‘Adaminte Makan Abu’ India`s official Oscar entry

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 26 September 2011 | Posted in , , , ,

‘Adaminte Makan Abu’ India`s official Oscar entry Mumbai: National Award-winning Malayalam film "Adaminte Makan Abu" has been selected by the Film Federation of India (FFI) to be the country`s official entry to the Academy Awards this year.

Directed by Salim Ahamed, the family drama about an elderly Muslim couple and their struggles to go on a pilgrimage to Haj was the Best Film at the 58th National Film Awards for 2010 and beat 15 other movies in consideration.

"’Adaminte Makan Abu’ has been chosen as the official Oscar entry this time around. This was the jury`s final decision," T.P. Aggarwal, president, FFI, told IANS.

When the film bagged the best film honour at the National Awards, it was recommended that the movie that wins this award should be India`s official entry at the Oscars every year.

However, Supran Sen, general secretary of FFI, denied that the selection of the film was a result of that recommendation.

"Choosing this film as the Oscar entry is not a result of discussions that the National Award-winning film will be sent as India`s official entry for the Academy Awards," he told news agencies.

The 84th Academy Awards will be held Feb 27, 2012.

(Courtesy: Zee News)

Comic-Book Heroes Help Change Image of Islam

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 01 August 2011 | Posted in , , , ,

By Sara Hamdan

Dubai: As provocative as Wonder Woman, but in an entirely different way, Batina the Hidden is a character in the hit comic book series “The 99” who is not only a Muslim girl from Yemen, but one whose outfit of choice when fighting evil is a burqa.

“Most articles about Islam these days involve terrorism, so that was my challenge: How do I redefine this? The media not only reflects reality but can help change the course of reality,” said Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, creator of “The 99,” during a speech at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity last month. “The idea was to reposition Islam not only to the West, but to Muslims themselves as well.”

“The 99,” features Islam-inspired characters, based on the 99 attributes of Allah, who discover magic stones that unleash powers like superhuman strength, ability to read minds, and to teleport. And, in true super-hero style, they use these powers to fight bad guys.

In one typical episode, three of the characters, including a young boy just discovering his powers, work together to save one of the other characters from an evil dictator. “The bad guy is 500 years old and won’t let go of power – sound familiar?” quipped Dr Al-Mutawa. “At the end, the characters use social networking to get together, and to get him.”

The comic series, which began publication in 2007 by the Teshkeel Media Group in Kuwait, is the first of its kind from the Middle East geared toward an international audience.

The characters may have Muslim names, but they represent diverse backgrounds, such as Hadya the Guide from London, a human GPS navigator, and Bari the Healer from South Africa.
This year, the comic series secured distribution in its ninth language, French; a theme park has opened in Kuwait; and deals with DC Comics have been made for “The 99” to feature the likes of Superman, Batman and a fully clothed Wonder Woman. By early next year, an animated television series based on the comic strip will be broadcast in North America, the Middle East, North Africa, parts of Europe and Asia, and eventually Australia.

“When it hits TV, it will showcase one of the highest standards of animation,” Dr. Al-Mutawa, a New York-trained clinical psychologist and entrepreneur, said at the Cannes conference.

The idea of cultural crossover is one that Dr. Al-Mutawa has grown up with; as a child, his Arab Muslim conservative parents sent him to a culturally Jewish summer camp in New Hampshire by mistake in 1975. He did not realize this until later, yet continued to attend for a decade. His five boys currently spend their summers there.

After earning a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Long Island University in New York and working with survivors of political torture at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, he went to business school and obtained an M.B.A. from Columbia University.

Eventually, he returned to Kuwait and flirted with a few business ventures before coming up with the idea to start a comic book with Islam-inspired superheroes. Within a few months, he raised $7 million from 54 investors in eight countries. Today, the project has secured more than $40 million in financing and is expanding into an animated series.

“His concept is potentially world changing,” said Elliot Polak, founder and creator of Textappeal, a British firm that provides cross-cultural marketing and advertising expertise for global companies. “Dr. Al-Mutawa is working on rebranding, not of a product or service, but the rebranding of Islam.”

