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October 2005

Compiled By Murali Kamma

Kronos Quartet collaborates with Asha Bhosle

As an avant-garde ensemble with an eclectic taste in music, the U.S.-based Kronos Quartet has performed widely and recorded the works of leading contemporary composers in the West. Recently they made a foray into Bollywood and came out with an album that pays tribute to the rich legacy of R.D. Burman and Asha Bhosle, the most prolific husband-and-wife team in popular music. The late Burman composed over 300 film scores, whereas Bhosle is one of the most recorded singers working today. She contributes new performances to 8 of the 12 tracks on this CD (You've Stolen My Heart: Songs from R.D. Burman's Bollywood). The ensemble "ventures into novel instrumental territory on this disc� ? the first to be produced by quartet founder David Harrington ? augmenting its acoustic sound with keyboards, gongs, cymbals, mouth percussion, and more," states Nonesuch Records, the label. "Kronos is also joined by longtime collaborators Zakir Hussain (tabla, trap drums) and Wu Man (Chinese pipa), completing this musical masala of eras and cultures." Apart from the title song ("Chura Liya Hai Tum Ne"), evergreen hits such as "Dum Maro Dum," "Mehbooba, Mehbooba" and "Piya Tu Ab To Aaja" are included.

The Sen Master speaks

The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity

By Amartya Sen

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005

Hardcover, 432 pages

Even before he won the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics, Amartya Sen was regarded as one of the most distinguished scholars to emerge from India in recent decades. Previously the Master of Trinity College in Cambridge, he is now the Lamont University Professor at Harvard. His new book ? which displays an erudition that extends well beyond his chosen profession ? received a high-profile launch by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a former co-student from their Oxbridge days. "It covers a wide variety of subjects, including aspects of India's rich intellectual heritage, the evolution of its culture, issues of gender, the Indian diaspora, relations with China, and ruminations on Satyajit Ray, Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi," writes diplomat and author Pavan Varma, who is the current director at the Nehru Centre in London. "Amartya Sen's vision for a pluralistic and secular India, which comes out so vividly in this book, deserves wholehearted respect and endorsement."

Indian stars shine at the U.S. Open

Just last month, for a refreshing change, two Indian players gave sterling performances at a major tournament in this country, attracting much attention among desis who love tennis. At the U.S. Open in New York, Mahesh Bhupathi and Daniela Hantuchova (his partner from Slovakia) won the mixed doubles final, making it his 9th grand slam title. And Sania Mirza, the irrepressible teen queen from India, continues to surge ahead in the sporting world, earning acclaim and adulation from her numerous fans. Even before the tournament, according to the WTA, she'd moved in her ranking from no. 326 in 2004 to no. 42 this year. Her astonishing progress during that period was unmatched. As a singles player, she became the first woman from India (and the first Indian since Ramesh Krishnan in 1987) to reach the fourth round in a grand slam. The 19-year-old beat Marion Bartoli of France to reach this milestone. "Today, she is an international tennis star?and the joy of the nation," declared India-based Sportstar in a cover story about her. Indian-Americans Neha and Shikha Uberoi, who are sisters, also participated in the tournament.

Picturing the life of Astronaut Chawla

The late Kalpana Chawla has become, without any doubt, the first Indian-American to inspire a comic book aimed at children. Famous for popularizing Indian classics like the Mahabharata in an appealing and easy-to-read format, Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) has produced 436 titles that have sold 90 million copies since 1970. Though originally written in English, they're available in many Indian and other languages, and reportedly, about 50,000 copies are purchased every week. "India Book House, the publishers, are aiming to introduce a new aspect to ACK comics, moving beyond myth and history to profile important contemporary figures, giving 21st-century Indian kids role models they can relate to," notes The Telegraph in India. Meant for children aged 7 to 14, this new comic book tells the story of a plucky, brilliant woman's rise from her humble origins in small-town India to become a pioneering astronaut who died in a tragic accident in 2003.

World's biggest film studio complex in India

Move over, Universal Studios, Hollywood. The largest film studio complex is not in America ? home to the earliest and best-known movie industry ? but in India, which churns out the most number of films every year. Quite appropriate, some would say. The state-of-the-art Ramoji Film City is located near Hyderabad, where it occupies more than 2000 acres and can simultaneously accommodate 20 international or 40 domestic productions. Offering 500 locations and 47 sound stages, this sprawling complex is now listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. About 10,000 objects for set design and construction are available at Maya, where 500 skilled craftsmen offer their services to film crews. In addition, world-class post-production facilities can be found at Rainbow (for film processing), Mantra (for digital editing), Symphony (for audio post) and Rhythm (for cassette duplication). Having opened in 1996, the film city is now a major tourist destination, attracting 1 million visitors every year. Other highlights include a theme park for children (Fundoostan), an architectural wonderland (Eureka), Hawamahal, and the colorful Shangri-La Gardens.

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