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[THEATER] Anisha Nagarajan - Product of an American Masala Broadway Dream

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  • madchinaman
    BIOGRAPHY ANISHA NAGARAJAN OVERVIEW Anisha Nagarajan makes her Broadway debut as Priya, a modern woman who adds education and ambition to the traditional
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 9, 2006

      Anisha Nagarajan makes her Broadway debut as Priya, a modern woman
      who adds education and ambition to the traditional heroic qualities
      of virtue and beauty. Priya's lovability is trumped only by
      Nagarajan's singular talent; her stage presence is astonishing for
      such a young and petite starlet.
      Plucked from her sophomore year at New York University, Anisha
      Nagarajan was offered the starring role of Priya - the up-and-coming
      young Bollywood film director - after attending an open call
      audition for "Bombay Dreams"earlier this year. Nagarajan is also a
      composer, having written the children's musical Eleven with lyricist
      Michael Mitnick.
      Married to Aalok Mehta (24 September 2005 - present)
      (April 2004) Created the role of "Salim" in the original Broadway
      production of "Bombay Dreams" where he met his musician/actress wife
      Anisha Nagarajan who was the Lead of the show and created the role
      of "Priya".
      It took Mitnick about three years to write the music to "The Race,"
      and the play premiered in 2000 at Fox Chapel Area High School.
      Mitnick played the duplicitous incumbent while another Fox Chapel
      Area student, Anisha Nagarajan, played the idealistic opposition
      Anisha Nagarajan, grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa., and was chosen to
      perform as Priya for Bombay Dreams, Andrew Lloyd Weber's acclaimed
      Broadway show that has Rahman's musical score.
      An hour later at the same stage door, it was time to meet the female
      lead of "Bombay Dreams," another Pittsburgher, Anisha Nagarajan. It
      would also be her Broadway debut, but while Narayan, a graduate of
      Franklin Regional High School (1991) and the Carnegie Mellon music
      school (1995), has been working professionally for nearly a decade,
      for the 20-year-old Nagarajan, just barely out of Fox Chapel High
      School (2002), this was the first time performing professionally
      Profiles on High-Profiled SE Asians:
      Nagarajan recently made her Broadway debut as leading actress
      (Priya) in Bombay Dreams. Awards include Cincinnati World Piano
      Competition, Pittsburgh Concert Society; Harrisburg State Piano
      Competition; Helen Clay Frick Scholarship; and Pennsylvania
      Governor's School for the Arts' Meritorious Leadership Award.
      Performances at Carnegie Hall; WQED-FM, Pittsburgh; Richard Rodgers
      Award Presentation (honoring Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber); Summer
      Concert Series, Sri Venkateswara Temple; Cabaret Nights at O'Reilly
      Theater, Pittsburgh.
      Anisha NagarajaN (music) recently made her Broadway debut as leading
      actress (Priya) in Bombay Dreams. Stage credits include: Anything
      Goes (Reno Sweeney), Fiddler on the Roof (Fruma Sarah), and To Kill
      a Mockingbird (Jean Louise Finch).

      Awards include Cincinnati World Piano Competition, Pittsburgh
      Concert Society; Harrisburg State Piano Competition; Helen Clay
      Frick Scholarship; and Pennsylvania
      Governor's School for the Arts' Meritorious Leadership Award.
      Performances at Carnegie Hall; WQED-FM, Pittsburgh; Richard Rodgers
      Award Presentation (honoring Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber); Summer
      Concert Series, Sri Venkateswara Temple; "Cabaret Nights", O'Reilly
      Theater, Pittsburgh; Eugene's Club, NYC, with Devo. Independent film
      credits: Shadow of a Lie, Winning Caroline. Composition: "Lullaby
      for a Safe New World"; co-composer and arranger of The Race, Second
      Chance and Eleven, all with librettist-composer Michael Mitnick.
      Love to FCAHS, NYU-Tisch-Stella Adler, family, friends.
      Nagarajan's father, Nandu, is a professor in the University of
      Pittsburgh business school, and her mother, Geeta, works with people
      with disabilities. They moved to Pittsburgh when Nagarajan was 2.
      She went to East Hills, Winchester-Thurston and Allderdice, then
      spent a year in India.When her family moved to Fox Chapel, she did
      her final three years of high school there. A piano player since she
      was 3, having studied with Natasha Snitkovsky at Duquesne
      University, she was offered scholarships to several music schools,
      but she chose to go to NYU in drama.

      Back in Fox Chapel in July, working at Old Navy, she was surfing the
      Internet when she saw an audition call for ethnic Indians
      for "Bombay Dreams." That audition led to three more as they
      gradually started to consider her for Priya. (Her mother
      complained, "You're missing so much school!")

      Four hours after the last audition, "they called me on my cell phone
      and told me I had the part. ... I went from thinking, 'What homework
      do I have' to 'Who's my agent' -- a complete priority paradigm


      ANISHA NAGARAJAN originated the lead role of Priya in the Broadway
      production of AR Rahman's Bombay Dreams (Broadway Theatre). Other
      Broadway and Off-Broadway credits include Hair (Actor's Fund
      Benefit, New Amsterdam Theatre) and Snapshots (45th Street Theatre).
      Anisha's regional theater credits include Princesses (5th Avenue
      Theatre, Seattle) and Song Cycle of a Life (O'Reilly Theatre,

      She performed for the President and Queen Elizabeth at Winfield
      House, Regents Park, London. She has also performed at the Samuel
      Tilden Mansion in Gramercy Park and at Carnegie Hall, New York.
      Anisha's expertise and interests include piano composition, piano
      performance, and Indian vocal music.

      She has studied piano performance under Natasha Snitkovsky and piano
      composition under Lucas Richman. She has studied vocal music under
      teachers such as Joan Lader in New York and T. R. Subramaniam, S. R.
      Janakiram, and Aruna Sairam in Pittsburgh.

      She is a recognized alumna of New York University's Tisch School of
      the Arts, where she studied theatre at the Stella Adler Studio.
      Anisha is honored to be a part of tonight's concert and would like
      to thank her family and friends for all their support.


