Showing posts with label entertainment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label entertainment. Show all posts

January 12, 2010

For Your Eyes Only

I got up early Sunday morning for my second day of sightseeing in London. I met up with an ex-colleague from Vancouver who took me to the Imperial War Museum. Apart from various weapons, uniforms, vehicles, and medals belonging to the imperial warmongers, there was a special exhibit on James Bond. The focus was more on Ian Fleming, the man behind 007, than the agent himself. Historical artifacts that provided the foundation of the spy novels and movies were showcased to a steady stream of Bond aficionados.

Afterwards we boarded a double-decker bus that passed by the London Eye and dropped us off near Big Ben, the world's favourite clock tower. While on the bus a marching band passed by us for no apparent reason. We were meandering about the streets when my stomach began to rumble, so she took me to her favourite pub for a traditional Sunday roast. There is nothing like a good book following a heavy meal, and the British Library had 25 million in its collection. We browsed the Magna Carta, the Gutenberg Bible, and original manuscripts by famed authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling, and Charles Dickens to name but a few. We vacated the premises when an announcement was made that the library was closing soon, and took a stroll across Abbey Road outside the Beatles' recording studio before calling it a day.


"Bond... James Bond." - James Bond

April 10, 2009

Caught on CCTV Camera

My favourite homegrown television channel in China is CCTV. China Central Television comes in many languages (Mandarin, English, French, and Spanish) and flavours (music, sports, news, etc.). It is one of my primary sources of information. I even had the honour of appearing on the English language channel of China's national broadcaster.

After enjoying a virtuoso juggling act by the famed American performer Bryson Lang, my roommate and I were about to leave the Goose & Duck entertainment complex when we were encouraged to stay on a little longer. A CCTV crew happened to be on hand to film a few clips of the bar's cheerleaders - the GeeDettes. They perform a short series of choreographed dance sequences. An audience of leering foreigners in the front row would be a welcome addition to the video clip and we fit the bill perfectly.

As we sat directly in front of the dancing girls, my roommate noticed the cameraman gesturing at us and quickly snapped a photo of him. During an interval in filming, the director approached us and instructed us to move our bodies in sync with the movement of the girls and the beat of the music. We grudgingly complied to the best of our dancing abilities, which were none whatsoever. Occasionally, my roommate's head bobbed but no discernible movements were made by the ARNABody.

November 22, 2008


After spending many hours copiously poring over thick textbooks during my university years I had lost my habit of recreational reading. A surplus of free time in India led to the resurrection of this hobby. As public libraries are uncommon in India, I borrowed books from roommates or coworkers or purchased them from sidewalk vendors. In the present, my arduous transit journey from home to work to home provides a daily 150 minute long time slot suitable for reading. Once (or if) I procure a seat I pull out my book to read or peruse one of the free newspapers that are distributed to the ridership.

A voracious reader, over the past two years I have enjoyed at least 32 books spanning from classics such as 1984 and Slaughterhouse Five to recent bestsellers such as The Kite Runner and The Da Vinci Code. Repeat authors appearing in my reading list are Rohinton Mistry, Michael Crichton, Paulo Coelho, Chetan Bhagat, Dan Brown, and W. Somerset Maugham. Non fiction such as Guns, Germs and Steel and Freakonomics or comedic relief in the form of 3 Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) provide a welcome change to the emotionally heavy efforts by writers of Indian origin. For instance, The Namesake and Fine Balance have their happy moments but are primarily depressing. A varied diet of books makes for an interesting read each and every time.

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog

October 28, 2008

The Namesake

One of my favourite books is The Namesake, written by Jhumpa Lahiri. The Boston-based Bengali author tells the quintessential tale of a young man born and raised in the West to Indian parents. A Bengali man has an arranged marriage and then brings his new wife to North America. They build a life together and start a family. The son is caught between two cultures, struggling to define his identity. The father is a heart attack prone university professor and the mother is a lonely housewife. The novel was adapted into a film by Mira Nair and starred Kal Penn as the title character. My namesake, Arnab Sen , worked as an art department trainee for the movie.