His work is turning heads. At the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in Washington in April, President Barack Obama singled out Dr. Al-Mutawa during a speech promoting interfaith dialogue and cross-cultural initiatives.

Still, the road to success has “not all been roses,” Dr. Al-Mutawa said at the Cannes conference. “There have been a million setbacks.”

He has had to defend his ideas against a potential ban in Saudi Arabia and a fatwa by scholars in Indonesia. Of the 50 female characters in the series, Batina the Hidden is only one of five characters who wears a head scarf.

In a scene from “Wham! Bam! Islam!” by the independent filmmaker Isaac Solotaroff, whose documentary on Dr. Al-Mutawa’s triumphs and struggles over the past four years will be shown on PBS in the United States on Nov. 13, an Indonesian university student wearing a hijab asks why the character Soora wears an immodest tank top and leaves her hair uncovered.

“I believe the purpose of this comic is to be countercultural,” she tells Dr. Al-Mutawa. “You know this is wrong, so why do you insist on doing this?”

Dr. Al-Mutawa responds by telling her about a fire in a school in Riyadh two years ago when girls came running out of a school without wearing head scarves, and the morality police sent them back to the school so the fire fighters would not see them dressed immodestly. The girls burned to death in the school. “The question here is, is Islam measured by behavior, which anyone can fake by praying or wearing a head scarf, or is it measured by values and faith?” he asks.

He then emphasizes that it is dangerous to give a small percentage of people the control to define what is and isn’t Islam. “This is what will take us to hell in a handbasket, and it’s our fault if that happens, nobody else’s,” he says to the university students in the film.

In another scene, Dr. Al-Mutawa is at Sabili magazine’s offices in Indonesia. Posters that decorate the walls say “Do Not Fear Al Qaeda.” As Dr. Al-Mutawa explains how “The 99” is inspired by Islam, one of the religious scholars slaps his hand on the table and says, “You can’t rewrite Islam!”

In response, Dr. Al-Mutawa explains that the same virtues in Islam are shared with other faiths and that he is not attempting to rewrite any religion.

“Dr. Al-Mutawa was in control and perfectly fluent in each of these settings,” Mr. Solotaroff said in an interview this week. “He is someone who has straddled multiple worlds his whole life, so it’s not in his DNA to choose sides and as a result.”

At the Cannes conference, Dr. Al-Mutawa was careful to highlight that the comic series is not purely Islamic or didactic in nature, but rather a concept inspired by the religion. He pointed to the way that other cultures have developed secular work based on religious archetypes — even Superman and Batman use storytelling elements from the Bible, he said — and yet this has not been achieved in the Muslim world.

“Until that’s done, we won’t be able to give divergent opinions and promote discussion,” he said. “What are people going to say about the Koran — they don’t like the font? The color purple used? This is a very limited scope, and my task is to fuse divergent ideas together.”
And so, he uses comic books as a medium to send positive, fresh messages to youth internationally and in the region.

Toward the end of 2010, 37 percent of the Arab population was under 14 years old, which makes for about 110 million Arab preteens, according to data provided by Dubai Media City, which houses animation workshops. Jamal Al Sharif, its managing director, said, “Animation has a bigger purpose than just entertainment. The popularity of ‘The 99’ has proven that the animation industry is poised for a new leap and paved the way for grooming fresh talent and creativity in the region.”

All this wasn’t an easy idea to sell a few years ago. The Solotaroff documentary shows scenes of how Dr. Al-Mutawa, pitching the concept to investors, strengthened his case by talking about a sticker book created by an Arab businessman showing bloody scenes of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and of suicide bombers extolling the virtues of martyrdom. This sticker book, called an “Intifada Album,” was selling to thousands of children in the West Bank.

At the end of one scene, Dr. Al-Mutawa says: “My message was very clear to investors: Muslim children need new heroes.”