      They sang for Bush and the Queen!
      Arthur J Pais in New York

      The last time they sang together in public, Manu Narayan and Anisha
      Nagarajan had President Bush, Queen Elizabeth and Tony Blair in the

      The lead players from the Broadway version of the London's hit
      musical, Bombay Dreams, sang two numbers in honour of Bush who was
      visiting London. Manu remembers the Queen asking him and Anisha if
      they were in the cast of the London production. She recommended the
      show to Bush who asked them where they were from.

      In a few months, he will see them in the presumably more energised
      show that opens at Broadway Theater, one of the more prestigious
      addresses in New York's theatre district.

      "It was a totally surreal experience," says Anisha of her London
      experience, adding that a few weeks ago, she was worrying about her
      drama class assignment, and now she was singing with Manu for

      On the evening of December 18, they performed again. This was a
      first, too.

      They were singing A R Rahman's hit songs from Bombay Dreams at the
      Indian Consulate in New York in the presence of some 200 invitees.

      It was the first preview in America of what the two artistes will be
      doing in the 1,750-seat Broadway Theater, starting March 29. The
      musical, with a reported budget of $13 million, is one of the most
      expensive shows in America. It opens a month after the previews.

      Carrying themselves with easy confidence and subdued enthusiasm, the
      two first sang a duet, How many stars, and then Manu sang the
      stirring solo Journey home.

      "These are kids," one of the invitees whispered, "and they are

      "I don't think the young man there will need any amplifying
      devices," she added. "His voice could crack the ceiling."

      Later, one of the publicists for the show said, "They have not even
      started. I am sure it will be even more amazing to hear them once
      the rehearsals begin."

      Right now, every public performance is a "humbling experience," says
      Manu, adding that it is important for him and the cast to validate
      the confidence Andrew Lloyd Webber and director Steven Pimlott have
      in them. The artistes know that New York critics can be as savage as
      their London counterparts. And a show which is a proven hit in
      London is scrutinised more when it arrives in New York, especially
      when its book (originally by Mira Syal) has been updated by Tom
      Meehan, who also worked on two of the biggest recent hits on
      Broadway, The Producers and Hairspray.

      While Anisha plays a glamorous part in the musical that was
      conceived by Shekar Kapur and produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Manu
      is the slum boy with Bollywood dreams. His passion makes him a movie
      star but as Sweetie, the hijra reminds him, he is making a mistake.

      Sriram Ganesan, a Temple University psychology student, plays the
      complex part of Sweetie.

      Coincidentally, all the three are from Pennsylvania. Manu and Anisha
      also happen to be from Pittsburgh, the city well known for its Sri
      Venkateswara Temple.

      Anisha's father Nandu, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh
      business school, and her mother, Geeta, who works with people with
      disabilities, pray there. So do Manu's parents, Badri, an engineer
      and Vatsala, a former teacher who works at a bank.

      You may also add that Manu, Anisha and Sriram are Tamil.

      "We did not plan that way," says Sriram with chuckle. "We did not
      know each other at all."

      But surely Sriram and Anisha, who is studying drama at New York
      University, must have heard of Manu. A co-founder of Rasa Theater,
      Manu played a key part in the national tour of the hugely popular
      musical Miss Saigon. He also played Romeo in Romeo and Juliet for
      the Missouri Repertory Theater.

      Manu, who went to Carnegie Mellon University, graduated eight years
      ago with a double major in saxophone and voice. There had been some
      talk of his going into engineering or medicine, Pittsburgh Post
      Gazette reported, adding, 'But CMU's Robert Page, who directed him
      in the Junior Mendelssohn Choir and was a respected mentor, urged
      his parents to give him a shot at music, and they agreed.'

      Later, Manu also studied Carnatic Music in Mangalore, India, with
      Sri Kadri Gopalnath. He is also a saxophonist and has appeared in
      Law and Order: SVU.

      "It was a very tough search but we have surely found two wonderful
      artistes," said Anita Waxman, a co-producer of Bombay Dreams.

      Pimlott had said in an earlier interview that right from the start,
      Lloyd Webber and he were certain that there was enough talent in the
      South Asian community in North America. And there was no need for
      them to look for white actors to play Indian parts.

      "We have a cast of brilliant young artistes and they are bound to go
      a long way," Pimlott said. "It was not easy to cast this show but we
      have been very lucky."


      Bombay Dreams
      Directed by Steven Pimlott
      Music by A R Rahman
      Lyrics by Don Black
      Book by Meera Syal
      At The Broadway Theater
      1681 Broadway
      (212) 239-6200
      Review by Lindsay McCrory

      Anisha Nagarajan makes her Broadway debut in Bombay Dreams
      It's the spirit of expanding diversity that brings Broadway's

      Bombay Dreams here to New York City, the melting pot of melting
      pots. Costume designer Mark Thompson treats us to an exquisite
      display of Indian apparel, in which every salwar kameez glitters and
      even the sorriest sari is impeccably slum-appropriate. And
      Hollywood's famed and prolific Indian counterpart, Bollywood, plays
      a central role in the comedic aspect of the show, so the audience
      learns a bit about Bombay's booming pop culture.

      But while the production sports unique cultural elements and is
      visually striking, the plot is one of those overplayed, universally
      appreciated tales of the lower class hero. Apparently Bombay dreams
      are pretty similar to most other dreams. And while certain songs
      proved a new take on the showtune, still, a showtune's a showtune.
      Attach Andrew Lloyd Webber's name to a production and you pretty
      much know what you're gonna get. (Not that it's bad, just not quite
      diverse, if that's what we're going for.)

      But if Bombay Dreams isn't quite the triumph of non-traditional
      production it might have been, it must be hailed as a showcase of
      the Indian woman. Anisha Nagarajan makes her Broadway debut as
      Priya, a modern woman who adds education and ambition to the
      traditional heroic qualities of virtue and beauty.

      Priya's lovability is trumped only by Nagarajan's singular talent;
      her stage presence is astonishing for such a young and petite
      starlet. Our next heroine is Sweetie (Sriram Ganesan), the
      transgendered, level-headed best friend to Akaash (Manu Narayan),
      the unremarkable but appealing lead man.

