Category Archives: Culture
There are many things to say about the devastating coronavirus pandemic enveloping the globe. In America we are seeing the worst of humanity (the Kentucky Coronavirus party and thousands of hate crimes against Asian Americans) and also the best (fashion designers sewing masks, Chef Jose Andres feeding the hungry). Here in the United States, we have become the epicenter of the ordeal and the medical system is being strained and tested like never before in our lifetimes. We are in the midst of a bloody war for survival, and the tireless frontline soldiers this time are the doctors, scientists, nurses, and first responders, not machine gunners, grenade throwers, and top gun pilots.
Every one who has called in for duty to battle the virus is a hero. Depending on which source of statistics to believe, physicians of Indian origin make up about 5-10% of all of the active medical doctors in the United States. The meaning of this number is abundantly clear: Indian-Americans are being desperately called upon by their country like never before in our history from sea to sea, in communities large and small. All eyes are watching, and this is our time to shine brighter than ever before as Americans. One can hope that this dangerous, selfless heroism is what we will be remembered for in years to come.
This plays out in different ways. At the macro level we are seeing the ascendance of CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, giving outstanding medical commentary, author Deepak Chopra expounding on mental health with whatever pseudo-spiritual comfort gibberish the guy comes up with, and Administrator of Medicare and Medicaid Seema Verma standing steel-faced by the president and Anthony Fauci in the federal coronavirus task force briefings- regardless of what you think of her, playing a critical role in the federal response.
At the local level we are seeing tons of media interviews with Indian-American ER doctors and hospital administrators, and categorically they come across as heroic and informative. During b-roll footage we see plenty of brown scientists around the country dripping mysterious liquids into test tubes or plugging away at some medical machine. No doubt some of them will be at the forefront of vaccines and other treatments to be implemented. Indian-Americans are all over the media explaining what coronavirus is, and how to stop its spread.
Despite many pockets of individual greatness, the Indian-American experience has never before had such an awesome collective responsibility or calling. Throughout America’s past wars, Indian-Americans made up minuscule percentages of overall troop strength. That is all changing now in the hard war against the invisible enemy, changing for good.
Godspeed and bravo to all of those on the front line, but forgive me for cheering particularly loudly for the tens of thousands of Indian origin, many whom were made fun of as nerds when they were younger. A large number come from the ranks of family and friends.
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
This is one of the best TED talks I have ever seen. It’s one of the BEST and most heartwarming videos I have ever seen, period about how two completely different human beings collided in the worst, and best possible ways in today’s complicated America. And it’s free to watch this short video on YouTube! As a bonus, it’s an Indian-American scholar giving the talk. Watch it now!
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
Basketball is a global sport and India is not to be left out. October 3 and 4, 2019 will go down in NBA and India history as the Pacers and Kings play a double-header of back to back pre-season games in Mumbai. Watch these videos about this first-ever occasion. Thanks to usindiamonitor’s favorite team Indiana Pacers for joining the Sacramento Kings in battle for Indian fans. I cannot even explain the thrill of seeing the likes of my beloved players like Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis featured on billboards along Mumbai’s skyline- or riding around in an auto rickshaw. Let’s hope there’s many more games in India to come!
In a bizarre twist of events, Hasan Minhaj was actually featured on the Jumbotron at the #HowdyModi rally in Houston last week attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Trump, and numerous other dignitaries… but physically banned from attending the Indian-American love fest at NRG stadium. How did this gross injustice occur?
Because Minhaj had criticized Modi on his show previously. Find out more from this hilarious video clip on the Seth Meyers Late Night show. The organizers of this event were clearly petty and small people. At least Seth Meyers gave the man some love- and didn’t leave him out of the studio. Much better venue anyway!
Netflix is out with another new Indian TV show! And it’s a super violent spy show! And I found this American reviewer Austin Burke to break it down for you. I am personally not as enthusiastic about the show as Austin, but he does a good job of introducing the concept. Regardless, it’s a good sign for Indian actors and fans that Netflix, Amazon, and other platforms are picking up so much Indian content. Indian film has arrived.
