VIDEO: ANJA MANUEL ON INDIA, CHINA AND THE USA

We sat down to speak with Silicon Valley-based Anja Manuel, who is co-founder and partner at RiceGatesHadley, LLC, a strategic consulting company about her new book This Brave New World: India, China and the United States. This is the first book that Manuel has written on a subject that she is very familiar and has travelled in India and China quite a bit.

Manuel argues that India, China are the 2 largest and rising nations in this century. She underscores that India, China and the US stand to gain a lot through partnership and collaboration. She explains why and how the 3 countries can work together.  She also examines the challenges and wrinkles that exist in the relationship between and among these countries.

Manuel worked in the State Department from 2005 to 2007. She served as Special Assistant to Under-Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns. She was part of the US negotiating team for the US-India civilian nuclear deal.

Manuel is a lawyer and studied at Stanford and Harvard.

PODCAST: DIRECTOR SUSANNA WHITE ON OUR KIND OF TRAITOR & BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH

Filmmaker Susanna White on the making of Our Kind of TraitorFilmmaker Susanna White talks about her new film Our Kind of Traitor based on John le Carre novel. We caught up with her in San Francisco when she was here to screen her film at the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival.

White’s work is an eclectic and interesting repertoire. Her work ranges from directing period dramas for BBC to HBO’s Generation Kill a miniseries about American Marines in Iraq.

When we sat down to talk to White the first question we asked her was on Benedict Cumberbatch. She worked with him in Parade’s End and helped put him on people’s radar. Cumberbatch was still not that much of a name when White worked with him. In fact White had to cajole HBO to cast Cumberbatch  in Parade’s End. And, earlier this year when she went to visit Cumberbatch during the filming of Sherlock Holmes she had to fight her way through a crowd to see him.

Once we got our Cumberbatch question answered, we got to talking about her new film and what it is like to be a woman in the world of films and TV. The early years were not easy as White points out. This is despite having exhibited an early interest in filmmaking and studying filmmaking at University of California Los Angeles.

Tune in to see what White has to say about the making of Our Kind of Traitor and working with le Carre, cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours) and editor Tariq Anwar (American Beauty and The King’s Speech).

LISTEN: DIRECTOR SUSANNA WHITE ON OUR KIND OF TRAITOR & BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH

Our Kind of Traitor is set in the post cold-war 21st century Europe. The film revolves around an Oxford professor (Ewan McGregorand his attorney wife (Naomie Harrisand their chance meeting with a Russian millionoire  (Stellan Skarsgård) that ends up involving the British secret service and Russian mafia.

White describes Our Kind of Traitor as road film that reads more like a Hitchcockian script. The film was shot in five different cities in Europe.

Our Kind of Traitor releases in San Francisco Bay area the last week of July 2016.

 

 

PODCAST: MORGAN NEVILLE & CAITRIN ROGERS ON MUSIC OF STRANGERS: YO-YO MA & THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE

Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road EnsembleFilmmakers Morgan Neville & Caitrin Rogers talk about the making of their film Music of Strangers:Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Road Enesemble. We caught up with Neville and Rogers during the 59th San Francisco International Film Festival where their documentary was screened.

On the surface the film appears to be about Yo-Yo Ma  and his quest to find meaning in music. What can he do with music is a question that Ma has explored for over 20 years. A child prodigy, music is not a profession that Ma chose points out Neville in our interview.

Ma’s quest led to the founding of the Silk Road Project that brings a handful of talented musicians together to make music. The goal is to weave all the various musical influences of the musicians and create new music. All of them are complete strangers to each other’s music and culture, but by working together they learn to understand and appreciate the common threads they all share.

LISTEN: MORGAN NEVILLE & CAITRIN ROGERS ON MUSIC OF STRANGERS: YO-YO MA & THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE

What is riveting is what the film explores beneath the surface about the notion of home, identity and how states and governments deal with art, culture and music. In some countries musicians are punished for their work. While in other countries musicians have complete freedom. How does the varying degree of political freedom influence and impact the musicians?  Where is home for them now?  We find answers to these questions in the stories of  Kinan Azmeh of Syria, Kayhan Kalhor of Iran, Cristina Pato of Spain and Wu Man of China. Each one of them carries a political and cultural baggage that molds and shapes them. And what gives them solace, happiness and an identity is their music. Now, that is one of looking at the musicians and their stories. You will have to see the documentary for yourself and discover what resonates with you.
Neville and Rogers won an Academy Award  in 2014 for their documentary 20 Feet From Stardom.

