Meet Alisha Pais

Take a taxi to Dadar Chowpatty (‘chowpatty’ means ‘beach’), a seaside garden and outdoor music amphitheater with a beautiful view of the Sea-Link bridge over Mahim Bay. “The Revival of the Bandstand Culture” (aka ‘The Bandstand Revival’) is putting on their much-awaited finale of the concert season featuring some of Mumbai’s most popular local bands. Meet Alisha Pais, singer-songwriter and music teacher-extraordinaire who has made a solid impact on India’s indie music scene, with recent appearances at the internationally-renowned Goa Sunburn music festival, among others. You may remember Alisha from my previous blog entry of the “Work-in-Progress” screening of my documentary at the Godrej India Culture Lab, where she gave a fabulous performance for the audience. I had the fortune of being able to catch her in mid-flight during The Bandstand Revival gig to invite her for an interview and home concert. Boy was I lucky to catch her! Here is Alisha, in the flesh and blood:

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Friday, September 27th, 2013 Uncategorized 9 Comments

Creating Change at the Culture Lab

Take an auto rickshaw up the Eastern Freeway to Vikhroli, a semi-industrial Mumbai suburb that receives virtually no “cred” from the city’s cultural elite. There, beneath the smoke stacks of Godrej’s industrial compound, you’ll find a beautiful, green campus of office buildings. Inside the campus nonchalantly stands a state-of-the-art “Lab” and performance space that has, in the two years of its existence, quickly become one of Mumbai’s foremost destinations for art, music, and culture.

The Godrej India Culture Lab, as it is called, curates events of all shapes and sizes, most of which are free and open to the general public. The events include a monthly “Friday Funda” speaker and performer series, Film and Book Clubs with filmmakers and authors, as well as “PopUp” mini conferences featuring INK and film festivals like the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival. On July 19th, 2013, I had the fortune of being able to present my first “Work-In-Progress” screening of my Fulbright-mtvU documentary. You check out the video of my presentation on the following Fulbright-mtvU blog entry. But, for now, take a closer look at the Lab through a video I made featuring Parmesh Shahani, the Lab’s founder/director, and Frazan Kotwal, one of the Lab’s featured guests:

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Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 Video 4 Comments

“Mumbai’s Queer Voices”: a Work-In-Progress Screening

On July 19th, 2013, at the Godrej India Culture Lab in Mumbai, I had the amazing opportunity of presenting my first work-in-progress screening of my Fulbright-mtvU documentary. In front of a full audience of filmmakers, academics, musicians, and Godrej company employees, I shared videos, my experiences on the filming process, and some illuminating academic theory that would make my PhD program advisor proud. The presentation was also capped by the incredibly accomplished singer-songwriter Alisha Pais, whose talents have brought her on tours throughout India.

Below is a recap of the presentation, including the music concert, which will be posted on the Culture Lab events webpage (http://indiaculturelab.org/events/). The video is edited minimally combining footage from the Godrej India Culture Lab’s cameras and myself:

…. and the talented Alisha Pais:
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Monday, August 19th, 2013 Video 7 Comments

The Importance of “Miss Koovagam”

It’s monsoon season. That means rain, rain, and more rain. Every single day, there’s rain. There’s so much rain that the land has given way in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, causing 50 thousand people to go missing and 73 thousand to go stranded. It has rained so much in Mumbai that (at least) three buildings have collapsed, leaving dozens dead. The rain has also forced inhabitants (especially those who do not work in an office) into hibernation, as many Mumbai streets are now too treacherous to walk through. The harsh weather has caused me to seek respite in some footage I already have but have not yet shown. Needless to say, the footage is of a sunnier, drier time…

We’re heading back to hot and sunny Koovagam to attend the “Miss Koovagam” transgender beauty pageant. In a town just outside Pondicherry (near Koovagam) over one hundred transgender participants from all over India competed for their chance to win the coveted “Miss Koovagam” crown. Gopi was also there [see ‘Meet Gopi (Koovagam Part 2)’] along with Taejha Singh Susheela (see ‘Koovagam Part 1’), and two others whom you have not previously met. Meet Malika, India’s first transgender model to present on the international stage, and A. Revathi, a veteran activist and author of the groundbreaking publication entitled The Truth About Me. Both were called upon to judge the event. To make the following video, some footage of the beauty pageant seen in ‘Meet Gopi’ was resurrected and reincorporated on a new timeline with entirely new material. The result is an experiential reinterpretation of the beauty pageant as seen through the eyes of individuals from within the transgender community. Watch this Part 3 to Koovagam here:

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Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 Uncategorized 16 Comments

These Colors Don’t Bleed

Inside an old East India Company warehouse-cum-gallery space in south Mumbai, the established New York- and New Delhi-based art contingent EnGendered recently hosted the long-awaited Mumbai premiere of their traveling, multimedia art tour “Resist”. The exhibition was a self-proclaimed “temporal art intervention and protest” about gender-based violence and discrimination. As a “survey exhibition”, the show brought together a diverse array of high-quality visual works from 27 established and emerging artists, as well as “live installations” featuring collaborations from some of India’s best-known designers and artists. In addition to the visual works, the exhibition’s opening also featured music performances from two Delhi-based bands, and poetry from notable poets and lyricists including the esteemed music lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar. Check it out:

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Monday, June 17th, 2013 Video 14 Comments

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