(Courtesy: The New York Times)

Muslims “shoot back” at Hollywood

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 07 April 2011 | Posted in , , ,

By Michael Mumisa

Qasim Bashir
In 1981 the late Literary Theorist, Edward Said, published one of his influential texts “Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World” which challenged the essentialist representation of Islam and Muslims as the degenerate “other” in Western media since the Iranian revolution of 1979. Three years later Jack Shaheen published “The TV Arab” (1984) which analysed 100 different popular TV entertainment programmes to demonstrate how they constructed racist stereotypes of Arabs. In a more recent publication titled “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People” (2006) Jack Shaheen drew upon Edward Said’s earlier text “Orientalism” (1978) to examine both the cinematic vilification of Arab characters and the connection between American politics and Hollywood’s depiction of its villains.

Hollywood has always tried to win on the screen the wars that America loses on the ground.  Anyone who grew up on a staple diet of the Vietnam War action movies of the 80s without some basic knowledge of world history would be forgiven for thinking that such “historical” films were an accurate representation of reality.

The images of Arabs and Muslims produced and disseminated via the media, TV entertainment programmes, and movies have had an impact on most people’s perception of Muslims.  According to Harvard University’s Centre for Middle Eastern Studies and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, “about a third of the American public (32%) – including nearly half of those who offer a negative opinion of Muslims (48%) – say what they have seen or read in the media has had the biggest influence on their views.”

A handful of Muslim directors and film-makers from America, Africa, and Asia have been “shooting back” at Hollywood and telling their stories unfiltered by Hollywood’s politics. They represent the “New Muslim Cool” movement which is redefining what it means to be Muslim in a modern society, particularly after 9/11. In 2007 a groundbreaking film, “Il va pleuvoir sur Conakry” (Clouds over Conakry), by the African director Cheick Fantamady Camara premiered in theatres and film festivals in North America and Europe to wide critical acclaim. It is a film which deals with some of the challenges that young Muslims, or the “Hip Hop ummah”, are facing. The film follows the romantic life of its young protagonist BB (Alex Ogou) who works as a political cartoonist at a liberal newspaper. BB also happens to be the son of a respected Imam of Guinea’s capital, Conakry. His strict Muslim father Karamako has plans for him to travel to Saudi Arabia to study and succeed him as Conakry’s Imam. Meanwhile, BB has other plans which lead to a conflict between his father’s traditional values and BB’s modern expression and re-interpretation of such values. The influence of the late cinemagician and father of African cinema Ousmane Sembène on Camara is obvious.

Leading this new movement is Qasim Basir, a young African-American director and Danny Glover’s protégé, whose first feature film “MOOZ-lum” (2011) has already scooped a few awards and is attracting a large following across the world.  I recently spoke to Qasim Basir about his new film which he described as “semi-autobiographical.”  The film features American actor Evan Ross , son of Diana Ross, in his first leading role as Tariq, the protagonist, alongside the legendary actor Danny Glover, Nia Long, Roger Guenveur Smith, Summer Bishil, and Dorian Missick. The title “MOOZ-lum”, like the word “Ayrab” for Arab, plays on most Americans’ mispronunciation of the term “Muslim” and draws attention to the ignorance that some Americans have about each other. MOOZ-lum is a powerful and entertaining “coming of age drama” which was first conceived as a short film when Qasim Basir was still in university. The short film went on to win a prestigious award. Danny Glover, one of the judges, encouraged Qasim Basir to turn the short film into a bigger project and took him under his wings.

The story behind the making of MOOZ-lum mirrors Tariq’s life, the film’s protagonist, as he negotiates his multiple identities in an increasingly intolerant world.  It was a truly interfaith project that brought together the film’s auteur Qasim Basir (a Muslim), Dana Offenbach (Jewish) the film’s producer and Basir’s close friend, and a cast of Christian or non-Muslim actors playing Muslim characters. Evan Ross even memorised difficult sections of the Qur’an in their original ancient Arabic for the role. In his contribution to the debate on race, religion, and pluralism in America, Qasim Basir is already on the path carved by that other legendary director Spike Lee. Like Spike Lee, Qasim Basir will soon discover that when you make culturally important and challenging films like MOOZ-lum it is not going to be easy finding distributors in Hollywood.