This is in extraordinary story already whether his age is true or not. I invite you to judge for yourself by viewing this video by The Atlantic Online.
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
Those of us familiar with Indian television shows are accustomed to a certain look and feel. In much of it there is something missing, if you are spoiled by Hollywood standards. Rarely will you find the elusive combination of high-quality screenwriting, acting, direction, editing, lighting and film technology to call an Indian TV series world-class. In an interview Bollywood actor Prashantt Guptha told me that screenwriting in India is the weakest link in the chain.
This is especially disappointing because in so many ways, India is a more interesting setting for film than most places in the world. With cultural, religious, ethnic, and breathtaking landscape diversity both rural and urban, the ancient and ultramodern juxtaposed bizarrely, and humans and their problems literally overflowing onto the streets with fantastic food everywhere. The music and the clothes are as intense as the food. Add a potent crush of political and societal issues such as #MeToo and gang rape always in the background, and India is ripe for a global television audience. Netflix’s Delhi Crime is a must-watch television drama based on true events, that exhibits the awesome potential of mating Western technology and expertise with Indian artistes and an Indian city as itself the main character in the show.
I was not expecting much from Delhi Crime when I began watching it- expecting some hackneyed themes from the Indian true crime police procedural, especially because Bollywood has done tons and tons of police film. Yet Delhi Crime is a true masterpiece and stands not as a great Indian show, but a great show period. Too many times I have seen Indian actors mailing it in while the story drags on and broods on its own wannabe profundity- such as Netflix’s first Indian offering, the less watchable Sacred Games, which wasted the talents of a number of fine actors. I don’t even remember what this show was supposed to be about after watching most of the season with a now-crushed desire to review it on this site.
Delhi Crime is on the other hand hard to stop watching from beginning to end. It’s not just binge-worthy. It is the best Indian television I have ever seen. We start with a gruesome crime in the nation’s capital, much worse than just a run of the mill gang rape, with highly realistic and honest portrayals of the involved Delhi police officers and officials- heroism, incompetence, workaholism, corruption, warts, and all. The political overlords were not lionized or demonized. The show is much more raw than most Indian cinema with its escapism and desire to paint everything in black and white: the cop as either hero or devil, without nuance. In this the show reminded me favorably of HBO’s classic, The Wire: criminals and cops alike are shown as complex individuals with troubled but relatable personal lives and pasts. With the wide array of philosophical differences between the various characters, the show provides a competent bird’s eye view of the Nirbhaya case which stained India permanently. As the icing on the cake, the music is fitting, and the food looks so good at times I was salivating.
Shefali Shah acted so well in the lead role, I almost thought that she was the real life Delhi Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the investigation- in turns managing the team brilliantly and misfiring easy decisions. The bad guys were so greasy and disgusting, I thought they just may have pulled the real life villains out of prison to be on the show. The actress who played the victim Abhilasha Singh had a small but memorable stint. Overall, none of the acting was bad. This is just about a first for Indian TV in my experience.
There are only two facets I choose to criticize in the show. There are shockingly piss-poor translations between the spoken Hindi dialogue, the overdubs, and the subtitles. Secondly, the storyline of the DCP’s troubled daughter is trite, unnecessary, distracting and poorly executed.
Most of all, kudos to Canadian-American director and co-creator Richie Mehta. Let’s hope Netflix, Amazon, and other Western based studios will continue their deep dive into Indian film. There is much that is worth watching in modern India, a misunderstood rising superpower whose welfare has increasingly critical ramifications for the rest of the world. Put this one at the top of your queue, or better yet- turn it on now!
Truth is stranger than fiction. If we were to write a movie about the Donald Trump criminal empire, one could not hope to do a better job of casting the film than with the real-life goons, perverts, traitors, gangsters, mercenaries, puppet masters, wife-beaters, drunks, pedophiles, fraudsters, shysters, hucksters, con men, hookers, porn stars, madams, gold-diggers, lowlifes, and yes, heroes of the true story.
Every single one of these people is out of central casting. They embody the spirit of this time so well. It would be a marvel to get all of these characters to play themselves. It’s just all so damn perfect exactly as is.
