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chancelucky

Go Sanjaya! I think there have been some pretty prominent Indians in American pop culture, but for some reason their ethnic identity sort of slips by people. Zubin Mehta, the conductor. M Nicht Shamalayan. VJ Armitraj, Veejay Singh (the golfer is from Fiji, but Indian). There's even Kai Penn who I thought was very funny as Kumar Patel (now there's a weird last name)....I may be one of the few fans of Harold and Kumar though. Did you ever see Dude Where's the Party At?

I'm not sure why this is. Even in People Magazine life, Kate Moss and Princess Diana both dated Indian men and Liz Hurley just married one.

It's kind of like people forgetting that Tiger Woods is at least as Asian as he is Black.

Anyway, as funny as Apu the quickee mart guy on the Simpsons is, I'm glad that Sanjaya is out there and that he's even considered a teen idol sort for young girls.

Atul

I remember M. Night Shyamalam, but forgot about the others. (Kal Penn has the best last name in the world by the way.) And they are famous, but they're not household names to the same degree. How quickly Sanjaya has become popular because of this American Idol phenomenon.

I thought Princess Diana was with a man of Arab descent. I didn't know about Kate Moss, but Elizabeth Hurley sure puts us on the map.

The longer Sanjaya stays on the show, the higher our "stock" goes.

Mia D

Is that right? Sanjaya is a household name? Are we talking in the US or India? I came across his name in VFTW (vote for the worst) contest at some blog.

I don't think of AI as mainstream. Outside its target teenybopper demographic, I am not sure anyone cares who Sanjaya is, other than desis like us, of course ;)

No doubt, it's refreshing that Indian-Americans are making their mark outside of the nerdy spelling bee contests and making waves in the pop culture for a change.

chancelucky

Wow, how embarrassing. You're right. Dodi Fayed was Egyptian-Saudi....I had it in my head that the family was Pakistani. Anyway, probably makes it only worse. Just misfiled it in my head.
At least I didn't say that DESI Arnaz was Indian :}

Kate Moss's ex-boyfriend was Vikram Chatwal.

I think the same thing goes on with Indian men that happens with East Asian American men.
For whatever reason, it's okay for there to be eight zillion Asian American women on tv, but they always kiss white guys or sometimes even black guys in romantic scenes.

they did a similar thing with Aishawarya Rai (way hotter than Elizabeth Hurley to me) when she made Bride and Prejudice (American attempt at Bollywood movie), they matched her up with a white American love interest and made the quirky, but nice guy Indian. The sadder thing is that the movie was directed by Gurinder Chadha who's married to Paul Berges (non-Indian).

I don't know what that's about, except that if there are a billion Indians in the world, there are women who obviously want to be with Indian men including Liz Hurley.

Atul

Mia,

American Idol is definitely mainstream here. People of all ages watch and I believe they get more votes than our national election. That is a really sad commentary, I know. But it is refreshing that we are breaking out of the stereotypes.

It's funny because I was a spelling bee contestant, but I came in 2nd in the contest to go to Washington D.C.


Chancelucky,

Yes, as I have seen a Dateline NBC segment about and I have written about, I agree with you that Asian women get to be with white guys whereas Asian guys rarely are the ones getting the girl on movies and shows.

That's a joke I always tell too. There are a billion of us so we (us Indian guys), have to be doing something right. But even within Indian culture, we have prejudices that favor lighter-skinned people. Indians are not good at sticking together. We often divide ourselves more by religion, which part of the country we're from...

sonia

Diana dated a pakistani doctor and then there was Dodi...i dont recall an indian anywhere in the picture but who knows?

Atul

Sonia,

Thanks for commenting. I think the prior commenter Chancelucky mistook Dodi as an Indian. I don't think either of us knew about the Pakistani doctor. Yes, there could have been an Indian guy in the picture. At least we know about Elizabeth Hurley's Indian guy for sure.

Sereena X

Slightly tangential:
Raj Kamal Jha is one of my favorite writers.