[Michael Mumisa is a PhD candidate and Special Livingstone Scholar at Trinity Hall, University.]

(Courtesy: The Independent)

World class animated TV series,” The 99" is ready for release

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 19 March 2011 | Posted in , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

The 99 animated television serial for children is soon going to cross swords with Mickey Mouse, Tom and Jerry and all such likes. Even as the toons are going to be benefited by the new addition, the established names in such format of entertainment are going to get a run for their money.

Jointly produced by the 99 parent company, Teshkeel Media Group, and Endemol UK, the words largest syndicator of television programes, the 99 animated series is going to be a regular feature on the television screens from the middle of 2011.

The 99 is inspired from the Quranic concept of knowledge the suggest that there are ninety-nine salutary names of Allah, The 99' revolves around the hackneyed  theme of good versus evil but what makes the story different is the racy mix of action and drama with the incorporation of traditional values.

The 99 created as positive role models for the world's children offering universal themes of tolerance and teamwork. It’s a household comic book in many countries and hugely popular among the toon audiences of such countries. 

Naif-al -Mutuwa, founder and Chairman of the 99 is one the script writer of the comic strip is recently recognized for his efforts and chosen as the world economic forum's young global leaders for the year 2011.

The honor is bestowed each year to outstanding young leaders from around the world for their professional accomplishment, commitment to society and potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world.

The comic is now being made into an animated television series with an estimated cost of two million pound. It is produced at the Sanraa Media Ltd, a production house specializing in animated films in Chennai, India,

Hundreds of animators and graphic artists had put their hard work, to bring to life this popular comic series. The 26-episode project, each episode lasting 22 minutes, is ready and will soon hit the markets in South East Asia, the Gulf, Europe and elsewhere.

"What makes the work challenging and interesting is the fact that each of the 99 heroes has one particular trait, such as knowledge. When that character teams up with another that has mercy or any of the other qualities, the energy levels released should be phenomenal, and the animation should reflect a synergy between both," says said Sukumar Subramainam, director, Sanraa Media.

"It was demanding project and being a 3D animation, we have to come up with human characteristics in toon form, The challenge lies in bringing to life the vibrant energy that is caused when four super hero, or even six of them come together on a frame,” adds Subramaniam.

As the world market for animation series for the toon is growing, Chennai is fast emerging as a hub for animation production. There are many such productions from Japan, Malaysia and the United Kingdom that’s being produced from the studios in Chennai.

To know more about “The 99”, follow the link of my story “The 99-World Class Brand with Muslim Values”:

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com]

Kapoors rewriting history, Bollywood back in Kashmir

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 16 March 2011 | Posted in , , ,

By Bashir Assad

Srinagar: Call it a mere coincidence or stars falling in line for good, Bollywood is currently reinventing Kashmir and    history is being repeated here by the third generation of Kapoor family.

Kashmir’s scenic Pahalgam tourist destination in South and Gulmarg, the centre of winter sports in North, are in news for quite some time for both good and bad. The bad of it was the encroachment and deforestation by smugglers under the nose of the government officials  while as the good news is that at both places Indian film stars and important personalities of the film industry are camping here either shooting films or enjoying snow games. The distinction, this time around, is that the films being shot here right now are no more portraying death and destruction the militancy brought to this beautiful peace of land on earth but to capture its heavenly beauty on camera. And the stars of film Rockstar which is being shoot at Pahalgam refresh the memories reminding the people in and outside Kashmir- Raj Kapoor and Nargis who invented Kashmir in 1949 for Bollywood for the first time while shooting Barsaat. Now it is Ranbir Kapoor grandson of Raj Kapoor shooting Rockstar with the new comer Nargis. Isn’t it that history is being repeated and Kashmir is being reinvented in Bollywood by the same Kapoor family for the same breathtaking scenic reasons?   