THE GODFATHER. In a virtual graveyard of losers, there is only one winner standing, grinning and shirtless in all this mess, and that is Vladimir Putin. The diabolical puppet master played Obama, Hillary, Donald Trump, the American people, and all the rest of us for fools. Successfully. Donald Trump and his criminal family enterprise will end up going down, yet Putin will remain standing when this is all over, more powerful than before. I’m a bit ashamed to admit I admire the evil genius of this man, who pulled all the strings just so perfectly. Americans will forever disagree on what happened in 2016, and hate each other over it, which is exactly what Putin wanted. Christ, American families have fallen apart over 2016! He wanted to be caught and even left digital footprints on purpose, according to the most intelligent narratives out of the CIA. Well done, Vlad the Impaler!
THE DESERT KINGDOM BUTCHER. A correction is in order. There is a second winner, on Vlad’s coat tails. Saudi Arabia is a fascinating place where I spent some of the best years of my life in childhood. The royal family has for decades managed to ingratiate themselves in the halls of American power, with administrations of both parties, turning off and on the gushing spigots of oil, money, blood, and oil blood money. The brash young Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) not only purged his own royal family, Shiite clerics, and journalists such as American resident Jamal Khashoggi of the Washington Post; America blessed these actions because he bought and paid for the Trump family, especially Jared Kushner. Not only does the White House remain in omerta over the royal rogue’s butchery; they have amazingly KNOWN ABOUT and SUPPORTED MBS hijinks. How far America has fallen to become a doormat for the mud and blood on the bottom of dictators’ shoes!
THE LAST BOY SCOUT. If you choose to believe in God and that God cares about the fate of America, look no further for evidence- as evidence is appropriately the name of the game in 2019. There is a reason that a portrait of the courageous war hero and law enforcement polymath Robert Mueller hangs on the wall of my office about three feet from my heart during business hours. The slayer of Enron and the Mafia, the guarantor of the Constitution, and the protector of law and order is manifest in one man. Every day in my executive government career I strive to reach the integrity, purpose, discipline, good works, public service, and iron will of the most important man in US government. Against astounding odds and the power of the White House and an entire political party apparatus obstructing him day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, this modern day stoic warrior-poet has lifted the nation’s soul every day toward our better angels. Without uttering a single word. Letting his actions do the talking. With a singularly American hero like Mueller stalking the halls of Washington, embattled in the most important war of our lifetimes, America will have many great days to yet come!
THE BLOND BOMBSHELL. I am a huge fan of Stormy Daniels. Not her “work” in the area of pornography- she is honestly not my type at all- but her legal efforts with Michael Avenatti to help unravel the Cohen-presidential election mischief. Laws were broken, lives were changed, and there must be consequences to pay. Like Mueller, Stormy will come to be seen by history as a hero, though she did sleep with #FatNixon right after his wife gave birth. On that front I assign more blame to him than her- she did it to get on his reality TV show, which is a lie he dangled in front of her. Shocking, this man lies! Including about this affair.
BELTWAY BARBIE BAGHDAD BOB. They say the apple does not fall far from the tree. In the case of Sarah Colonel Huckabilly Sanders, she has inherited all of the aw-shucks bible-humping piss and vinegar of her Daddy, paired with a conscience-free ability to lie to the American people every single day with a straight face. Baghdad Bob himself would be so proud of this dictator’s mouthpiece. I am a mere mortal, with human emotions I cannot deny to my dear reader. I shall drink and dance and revel and debauch myself when this particular traitor goes down!
BAGHDAD BOB BELTWAY BARBIE. Not to be confused with Colonel Sanders, sister-in-crime Kellyanne Conway is a buffoonish cartoon villain straight out of a Disney movie. I have no doubt she goes home at night and slowly burns kittens and puppies in her fireplace. The only thing she has done right is marry a man with a conscience. The ease with which she lies and cheats when presented with inconvenient truths is astounding. No wonder this is the evil woman who coined “alternative facts”!
