Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

There’s nothing more uncomfortable than accepting an invitation to a dinner party only to discover over the salad course that your host’s girlfriend is a virulent racist. Just ask Sir Ben Kingsley. published this blind item a few days ago:

“Ben Kingsley told a story on The View this morning about an unpleasant dinner he had at the home of a Hollywood actor: ‘There are times when I wish I could have said or done something differently. [For example] The last time I was here, there was an old Hollywood actor who invited me back to his home. He was with his aging German girlfriend. I was instantly nervous around her. During the meal, she said “Are you Jewish?” And I said, “No as a matter of fact, I’m half Indian and half English.” And she said “Oh my god, that’s even worse.” [audience gasps] So, I did not drop my knife and fork and say “F* you.” I stayed in a state of rage throughout the dinner. Why? Because everything happens for a reason. And now here I am with you and [pointing at the camera] if you’re still around, you racist old witch…[gesturing to The View panel] these girls have now heard it, and you know who you are! You know who you are!’

Nearly everyone reading this can relate to this story at least a little. I certainly know what it is like to silently sit in a state of rage after hearing a racist remark at a party, wishing I had either a) called the person out, b) immediately gone home, or c) both. I have to admit that I’m a bit jealous that Kingsley got to verbally tear this woman to shreds on national television. Who hasn’t imagined doing that?

Watch the video below for the full effect of Kingsley’s tale (complete with faux German accent.) The look on his face as he shouts “You know who you are!” is priceless.

How have mutineers handled situations like this? What would you have done differently if given a do-over? And any guesses as to who hosted this ill-fated dinner party? (Most of the Gawker commenters think it’s this Hollywood legend, which, if true, would make me more than a little sad.)

Cross-posted on Sepia Mutiny.


Live Blogging a very desi Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Tonight’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon will feature two South Asian guests! They are Sir Ben Kingsley (who was born Krishna Bhanji) and Pakistani American comedian Kumail Nanjiani. I’m using this as a perfect excuse to liveblog the whole thing.

12:43 – Jimmy Fallon just described Sir Ben as “one of the most talented actors of all time.” (And I realize that I’ve only seen two of his films- Gandhi and Schindler’s List.)

12:54: They are playing some sort of game with 3 contestants pulled from the audience. I missed all of their names, but contestant three looks like she could be desi. (Note: I know, I know.)

12:58: While Contestant Three doesn’t win first prize, she does go home with a frozen box of tater tots.

12:59: Trailer for The Prince of Persia. I just read an interesting article about the “whitewashing” of both the P of P and the upcoming The Last Airbender.

1:01: Jimmy’s laying it on a bit thick. Introduces Sir Ben as “not only acting royalty, but royalty royalty.” That sounds incorrect. He’s referring to BK’s knighthood, right?

1:05: Wow, this is already a pretty rambling interview. BK and JF riff on American accents and are now talking about the Beatles?

1:07: BK tries to make the movie sound classy. Says it’s a “character-driven” film about a struggling family.

1:08: That clip they just showed did not make the movie look good.

1:10: Commercial break! Check out the Prince of Persia IMDB page. Rohan Siva plays the “Bloodied Alamut Soldier” and there’s a character named Asoka, who is played by Daud Shah. (Were there people named Asoka in ancient Persia?)

1:14: Sir Ben’s a good sport. He and Fallon pretaped are partipating in a mock-mid 1990s sci-fi movie sendup called “Space Train.” Like the interview, it is pretty meandering and a bit illogical.

1:21: Next guest is Rosemarie DeWitt. She was in Rachel Getting Married. (If you recall, Rosemarie wore a sari in the wedding scene of Rachel Getting Married. I forgot how bad the costuming in that scene until this very moment. Click here to see.)

1:29: Here comes Kumail. Jimmy says he was named one of Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch.

1:31: Kumail riffs on video games. Apparently Call of Duty has a level map set in Karachi. Kumail tells the audience that he grew up in Karachi. “My hometown is a battlefield,” he says.

Urdu references! Apparently in the game all of the signs are in Arabic, while of course they speak Urdu in Karachi. Kumail’s not happy about that. (More on the signs in Call of duty can be found here.)

1:32: This is great! Will hopefully post a YouTube video of this performance in the morning. He also talks about horror movies.

1:35: Uh-oh. I think Jimmy just called him Kumal? I’ll have to check again in the morning. And did Rosemarie DeWitt just namaste him? Will have to double check this as well.

An aside, Kumail’s wife is a writer and has a pretty cool blog. Check it out.

1:37: Thanks for reading.

Ben Kingsley tells Letterman why he changed his name

Sir Ben Kingsley was on The Late Show with David Letterman Tuesday to promote his new film Shutter Island.

I thought this interview was notable because it was the first time I had ever heard Kingsley talk about being half Indian. After Letterman asked the actor if “Ben Kingsley” was his birth name, Sir Ben talked about how his given name is Krishna Bhanji. He also spoke about his Gujarati grandfather, a spice trader who went by the nickname “King Clove” in Zanzibar. Kingsley attributes his decision to change his name to the difficulty he had auditioning with an unpronounceable name.

Interestingly, Kingsley never mentioned his heritage when he discussed filming Gandhi with Letterman back in 2008.

Part 1 of the interview starts at 5:07:

Part 2 (where he discusses his name and background):