From 1949 to 1989, Kashmir has been the staple of the numerous movies many of which turned out to be great romantic films. All the great film stars like  Raj Kapoor,  Shammi Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor, great comedian Mehmood, Rajinder Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna  Amitabh Bachan, have  a track record of successful romantic  films  shoot in lush green  and snow covered valley.

After inception of militancy in Kashmir, the passion behind shooting films in Kashmir changed diametrically. The big banners that until yesterday would feel incomplete without shooting in Kashmir portrayed it as the most insecure and horrendous place on earth and went overboard each other in making terrorist-centric films in the valley.  Arguably, this trend of making films on terror and terrorism damaged the tourism industry beyond imagination.     

Setting the tone was Mani Ratnam’s Roja which for the first time put Kashmir on screen for its own sake. - as a subject. This was followed by a long hiatus with worsening Kashmir situation scaring away film makers. Only three movies were shot in Kashmir between 1998 and 2003, according to tourism officials.

But after 2003, a succession of Kashmir-centric movies was made which focused on turmoil, Pakistan and the conflict in the state. Thus followed Pukar, LoC:Kargil, Maa Tujhe Salam, Yahaan, Tahaan some of them really silly and jingoistic in content.
But now the tide seems to be turning. Kashmir is once again becoming important for its beauty and the mystique. Hence, Saat Khoon Maaf in 2009 and now Rockstar which use Kashmir as a beautiful geography rather than a peg to hang a shrill jingoistic narrative on.

Perhaps a symbolic return to this old trend is the arrival of Ranbir and Nargis who between them – Ranbir because of his illustrious Kapoor lineage and Nargis for her name – evoke a piece of Bollywood history, even if Rockstar by no means echoes Barsaat.

[Bashir Assad is a senior Journalist based in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir. He is now Bureau Chief (J&K) of IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be contacted at bashirassad@rediffmail.com]

Muslim American Artists Strive to Bridge a Chasm

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 17 December 2010 | Posted in , , , ,

By Thalia Gigerenzer

When Wajahat Ali, a young Muslim American playwright from Fremont, needed to build an audience for his work, he produced his plays in cramped Pakistani restaurants in the East Bay and used Facebook to get the word out.
The Bay Citizen

A nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization providing local coverage of the San Francisco Bay Area for The New York Times. To join the conversation about this article, go to baycitizen.org.

His play “The Domestic Crusaders” went on to open at the Berkeley Repertory Theater in 2005, and then moved to Off Broadway.

Now, family members who were initially skeptical of Mr. Ali’s decision to pursue writing see great power in his profession.

Mr. Ali said his uncle had told him that he wished he had “made his son into a journalist,” because “after 30 years of living in this country, I turn on the TV and see myself as a terrorist.”

Mr. Ali is one of a growing number of Bay Area artists who are reimagining one of the country’s most complicated compound identities: Muslim American.

At a time when Islam has been heavily politicized, many Muslim artists say they hope the arts can expand understanding of their faith among non-Muslims as well as bridge American and Islamic traditions.

“We’re at a point where Islam is really being defined in this country, and it’s going to be through the arts,” said Javed Ali, founder of Illume, a Muslim online news, arts and culture magazine based in Newark that serves as one of the central nodes of the Bay Area Muslim American network.

Bay Area Islamic organizations, including the much-heralded Zaytuna College in Berkeley, have embraced the shift toward culture. In January, the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California will open a new gallery in the center to showcase Muslim artists.

The cultural center, in Oakland, decided to increase its arts programs six months ago, said Ali Sheikholeslami, its executive director. The center regularly hosts an event called “Islam and Authors,” which invites authors to discuss topics related to Islam.

“We want to break through common stereotypes and present the whole spectrum of Muslim reality,” said the cultural center’s marketing and development director, Jason van Boom.

Hatem Bazian, one of the Islamic scholars behind Zaytuna College, the first Muslim liberal arts institution in this country, echoed that thought.

