Midnight Mehfil Mixtape

March 29, 2016

As a companion to our piece on the history and evolution of mujras in Bollywood, our new mixtape “Midnight Mehfil” includes our favorite and most iconic mujra tracks.

Passage To Arabia Mixtape

March 23, 2016

Following my piece on the inter-connectedness of Arabic-sung and Bollywood music, we have put together a playlist of all the songs mentioned plus a few more. Listen to it on Spotify.

Bollywood’s Passage To Arabia

March 1, 2016

The similarities of South Asian and SWANA (South West Asian and North African*) culture manifest themselves in a number of ways, including art, architecture, language and cultural rituals. There are a number of reasons for this, including geographical proximity, political relationship, migration and religion. The one fascinating cultural phenomenon is the tendency of contemporary Hindi … Read More

The View from Afar

December 5, 2015

“If there is paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.” — Amir Khusrau Hindi filmmakers can always milk a successful formula for just a modicum more. Even if they make us believe it’s eternal, love onscreen doesn’t have to look original. Last week saw the release of “Gerua,” a sweeping ballad from the … Read More

Mastani Mastani

October 21, 2015

Last month, Parul Sehgal penned a provocation for readers of The New York Times Magazine that asked whether cultural appropriation could ever be a productive space. Could it ever encourage alterative forms of exchange and dialogue? Sehgal treads carefully here, however, aware that the line between borrowing and stealing is stained by a power asymmetry. … Read More

Earth, Movie Review

September 18, 2015

1947: Earth, the second movie in Deepa Mehta’s trilogy, is a coming-of-age tale set in the middle of the India-Pakistan partition set in what was about to become Pakistan. It is based on the book Ice Candy Man by Bapsi Sidhwa. “Independence” is a word packed with the feeling of liberation and newness — but is perhaps a … Read More

The Mujra and the Modern South Asian Imaginary

August 22, 2015

Director Muzaffar Ali places his latest film Jaanisaar, the romantic saga of a tawaaif (courtesan) and a nawab (aristocrat), in 1877 Lucknow, the seat of high Islamicate urban culture and artistic refinery under the British Raj. The film is in theatres August 21. Done in a semi-classical style, the album is comprised of a mixture … Read More

Dating: Two Straws, One Bottle

December 14, 2014

When my parents were growing up, “dating” was unheard of. Sure, we’ve all heard what the dating ritual involved for generations before us. Instead of a red Pontiac Trans Am, dreamy driver, and bottle of Thums Up with two straws, the girl’s parents would indicate interest in the eligible bachelor around the corner by letting … Read More

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