The ‘Salman Khan scarf’ comes to Afghanistan

The Washington Post reports that teenage boys in Afghanistan are rushing to buy “narrow, boldly hued” multi-colored scarves as part of a new trend inspired by Salman Khan’s character in the film Ek Tha Tiger. The trend apparently started after the video for the song Mashallah (above) was released.

As Richard Leiby reports:

The look gradually caught on with teenage boys after the [Mashallah video’s] summer release, and the scarves now add striking dashes of color — red, orange, blue and striped combinations — to the drab, forbidding landscape of Kabul, which bristles with steel-and-wire encampments and machines of war.

It is but one signifier of increased outside cultural influences here, particularly among the young, to the chagrin of some older Afghans. They see an erosion of the Islamic ways as people reject traditional dress to keep in step with Bollywood and Hollywood.

Later on in the article we get the requisite quote from a taxi driver, who says, “I am totally against these Western influences. If a movie actor would take his pants off and put them over his shoulder, the next day you would see it in Kabul.”

While the article’s interesting and paints a portrait of what life is like for the youth of Kabul, I wonder about how accurate it all is. After all, Salman Khan’s paternal grandfather was born in Afghanistan and the actor has described himself as “half Muslim and half Hindu”, two facts that don’t make him sound particularly ‘Western.’ Additionally, Bollywood’s popularity in Afghanistan has been well-documented and Afghans have been watching Indian films for generations, making Salman Khan’s popularity nothing new. (Also, the conflation of Bollywood and Western culture throughout the piece is one of the stranger parts of the article.)

The scarves look nice though.

King Khan comes to Times Square

We get a lot of press releases here in the bunker. Sometimes one comes along advertising an event that looks like too much fun to pass up.

That’s how I felt when I heard that Madame Tussauds New York would be unveiling of their newest addition- a life-sized statue of Shah Rukh Khan. So last Thursday I headed to the museum’s Bollywood Zone to see the statue for myself.

As costumed dancers from Bollywood Axion performed to a medley of songs from Om Shanti Om, photographers quickly snapped photos and fans patiently waited for the area to be opened to the public. According to Rosemary del Prado, the museum’s director of marketing, Khan’s fans are the reason Madame Tussauds commissioned the statue. “Visitors just started to ask right after the Bollywood Zone opened last year,” she said. While the museum doesn’t keep track of how many tourists from South Asia visit each year, they do know that half of all museum guests are international tourists.

Some more fun facts about the statue: It takes about 3-4 months to create a figure after the celebrity has a sitting. All of the hair is individually inserted, and the eyes are created using silk thread. Shah Rukh Khan is the second Bollywood star to be displayed at the New York Museum. He joins Amitabh Bachchan.

Of course, none of these facts would matter if the statue didn’t look like Khan. I thought it looked quite realistic and the fans I spoke to agreed. “I think it looks really nice. It looks better than the one in the UK,” said Sanchari Ghosh, a 16-year-old fan from New Jersey.

Her brother Saurabh Ghosh, 18, agreed. “I think that Madame Tussaud would be proud,” he said.

Do you agree? And what other celebrities would you like to see at the Madame Tussauds Bollywood Zone?

Liz Phair takes a trip to “Bollywood”

Oh, Liz Phair. Has it really come to this?

Seventeen years after the release of her debut Exile in Guyville– an album Blender considered the 35th best indie rock album of all time– Phair is back with a new album called Funstyle.

Bollywood, the album’s lead single, is downright bizarre. Phair raps about the injustice of the music industry over a tabla and sitar-driven track. Sample lyric: “Let me tell you how it’s done here in Hollywood/Maybe you were thinking you was in the Bollywood.” Ugh. Hopefully a video of Phair dancing around in a lengha isn’t inevitable.

You can listen to the song below. (Warning: it’s a bit painful.):

(Via Vanity Fair, EW)

Bipasha Basu’s 1999 New York Lotto Commercial goes viral

South Asian gossip blogs have been a buzz recently over a racy Indian-themed New York Lotto commercial filmed over a decade ago.

Created in 1999 and starring the then-unknown actors Bipasha Basu and Vivek Oberoi, the lavish ad is set in the court of an ancient kingdom. Viewers see a topless princess (Basu) bathing in a pool and briefly glimpse the side of her right breast as she prepares to meet a prince (Oberoi).

Watch the ad below (it gets NSFW at 0:19):

The ad’s appearance on YouTube has created a minor scandal for Basu in India. While she hasn’t spoken about the controversy directly, her representative had this to say:

“Bipasha had done this ad in 1999 when she was modelling for Ford Modelling Agency (sic) in New York. It was done as an international assignment and was meant for the international market. I don’t know why such an old ad has surfaced now.”

What do readers think of this ad? Any speculation as to why it was never aired?

I thought the commercial was striking for the following reasons:

1) The nudity was puzzling. I can’t imagine a station airing an unedited version of this commercial today, let alone in the late 1990s.

2) The spot was ahead of it’s time in a way, as it was produced years before Slumdog Millionaire and the current trend of seeing Indian-Americans everywhere on TV.

3) Lastly, this is by far the most elaborate and expensive Lotto ad that I’ve ever seen. (As a point of comparison click here and here to see other Lotto ads from the nineties.)

When the Disney Channel met Bollywood

I attended a fabulous panel on Bollywood and Anime in America at the Museum of Natural History yesterday afternoon.  To illustrate how Bollywood has influenced Hollywood in recent years, moderator Aseem Chhabra showed the following adorable clip from the Disney cartoon Phineas and Ferb :

The song is from the episode Unfair Science Fair and first aired last spring.