Oh, the things that bring me joy….

Look what was in my inbox today! (click to enlarge):

Mandvi’s feature film Today’s Special is slated to open the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival on March 11.

Today’s Special has been described as “a heartwarming food comedy set in New York City.” It is based on Mandvi’s Obie Award-winning play Sakina’s Restaurant.

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Adhir Kalyan becomes a regular on Rules of Engagement

South African actor Adhir Kalyan will officially become a regular on the CBS sitcom Rules of Engagement when the show returns for its fourth season on Monday.

Kalyan plays Timmy, “the beleaguered assistant to eternal bachelor Russell Dunbar (David Spade).”

Watch this Timmy-centric trailer for the new season:

Kalyan’s first major American television role was playing Raja Musharraff on the short-lived CW sitcom Aliens in America. While that series was pretty cringe-inducing, I always loved hearing the theme song, a cover of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace and Understanding?” by PJ Olsson & Junoon’s Salman Ahmad.

Rachael Leigh Cook to star in “Nirvana”

Former teen star Rachael Leigh Cook (She’s All That, All I Wanna Do) has been cast as the female lead in Fox’s new Indian-American sitcom Nirvana.

The TV Squad says Nirvana “revolves around two Indian-American brothers trying to assimilate into the American culture, and Cook plays one of the boys’ girlfriends.” This description makes me very nervous, but I am willing to reserve judgment until the series debuts.

Nirvana has had a somewhat rocky history, having undergone three major cast changes since it was first developed 6 years ago. According to The Hollywood Reporter, comedian Arj Barker was originally cast as the Indian-American lead back in 2004, but was replaced by series creator Ajay Sahgal after a table read.

The original pilot was heavily influenced by Sahgal’s relationship with his wife, actress Kelli Williams (Lie to Me, The Practice.)

Sahgal has said the show is like “Everybody Loves Raymond but with Indian-Americans.”

Update: Actor Ravi Patel (formerly of the show Past Life) is slated to play the male lead. You can follow Patel on Twitter @showmetheravi.

Meet Kumar, Singapore’s #1 drag queen

Via CNNGo, a profile of Kumar, Singapore’s most popular drag queen:

Kumar pushes the boundaries of his shows by making fun of things that are taboo in Singapore. Surprisingly he has not been hauled up by the authorities. For him, it’s about knowing “what the rules are. The safest thing is — don’t be too political.”

It’s this instinct for balancing laughter with social acceptability, honed by 19 years of doing stand up comedy, that’s kept him out of trouble. But there are always repercussions, especially for a personality as controversial as Kumar. Those came from his family.

He recounted, “It was tough for my family because my father thought I was a prostitute. And my mother didn’t know what the hell I was doing. And it was very hard to tell them, so I let it be until they came to terms with it.”

It was seven years before his father spoke to him again, and his mother “knew at the back of her head that I was doing this, but she was hoping that I’ll end up in a desk job. But now it’s all different, it ain’t happening.”

The entire piece is an interesting read, you can find it here.

Below, a video interview with Kumar:

Elizabeth Hurley skips the sari blouse

Elizabeth Hurley has never been known for making conservative sartorial choices (remember the safety pin dress?), but her decision to wear a chiffon sari sans blouse (and bra) to a charity event in London last night raised even more eyebrows than usual.

You can see the photos here (NSFW at all.)

Hurley clearly made a conscious decision to skip the blouse as she has been photographed wearing blouses with her saris in the past. Here’s Hurley and her husband Arun Nayar at their 2007 wedding, and here’s another of Hurley with her son Damian Charles. I also found a third photo of Nayer and Hurley at the 2007 Asian Women of Achievement Awards.

The funniest part of the entire episode? The charity gala Hurley attended was for the Naked Hearts Foundation.

Muhammad Abbas, Pakistan’s Lone Olympian

After writing last week’s post about Indian luger Shiva Keshavan’s Olympic run, I thought I’d take a look today at the career of Muhammad Abbas, the first ever Pakistani Winter Olympian.

Abbas is a 24-year-old alpine skier and a member of the Pakistani Air Force. He had an unconventional introduction to his sport. According to the AP, he began skiing “by strapping two planks of pine wood to his rubber boots.”

While skiing is often looked upon as a sport for the wealthy, Abbas’ upbringing was different:

He grew up in a village in northern Pakistan, an area surrounded by mountains. His family couldn’t afford to buy him traditional skis, so his dad carved a pair out of wood.

The lift at the local slope only went up 500 metres – the downhill run at Whistler is 3,105 metres – so he skied the same smooth terrain over and over. He became quite proficient on that slope, on those homemade skis.

“I was the best out of the lot,” Abbas proudly said through his coach and interpreter, Zahid Farooq.

During the first Alpine Skiing run, Abbas finished 87th. Update: Just saw the results for the second run; Abbas finished 79th overall.

For those interested in reading more about Abbas: The BBC World Service did a nice interview with Abbas last week, and Abbas and his coach are featured in the first 5 photos in this Stamford Advocate slideshow.

Update #2: More from Pakistaniat.

(Hat tip: @tazeen, @kalsoom82)

Welcome to the world, Krishna Thea Lakshmi!

Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi gave birth to a baby girl, Krishna Thea Lakshmi, on Saturday, according to People.com. A representative for the actress and model told the magazine that “Mother and baby are well and happy.”

Lakshmi’s pregnancy was often referred to as a “medical miracle” because she suffers from endometriosis, which in severe cases can cause infertility. Lakshmi co-founded the Endometriosis Foundation of America with Dr. Tamer Seckin last year. According to a 2009 Newsweek.com piece, the foundation “hopes to raise awareness, improve education, press Congress for more research money and lobby medical schools to teach students more about the disorder.”