Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya trailer

Given its European premiere at last week’s London Goopi Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya (The World of Goopi and Bagha) is an adaptation of Satyajit Ray’s similarly named 1968 Bengali film.

This time around the hapless singers are animated and their tale told in Hindi and, according to director Shilpa Ranade, the state-funded film is riding a wave of interest in animation in India.

Amazon’s UK 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime list

A Fine BalanceLists are generally worth about as much as surveys; the trick to divining their value invariably lays in finding out what questions where asked and who answered them.

Nevertheless I remain a sucker for lists, whatever their provenance, and that includes Amazon’s new UK version of its 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime, a wide-ranging reading list that manages to include The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Trainspotting and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Although it’s somewhat opaque in its ‘compiled by the Amazon Book Editors’ descriptor, it arrives just as I’m trying to work out what to read next having made one too many unwise-in-retrospect second-hand book choices. (It’s also, as usual, a chance to cross off the ones I’ve read – but that’s what lists are for … right?) Continue reading

A UK language shortage, but no priority for Bangla, Hindi et al?

The cliche about how the British communicate aboard – speak loudly, slowly … and in English – may not be entirely fair*, but the county still doesn’t value language learning.

At least that appears to be the message from a new report by business lobbying body the CBI, which says there is a growing need for people with language skills.

Somewhat typically there is no mention of Indian languages, though it’s difficult to see how, at least from a business perspective, there would be a need to prioritise Hindi, Bengali etc when not only is English the second most spoken language language in India, but the alternative is deciding which of the 18 or so official languages to pursue. Continue reading

The beginning of the end of the road for the Ambassador

Ambassador taxis in Kolkata, India

Early morning wash and check for Ambassador taxis near Kolkata’s New Market (December 2012)

It’s difficult to know how long the decision by Hindustan Motors to close indefinitely the factory where Ambassadors were made will take to bite.

Certainly the iconic cars will hardly disappear overnight from the streets of Kolkata, where they make up most of the city’s taxi cabs, but the decision does mark the beginning of their end. Continue reading

A British newsreel view of India

British Pathé newsreels were famously shown in cinemas prior to a featured film and the company kept churning them out, despite the inescapable threat from television, until 1976.

Last month the entire British Pathé archive was uploaded to YouTube and the UK’s historic ties to India ensure the country makes a number of appearances in the 85,000 film collection. Continue reading

Nepali cinema and Saanghuro on Channel 4

The last film in Channel 4′s current, short South Asian film season will be the Nepali film Saanghuro.

Director Joes Pandey’s debut picture is the story of a lower middle-class family living in an urban slum in Kathmandu and it portrays life as a constant struggle, according to Channel 4. Continue reading

Channel 4 chooses Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Nepali films over Bollywood for South Asian movie season

With_You_Without_You_Sri_Lanka_film_movieChannel 4 will shortly begin its first Bollywood South Asian film season of 2014 with a run of four films from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Cinema South Asia begins in Pakistan with Bol (Speak Up), the second film by Shoaib Mansoor, who boldly focuses on the repression of women in the Muslim world.

The film tells the story of Zainub Sayyed (Humaima Malik), a young woman about to be hanged for her father’s murder. Her final wish is to tell her story to the media who want to witness the hanging. Continue reading