      While she might not have the curves to fill out her sari, Sweetie is
      the picture of womanly compassion. Ganesan plays her with humor and
      grace, making her one of the most unique characters on Broadway this
      season. Finally, Ayesha Dharker is just Bombay dreamy. She sings,
      she belly dances, and she shows off her killer body. A woman of many
      talents, she is also at the comedic center of the show, as the
      caricatured Bollywood diva Rani.

      But while the heroines carry the show, their lackluster male
      counterparts and the hit-or-miss musical score prevent Bombay Dreams
      from fulfilling its potential. And I said before, the plot was a
      yawn: a slum boy makes it big in Bollywood and forgets about the
      people back home. Everybody laments that "Love's Never Easy" (a
      sleepy number that's salvaged only by Anisha Nagarajan's exquisite
      voice) and in the end, love conquers all, in every way, hurray
      Bombay. Despite two or three interesting characters and a handful of
      riotous ensemble numbers, Bombay Dreams lacks the captivating power
      of Broadway's best.


      inside news about Asians and women on stage

      BOMBAY DREAMS: Direct from London's West End, A R Rahman's smash hit
      musical "Bombay Dreams" will open at the Broadway Theatre (1681
      Broadway at 53rd Street) with previews beginning Monday, March 29,
      2004 . Based on an idea by Shekhar Kapur and Andrew Lloyd
      Webber, "Bombay Dreams" tells the story of a handsome young slum-
      dweller and his dreams of becoming a Bollywood movie star. "Bombay
      Dreams" weaves together the glamour of the movies, heart-aching
      romance and epic spectacle in a musical the London Sunday Express
      called the "best British-originated musical since The Phantom of the
      Opera." "Bombay Dreams" is directed by Steven Pimlott and
      choreographed by Anthony Van Laast and Farah Khan. For tickets, call
      Telecharge.com at 212-239-6200 visit www.bombaydreams.com.

      "Bombay Dreams" had its world premiere at London's Apollo Victoria
      Theatre on June 19, 2002. The musical, produced in London by Andrew
      Lloyd Webber, has quickly become the biggest hit currently playing
      in London's West End. "Bombay Dreams" has music by A R Rahman,
      lyrics by Don Black and book by Meera Syal and Thomas Meehan.

      A R Rahman has garnered a multitude of awards and accolades for his
      music, and is among the highest selling musicians in the world,
      having sold over 200 million albums worldwide. He has composed the
      soundtracks for over fifty films and has collaborated with
      innumerable artists including Dominic Miller, David Byrne and
      Michael Jackson.

      Featuring a cast of 39 "Bombay Dreams" stars Manu Narayan as Akaash
      and Anisha Nagarajan as Priya, both of whom are making their
      Broadway debuts.

      A recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Manu Narayan's
      theatre credits include the National Tour of Miss Saigon (Thuy), Tom
      Stoppard's Indian Ink (Nirad Das) at the Wilma Theater, and David
      Henry Hwang's Largo (starring Cyndi Lauper and Fisher Stevens) at
      New York Stage and Film, as well as Suzan-Lori Parks' F*cking A at
      The Public Theater.

      Plucked from her sophomore year at New York University, Anisha
      Nagarajan was offered the starring role of Priya - the up-and-coming
      young Bollywood film director - after attending an open call
      audition for "Bombay Dreams"earlier this year. Nagarajan is also a
      composer, having written the children's musical Eleven with lyricist
      Michael Mitnick.

      "Bombay Dreams" also stars world-famous actress and food writer
      Madhur Jaffrey as Shanti, with Ayesha Dharker as Rani (reprising the
      role she created in London's West End), Sriram Ganesan as Sweetie,
      Marvin L. Ishmael as Madan and Deep Katdare as Vikram.

      The ensemble includes Jolly Abraham, Mueen Jahan Ahman, Aaron J.
      Albano, Celine Alwyn, Anjali Bhimani, Shane Bland, Gabrielle
      Burrafato, Wendy Calio, Tiffany Cooper, Sheetal Ghandi, Krystal
      Kiran Garib, Tanvir Gopal, Tania Marie Hakim, Dell Howlett, Suresh
      John, Ian Jutsun, Miriam Laube, Aalok Mehta, Ron Nahass, Michelle
      Nigalan, Zahf Paroo, Danny Pathan, Bobby Petska, Kafi Pierre, Sarah
      Ripard, Rommy Sandhu, Darryl Semira, Neil Jay Shastri, Lisa Stevens,
      Kirk Torigoe, James R. Whittington and Nicole Winhoffer.

      A.R.Rahman (Music) is the son of the late R K Sekhar, the well-known
      music director in the Malayalam film industry. He began his musical
      career at the age of 11 as a keyboard player. He graduated with a
      degree in Western Classical Music and began composing in 1987. Film:
      A R Rahman's first film soundtrack was for Roja. The score of Roja
      earned A. R. Rahman every conceivable music award in India in 1992.
      Since then he has composed the soundtracks for over fifty films
      including Lagaan, Fiza, Taal, Earth, Dil Se, Fire and Bombay. The
      soundtrack for Bombay sold over 5 million copies. A. R. Rahman has
      sold over 100 million soundtrack albums worldwide.
      Concerts/Recording: Collaborations on keyboards with innumerable
      artists including Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Apache Indian, Zakir
      Hussein, Dr. L. Shankar, Dominic Miller, David Byrne and Michael
      Jackson. Television: Long association with the Indian Advertising
      Industry in creating music for advertisements.

      A R Rahman's portfolio includes music and jingles for award-winning
      commercials for television and radio as well as scores for corporate
      videos and documentaries. He composed the score for the acclaimed,
      award-winning television serial "Vande Mataram." Awards: Telega
      Purashkar Award for 1992, 1993 and 1994; Rajat Kamal Award for Best
      Music Director at the National Film Awards; National Award for Best
      Music Direction for Minsara Kanavu; Filmfare Award every year from
      1992 to 2001, Cinema Express Award, Nagi Reddy Award, Rajiv Gandhi
      Award, Screen Award for Vande Mataram and Taal, awarded the Padma
      Shree by the President of India. A R Rahman recently composed music
      for Friends of the World, which he performed in Munich with Michael




      Media Sponsor: KCRW

      The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association partners up with KCRW once
      again to present KCRW's World Music Festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
      The line-up embodies the artistry of the unique partnership, and
      covers the musical globe with an eclectic and adventurous program.
      Complemented by the spectacular setting of the iconic Hollywood
      Bowl, each of KCRW's World Music Festival concerts is a one-of-a-
      kind experience. Held on Sunday evenings, each concert is hosted by
      a KCRW deejay: Nic Harcourt, Jason Bentley, Garth Trinidad, Anne
      Litt, Raul Campos, or Tom Schnabel.