“In American society,” Mr. Bazian said, “artistic expression is the way we narrate our story, so Muslims are beginning to draw their own narrative.”

The Bay Area’s Muslim population, estimated to be 250,000, is one of the most diverse in the United States.

Mr. Bazian, who is also a senior lecturer at the departments of Near Eastern and ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, said the wide mix of ethnicities and large number of converts in the Bay Area’s Muslim population “creates synergies” that can be seen in new art forms that break ethnic molds.

Some local artists have taken an online entrepreneurial approach to Islam. Khadija O’Connell, a Hayward resident, started her Web-based arts and craft business, Barakah Life, in 2003 as a way to bring a modern, handcrafted aesthetic to Muslim items most commonly found in gaudy, imported styles.

Ms. O’Connell relies on online tools like blogging and Facebook to promote ideas like her pop-up crescent moon cards that would look at home on the popular crafts site Etsy.

“People used to adapt neutral Christmas ornaments, like stars, and hang them up for Ramadan,” recalled Ms. O’Connell, who converted to Islam in college. “I wanted to bring new traditions to Muslims living in the West.”

For local Muslim American artists whose art has been deemed “radical” by more conservative Muslims, the road has not been an easy one.

Audience members walked out of an early November U.C. Berkeley performance of the play “Hijabi Monologues,” which features the stories of Muslim women and contains sexual references. “I’ve spent more time and energy negotiating with the community whether music is haraam [“forbidden”] than putting out content,” said Anas Canon, a convert and the founder of the record label and Muslim artist collective Remarkable Current, which includes the Bay Area MC/spoken word artist Baraka Blue. The label’s music ranges from soul to hip hop and has collaborated with artists such as Mos Def.

When Remarkable Current, which is based in both Oakland and Los Angeles, recently held a masquerade-themed book-signing with a D.J. in an Oakland home, debate erupted online ostensibly over men and women in costumes interacting together. An impassioned Facebook note condemning the event unleashed heated comments from Muslims across the Bay Area.

In the wake of controversies like the one over a proposed Muslim cultural center near ground zero in New York City, some second-generation Muslims’ art is tinged with a sense of urgency.

“Our narrative has been stolen from us,” Wajahat Ali said, referring to the common depiction of Muslims in the American news media.

The tendency of his parents’ generation to push their children to prestigious professions like medicine and business discouraged creative voices, he said.

But Bay Area Muslim artists are fast creating new narratives. Mr. Ali’s play, which depicts a modern Pakistani-American family, is featured in McSweeney’s literary magazine this month.

For many years, Mr. Ali said, he had described the local arts scene as “latent, with a heartbeat.” But now, he said, “it’s dancing.”

(Courtesy: The New York Times)

PEOPLE: 'I can't be part of a compromised cinema'

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 21 November 2010 | Posted in , , ,

Actor Aamir Bashir, seen in movies such as Peepli Live, The Great Indian Butterfly and A Wednesday, recently directed Harud, which deals with the situation in Jammu & Kashmir. Bashir talks to Subhash K Jha about his film:

Why did you turn to film direction?

As an actor I feel frustrated. I couldn't even read through the work offered to me, let alone work in them. So I had a lot of time on hand.

Why didn't you cast yourself in Harud?

There was no role for me there. I cast actors who were suitable, like the Iranian actor Reza Naji. I knew him from the time I did research for Majid Majidi's Children Of Heaven. He has such a cinematic face. I had to explain everything to him on the phone. The rest of the actors in Harud are all local Kashmiris. These are completely raw actors.

What made you take up the theme of insurgency in Kashmir?

What we are seeing in Kashmir is the result of blunder after blunder by the Indian armed forces. They've messed up the situation to the extent that a small containable protest has become a massive insurgency in the Valley. The Indian state is responsible for this. Kashmiris were never treated as anything but the 'other'. The Kashmiris say, 'Humko thook (spit) se jod ke rakha hai.' They feel they're not treated like an integral part of India. When major insurgency happens in the Maoist areas there's a huge debate before armed forces are sent in. In Kashmir, it's different. If there's a stone-throwing incident there's a flag march the next day. Two Kashmiris speaking on the phone because they can't go out and are bored is interpreted in the Indian media as money changing hands.

