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Music Musings – Emel Mathlouthi

Emel Mathlouthi performed at Mehboob Studios as part of the first Johnnie Walker – The Journey festival – and part of reviving my old Music Musings series!

Emel seduced the audience with the powerful emotions her voice emitted… punching through with passion, protest, shifting from lilting to wrenchingly raw.

After the show, Emel shared how much she enjoyed their short stay in India. Yet after extensive touring also appreciated a chance to relax in the hotel, swim outdoors…

She shared that they had been to Vancouver and Montreal and enjoyed their Canadian tour. I later met the guitar player who talked about being busy working on their new CD, soon to be independently released – Ensen.

Emil Mathlouthi – Ma Lkit

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I’ll admit I’d never heard of her before the event… and yet for much of December, Christmassy music was replaced by the haunting sounds of Tunisia.

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Red carpet specimens

I will admit that our social calendar is often full.

Some are the normal live music shows, festivals, friends and family celebrations but peppered amongst these are ‘EVENTS’ (yes in caps) where they roll out the red carpet. Film and theatre premiers, _____ (insert brand, book, whatever) launches, etc. Where the point is to see and be seen – to have the shutter bugs snap and flash as guests enter.

For the first 40+ years of my life, such ‘EVENTS’ (yes those caps again!) were rarities rather than regular affairs. However the hazard of having a partner in ‘The Biz’ means these are a normal part of life in Bombay.

There are times at such ‘EVENTS’, I’m reminded of a short section in Fahad Samar’s book FlashPoint(more…)

Mumbai monsoons…

I returned from Singapore to a muggy Mumbai… the kind of weather where you feel sluggish and slow.

I also returned with a freshly injured ankle, so put myself under ‘house arrest’. Which meant an opportunity to witness our living room be transformed into

  • A salon for theatrical readings of new plays my partner is planning to produce…
  • A film set where our bookshelves became backdrop to a short scene
  • An impromptu evening of merriment (my favourite kind!)

While I busied myself with post-Singapore trip follow-up, plunged into the depths of accounts (ugh!), day after day, we had no respite from the humid heat. Teasingly, rains would come only at night where the drop in temperature had negligible impact.

Each morning our maid would share her impatience for the rains…  everyone knows how important a good monsoon is to the people and economy of this country. A poor monsoon is devastating. A good monsoon brings prosperity.

Early this morning the heavens opened and the deluge began… and didn’t stop… I think it’s safe to say hello monsoon! Welcome back and may you shower us with blessings this year!

Monsoon evening sky...

Monsoon evening sky…

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Behind the billboard… Daddy Cool

A couple of years ago, my partner got a real kick out of seeing this billboard plastered around Mumbai…

Aalim Hakim Poster

Aalim Hakim Poster – look closely at the lower left pic

Why? Though he spent 30 years in the ‘biz’, I was the one getting a tiny slice of ‘fame’ (notoriety?) thanks to the small square with my photo.

Today, he’s having the last laugh as billboards for his recent TV commercial can be spotted all over the country! And the ad is running not just in India but also in South & South East Asia, Africa and the Middle East. (more…)

Hair today, gone tomorrow!

As shared, my Mumbai theatrical ‘debut‘ had two challenges:

  1. Sonam's soiree cut... Much longer than current length!

    Sonam’s soiree cut… When my hair was LONG!

    Costume Crisis – The brilliant Belinda Bawa rescued with a fabulous 1890s western women’s costume!

  2. Short hair – For ‘outdoor’ scenes, Belinda’s instantly crafted hat was perfect! However for my indoor scenes… something had to be done about my scandalously short locks!

I’m lucky to have a talented young stylist friend. When learning her craft, I was her ‘guinea pig’ (model) – and she even won her final exam ‘soiree’! (more…)

Costume Crisis!

Word of warning – before saying ‘yes,’ find out what’s involved!