      The 2006 KCRW World Music Festival opens on Sunday June 25 with
      Sergio Mendes' 40th Anniversary of Brasil '66. This special evening
      celebrates Sergio Mendes' classic hits and new collaborations that
      have defined his 40 year groundbreaking career.

      Making special appearances are Herb Alpert, the co-founder of A&M
      Records who signed Mendes in '66, and Lani Hall, the original voice
      of Brasil '66. In addition, many amazing artists from Sergio Mendes'
      most recent release Timeless, including John Legend, India.Arie, Joe
      Pizzulo, and Q-Tip perform. Maogani Quartet, one of Brazil's main
      groups in the popular music scene, and Brazilian hip-hop master
      Marcelo D2, both Timeless guest artists as well, open the show.

      On Sunday, July 16 the Hollywood Bowl presents its first night ever
      dedicated to the music and culture of India. India's premier
      composer and musical genius A.R. Rahman performs for the first time
      in a non-South Asian venue. A.R. Rahman is the man who has redefined
      contemporary Indian music, and is the pride of the Indian nation and
      a role model for millions around the world.

      Hailed by Time Magazine as the 'Mozart of Madras,' Rahman is one of
      the most successful artists of all time and according to a BBC
      estimate, has sold more than 100 million albums of his works
      comprising of music from more than 50 movies. The more traditionally
      based Musafir performs energetic hybrid versions of Indian folk and
      popular music, received enthusiastically by crowds at hundreds of
      concerts and festivals all over Europe.

      Several notable special guests include Sukhwinder Singh, Hariharan,
      Sadhana Sarga, Madhushree, and Anisha Nagarajan, the lead actress
      and star of the Broadway musical Bombay Dreams. Local dance troupe
      Bollywood Step Dance perform innovative routines, and Sher
      Foundation brings Southern California's most talented Bhangra
      dancers to the stage.

      Global Rhythms, a fifty piece choir and percussion ensemble from
      Miami University in Ohio, conducted by Ethan Sperry, a former member
      of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, joins A.R. Rahman for this
      special evening. Infectious song, breathtaking dance, and colorful
      movie clips on the Bowl's side screens make for a night of wonder,
      surprise and spectacle.

      On July 23, the fearless and brilliant Flaming Lips make their
      Hollywood Bowl debut appearance. In addition to the Lips'
      captivating performance, Thievery Corporation, undisputed standard-
      bearers of electronic music, perform in support of their newest
      release, Versions, a new collective of rare and sublime remixes of
      songs by The Doors, Sarah McLachlan, Astrud Gilberto, Nouvelle
      Vague, Wax Poetic with Norah Jones, Anoushka Shankar, and
      Transglobal Underground among many others. Opening the show is Os
      Mutantes, Brazil's legends of psychedelic tropicalia, reunited for
      the first time after 30 years and making their only West coast

      The Bowl's favorite reggae party, Bob Marley: Roots, Rock, Reggae
      Festival 2006 returns on August 13 with Ziggy Marley, Stephen
      Marley, and Bunny Wailer. Joining the festival this year is
      Ozomatli, Los Angeles' beloved Afro-Latin-and-beyond style-mashers.

      Breaking new ground in tango and electronica, and selling a debut
      record in excess of a million copies worldwide, Gotan Project had
      the small matter of addressing the long-standing love affair that
      the public had embarked upon. The result is the recently released,
      Lunatico (named after tango hero Carlos Gardel's champion racehorse
      of the 1930s), quite possibly their most accomplished work yet. On
      August 27, Gotan Project entrances audiences once again with the
      lure of Argentine tango and sublime electronic beats.

      Electro-soul collective Zero 7 appears at the Hollywood Bowl for
      their only U.S. tour date in support of their third album, The
      Garden. Swedish top-ten chart artist and revered troubadour Jose
      Gonzalez, and longtime collaborater Sia not only lend their vocals
      to several tracks on The Garden, but also appear with Zero 7 for
      tonight's performance. Matthew Herbert, one of Britain's most
      inventive and prolific electronic composers, sets the mood for the
      evening. His new album Scale is a culmination of his achievements,
      and his most accessible and mellifluous song collection to date.

      On September 10, country music legend Willie Nelson, alternative-
      country roots-rocker Ryan Adams, and "torch and twang"
      singer/songwriter Neko Case present the finest in American music. On
      September 8 & 9, Willie Nelson appears with the Los Angeles
      Philharmonic for two nights of pure songwriting magic and a
      celebration of the musical roots of America. These appearances mark
      Willie Nelson's first-ever performances at the Hollywood Bowl.

      One of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world, with a
      seating capacity of nearly 18,000, the HOLLYWOOD BOWL has been the
      summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since its official
      opening in 1922, and in 1991 gave its name to the Hollywood Bowl
      Orchestra, a resident ensemble that has filled a special niche in
      the musical life of Southern California. The 2004 season introduced
      audiences to a revitalized Hollywood Bowl, featuring a newly-
      constructed shell and stage and the addition of four stadium screens
      enhancing stage views in the venue.

      To this day, $1 buys a seat at the top of the Bowl for many of the
      Los Angeles Philharmonic's concerts. While the Bowl is best known
      for its sizzling summer nights, during the day California's youngest
      patrons enjoy "SummerSounds: Music for Kids at the Hollywood Bowl,"
      the Southland's most popular summer arts festival for children, now
      in its 37th season.

      Attendance figures over the past several decades have soared: in
      1980 the Bowl first topped the half-million mark and close to one
      million admissions have been recorded. In February 2005, the
      Hollywood Bowl was named Best Major Outdoor Concert Venue at the
      16th Annual Pollstar Concert Industry Awards; it is no wonder that
      the Bowl's summer music festival has become as much a part of a
      Southern California summer as beaches and barbecues, the Dodgers,
      and Disneyland.

