquitous in middle class and wealthy India.  For several decades India’s youth have been watching Hollywood movies and TV and listening to Western pop songs, all the while sporting blue jeans and gulping down pizzas and chasing them with Pepsi.  These trends are more pronounced in urban areas and college towns, but the phenomenon is creeping across the countryside thanks to the dramatic rise in Internet penetration and available programming.

Meanwhile, Indian musical styles have made minor headway Westward too.  For a change, instead of Indians plagiarizing Hollywood and American records, we saw a Bollywood song playing in a major Hollywood film during the opening credits of the 2006 film, Inside Man starring Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, Willem Defoe, and Clive Owen.   1990s megahit song, Chaiyya Chaiyya from the Bollywood movie Dil Se made its way across the oceans to be one of the few Indian songs to ever join the soundtracks of both a Bollywood hit and a Hollywood one.  Indian culture has also popped up in things ranging from the interesting (Heineken’s 2011 “the date” TV ad featuring a golden oldie Hindi song, Jaan Pehechaan Ho) to the controversial (bindis for Madonna or Selena Gomez) to the bizarre (the Carmensita music video in 2007 featuring Natalie Portman in Indian garb essentially denigrating Hinduism).

Even rarer, and in my opinion more impressive is when a major and successful American artist decides to enmesh Indian music into a Western style pop song.  The Beatles revolutionized rock and roll in many ways, and one of them was to incorporate the Indian instruments, tabla and sitar into their songs during the flower-power 60’s.  Ravi Shankar was of course an instrumental partner in this.  More recently it was heavy metal bands such as Metallica (sitar) who would mix these unique instruments with the usual guitar, bass, and drum set.  It could be a pop artist like Selena Gomez sampling an Indian singer with Come and Get it in 2013, or hip hop artists sampling Bollywood vocals and instrumentals.  I would coin all of these as Indo-American fusion pop songs, and I like the stuff.  It draws some of the entrancing qualities of Eastern music together with the raw power, creativity, and global appeal of Western.

With that, here is my highly subjective list of the top 5 Indo-American fusion pop songs ever, with links.  I’m saving the best for last! 😉 Read the rest of this entry

Sensibly Resolving the Khobragade Disaster

Courtesy Washington Post

Courtesy Washington Post

Over the last week I have used this site to vent my extreme frustration with both Washington, D.C. and New Delhi with an impassioned editorial about the Devyani Khobragade case.  I used some unseasonably harsh language in it, toward both governments as well as the Indian Deputy Consul in question, but I stand by my opinions despite some of the criticism I’ve heard.  I must admit to allowing my emotions to affect my writing, but I decided not to edit the piece.  Next, I published a comic strip about the affair to laugh at the situation- a kind of therapy for myself and hopefully to members of the reading audience after a bad couple of weeks.Voicing my opinions wasn’t enough.  Trying to laugh at the situation wasn’t sufficient, either.  Something is still missing, especially as the situation has continued to spiral even further out of control, with both the United States and India stubbornly digging their heels in further in their respective and now very distant corners, instead of attempting to solve the issue with calm and civilized dialogue, of which I hear barely any.  In an ironic but sweet, sweet twist, even Pakistan has found common cause with India on this issue.  Both governments are wasting time and money to convene interdisciplinary study panels to prove why their own side is right-  the worst possible approach as neither side now dares to capitulate.  But I have admittedly been no better.

To use the old cliche, if you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  In my previous editorial I described how this mess could have been prevented from my unique Indian-American point of view, but it’s far too late for that now.  Too many hurtful actions and words have taken place that cannot be retracted.  Therefore the time has come for some prescriptive words under the current circumstances as of January 8th, 2014.  Hopefully, calmer heads can prevail after all and the bleeding can finally be stopped.  Here is how. Read the rest of this entry

COMIC: Let’s Laugh @ Worst US-India Row in Years


The Top 50 Coolest Desis, Courtesy Desiclub


Emily Shah says 2014 is going to be awesome and we agree

Happy new year to every visitor to! (unless you are an evil spam bot- may you burn in robot hell!)  This has been our best year by far thanks to our readers, followers on our Twitter feed, LinkedIn, WordPress, and Facebook.  Yes, 2013 ended very, very badly for those of us who care about US-India relations.  Please tell me, is there a hangover helper on the horizon to cure us of our new year’s malaise ??? As an American colleague relayed to me in a loose reference to the Times Square crystal ball, “it appears that your balls dropped.”

This week I came across an interesting post by Desiclub, a global information hub online for all things South Asian.  They took on the challenge of compiling a list of the “50 Coolest Desis” to cap off the year 2013- representing the 10th anniversary edition of this feature.  I was pleasantly surprised by several things in this year’s list.  First of all, several friends and acquaintances of mine made the cut.  I’m not a name-dropper, but you know who you are, and brown folks worldwide are proud of you.  Secondly, Desiclub did us all a favor and drew from a variety of fields including the arts, government, philanthropy, athletics, and commerce.  They drew from multiple countries and national backgrounds.  Finally, our home base of New York City was highly represented- proving that the Big Apple is truly where all the action is regardless of your country of origin.  The list wasn’t your typical kiss up to the rich and famous we see all too often in our community.

I strongly recommend you check this out.  As a teaser, I’ve begun the countdown for you below.  Congratulations to Desiclub and every single “cool” desi who made it this year.

– Mahanth S. Joishy Read the rest of this entry

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