"Two Worlds. One Journey."

October 25, 2008

Samurai Girl

I was taking an innocent lunchtime stroll in downtown Vancouver. Around the intersection of West Pender St and Homer St, a woman's voice yelled out "Stop!". Unaccustomed to hearing this phrase uttered outdoors, I came to an abrupt halt. The voice belonged to a women who was directing foot traffic on the sidewalk I was on. She said they were filming a show called Samurai Girl, and I would have to wait before I could cross. She conferred with someone on her walkie talkie before waving me through, sternly warning me not to look at what was being filmed in the alleyway that I was crossing. I only took a quick glimpse, failing to spot Samurai Girl in action.

Samurai Girl is a six part mini-series event that premiered on ABC Family channel. It is the tale of a teenage girl whose family is brutally attacked at her wedding. She trains to become a ninja so that she can find out who is responsible for the crimes and bring them to justice.

October 21, 2008

Comedic Talents

The most famous comedian to emerge out of Canada in recent years is Russell Peters. The Indo-Canadian comic focuses his talents on generating racial and rude humour, hilariously mimicing the accents of people from different nationalities. Russell Peters is often criticized for reusing material. Most of his fans have only come to this realization after repeatedly watching all his performances on YouTube. On his first tour to India, the first by any North American comic, he visited Bangalore. A mixed group of Bangalore's nouveau elite and foreigners were in attendance. He performed to a full house at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, an auditorium that was constructed in the shape of a violin.


Back in Vancouver, after enjoying a hearty meal at Hamburger Mary's Diner, I went to the Jupiter Lounge for another night of rib tickling laughs. The meal at the seventies style diner consisted of a mish mash of free Range Canadian bison, venison, and musk ox (the Arctic burger) and a chocolate milkshake. The Comedy Night for Diabetes was an event to support the Canadian Diabetes Association. Four comedians were scheduled to perform in the fundraiser but one did not show. A stand up stand in was quickly located and performed adequately considering he had no preparation. The roster included host Paul Breau, Seth Perry, the hyperactive headliner Simon King, and an unknown comedian.


"Somebody gonna get hurt real bad!" - Russell Peters

October 10, 2008


Surrey is the second largest city in BC and one of the fastest growing communities in the nation. A high percentage of the population inflow is made up of new immigrants to Canada, with quite a few coming from the Indian subcontinent. When Surrey decided to have a festival to celebrate its multicultural makeup, particular attention was paid to this community. In a brilliant move by the city of Surrey, both the Prince of Honour and the crown prince of bhangra headlined the first day of festivities.  Bhangra, a dance form that originated in the Indian state of Punjab, has gained immense popularity worldwide for its energetic style and accompanying music beats.

Holland Park, located just across the street from the Central City complex, was the site of the first Fusion Festival. Music and food from around the world were enjoyed by the public. I had some venison purchased from a First Nations food stall and then wandered over to the main stage to watch KS Makhan perform. After he left, the crowd waited in anticipation for Surrey's own Jazzy B to arrive. After entering to much fanfare, the bhangra superstar kept up the pace throughout the night, demonstrating some slick dance moves in the process. Rows of chairs had been set up in front of the stage and this prime real estate was occupied by children and the elderly. The mass of humanity that had been standing on the edges of the seating area far outnumbered those with seats. They started to slowly creep forward. Sensing that the show was nearing its end, the pace of encroachment increased. Soon enough, the sitters had all vacated the area near the stage and the rest of the crowd closed in. The tempo and the number of rhythmically moving hands in the air increased dramatically as the night drew to a deafeningly loud close.

September 19, 2008


Aishwarya Rai, the world's most beautiful woman, was scheduled to perform in front of me on August 17th. She was to be accompanied on stage by her husband Abhishek Bachchan and her legendary father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan, where they would dance to beats of popular Bollywood film songs. Aishwarya remarked “I am thrilled to be a part of such a splendid event that promises to promote Indian cinema on a global platform. An event of such a magnitude will surely be something to look out for and I am eagerly looking forward to it”. I too was eagerly awaiting my audience with her, when I heard the devastating news that she would not be coming.

