VIDEO: JAMES IVORY ON FILMS, ISMAIL MERCHANT AND INDIA

We sat down with director James Ivory to talk about growing up on the west coast, arts, films, Ismail Merchant, Ruth Prawar Jhabvala, Satyajit Ray and India. Ivory also shares some of his favorite films from his childhood days.

Ivory was born in Berkeley, grew up Oregon and every year they visited San Francisco Bay area to spend time with their extended family. He studied architecture and fine arts at the University or Oregon and filmmaking at University of Southern California (USC). At USC he made a short film called Venice: Themes of Variations. His second short film The Sword and the Flute was inspired by Indian miniature paintings that he first saw in an art gallery in San Francisco. It was this film that led to his interest and connection in India and also his first meeting with Ismail Merchant.

In 1961 Ivory and  Merchant formed the Merchant Ivory Productions. Around this time they also started their collaboration with writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. The trio made award-winning films like Shakespeare Wallah, Heat and Dust, A Room With A View, Howard’s End, The Remains of the Day and others.

This interview was recorded at the 60th San Francisco International Film Festival, where his film Maurice was screened.

This interview was aired on TV in the US.

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VIDEO: DIRECTOR JAMES IVORY ON INDIA, SAEED JAFFREY AND ISMAIL MERCHANT

We caught up with director James Ivory at this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival, where his film Maurice was screened. This is a highlight of a longer upcoming interview. In this clip Ivory shares how his interest in India developed and the first documentary he made on India called The Sword and the FluteIt was through this documentary that he came to meet actor Saeed Jaffrey and Ismail Merchant.

Ivory and his filmmaking partner Ismail Merchant through their Merchant Ivory Productions have made nearly 40 feature films. While neither Ivory nor Merchant have won an Oscar for their work as director or producer, their films have won them a handful of Oscars. Their repertoire of films include Howard’s End, Maurice, Heat and Dust, A Room With A View, Mr & Mrs Bridges, The Householder and others.

Here is a list of TV stations in the US that broadcast our show. You can subscribe to our YouTube channel and podcast where we feature new interviews.

 

VIDEO: SHALINI GOVIL-PAI ON COMPUTER GRAPHICS, PIXAR & YOUTUBE

Shalini Govil-Pai is an engineer and author of two books on computer graphics. She fell in love with computer graphics as a teenager. Unsurprisingly she went on to get her under-graduate and graduate degrees in computer engineering. And with persistence and single-minded focus she got a job at Pixar Animation. As technical director at Pixar she worked on Toy Story and A Big’s Life. In 2005 she joined Google and now works for Google/YouTube.

In this interview we talk to Govil-Pai about how she discovered her love for computer graphics when she worked on a SGI graphics computer in her father’s lab. What was the first piece of code she wrote? What was it like to be the only female undergraduate student in a class of 35 at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay? How did she land her dream job at Pixar Animations? What is her advice to  young girls who want to study engineering? Tune in to find out.

This interview aired on TV in the US and is part of our Women in Science & Tech Seriessponsored by Zoho Corp.

You can watch our weekly TV show in the US. Here is a list of TV stations in the US that broadcast our show. You can subscribe to our  YouTube channel and podcast where every week we feature new interviews.

VIDEO: FILMMAKER RITESH BATRA ON “THE SENSE OF AN ENDING”

 

Highlights of our upcoming interview with filmmaker Ritesh Batra on his new film The Sense of An Ending. The film is based on Julian Payne’s novel by the same name. This coming-of-age film is about a older man, who is semi-retired. Set in England, the film stars Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter and Michelle Dockery (Downtown Abbey).

Batra made his debut as a feature film director and writer with his critically acclaimed award-winning The Lunchbox. The film premiered in Cannes in 2013. Prior to that Batra had made a few award-winning short films.

Stay tuned for our full interview with Batra on the making of The Sense of An Ending, his upcoming film with Robert Redford and Jane Honda and Bollywood films. Batra grew up in Bombay, India and came to the US for his higher studies.