      SUNDAY, JUNE 25 at 7 PM
      HOLLYWOOD BOWL, 2301 N. Highland Ave. in Hollywood
      Sergio Mendes' 40th Anniversary of Brasil '66: A Timeless Celebration
      In order of appearance:
      Maogani Quartet
      Marcelo D2
      Sergio Mendes
      Special guests: India.Arie, Herb Alpert & Lani Hall, John Legend,
      Joe Pizzulo, Q-Tip
      Raul Campos, host

      SUNDAY, JULY 16 at 7 PM
      HOLLYWOOD BOWL, 2301 N. Highland Ave. in Hollywood
      Bollywood Night!
      In order of appearance:
      A.R. Rahman

      Additional artists:
      Sukhwinder Singh
      Sadhana Sargam
      Anisha Nagarajan
      Global Rhythms
      Dancers from Bollywood Step Dance
      Sher Foundation
      Tom Schnabel, host


      Senior's third musical to premiere this month
      By Ellen James

      While some kids are reared on top 40 radio, Michael Mitnick said he
      cultivated his music taste while listening to Broadway show tunes.
      That interest in the songs of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Stephen
      Sondheim led the energetic 18-year-old to write the music and lyrics
      for three original musicals. He also plays the starring roles.

      As if that isn't enough to keep the Fox Chapel Area High School
      senior busy, he also is the co-editor of the high school newspaper,
      secretary for Student Council, president of National Honor Society
      and assistant choir director and a teacher and tutor at Adat Shalom
      B'nai Israel Beth Jacob. He was voted Pittsburgh's Young Magician of
      the Year and founded Volunteers in the Arts - all while keeping a
      straight-A average.

      And in between his classes, volunteer work, extracurricular
      activities and creating his next musical, Mitnick said, he finds a
      few hours for sleep.

      "I do a lot of creative scheduling," Mitnick said with a laugh. "I
      sleep a couple hours a night. It can be a real pain."

      Mitnick's new musical, "Second Chance" premiers at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29
      at the Fox Chapel Area High School Stage.

      The musical is about Jake Cohen, who is disgruntled with his job at
      a small- town newspaper writing obituaries and dreams of writing the
      big front page story. Jake is unhappy with his life and wonders what
      could have happened if he stayed in medical school rather than
      pursuing journalism.

      Jake, however, is given that second chance to relive life if he
      would have stayed in medical school.

      "It is sort of `It's a Wonderful Life' but in reverse," Mitnick
      said. "It's a comedy, but Jake learns what is really important in
      life and the value of taking the road less traveled."

      Mitnick joked that he is taking on an Orson Welles-like role as
      writer, director and star of "Second Chance."

      "Second Chance" comes on the heels of Mitnick's other two
      musicals, "The Cop and the Anthem: A Musical Tale," based on an O.
      Henry short story, and "The Race," which was Mitnick's first

      "The Race" is a comedy farce about two political candidates who are
      vying for the same office but who end up falling in love with each

      Mitnick said he started writing "The Race" when he was in eighth

      "I had always had the interest in musicals, but then it occurred to
      me that someone had to write them," Mitnick said.

      It took Mitnick about three years to write the music to "The Race,"
      and the play premiered in 2000 at Fox Chapel Area High School.

      Mitnick played the duplicitous incumbent while another Fox Chapel
      Area student, Anisha Nagarajan, played the idealistic opposition

      Mitnick said he still is surprised with the overwhelming interest
      the musical garnered.

      "The doors opened at 7 p.m., and by 7:15 we were at capacity. We
      crammed in 240 people. Fire codes were cast aside," Mitnick
      said. "It was an amazing experience. The definitive moment was when
      one of the characters had to give a political speech, it was the low
      moment in the musical. But once she was done, people applauded. I
      still can't figure that out."

      "The Race" raised $1,400 for the Down Syndrome Group of Western
      Pennsylvania and the National Down Syndrome Society. Mitnick's
      brother, Jeff, has Down syndrome.

      "I've never been happy with the support those groups have received.
      It's a cause close to my heart," Mitnick said.

      "The Race" will be staged in Pittsburgh in the spring of 2002 by
      Prime Stage Theater.

      Mitnick said that he has received support and criticism from Stephen
      Flaherty, a lyricist and composer for numerous Broadway musicals."

      Mitnick sent a compact disc of songs to Flaherty, who replied with
      critiques and encouragement for Mitnick.

      Other people who have worked with Mitnick say they are amazed at his
      work ethic.

      "There is nothing stopping him," said Sally Meyers, a gifted
      resource teacher at the high school who also is involved in the
      drama department. "Every once in while, we see him working sleep-
      deprived, but he is always an energetic performer. He is smart in
      the way that he taps into the talent of the other students. He does
      it all with humor and not a lot of arrogance."

      Mitnick currently is performing in the high school stage adaption
      of "To Kill a Mockingbird," which Meyers is directing.

      Mitnick credits the success of his musicals to the other performers,
      who all are Fox Chapel Area High School students.

      "I'm really honored that the other kids would take time to act in my
      musicals," Mitnick said. "They really dedicate themselves to
      learning their lines and putting on a good show. Amy Bregar, who has
      done choreography for me is amazing. She's been dancing since she
      was 3 years old. Anisha (Nagarajan) helps me with the music. Both
      are fantastic."

      "Second Chance" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29 and 30 and
      Dec. 1, at the Fox Chapel Area High School Stage, 611 Field Club
      Road, O'Hara Township. At 2 p.m. Dec. 2, the cast will perform a
      matinee show. Free admission and seating is on a first-come, first-
      served basis. Donations will be accepted for the Down Syndrome Group
      of Western Pennsylvania and the National Down Syndrome Society.

      "It is a reward to see my work being performed, but it is an honor
      to have so many people wanting to get involved," Mitnick said


      A.R. Rahman and Bollywood Night at Hollywood Bowl

      Bollywood Night, India's film music and dance showcase, comes to the
      Bowl in July with the genre's premier composer and musical genius,
      A.R. Rahman, leading the way. Accompanying him is a star cast of
      playback singers, many of who were introduced to the world of film
      music by Rahman. Also performing are a medley of music and dance
      groups such as Musafir, Sher Foundation, Bollywood Step Dance, and
      Global Rhythms.