THE BROKE-ASS FIXER. Once in a while I reflect upon whether to feel sorry for Michael Cohen, Trump’s lead goon on a team full of goons. As Trump’s lawyer and fixer, the man was asked to do some nasty things, which he is at least man enough to own up to. Finally he is telling the truth to the American people about his dirty deeds, done dirt cheap. Yes, this tragic figure is going to jail. This guy looks the part, acts the part, and sounds the part of a New York shylock. No, I don’t feel sorry for you after all you schmuck!
THE EASTERN EUROPEAN FEMBOT. La Femme Melania is straight out of central casting. She escaped from the wrong side of the Iron Curtain only to enable fascist dictatorship here in America. One cannot find a more perfect fit upon scouring this earth. The only thing you need to know about her is that she CHOSE to marry the clown-ostensibly without a gun to her head, but who knows with this crowd. She is the perfect combination of a cynical gold-digger who desperately wants to be seen as a great person, with zero talent. Her means are unconventional at best: she uses her normally idle hands to troll others. Plagiarizing Michelle Obama and throwing her staffer under the bus was her grand introduction to America. Remember “Be Best?” So is she trolling all of us? Trolling her husband? Or “I Don’t Care Do U?” Let me tell you what I don’t care about. I don’t care who she is trolling- it needs to end!
HITLER YOUTH IN A BOTTLE. This just may be the best one of all. Who knew that 2019 America could manufacture such a model? What can possibly be said about Stephen Miller that already hasn’t been? The White House’s resident Neo-Nazi since the departure of Bannon has been plugging away in the bowels of the White House, concocting one racist policy after the other in exchange for a few pats on the head by the boss periodically. Muslim Ban, the Wall, and various other creepy fascist fantasies have been authored in the dark mind of Miller. America can only hope that these ideas will be thrown into the dustbin of history where they belong!
McTURTLENECK. One of the most depressing and disappointing developments of the #PervertOrangutan era is learning that America could descend into dictatorship with the willing assistance of a huge US political party apparatus. The entire GOP just folded in 2016 even as the establishment was railroaded personally and professionally by an authoritarian movement with white male supremacist fantasy at its very core. Mitch, Paul Ryan, and their minions bent over and took it, Rubles, Riyals, and all in order to stay in power, even if staying in power meant turning America into a Russian vassal state!
THE WORST FIRST FAMILY IN US HISTORY. Melanie, as evil as she is, does not even qualify as the worst member of the criminal family enterprise. She doesn’t sip America’s blood off her silver spoon in Trump Tower the way the Trump kids do.
Don, Jr. welcomed Russian help in winning the election with open arms just as his dad was inviting Russia to hack Hillary. Completely lacking a moral center, his only lament from the affair, which blew up this week, is that the Russians brought no dirt on Hillary to the fateful meeting after all following promises of the same. Like Donald, this man is uglier than he thinks he is, a compulsive liar, a spoiled brat, a tool, and a fool. Perfect material for the president’s namesake!
Ivanka plays this dirty game of pretending to care enough about climate change or women’s issues to take away five minutes from her main life’s work, selling third-rate sweatshop slave made apparel at astronomical prices, to talk about these political issues in Vogue magazine. Only for us to find she has no effect on policy whatsoever as her dad proceeds rapaciously to quicken environmental destruction and dismantle women’s health programs. Ivanka is a poorly made up cover front, smiling and dolling up for the magazines and fooling nobody on the right side of things.
None of this is Ivanka’s worst. She brought in yet another prince of darkness, as if there weren’t enough of those little Fauntleroys sitting around already, in the creepy form of her half-baked husband, Jared Kushner. Shockingly, he might be more incompetent and entitled than his siblings-in-law. He repeatedly lies about everything he does, including on national security paperwork. Barely qualified to run a corner ice cream store, the failed real estate magnate-scion wannabe has been given widespread responsibilities encompassing many aspects of domestic and foreign policy, for which he shows zero aptitude or original thought beyond family loyalty. It is a brazen nepotism play that is highly unethical, if barely legal.