You can watch our weekly TV show in the US. Here is a list of TV stations in the US that broadcast our show. You can subscribe to our  YouTube channel and podcast where every week we feature new interviews.

VIDEO: DEVIKA CHAWLA ON ENGINEERING AND MUSIC

Meet Devika Chawla, Engineering Director at Netflix and a music composer and singer. I sat down with her to find out how she developed and nurtured her interests in science, especially computer programming and music from a young age.How did her parents help shape her interests? Why did she elect to study computer engineering at George Town University? What brought her to Silicon Valley in the 1990s?How did she get to work with Hans Zimmer for Apple’s iMovie app? How does she balance her passion for computer engineering and music?

Chawla is trained in Indian classical (Hindustani) music. She has released a handful of music records and worked with various musicians like Bohemia, a San Francisco Bay area rapper and Amaan Ali Khan & Ayaan Ali Khan, sarod musicians from India.

This TV interview aired in the US and is part of our Women in Science & Tech series  sponsored by Zoho Corp.

You can watch our weekly TV show in the US. Here is a list of TV stations in the US that broadcast our show. You can subscribe to our  YouTube channel and podcast where every week we feature new interviews.

LEONARD COHEN’S VISITS TO INDIA AND BUDDHISM

Singer-songwriter and novelist Leonard Cohen died in his sleep in Los Angeles on November 7, 2016. He was 82 years old.

Cohen’s “dry, monotone voice…provided a rarefied alternative to more accessible troubadours, employing meticulous language to plumb the vagaries of the human condition,” writes Joseph Cerna of Los Angeles Times. And, Cerna is absolutely right. When you first listen to Cohen’s songs it is that dry, monotone voice that strikes you. And, you wonder what is this fuss all about? What is so special about Cohen’s music? But, when you start listening to the words you realize why so many people are drawn to his music. He had a way with words is a pedestrian way of describing Cohen’s great facility with words.

He was “high priest of pathos.” and “The Godfather of Gloom,” writes Nick Paton Walsh in a 2001 article in The Guardian. Pathos and gloom were familiar friends for Cohen. He sought different ways to find depression that included visits to India and becoming a Buddhist monk for a few years.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise then that Cohen made multiple trips to India to find answers. We get a hint of Cohen’s visits to Bombay via  Ratnesh Mathur‘s post. Cohen spent time in Bombay visiting with Ramesh Balsekar, a Vedanta teacher. Soutik Biswas of the BBC writes about Cohen’s visits to India and how it changed him.

He turned to Buddhism and became a Zen Monk for a few years. Pico Iyer has a nuanced piece in Utne Reader on how he spent a few days with Cohen at the Zen Monastery outside of Los Angeles.

Often described as enigmatic Cohen leaves behind a rich legacy of songs, poems and writings.

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KAMALA HARRIS ELECTED AS CALIFORNIA’S SENATOR

Kamala Devi Harris (D) was elected as California’s new Senator. Harris won the seat that was vacated by Barbara Boxer. On Jan 3, 2017 Harris will be sworn in as the new Senator from California, and will step down from her role as Attorney General of California.

Do we retreat, or do we fight asks Harris in her election night speech. “I intend to fight,” she says. “We all have to fight…this is a pivotal moment in the history of our country.” She mentions how her parents met in Berkeley during the 1960s Civil Rights movement.

Harris has an interesting heritage. Her mother Dr. Shyamala Gopalan Harris came from Madras (now known as Chennai) to study at the University of California In Berkeley. She worked as a breast cancer specialist at Lawrence Livermore Lab. Her father Prof. Donald Harris was from Jamaica, who taught economics at Stanford University.

This post by Harris’ aunt or “chitti” Dr. Sarala Gopalan makes for an interesting read and give you peek into Harris’s Indian heritage and her love for South Indian food. I wonder if Harris speaks Tamil?

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American Fruits and Nuts in Bangalore

American fruits and nuts in Bangalore you ask? Yes, you can find California pistachios, Washington apples and Oregon pears from big grocery stores to the corner mom and pop shops.  According to one report  California almonds rank fifth in the list of American exports to India.