— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) March 17, 2014
Holi High! Journo Ankita Rao provides an informative and refreshing portrayal of Holi, India’s vibrant ode to spring, with a piece that delves into the use of bhang, aka cannabis, zoning in on a working-class neighborhood in Hyderabad where marijuana is used to lace everything from lassis to mithais. We can’t help but chuckle at one especially amused American commentator, who claims: “Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have a similar holiday. We call it ‘Friday’.” [The Atlantic]
Catalysts on Stage. Nirbhaya, (translation: “Fearless One”) a play that spotlights the stories of five Indian women who battled sexual violence and intimidation, hit theaters in India yesterday. Directed by Yaël Farber, an acclaimed South African director and playwright, the powerful play, which premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, is an extension of the protests that followed the violent rape of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi in 2012. Props to Farber for leveraging a Kickstarter campaign — it raised a staggering $83,000 — to bring the play to India. [The New York Times]
Song-and-Dance in the Sunshine State. It started with the International Indian Film Academy Awards, which will bring a clutch of Bollywood stars to the the Tampa Bay area this April. Now, Hillsborough County just offered producer Rhea Kapoor (Sonam’s little sis) a whopping $50,000 in shooting incentives to film Saat Hindustani, an upcoming comedy centered on seven Indian college students. Before your imagination runs wild (Desi frat parties, anyone?) rest assured, “it’s a positive story; it’s not an ‘Animal House’-type movie,” according to the Hillsborough County commissioner, Al Higginbotham. Who’s a tad disappointed? [India West]
All Eyes on India. Between The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Huffington Post, any Western media outlet worth its salt is beginning to acknowledge the importance of devoting a section to the world’s largest democracy. The latest news brand to jump on the Indian bandwagon is Quartz, whose parent company, Atlantic Media, just announced the upcoming launch of an untitled India channel this April or May. We can’t wait — yet another pub to consult for our curated take on South Asian news! [Capital New York]
Kolkata Disco. “Oh baby baby, you’re my item song,” croons Suyasha Sengupta, lead singer for the Ganesh Talkies, a Kolkata-based band (singled out by Rolling Stone India as “artists to watch out for” last year) that combines psychedelic funk with “Qawwalli bling“. We’re a little late to the party but thank the resourceful eds at Mumbai Boss for turning us on to this trippy bunch. Shimmy your heart out to their latest single, “Dancing! Dancing!” on your next five-minute break…it’ll be your private desk party. [YouTube]
Aarti Virani is an arts and culture writer based in Hoboken, New Jersey. She has written for publications including Vogue India, The Wall Street Journal and Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @aartivirani.