Music of Strangers:Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Road Enesemble is currently showing in the San Francisco Bay area. Check here to see where the film is showing in your neighborhood.

 

REMEMERING RD BURMAN & HOW HE CHASED NEW MUSIC FOR BOLLYWOOD

RD Burman's MusicToday marks the 77th birthday of Rahul Dev Burman (27 June 1939 – 4 January 1994), an influential and iconic Bollywood music director. RD or Pancham as he was known forever changed the musical landscape of Bollywood film music. RD chased new music and introduced it in Indian films, specifically Bollywood films points out Prof Greg Booth. Besides Indian traditional and folk music, the two key influences on RD Burman’s music were American and Latin American music genres.

RD & his tight band of musicians introduced new sounds and Latin rhythms into Bollywood films says Prof. Booth. RD’s influence is so strong that you can hear his influence even today. His songs are regularly remixed and released as new tracks.

Here is a short selection of songs from RD’s extensive repertoire of music.

American music influenced RD Burman quite a bit and you can hear that influence in the 1965 Aao Twist Karein from the film Bhoot Bangla. The song was  inspired by Chubby Checker’s Let’s Twist Again. And here is a 2015 remix of Aao Twist Karein.

RD Burman’s hit song O Haseena Zulfaonwali from Teesri Manzil. Listen to the dense percussion rhythm in this track as Prof Booth points out in this interview.

Piya Tu Ab To Aaja from the Caravan is an evergreen favorite.

Dum Maro Dum is one of RD’s best known tracks from the film Hare Rama Hare Krishna. The song is sung by RD’s wife Asha Bhosle. RD shares the backstory of how they created Dum Maro Dum.

Here are a couple of tracks that RD sang. The first is Mehabooba Mehabooba from Sholay.

Here is a second song by RD along with Asha Bhosle called Duniya Mein from the film Apna Desh.

Finally, here is a song from RD and his Latin album called Pantera produced in the United States of America.

Here are a couple of RD Burman playlists from YouTube.

President Obama: I Can Wear A T-Shirt Like Mark Zuckerberg In 6 Months Time At GES2016

 

President Obama attended the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 (GES 2016) at Stanford University on June 24, 2016. He gave a short speech on the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship to the 700 entrepreneurs who had traveled to the summit from all over the world.

President Obama underscored the importance of entrepreneurship and how it acts as a bridge and connects the world. Silicon Valley and Stanford was the place that made nerd cool he pointed out. Yahoo and Google started as cool student projects at Stanford, and his student project weren’t that good President Obama said.

After his short speech he went to have a conversation with 3 young entrepreneurs and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. While introducing Zuckerberg he mentioned how he can’t wear a T-shirt like the Facebook founder, but in 6 months time hoped to be wearing one.

 

 

PODCAST: PICO IYER ON WRITING, FILMS, AMERICAN POP CULTURE & THE PERSISTENECE OF AMERICAN DREAM

Pico Iyer on writing, films, American pop culture & the persistence of the American Dream @kamlashow 2016

 

Pico Iyer is an author and essayist, who divides his time between Japan and the US. We caught up with him in 2015 in San Francisco and spoke to him on a wide variety of topics ranging from how he defines his writing to his love for film, sports, American pop culture, the peristence of the “American Dream,” to Bollywood. We were also curious to find out how he prepares and researches his topics. How does he deal with data obesity and “mass distraction.”

Transformation is a subject that fascinates and absorbs Iyer and that is reflected in most of his writings. How has the world changed since Iyer started traveling in the 1980s during the Cold War period. Iyer traveled to places that were not open to most of us .We are more clueless now than we were 25 years ago points out Iyer. “Now, anybody … can use their smart phone,” assumes they know everything.  “The illusion of knowledge” and “the illusion of familiarity” makes us think we know more about countries than ever before he adds. But, actually we know very little about them he says.

On American culture Iyer offers a fascinating perspective. “Each country from the world draws from the same pool of American pop cultural images but converts it to its own context, its own history and therefore its own language and makes it something radically different…Now, we are 200 countries separated by a similar pop culture language. All the world is going to MacDonald, drinking Starbucks and watching Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie but in each country they mean something radically different.”