      Rahman has redefined contemporary Indian music and, according to a
      BBC estimate, has sold more than 100 million albums of his works,
      comprising music from more than 50 movies.

      Born into a musical family, Rahman started playing the piano at a
      very young age. His father was a composer, arranger, and conductor
      for Malayalam movies. Unfortunately, he died when Rahman was only 9
      and the family started renting out musical equipment to make ends
      meet. Young Rahman then joined noted composer Ilayaraja's troupe as
      a keyboardist and computer programmer. After working with several
      renowned composers, such as Ilayaraja, Vishwanathan-Ramamurthy,
      Zakir Hussain, and L. Shankar, he set out on his own to compose
      jingles for popular Indian television features. During this period,
      he also obtained a degree in Western classical music from the
      Trinity College of Music, London, and went on to set up his own in-
      house studio called Panchathan Record-Inn at Chennai.

      The Bombay film industry discovered Rahman in 1991, when Mani
      Ratnam's Roja was released. The film was a huge success with a
      musical score that was original and brilliant. Roja brought acclaim
      to the composer, including the Indian National Award for the best
      music composer, the first time ever given to a debutant. Since then,
      Rahman has gone on to win the Indian National Award three more times
      (for Minsaara Kannavu, Lagaan, and Kannathil Muthamittal), the most
      ever by any composer.

      Rahman is accompanied by well-known Indian singers like Hariharan,
      Sukhwinder Singh, Sadhna Sargam, Madhushree, and Anisha Nagarajan of
      Bombay Dreams. The singers from India have sung some of Rahman's
      most successful songs.

      Hariharan has been awarded with a Padamshree, one of India's highest
      national honors. He is credited with the most soulfully sung title
      song from the film Roja, "Roja, janeman."

      Sukhwinder Singh rose to fame with a blazing rendition of an all-
      time favorite, "chaiya-chaiya," an energetic song shot with a group
      of dancers on a moving train, from the movie Dil Se. Today, he is
      one of the most sought-after singers in the film industry and owes a
      large part of his success to Rahman's encouragement.

      Sadhna Sargam received training in Hindustani classical music first
      from her mother, Neela Ghanekar, and then Jasraj. Her mentor in film
      playback singing was the illustrious team of Kalyanji-Anandji.
      Sargam won the National Award for the Year 2001 as the Best Female
      Singer for the Tamil song "patta cholli" composed by Ilayaraja. She
      also has other award-winning songs to her credit such as "kuch na
      kaho" from the movie Kuch Na Kaho, composed by Shankar, Ehsaan, and
      Loy. She has also sung "khamoshi mein pukar hai," composed by
      Rahman, for a Chinese project, Warriors of Heaven and Earth.

      Madhushree is a versatile singer who has been credited with singing
      super-hit songs for films like Rang De Basanti, Kisna, Swades, Yuva,
      Kal Ho Na Ho, Kuchh Naa Kaho, Tehzeeb, and Saathiya. Her beautiful
      rendition of "kabhi neem neem" won her the Sony Stardust Award 2005
      for Best Female Singing Sensation.

      Anisha Nagarajan, grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa., and was chosen to
      perform as Priya for Bombay Dreams, Andrew Lloyd Weber's acclaimed
      Broadway show that has Rahman's musical score.

      Musafir, from the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan, has
      dazzled audiences with its energetic hybrid versions of Indian folk
      and popular music, acrobatics, and feats of physical endurance at
      concerts and festivals all over Europe.

      The band is composed of professional musicians belonging to the
      Langa, Manghaniyar, and Sapera groups from the Thar desert area of

      Conceived in 1996 by Miami University alumnus Srinivas Krishnan,
      Global Rhythms performs ethnic music from non-Western cultures.
      Based at Miami University of Ohio, the group is open to all students
      at the university with an interest in world music.

      Today, the group has grown from just five members in its first year
      to include over 30 instrumentalists and the university's entire
      Collegiate Chorale. Global Rhythms has performed music from Africa,
      Australia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, North and South America,
      and the Middle East, with a particular emphasis on both the
      classical and popular music of India, at national and international
      venues. This is the second time that the group is coming together to
      perform with Rahman, the first time being in 2003, when it toured
      all over the country with the composer.

      Sher Foundation constitutes some of Southern California's most
      talented bhangra dancers. Bhangra, known for its vigor, has become a
      popular dance form in recent years among Indian Americans. The group
      hopes to bring a part of history, culture, and flavor of the
      northern Indian state of Punjab to the stage.

      Bollywood Step Dance was launched in 2005 and provides professional
      dance training and troupe performances for all kinds of events,
      music videos, television and movies, workshops and classes. The
      expertise of choreographers and dancers Yogi, Rashmi Goel, and
      Saloni Ashok Swarup, will come alive for everyone to see.

      By combining diverse talents from around the world, with the common
      thread of Rahman's music, Bollywood Night promises to be one-of-a-
      kind music and dance extravaganza.

      Sunday, July 16, 7 p.m. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave.,
      $5-$81. (323) 850-2000.


      Two Pittsburgh actors star in Broadway musical about Bombay films
      By Christopher Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

      NEW YORK -- He loped across the empty stage of the Broadway Theatre
      with a big grin. After months of preparation, it was just a few days
      to the grand opening of the $14 million "Bombay Dreams." That night
      the critics would start arriving to review the musical, in which
      Manu Narayan was making his Broadway debut playing the star role.
      The pressure must have been considerable. But the Pittsburgh native
      seemed at ease.

      An hour later at the same stage door, it was time to meet the female
      lead of "Bombay Dreams," another Pittsburgher, Anisha Nagarajan. It
      would also be her Broadway debut, but while Narayan, a graduate of
      Franklin Regional High School (1991) and the Carnegie Mellon music
      school (1995), has been working professionally for nearly a decade,
      for the 20-year-old Nagarajan, just barely out of Fox Chapel High
      School (2002), this was the first time performing professionally

      So was she nervous? Not apparently. Excited, yes: "Omigod," she
      said, "I'm on Broadway!"