The Vancouver leg of the "Unforgettable" tour was slashed from the schedule for reasons that were not publicised. Rumours included low ticket sales due to inflated prices and an inability of the organizers of the event to pay the handsome fees demanded by the beautiful actress and her fellow stars. Tickets that were purchased by the disappointed fans of the icons of Indian cinema were refunded, leaving them with a full wallet, empty fantasies, and an unforgettable experience.


Dard hota hai jab dard chubhtaa nahii. (Translation: True pain doesn't even sting.)
- a line from the song Kajra Re in the movie Bunty aur Babli

September 18, 2008

Musical Weekend: Aerosmith & Jagjit Singh

Rock and roll legends Aerosmith, led by front man Steven Tyler, made their way to Bangalore to perform in front an enthusiastic crowd of youngsters. It was their first performance in India. Held on the expansive Palace Grounds, a crowd of 30,000 enjoyed the two hour long concert. Quite a few of my friends had come over from Hyderabad for the concert. I am not a fan but it was too good of an opportunity to pass up, so I went also. I enjoyed the spectacle even though I was not familiar with all of the songs.

In the same weekend, ghazal singer Jagjit Singh performed in front of a much older crowd at Ambedkar Bhawan. A ghazal is a form of poetic expression that has Arabic origins, usually dealing with topics such as love and pain. The complete Aerosmith concert was shorter in duration than the first half of Jagjit Singh's marathon performance. Including the intermission, the concert lasted approximately five hours. The crowd here had a much greater knowledge of the songs performed by the artist having grown up listening to him, and sang along on quite a few occasions with their enthusiasm and appreciation increasing as the hours went by.


Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream will never do
I'd still miss you, babe
And I don't wanna miss a thing

- Aerosmith, from the Armageddon soundtrack

September 14, 2008


Natalie. Nichole. Chrystina. Tiffanie.

The winners of the second season of the reality television series Pussycat Dolls Present would go on to form the group known as Girlicious. Opening for the Backstreet Boys later that night, they were signing autographs at the flagship HMV store in downtown Vancouver one day. Almost identical in artistic style and dress sense to the Pussycat Dolls, the band has a diverse makeup of performers. They also wear a considerable amount of makeup as I discovered when they walked past me, giggling and waving with great enthusiasm. They were also shorter in person than the statuesque figures I had seen on television so I was somewhat disappointed. The line for autographs circled the external perimeter of the entire store, with hundreds of eager youth waiting outside for a chance to meet them. I had to get back to work, so I did not join the lineup.

"Three girls in this group is great, four girls are Girlicious." - Robin Antin, creator of the Pussycat Dolls

September 12, 2008

Ranga Shankara

As a patron of the arts I attempt to support local artists wherever I may be. Ranga Shankara is Bangalore's most prominent theatre. With a modern design featuring stadium seating for a small crowd, it provides an intimate surrounding for both the actors on stage and the audience watching them perform.

With my flatmate Chang, I went to the 150th show of a theatre troupe called Evam. Located on the outskirts of Bangalore, we weaved through heavy traffic on Chang's motorcycle and arrived just as the doors were opening. He came to a grinding halt in front of the entrance and I hopped off. While he looked for a parking spot, I picked up our tickets. As he joined me, Chang pointed out a famous director, Girish Karnad, in the audience, but I was not familiar with his work.  

The play was titled 'Love Letters' and was the tale of two people who spent their whole lives writing letters to each other. Beginning from elementary school and continuing through to old age their relationship progresses and their lives unfold, with the only constant being the friendship and support they provide to each other through trying times. It was quite deep and tragic.

August 10, 2008

Powell Street Festival

August 2nd, 2008 - A celebration of Japanese Canadian culture and arts, the 32nd edition of the annual Powell Street Festival, took place at its usual home in Oppenheimer Park. It marked the 80th year of diplomatic relations between Japan and Canada. A stage and shopping stalls had been set up inside the park, while food was being sold on the side streets. The first performance I witnessed was by Chibi Taiko ("little kid, big drum"). Taiko are Japanese drums and this ensemble beat them with great enthusiasm. I had come to see my friend Daizo perform with the Okinawa troupe. He provided musical accompaniment to the Yuaikai Ryukyu Taiko. After watching a high tempo performance comprising of music, song, and dance, I enjoyed some wild salmon cooked in a traditional manner over a fire.