He has an interesting point of view on how the American Dream endures in the US, especially in Silicon Valley. ” The American Dream, which many Americans say has gone past its expiration date is alive and well in the hearts and minds of people around the world,” says Iyer. “By believing in the American Dream they come here and make it real, And that is what we see in a place like Silicon Valley. People from Taiwan, and Korea and India believe America is a land of possibility and that you can do anything you can dream and they come here and they have done that…They are not just remaking America but they are constantly reviving that sense of possibilities in America. Even if China becomes the strongest economy in the world, I don’t think there will be a Chinese Dream.”

LISTEN TO PICO IYER ON WRITING, FILMS, AMERICAN POP CULTURE AND THE PERSISTENCE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM:

Iyer has written a clutch of books like Video Night in Kathmandu to The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. His new book is The Art of Stillness : Adventures in Going Nowhere.

Iyer grew up in California and the UK. His parents taught at the University of California Santa Barbara.

RELATED LINKS:

Watch Video Interview with Pico Iyer

Watch Video Interview of Pico Iyer on Iran and Asghar Farhan

Podcast – Pico Iyer on Dalai Lama & Communism Part-1

Podcast – Pico Iyer on Writing, Graham Greene, California & Traveling Part-2

 

 

VIDEO: DAVE McCLURE OF 500 STARTUPS

We caught up with Dave McClure, founder and troublemaker at 500 Startups at Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 (GES 2016) at Stanford University. McClure has travelled extensively around the world and 500 Startups has invested in over 1,500 startups and we were curious to find out his views on entrepreneurship and if governments should be involved in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.

500 Startups announced it is raising a $25 million micro fund to invest in Africa and is organizing its first Geeks on a Plan tour to Africa in 2017.

500 Startups is a Silicon Valley-based global seed fund and accelerator.

GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP SUMMIT IN SILICON VALLEY

Hundreds of budding entrepreneurs from around the world are in Silicon Valley to attend a 3-day Global Entrepreneurship Summit (Jan 22-14, 2016)  President Obama will address the conference on Friday, June 24th at Stanford University, which is where the conference is being held. The focus of this year’s conference is emerging youth and women entrepreneurs. About 40 percent of the world’s population is under the age of 30 and there is a youth bulge that needs to be addressed as one of the conference speakers pointed out. And the US government is focussed on helping women entrepreneurs around the world. The next GES Summit will be held in India in 2017.

Here are some pictures from today’s event that ended with a short speech by Secretary of State John Kerry.

PODCAST: ANTON YELCHIN & VICTOR LEVIN

Anton Yelchin & Victor Levin

Anton Yelchin & Victor Levin

Anton Yelchin and Victor Levin’s film 9 to 5, was the closing night film at the 2015 Cinequest Film Festival. I recollect vividly how patiently Yelchin and Levin stood at the Red Carpet answering all our questions. When it was my turn to interview them I checked with Yelchin if he could speak in Russian. And, he was such a great sport that he readily agreed to say a couple of lines in Russian.

Here is the interview where Yelchin speaks in Russian and Levin explains why and how he got Yelchin to act in his directorial debut film 9 to 5.

LISTEN TO ANTON YELCHIN & VICTOR LEVIN:

On June 18, Yelchin died in what is being described as a freak accident. Yelchin started his career as a child artist and went to act in films like Alpha Dog and Star Trek. Next month he can be seen in the new Star Trek film.

Yelchin was born in Russia and moved to the US as a child. He was 27 years old.

 

VIDEO: ACTRESS & ANIMAL ACTIVIST VIRGINIA McKENNA ON THE MAKING OF BORN FREE

We caught up with actress & animal activist Virginia McKenna during her visit to San Francisco’s Green Film Festival. This year marks the 50th anniversary of “Born Free,” that stars McKenna and Bill Travers, her husband. The film is based on the true story.  Joy Adamson’s book Born Free captured how she and her husband helped raise Elsa, an orphaned lion cub. The book was an instant success and the film was even a bigger success.

In this interview we spoke to McKenna about the making of “Born Free,” and her passionate advocacy for animal rights. McKenna and her husband founded the Born Free Foundation, which now runs with the help of her son Will Travers.