90210’s Manish Dayal wants you to Be the Match

90210 actors Manish Dayal (who played Raj Kher) and Gillian Zinser (Ivy) released this PSA last month for the Be the Match foundation. The spot was produced as part of Be The Match’s efforts to create a younger and more diverse registry.

ETA: There are montages galore of Raj and Ivy’s relationship on YouTube. Here’s an example. (SPOILER alert gleaned from the YouTube comments: Dayal’s character was killed off this season.)

Mathai Rocks ‘The Voice’

Could an 18-year-old singer named Mathai be the next winner of NBC’s The Voice?

Billboard called Mathai’s performance on the show last week “awe-inspiring” and noted she was “one of the few [contestants] who understands nuance and power.”

I hope that as the season progresses we’ll get to see Mathai do more ballads. This 2010 talent show performance, in which a 16-year-old Mathai covers Adele’s version of To Make You Feel My Love, is incredible. (You can check out more of her songs at her official YouTube channel.)

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy Wins Oscar For ‘Saving Face’

Journalist and documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy became Pakistan’s first Oscar winner last night when her film Saving Face won best documentary short.

Saving Face tells the story of two women (39-year-old Zakia and 23-year-old Rukhsana) who were severely disfigured after becoming victims of acid attacks. According to the film’s website:

Every year in Pakistan, at least 100 people are victimized by brutal acid attacks. The majority of these are women, and many more cases go unreported. With little or no access to reconstructive surgery, survivors are physically and emotionally scarred, while many reported assailants – typically a husband or someone close to the victim – are let go with minimal punishment from the state.

The film follows Dr. Mohammad Jawad, a plastic surgeon who left a thriving practice in Britain in order to assist Pakistan’s acid attack victims. During her acceptance speech, Obaid-Chinoy dedicated the award to Dr. Jawad, Rukhasana and Zakia, and “to all the women in Pakistan who are working for change.” She added, “Don’t give up on your dreams.”

Hopefully Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar win will mean that more people in Pakistan will have the opportunity to see the film. The filmmaker told the Wall Street Journal in November that she planned to show the film in private venues and recently told the Asia Society that “contractual restraints” prevented her from showing it to large audiences.

HBO will be broadcasting Saving Face on March 8. Mark your calendars.

A Dosa Hunt Through New York City

Warning: Don’t watch the above video while hungry.

Stereogum’s Amrit Singh just released the trailer for his documentary Dosa Hunt, which is scheduled to be released this spring. In the film Singh and his friends Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend), Vijay Iyer (Vijay Iyer Trio), Himanshu Suri (Das Racist), Alan Palomo (Neon Indian), and Anand Wilder (Yeasayer) travel through the streets of New York in a hunt for the perfect dosa.

You can follow the film on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. I’ve long maintained that the best dosa in New York can be found at the Ganesha Temple canteen in Flushing, Queens. Hopefully they visited during filming.

(Via my brother, who helpfully sent me this Gothamist link.)

Raza Jaffrey Stars in NBC’s “Smash”

Did anyone catch the premiere of the new NBC drama Smash? It debuted on Monday after a multi-million dollar promotional campaign and many hope that it will be the hit show NBC desperately needs. The hour-long musical drama is about the creation of a Broadway show based on the life of  Marilyn Monroe and is produced by Steven Spielberg.

British actor Raza Jaffrey plays Dev Sundaram, the live-in boyfriend of main character/Broadway actress Karen Cartwright (played by former American Idol contestant Katharine McPhee). Jaffrey’s best known for his role as Zafar Younis in the BBC drama Spooks.

From his character’s mini-bio on the show’s official website:

Devan “Dev” Sundaram was born in Wimbledon in the United Kingdom, but has split his time with relatives in Queens for much of his life and has lived in New York City for several years. With a B.A. in Classics and Political Science from Oxford University and M.A.s in Communications (from Columbia University) and International Relations and Journalism (from NYU), Dev has worked as Deputy Press Secretary in Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s office since 2010. He lives in Lower Manhattan with his girlfriend, Karen Cartwright.

Masters degrees plural. Of course. It will be interesting to see how the show portrays New York’s South Asian community and, since the show films in New York, to see if they visit any notable landmarks. I also wonder if there will be any subplots involving the character’s relatives in Queens. I only caught a few minutes of the episode, so I don’t have an opinion on the show yet. The entire pilot episode can be seen here.