Then we have Eric Trump, the wannabe tough guy big game hunter, who uses charity fundraising as a way to make more money for the Trump organization. This is a perfect metaphor for all the Trumps and how they use the organization for self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement. There was one area where the family lacked any clout, the political, and they descended on the carcass of the Republican party like a pack of hyenas. The rest is history! Easily the worst first family ever!
Pervert Orangutan. Could a Hollywood scriptwriter ever come up with this plot and this antagonist? The answer is, not a chance in the world. None of us could possibly have this much imagination. We are at apex and epitome territory. Racist. Sexist. Hooligan. Anti-immigrant. Sexual predator. Con man. Sociopathic liar. Conscience-less and morals-free. Cheater- on business contracts, on marriages, in elections, in debates, and of any type of rule, law, or regulation. With this man, my friends, the presidency has hit true rock bottom. If we go any lower, we will cease to exist as a democracy!
There are so many others. Perhaps we can do a Part 2 in time.
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
One of the worst aspects of the skirmishes going on between India and Pakistan over the last few days has been the severely ugly rhetoric in the media and especially on social media, where commentators and hacks choose to denigrate all of the people of the other country with a broad brush while thumping chests in misplaced nationalism.
Don’t buy the bullshit. As one of the few people on this Earth who has spent time in both Pakistan and India, I can assure you that the common people are strikingly similar to each other. It is the politicians, journalists, and religious figures of each nation- a microscopic minority- who ruin it for the rest of us with their hate and insecurity.
Instead of that noise, focus on this beautiful Pakistani music video, a Coke Studio production which brings together Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad for a gripping classical/pop fusion song that belongs to all humanity and is free on YouTube. I will never forget the day I heard this in Karachi in my friends’ car near the Mazar e Quaid where Jinnah himself lies- and my friend’s wife kindly bought me a copy of the album immediately. Appropriately, Kangna is about a missing bracelet and a poetic and emotional search for it- similar to, say, an Indian Air Force pilot who has thankfully been both lost and found and represents what we hope is a de-escalation of hostilities forever.
Mahanth is Editor of usindiamonitor
Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor
With so many serious things going on in the world today I thought it was time to cover something on the lighter, more brainless side. For some years I have thought that certain Bollywood actors and Hollywood actors look remarkably similar to one another. In this column you will find the ones I consider to be the TOP 5 dopplegangers in #BollywoodHollywood. While I am NOT the first to make up any of these connections, this top 5 ranking is brought to you by usindiamonitor.
How awesome would it be if these guys actually met and we could see pictures of them shoulder to shoulder?
5) SAIF ALI KHAN & CHARLIE DAY. I’m not sure that either actor would appreciate being compared with the other on looks. After all, Charlie Day is a pure slapstick comedian who gets pushed around and ruthlessly made fun of in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia or movies he appears in. Meanwhile Khan has attempted to be a serious actor, landing parts such as in Netflix’s Sacred Games where he is an unsmiling, brooding cop. No matter. These guys look so eerily similar, when I did image searches of one I wondered whether it was the other.
4) KATRINA KAIF & COBIE SMULDERS. By no coincidence, I have a huge crush on both of these ladies. They are most notably different in skin tone, but otherwise they could practically be sisters. Why are my hands shaking as I type this???
3) HRITHIK ROSHAN & BRADLEY COOPER. Shout out to my fellow Georgetown alum Bradley Cooper, who has some smarts and even singing chops to go along with those good looks and awesome acting. There can be no question that Hrithik is just as much of a heartthrob for Indian women everywhere. My Indian bias notwithstanding, I think Hrithik wins by a… hair.
2) PARIS HILTON & KAREENA KAPOOR. This unlikely pair have similar features through and through. Their sultry lips are practically interchangeable. The resemblance is undeniable, which gets these ladies into the #2 spot. I really do wonder what Kareena thinks about this…
- AAMIR KHAN & TOM HANKS. I think it’s only fair that the top honors should go to the best actors in the entire group. Aamir is easily the best Bollywood actor on this list with a long and illustrious career. Not to be outdone, Tom Hanks has been killing it in Hollywood for many decades as well.