Sunday, November 07, 2004

Bollywood Stirs the Melting Pot

So, last night we got a taste of Bollywood at the India Community Center’s first annual banquet and auction, “It’s a Small World.” Several hundred people from all corners of the Valley came to dance, dine and bid for the privilege of scheduling a lunch date with a Bollywood star. (There were other lots in the auction, of course, but the stars were by far the biggest draws). Brunch with Kim Sharma, the “face of Olay in India,” fetched $3,000 -- a bargain, if you consider the shock value of crashing a local chaat house with the winsome starlet. And more than one lady in the house swooned when Bollywood tough guy Suniel Shetty showed up. He sported a Colin Ferrell-like five-o’clock shadow and a tousled head of hair that seemed to suggest he just rolled out of his bed at the Cabana Hotel. And guests were treated to a clip of Ben Rekhi’s “Waterborne,” starring Shabana Azmi, another honored guest. Ben -- who happens to be the son of legendary Indian entrepreneur Kanwal Rekhi -- will premier his film at next year’s Sundance Festival. [SPIN ALERT: thegoodseed’s employer agency represented Kanwal at his most recent gig, as CEO for Silicon Valley company Ensim].

With an early curfew, we had to miss what must have been the highlight of the show -- two hours of traditional and contemp dancing led by India dance-champion Mona Sampath. The entire evening felt like a wedding to us, so we drove away feeling envious of those who remained, imagining the dance floor erupting into a reprise from Monsoon Wedding (the bhangra beat throbbing in our skulls as we shuttled back home on El Camino). But for us, the high point was at the start of the event, when the children of the ICC took the stage and paid homage to an odd mix of cultures -- Mexico, China, Turkey, Ireland, Kenya and the U.S. -- in song, costume and dance. We were most amused with the U.S. bit, which featured a young lad dressed like Elvis, lip-synching to Bruce Springsteen, and dancing like John Travolta. And it doesn’t happen too often -- except at weddings -- but we felt a lump in our throat when the kiddies came out in sombreros. Yes, we’re Puerto Ricans from New York, but that was close enough. Emcee
Sandya Patel (an ABC meteorologist) explained the Disney “small world” theme by observing that the Valley has become a true “melting pot.” That much we’re sure of, and we were pleased to be stirring in that pot late last night.

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