      Breakthrough for South Asians
      "I'm ready," said Narayan, radiating a confidence that seemed
      convincing, implausible though that might be. "Sometimes you get a
      little nervous. But you have to be open to be able to give to the
      audience and to your fellow actors on stage."

      His first thought wasn't for this huge step in his own career but
      for what "Bombay Dreams" might mean to South Asian performers --
      Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankans -- Americans all,
      for whom performing possibilities have been limited.

      "Musical theater doesn't have many roles for South Asians," he
      said. "Producers don't think outside the [ethnic] box. This could be
      a breakthrough."

      "Look at that marquee!" he said, gesturing from a cafe across the
      street toward the Broadway Theatre, where South Asian faces tower
      high. "For the first time, it's OK in America for South Asians to be
      the leads in a $14 million musical. It's OK for a South Asian man to
      be bare-chested on stage. ... ['Bombay Dreams'] will bring Indian
      music and dancing to people who may never have seen South Asian
      actors. As that permeates, more casting directors will take notice."

      Except for a long run in the tour of "Miss Saigon," Narayan's own
      acting resume is richest in Shakespeare, where ethnicity-blind
      casting is more accepted. With more incredulity than complaint, he
      noted that even the big make-believe Broadway musicals such as "Lion
      King" and "Aida" have been slow to cast South Asians.

      This has been such a concern of Narayan that he is a co-founder with
      friends of the off-off-Broadway company Rasa Theater, featuring
      South Asian actors and sponsoring a South Asian Playwrights Festival.

      Narayan is also sensitive to charges that "Bombay Dreams" is not
      South Asian enough -- usually levied by those who don't know how the
      huge Bombay film industry mixes India and Hollywood. "It is Indian,"
      he says, "because of the music of A.R. Rahman, a major Indian
      composer with Western values. His music is what they listen to in
      India. That and the first-generation South Asian actors make it
      different -- also in its visual aspects, with all its color." But
      mainly, he calls the show an evening of story-telling.

      Among the many changes the London production had undergone in
      preparing for Broadway, Narayan was most excited by the orchestra,
      converted from mainly synthesizers to 17 live musicians. "Wait'll
      you hear the string section! It's really something to sing on top of

      Although the pressure was about to increase with the onslaught of
      media coverage, the performers' lives were getting easier.
      Throughout previews they had been both performing and rehearsing.
      Narayan described one of his solos, "The Journey Home," as having
      been changed "18 or 19 times. I got adept at getting new words at 4
      p.m. and putting them in the show at 8 p.m."

      Now, rehearsals would cease. The new challenge would be to block out
      the media storm, as the 39-member cast must, avoiding the reviews
      and concentrating on the work at hand. That storm had already begun
      with the gossip in the Internet Broadway chat rooms.

      "Friends not in the theater are always e-mailing me about what
      they've read," Narayan said, "but I don't want to see it!"

      He admitted to feeling personal responsibility. His brow furrowed
      briefly: "The weight does land on my shoulders. But I welcome it. My
      dream was always to be on Broadway, and you couldn't ask for
      anything more than this: I get to sing, I get to dance, I get great
      scenes to act and great scene partners to act with."

      And does a lead role bring an entourage, too? "Just the people I
      share the subway home with -- a different entourage every night."

      Broadway University
      "I'm so totally almost floating above the ground!" said a giggling
      Nagarajan, sitting a few minutes later in the same cafe. "Sometimes
      I don't even think this is real."

      It does seem too improbable even for a dream -- from sophomore drama
      class to Broadway without a step in between. But that's the power
      of "Bombay Dreams": In tapping an under-used acting pool, it is
      creating many Broadway debuts.

      "There are people in the cast who are younger than me," said
      Nagarajan: "My understudy is 19, and one of our swings is 18. The
      energy on stage is so raw and lively. Doing this isn't old for any
      of us -- it's such an exciting experience. ... It's surreal! It's so
      much fun to be working with people with so much experience, so

      She used both hands as she talked, simultaneously grabbing a bite to
      eat, having to return to the theater soon for makeup. "It's been
      unreal with everything happening so fast. There's been no chance to
      sit down and take it all in."

      She knew she had a lot to learn about sustaining a role through
      eight performances a week, about warming up, maintaining her energy
      and managing her time, not to mention adjusting to new friends and
      living on her own for the first time. But this is what she was going
      to college to prepare for, and "the best learning experience is

      Like Narayan, who plays saxophone, Nagarajan was tempted by a career
      as a musician rather than actor. Disappointed to have been turned
      down by the musical theater program at CMU, she nearly went to the
      University of Indiana to study piano. She has studied the classical
      music of India -- also like Narayan -- and she is gratified
      that "Bombay Dreams" will introduce something of India to a large
      American audience.

      "We're making history, in a way, the first time some people are
      going to see even a small portion of what India is."

      But that larger significance would come later. For now, "My whole
      outlook is I just want to do my job to the best of my ability --
      listen to members of the creative team, ignore what others say and
      do my 150 percent every night."

      Her smoky voice bubbled with enthusiasm. "I'm so bouncy all the

      As if to illustrate the point, she bade a hurried goodbye and headed
      across the street to the theater, only to come running back to get
      the bag she'd forgotten.

      Hometown favorites
      Now, 10 days after the interviews, the reviews have started to
      appear. As could be predicted, most of the New York critics have
      dismissed "Bombay Dreams" as empty spectacle.

      There are some audiences you can count on. The Narayan and Nagarajan
      families were there in force for Thursday's opening night and party.
      Over the weekend, Narayan was expecting an additional 13 family and
      friends at one performance and 41 at another. In a couple of weeks,
      George Nix, a teacher at Franklin Regional, is bringing another
      group of about 50. And about the same time, Nagarajan is expecting a
      large group from Fox Chapel, arranged by Craig Cannon, the high
      school choral director who encouraged her to pursue her dream to be
      a performer.

      The marketing wars have just begun. The real judgment about "Bombay
      Dreams" now rests with the ticket-buying audience.


