Unlock with a look

iPhone X Commercial: Unlock with a look ft Bollywood song sample by @petecannon #ListenToRadha #iPhoneX #UnlockWithALook

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My son has recently mastered the game of Uno so we typically sit down after dinner to play as a family. The tv is usually playing in the background, tuned to some harmless network channel, mostly as a light source in an otherwise dimly lit living room (you know, for ambiance). Recently, during one of our intensely competitive rounds of gameplay, I heard this distinctly Desi sounding song coming from the tv, and glanced up to see this iPhone X commercial.

I immediately hit rewind (thank you Xfinity X1) and Shazam’d the commercial, confirming my initial hunch. The wordless ad features a young woman unlocking various items with just a look, alluding to how amazing it is that the iPhone X is able to be unlocked with facial recognition (Full disclosure: I have an iPhone X and the Face ID only works about 60% of the time) all to the early 80s era, Bollywood pop hit, inspired song “Bang Bang” by Pete Cannon.

He’s British which explains the Indian music, ’cause we all know that England continues to be the motherland for all Desis. The cover art features a mendhi inspired drawing with the author’s name and track title running across it. I can’t seem to find much more about him online, so if anyone knows what his connection is to the Brown world or how he happened to stumble upon this sample, I’m curious to know more!

The YouTube page includes the credit: The track “Bang Bang” features a sample of “Meri Nazar Hai Tujh Pe’” sung by Asha Bhosle music by R.D. Burman and lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi licensed courtesy of Saregama PLC. The original song itself borrows some influence from Spanish Flamenco which of course is par for the old school Bollywood course; they are well known for “borrowing” influence in their songs/films. Also, the movie it was in is called “The Burning Train“. This just gets weirder and weirder!

Karan Soni, on “How To Win An Oscar”

Loving all things Desi and American, seeing Karan on the promo spot piqued my curiosity so I found the video and Googled who was the actor.

The 89th Annual Academy Awards a.k.a. the Oscars are on this Sunday and I plan on putting the kid to bed early so I can not only watch the ceremony but listen to all the speeches and revel at the performances. It’s always exciting to hear how those speeches pull from current events and might influence pop culture. I’ve long been a movie buff and with the Oscars being the ultimate “who’s who” of actors and movies for the year, I make it a point to be at home, alone, to watch it every year. I’ve already told my husband that we’re getting take out and not leaving the house, lest I miss even a moment!

In anticipation of the show, ABC has been running promo spots with host Jimmy Kimmel. One in particular, inspired this post. Jimmy Kimmel walks us thru his guide on how to win an Oscar while actor Karan Soni is acting the steps out in the background.

Loving all things Desi and American, seeing Karan on the promo spot piqued my curiosity so I found the video and Googled who was the actor. Turns out Karan has been quite busy in Hollywood and is going to be in many upcoming, high profile projects. He made his mark as the nerdy tech in a series of AT&T commercials then played small roles in Deadpool and Ghostbusters. Currently he’s a series regular in Starz’ Blunt TalkHe’s also going to be in the next season of FX’s breakout hit Fargo, due to be out later this year.

What a banner year with (my fav) Riz Ahmed and Dev Patel winning BAFTAs and hopefully Oscars too! I see good things for young Karan Soni as well.

Desi Theater in Chicago

Living in Chicago, I’m lucky enough that we have the talent, space, patrons, and interest to cultivate South Asian arts. One of the most special artistic outlets we have is Rasaka Theater Company, a Desi theater company that performs “South Asian stories” by “South Asian artists”.

Rasaka Theater Company Logo
Rasaka Theater Company Logo

I first learned about Rasaka back in 2011 when I went to watch their production of Gruesome Playground Injuries, a play by Rajiv Joseph, starring Mouzam Makkar (who later went on to act on such TV shows as The ExorcistVampire Diaries, and upcoming Chicago Justice). I was serving on the associate board of a local non-profit and helped sell tickets to the play as a fundraiser. Ever the one to celebrate South Asians making the American experience their own, I was so excited to see a medium that isn’t the most mainstream art, being showcased and accessible. Hence why I am choosing to write about them now.

Rasaka was founded in 2003 by a group of South Asian artists who were looking to put on a production and worked together to bring their gifts to the community. Check out their mission statement:

Rasaka Theatre Company is based in Chicago and is the Midwest’s first South Asian American ensemble. Our goal is to increase diversity among artists and audience by engaging and illuminating the South Asian American experience. We are particularly dedicated to providing a platform for the artistic expression of South Asian artists.

Our vision encompasses the production of theatrical projects – newly created, adapted and already established. We aim to broaden, strengthen and enrich the experience of the theatre going audience thereby enhancing the local, regional, national and international reputation of Chicago theatre.

“Rasa” means the essence or inspiration of a work of art, and adding “ka” behind a word makes it “of” that, as in “of the essence of art.”  Rasaka’s goal is to increase diversity among artists and audience by engaging and illuminating the South Asian American experience, with particular dedication to providing a platform for the artistic expression of South Asian artists.

If you’re interested in supporting their mission, I encourage you to check out some of their productions. They are currently running a play based on Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya adapted by Lavina Jadhwani. It’s playing at the Edge Theater in Uptown thru February 3rd and you can buy tickets here.

Vanya (or, 'That's Live!')
Vanya (or, ‘That’s Life!’) Pictured from L to R: Puja Mohindra, Richard Costes, Rom Barkhordar, & Tiffany Renee Johnson
“Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya continues to be one of the greatest and continually relevant of plays – concerned with family relationships, broken hearts, and the rampant disappointment of midlife crisis. In this hilarious and sharp reinvention, there is great providence in the shattering of a teacup, time moves backwards, and our bored, sad Chekhovian friends have a tendency to lapse into singing American Indie folk tunes. What could be more Russian? Or American?”