While my Mumbai theatrical ‘debut‘ was a success… I had two challenges:

  1. Costume Crisis – 1890s western women’s costumes are not easily available and – ahem – fuller figured females limited in what they can borrow!
  2. Short hair – Not exactly ‘fashionable’ in the 1890s…
Costume Crisis - Help!

Costume Crisis – Help!

So what? With our theatre connections  – surely someone has something that will work! (more…)

Mumbai Theatrical Debut!

Part of my recent blogging ‘disappearing act’ is because I made my Mumbai acting ‘debut’!

Most would know that stage and film is my partner’s profession.

Onno Vivekananda

Onno Vivekananda

Few would know that there was a time when I flirted with this too. Waaaay back 30 years ago, along with regular school, I also attended Prairie Theatre Exchange‘s theatre school. Acted in a couple plays, did a TV commercial, taught drama education as a summer job and even landed a Drama Award.

No I wasn’t a drama queen – just enjoyed stage work. You could say I came by it naturally as I grew up  hanging out backstage as my mother donned costumes and make-up to go under the bright lights to sing her operatic heart out at the concert hall.

However I left that all behind decades ago until a friend persuaded me to help out a local Bengali community theatre group with a play on Swami Vivekananda. An amateur production with a director who has spent 20+ years writing & putting on plays raising charitable funds for both a cancer patients and girls education – worthy causes indeed! (more…)

Music Musings – Carlos Bica and Azur

Carlos Bica, Frank Moebus and Jim Black performed last week at St Andrew’s in Mumbai and are this week’s Music Musings feature!

Carlos Bica, Frank Mobus, Jim Black (Photo: Carlos Bica's FB page)

Carlos Bica, Frank Moebus, Jim Black (Photo: Carlos Bica’s FB page)

There is something about seeing a trio perform that just do their thing – and have been doing it together for 20 years – it shows. Their sound is original and completely their own. Broadly falling under the music category of ‘jazz’, it is … (more…)

Music Musings – Sridhar/Thayil’s STD

This Music Musings feature is STD – a remarkable duo from Suman Sridhar and Jeet Thayil. Seems fitting as we’ve enjoyed listening to their CD with them at our recent dinner gathering – what fun!

ShridharThayil (Photo: X site)

ShridharThayil (Photo: STD MySpace)

Him – Jeet is an old friend of my partner – known for his edgy poetry, blistering guitar, funky offbeat and outrageous approach. His book Narcopolis was short-listed for the 2012 Man Booker prize and draws one into a different side of Bombay – its addictions, predilections and transformations in the 70s and early 80s.

Her – I first saw Suman on Boxing Day (26 Dec 2010) at an evening gathering of music and merriment in Bandra. Her quirky style and powerful talent blew everyone away – blues, jazz scatting, opera, Hindustani classical… she effortlessly slips between styles seducing and conquering them all.

Them – Together they are a combustible combination… flirting and bending musical styles, mocking and breeching boundaries of conventions, creating a sexy groovy sound that is uniquely theirs. (more…)

Music Musings – Fatoumata Diawara

Compared with Angelique Kidjo, Fatoumata Diawara from Mali was performing this week in Mumbai and is today’s Music Musings feature!

Fatoumata Diawara (Photo: Wikipaedia)

Fatoumata Diawara (Photo: Wikipedia)

Now living in Paris, Fatou’s singing, guitar, dancing and theatricality was mesmerizing. Her sound clearly reflects her Wassaoulou tradition in a folk pop way that deftly weaves a bit of funk, jazz and rock for good measure.

It’s been some time since we’ve seen such a brilliant performer – not just musically talented but also puts on a show. Warms up the audience, charms, beguiles, engages, captivating one and all completely. A born story-teller, she spoke of war, women’s rights, and embracing the world traveling by choice or forced by circumstance.

One of the most entertaining numbers was when she decided to teach everyone the different dance styles of Africa and proceeded to go region and country by country demonstrating each with such joy and abandon! (more…)

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