Atul

Hmm. Being the non-book reader that I am, I don't even know him. His name is vaguely familiar though. I'll look into him. I read a lot, just not fictional books, more news and magazine articles. The Economist magazines I get every week take up too much of my reading time.

Nicole

First of all, let us tackle the singing. Sanjaya rarely stays on key- he's usually below pitch and approaches the notes from beneath, as opposed to settling on top of them to avoid going flat. His pitch frequently wobbles about, not really ever finding it's way to the proper key. His tone is strained, at best, and isn't helping his already underpitch sound. He has very little control of his voice.

You may ignore the fact that I'm a voice major, if you wish. Some people don't have much to show from being a voice major nowadays but yeah- I sure as heck know what on-key sounds like.

Now the race issue- how dare anyone support someone in a singing competition based purely on race. Yeah, you said his voice isn't all bad, I will conceede there. To imply that someone should stay because "Indian-Americans deserve to be considered as part of the mainstream" is ridiculous. It's a singing competition. Someone who does not sing as well as some of the others who have already left (everyone from at least the final thirteen on) should leave. End of story. As soon as races quit supporting their people because it's *whine* their people, regardless of whether or not they deserve to be where they are, half of this country's racism will cease to exist. How can you expect race to become "transparent" when that's all you focus on? It ridiculous and racist to support someone just because they're one of your own.

In fact, the only people I know that don't judge American Idol, or any other competition like it, based on what it's SUPPOSED to be judged on are minorities. Vote for her because she's black, vote for him because he's Indian, vote for her because she's Latino. Most of the "white supremist racists" that I know base it all on the voice, which is the least racist option of them all.

Vote for Sanjaya because you like his voice. Don't spew out all this propaganda about Indians not being mainstream.

Atul

Nicole,

Thanks for commenting thoughtfully. I can tell you're passionate about singing and American Idol. You're right that contests shouldn't judge people based on race, but given that Sanjaya is still on the show, (whatever the reason might be), at least gives Indian Americans some positive recognition, something which is sorely lacking in the U.S. It's not propaganda that I'm writing, but anti-stereotyping. I'm guessing you're part of mainstream white America so it's difficult for you to understand how minorities feel about misperceptions of our communities.

And besides, American Idol is just a contest for fun and to showcase popularity, not to find the best singer. The winner will go on to work in the music industry which thrives on popularity , not talent. If AI was a true singing talent contest, having people call in to vote would not be the way to go. In that case, having expert judges from the best music schools would work the best. But then, even expert judges can be biased.

MJ

Nicole,
How would you compare the vocal skills of Billy Joel and whitney houston. Who do you think is better. Are both flawless?
I am really impressed how he sings, considering his father is an Indian musician. Do you know that Indian classical music has one of the most complicated and complete musical systems ever developed. Then again what do you know about it? The Beatles went looking for it once..but I think they just scratched the surface..

Elson

Hi all. I'm not Indian American, or South Asian American for that matter. I'm Filipino American and I found this site because I want to read about the ethnic angle on Sanjaya's impact. I think it's very interesting and perhaps the most interesting undercurrent of all the AI buzz. I'm also a singer/musician myself, trying to make a name for myself...I'm a little too old to qualify for American Idol though.

Believe me, us Filpinos have the exact same issues as you guys, so I can identify 100%.

I don't really watch American Idol but if Sanjaya does win, I think it will be more of a good thing than a bad thing.

It doesn't matter if you're yellow or brown, all of us Asian people eat rice, are family oriented and don't like to lose face! We also demand RESPECT too!

Atul

Elson,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I finally got a chance to write back. I checked out your site by the way, liked the songs I heard, reminded me a bit of an artist who sings an old song "Turn Your Love Around."

As for this whole American Idol thing and Indians or Filipinos, both of our groups don't have positive stereotypes, but I don't see many negative ones of Filipinos on pop TV, just unpositive ones on the news when they refer to the politics there.

Take it easy,
Atul

barbara

Sanjaya is a man among men.He is the reason millions of adults started watching Idol.Kids sure,but those of us who remember our teen idols',...love Sanjaya.

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