 

Joe Biden Imitates an Indian Accent during NH Speech

Vice President Joe Biden (who I like to think of as America’s wacky, slightly off-color Uncle Joe) briefly imitated an Indian accent while giving a speech in New Hampshire on Thursday.

This of course isn’t the first time Biden’s gotten into hot water with the desi community. Back in 2006, the then-Senator noted that “You cannot go into a Dunkin Donuts or a 7-Eleven unless you have a slight Indian accent.”

Watch the video of yesterday’s speech below. The imitation begins at 00:09 and ends rather abruptly. As one Buzzfeed commenter noted, “It’s like halfway through the impression he thought, “Oh sh–, better not follow through with this one.”

‘Skewed Demographic’ Highlights Bone Marrow Disparity

Skewed Demographic

The online art exhibit Skewed Demographic brings together artists to address the racial disparity in the bone marrow registry. Each piece in the online gallery is being auctioned off with proceeds going towards processing bone marrow testing kits.

Photographers Shirin Adhami and Sunita Prasad curated show in honor of Photojojo founder Amit Gupta and other South Asian leukemia patients. Adhami first met Amit Gupta when both were undergraduates at Amherst College a decade ago. When Gupta first announced his diagnosis and his need for a bone marrow donor, Adhami was one of his many friends who rallied to action.

“Personally, I was working on doing drives and I was thinking of doing a more symbolic gesture,” said Adhami during a recent phone interview. “How could I reach an audience that maybe couldn’t donate marrow? How could it be more than a request for money?”

Adhami decided to put the call out to her contacts to see if they would be willing to donate their work to the cause. “The idea is photo-based, but the artists are not necessarily all photographers. The inspiration is really from Amit’s photo interest,” she said. “There were times that I have not even realized I was using one of his inventions until much later. He has really affected the photo world with Photojojo.”

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A conversation with Radhika Vaz

In her one-woman show Unladylike: The Pitfalls of Propriety, comedian Radhika Vaz tackles subjects like “proper” female behavior, modern relationships, and the ubiquity of bikini waxes. Having recently returned from touring India, Vaz will be performing Unladylike at the The Producers Club in New York City on Friday, December 9. I recently had the chance to ask her a few questions about the show.

What inspired you to write Unladylike?

I had been doing improv for a really long time and then I started writing monologues. I always wanted to do a one-hour show on my own for a few reasons. I was auditioning for parts and wasn’t getting anything. You know, I am practically 40. I am Indian with an Indian accent, I’m not even an Indian with an American accent, so I wasn’t fitting into any of the roles. Writing the show was what really pushed me out there.

Stories about your husband and family often appear in your work. Have any of your relatives ever told you that something was off-limits?

No, they haven’t. I definitely do believe that I have to at least show them the piece before I post it to my blog. Most of my pieces start out on the blog, I usually post it before it is performed.

I remember I posted something once and my husband was like, “You really should have shown me this before you posted.” If it is something related something like alcohol abuse or anything embarrassing, I show it to them. When writing about my friends I change names a lot.

Read the rest of the interview at Sepia Mutiny.

Image credit: Katarina Kojic Photography and Design.

The Indo Pak Express calls it quit

Tennis doubles partners Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi have decided to part ways.

Dubbing themselves the Indo Pak Express, the India-born Bopanna and his Pakistani counterpart Qureshi received lots of favorable attention during the 2010 tennis season as they declared themselves Champions for Peace and wore warmup jackets emblazoned with the slogan “Stop War, Start Tennis.” Doubles star Bob Bryan went so far as to tell the New York Times that the pairing was good for “world peace.”

The BBC has more details about the split:

The men, who met when they were 16 and are now 30, began playing as partners in 2003.

“As the season has ended now, I can confirm that I am playing with Mahesh [Bhupathi] in 2012,” Bopanna told Indian Express.

He declined to give a reason for the split.

“Who I want to play with is my decision… I did have a successful year with Aisam [Qureshi] but now I am starting a new year with Mahesh, and it’s as simple as that.”

While the pair did have some success this year, including a victory at the Stockholm Open, things had not been going well recently. The duo lost in straight sets at the ATP World Tour Finals in London last week.