Your concern for Kashmir seems far more than cinematic?

Kashmir knows how it's being treated. I am from Kashmir. Harud tells a story of a people and circumstances I am familiar with. My cousin's father-in-law had been shot dead. Harud is not a political film, but I couldn't escape politics in it. You can't avoid seeing the divide between Kashmiri civilians and the Indian armed forces. I was more interested in capturing the daily suffering and loss of dignity of the Kashmiris. The alienation of Kashmir and Kashmiris has, in my opinion, reached a point of no return.

Did you make Harud to open up a political discussion on Kashmir?

I didn't make it with any fixed purpose. It was a story I had to tell. I've just put forward the plight of Kashmiris. I could've directed a trendy and edgy film. I made Harud with a lot of sincerity and with a very small crew. Maybe I am digging my own grave. I can't be part of a compromised cinema.

What do you think of other films on the Kashmir issue?

I've only seen Mani Ratnam's Roja on the Kashmir issue. Mainstream cinema depends too much on lecture-baazi. Such films are condescending towards the audience.

How much of your politics is influenced by your being an Indian Muslim?

Though I was born a Muslim I can't call myself anything. I'm still trying to figure out what I am. As far as politics is concerned I consider myself left-of-centre.

What next?

I'd like to do a Kashmir trilogy. Harud means autumn. I've winter and spring in mind. I steered away from putting too much Kashmiri dialect into Harud. I didn't want the film to go straight to DVD. Maybe my next Kashmir film will be even more authentic.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

Turkey to host welknown Muslim musicians in "Jazz in Ramadan"

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 07 August 2010 | Posted in

Turkey to host well-known Muslim musicians in "Jazz in Ramadan"

Istanbul, the main cultural hub of Turkey, will host worlwide known Muslim Jazz musicians, in Ramadan within a festival named “Jazz in Ramadan”.

It will be the first such kind of event in Turkey, gathering jazz music and Muslims in Ramadan.

"Jazz in Ramadan" will take place in Istanbul between 14-31 August in two beautiful historic Sultanahmet venues will be the settings for eight concerts: the courtyard of the ArcheologicalMuseum and the glamorous gardens of Topkapi Palace.

The festival, organized by Hakan Erdogan Production, aims to propose the idea that social peace comes first and foremost from the sharing artistic inspiration; so will feature world-renown jazz musicians from the Muslim world such as Ahmad Jamal, Anouar Brahem, Abdullah Ibrahim and Dhafer Youssef.

On the other hand, the popular jazz musicians from Turkey such as Ilhan Ersahin and Aydin Esen will also participate in the event.

Aydin Esen will perform his special program on Ramadan, named as “Aydin Esen Plays for Ramadan”.

Besides jazz singers, the classical Turkish music group that is name after one of the biggest musician of Otoman-era, Dede Efendi, also will participate the “Jazz in Ramadan”.

Dede Efendi Ensemble, lead by Munip Utandı, will take place in Archeology Museum.

The last concer of the event is “Islam Blues” which will be performed by reed flute (Ney) player Kudsi Erguner.

The catering will be available in Iftar times in the concerts.

Festival program:

14 August: Anouar Brahem Quartet / Archaeological Museum
17 August: Ahmad Jamal Quartet / Topkapi Palace
18 August: Dhafer Youssef Quartet / Archaelogical Museum
20 August: Dede Efendi Ensemble--Munip Utandi / Archaeological Museum
21 August: Ilhan Ersahin & Istanbul Sessions / Archaeological Museum
24 August: Abdullah Ibrahim Trio / Topkapi Palace
26 August: Aydin Esen Group / Archaeological Museum (Aydin Esen Plays For Ramadan)
31 August: Kudsi Erguner Ensemble--Islam Blues / Topkapi Palace

(Courtesy: World Bulletin)

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