August 05, 2008

Vancouver Nightlife: Crushed

Recovering from the bitter aftermath of our argument, it was time for my friends and I to locate a suitable club for me to formally debut in. After some tight parallel parking accompanied by colour commentary from one of the occupants of the vehicle, we wandered the Granville Entertainment District in search of a club with decent music, high quality prospects, and a low cover charge. We rejected the Plaza Club and Caprice, before securing entry to Crush. My driver's license was verified and I was frisked by a burly man before I was allowed to enter the premises.

Dark, loud, and sparse, the interior was unwelcoming. Scantily clad women of diverse ethnic backgrounds gyrated in synchronized formations on the dance floor while sinister or ridiculous looking men leered from all sides. The females danced in pairs or triplets, collapsing into a single object when any predatory males neared them. The defensive schemes practiced by them far surpassed any employed by professional sports franchises.

Disappointed, my friends and I went to Denny's. I craved some cheesecake. As the hour was late, the 24 hour diner was a perfect location to wind up the night. After going over the menu it was not the cheesecake that caught my eye, but the brownie. It was rather large and I could not finish it all. When I magnanimously offered to share, my friends believed I would charge them for the privilege, but revenge is not in my nature.


Industry expert Anish infers: "Arnab doesn't need words to charm the women. His grunts are enough to fill even the most reserved of them with insatiable lust!"

June 29, 2008

Summerbeats 2008

First scheduled for Mother's Day and then rescheduled two more times, Summerbeats finally took place on June 22, 2008 at the Orpheum Theatre. The audience was full of energy and participated fully in the festivities, singing along and dancing on several occasions. With a balcony seat, our view was only partially obscured by the silhouettes of men with disproportionately large heads and women with disproportionately large noses who insisted on walking in and out of the concert hall throughout the night.

A packed roster featuring Atif Aslam, Kailesh Kher, Richa Sharma, and Amanat Ali allowed for around 45 minutes of stage time per performer. Since the show began half an hour late, headliner Atif Aslam's performance was cut short since he came on stage at the very end. My fan girls momentarily switched their allegiance to the singer, and chants of "Atif! Atif! Atif!" echoed throughout the hall. There was no grand finale that had the audience on its feet as was the case with all the other singers. Amanat Ali's youthful energy, Richa Sharma's professionalism, Kailesh Kher's soulful Sufi melodies, and Atif's Aslam's stylish renditions provided something for everyone.

May 29, 2008

Desifest Vancouver 2008

Some of my friends were performing in the inaugural Vancouver edition of Desifest against the backdrop of the historic Gastown area of the city, so I commuted there using mass transit on a rainy Saturday morning. A friend of mine quipped that the Gastown setting was quite appropriate for a South Asian themed event. The free 12 hour open air festival took place on April 26, 2008. Slated to begin at 10am, it began a little over an hour behind schedule as the weather was poor and the audience sparse. At one time, I comprised 33% of it.As the weather began to improve, and the masses started arriving, the performances began to pick up steam. The crowd was well behaved and only needed the occasional reminder that this was a street festival so they did not have to stand on the sidewalks and block pedestrians from moving about.

Performers specializing in song, dance, and music from various parts of India participated. Bhangra dancing was a big part of the event, with one of the first all women teams in history, the UBC Girlz, performing a hyperactive routine, as well as an entertaining troupe of toddlers who drew considerable applause from an appreciative audience. Entouraas performed a Dandia Raas routine wearing dazzling turquoise and orange attire. Kathak and bharat natyam dances were also performed, while Cassius Khan played the tabla and sang ghazals simultaneously. The FootEdge Dance Company and Dhol Nation Academy provided quality dance and drum based entertainment respectively. I had come to support my friends and celebrate South Asian music and culture, so I did not notice the presence of any ARNABabes in the audience or on stage.