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Tidbits January 2005

January 2005
Tidbits January 2005

A roundup of diaspora items from our inbox

By Murali Kamma

The Legend of Buddha Heads For the Oscars

A 90-minute film directed by S. S. Phalke about the spiritual quest and teachings of the Buddha was one of the 11 movies to qualify for the 2005 Academy Award in the Best Animated Feature Film category. Using the talents of people in India, Singapore and the Phillipines, Pentamedia Graphics Ltd. has reportedly come out with a lush and accessible film that has 2D animated characters supported by 3D animated backgrounds.

For Indophiles and Bibliophiles

India Untouched: The Forgotten Face of Rural Poverty

By Abraham George< BOOK IMAGE>

Writers' Collective (February 2005)

Hardcover (368 pages)

India in Mind

Edited by Pankaj Mishra

Vintage (January 2005)

Trade Paperback (352 pages)

Abraham George's book, which has a foreword by the columnist Thomas Friedman, received much acclaim in India after its release by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. After selling his software company in the U.S., George spent millions of his own money to fund various noteworthy projects in India, and in this bestseller he narrates the inspiring story of his reverse journey to the heart of rural India. The editor of Foreign Affairs journal describes it as "a wake-up call that India cannot expect to be stable and peaceful if its huge rural population remains impoverished while its urban elite benefits from the economic reforms of the past decade."

Pankaj Mishra, in his new anthology, draws on his omnivorous reading to range widely over the last two centuries and bring together selections on fiction, poetry and nonfiction from the works of many renowned authors who have written about India. What's interesting about this collection is that, for a refreshing change, it also includes a few American writers such as Mark Twain and Gore Vidal.

Harry and Kumar Go to DVD

Harry and Kumar Go to White Castle

New Line Home Entertainment (January 2005)

DVD/VHS, 88 minutes, R (Restricted)

Filmgoers who missed seeing Kal Penn (aka Kalpen Modi) and John Cho on the big screen can now check them out on DVD as these two hapless buddies make their tortuous way to a White Castle joint in the boondocks of New Jersey. This Hollywood movie, featuring an Indian-American in a lead role for the first time, has generally been well received, and as The Hollywood Reporter points out, "it's nice to see characters who are usually relegated to stock, stereotypical supporting roles finally allowed to carry the entire picture." Apart from the R-rated version, there is an Unrated Extended Edition.

Superman to be Reborn as an Indian Hero

In a novel departure from their respective callings, Deepak Chopra, the guru of self-help, and Shekhar Kapur, the film director, will recreate Superman in the Indian avatar of Pavitr Prabhakar. Gotham Studios Asia, their joint venture, will also be involved in other projects like a more modern version of the Ramayana for the burgeoning comic-book market in India and other places. Chopra is expected to bring his signature style to these endeavors. "For instance, in the Indian version, Spiderman gains his powers from a mysterious yogi, not from a radioactive spider," notes The New York Times. "Spiderman's enemy, the Green Goblin, is the reincarnation of an ancient Indian demon called a rakshasa." Will this cross-cultural hero captivate young readers? Only time and, perhaps, Pavitr can give the answer.

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