      American Masala
      They've changed the way we eat, dress, work and play. South Asians
      come here from many places, and they succeed by blending East and
      By Barbara Kantrowitz and Julie Scelfo

      Six floors above Times Square, in a bare rehearsal studio, the sun
      is rising on Bombay. At the center of the room, a slender middle-
      aged woman chants softly. She's surrounded by two dozen young
      performers playing beggars and peddlers who rise from slumber in the
      intricate ballet of an urban morning scene.

      Their dance moves become ever more energetic as the pianist in the
      corner pounds harder on the keys. The woman is Madhur Jaffrey, the
      actress and cookbook author who has made a career of introducing the
      tastes of her native India to the West. But this time she is serving
      up an enticing mix of Indian and Western rhythms called "Bombay
      Dreams," a Broadway musical that Andrew Lloyd Weber and his creative
      team hope will hook mainstream America when the show opens next

      The timing couldn't be better. "Bombay Dreams," which has been
      playing in London since 2002, tells the story of a young man from
      the slums who rises to film stardom. It's an apt metaphor for the
      growing visibility of a new generation of South Asians in the United
      States—some immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka
      and Nepal, and others born here—who are making their mark everywhere
      from Hollywood to Wall Street.

      Politicians here may be in an uproar about outsourcing jobs to
      India, but India has also been exporting tremendous talent to this
      country. Young South Asians are transforming America's cultural
      landscape, setting the pace in business, the arts and media as well
      as the traditional fields favored by their parents' generation,
      medicine and technology. Many have spent time on several continents;
      they're multilingual, and comfortable mixing cultures. They're also
      often children of affluence; the 2 million South Asians here are
      wealthier and better educated than almost any other immigrant group.

      The stars of this breakout generation include directors like M.
      Night Shyamalan, 33 ("The Sixth Sense," "Signs"), and artists like
      the critically acclaimed Pakistani-born painter Shahzia Sikander,
      34. Or writers like Jhumpa Lahiri, 36, the Pulitzer Prize winner
      whose recent novel about a second-generation Indian-American, "The
      Namesake," shared the best-seller lists with "The Da Vinci Code." Or
      bankers like Anshu Jain, 41, raised in India but now head of global
      markets and a member of Deutsche Bank's group executive committee in
      New York. Or politicians like 32-year-old Bobby Jindal, who last
      fall narrowly missed election as governor of Louisiana and is now
      running for Congress.

      These high achievers are only part of a much larger
      phenomenon. "Since I've been here, I've never seen so much attention
      to my culture," says Sreenath Sreenivasan, 33, an associate
      professor at Columbia Journalism School and cofounder of the South
      Asian Journalists Association.

      From Los Angeles to Miami, partygoers of all ethnicities are shaking
      their hips to the beat of bhangra, which is based on Punjabi folk
      music. (In the season premiere of "The Sopranos," Meadow jammed to
      Indian rhythms as she cruised in her car.) Video stores across
      America stock selections like "Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India"
      from Bollywood, India's prolific film industry, along with hits by
      South Asian filmmakers working in the West like "Monsoon Wedding"
      and "Bend It Like Beckham." Designers like Donatella Versace are
      crafting saris. And in a true test of acceptance, suburban
      supermarkets are stocking frozen saag panir (spinach and cheese)
      next to pizza and chili.

      It's a shift that surprises even some members of the South Asian
      community who have been waiting years to get more visibility. A
      decade ago, when casting director Sonia Nikore held an open call for
      South Asian actors for the Disney feature "Jungle Book," only about
      50 people tried out, recalls Nikore, now an NBC vice president in
      charge of casting prime-time shows.

      But just recently, Nikore, 35, held an open call for "Nevermind
      Nirvana," a sitcom about an Indian-American family, and more than
      250 South Asian actors showed up. The changes are also clear to Ajay
      Sahgal, the 39-year-old writer who created "Nevermind Nirvana" and
      pitched it successfully to the network.

      "You can get a chai at Starbucks," says Sahgal, a novelist who's
      starting a new career in TV. "People are wearing kurta pajama tops
      at Barney's in Beverly Hills, and they have yoga studios on every
      corner. You know you're going to have a hard time selling a show
      about Tibetans or an Inuit family, but for Indians, the time is

      It's the most visible ethnic breakout since Ricky Martin let
      Americans know that Latinos were living la vida loca. In this case,
      having money has helped. According to the Census Bureau, the median
      income in Indian-American families is more than $60,000, compared
      with the national average of $38,885, and experts estimate that more
      than half of the 2 million South Asians in this country are college

      South Asians are highly visible on all of the nation's most elite
      campuses and are garnering an impressive share of the top academic
      prizes. They were critical to the Silicon Valley boom, and now many
      are resettling in cities like Bangalore as entrepreneurs in the
      booming outsourcing industry. Parmatma Saran, a sociologist at New
      York's Baruch College who studies South Asian immigrants, says they
      succeed because they balance modernity with old-world values. "South
      Asians are following in the footsteps of Jews," says Saran, who came
      from India in 1967 at 24. "They're following the Jewish model of
      penetrating the structural arrangement of society—economics,
      politics—without losing their cultural identity," he says.

      Indeed, many young South Asians in this country—who casually refer
      to each other as desi, a Hindi term that's roughly the equivalent of
      paesano—often feel like they're straddling two cultures. At 27,
      Alpana Singh presides over the wine cellar at Chicago's Everest
      restaurant. Her accomplishment is remarkable considering that she
      grew up in a Hindu home where wine was not consumed. Although her
      parents stressed academics, Singh wanted to work in the restaurant
      industry because it seemed glamorous.

      Her immigrant parents, who ran an Indian grocery in California,
      weren't onboard until, at 21, Singh became the youngest person ever
      to pass the Court of Master Sommeliers' advanced exam. Singh, in
      turn, is proud of her heritage and the fact that she speaks Hindi,
      English and Spanish. "We have this amazing ability to adapt to the
      surroundings," Singh says of her fellow South Asians. "We become
      doctors and golfers, but we never forget where we came from."

      The first major influx of South Asian immigrants to this country
      arrived in the 1960s, after a change in the law made it easier for
      non-Europeans to enter as long as they were well educated. As a
      result, many in this first wave were physicians or scientists.

      "These people came from a middle-class and educated section of
      Indian society, so life in America was not entirely new to them,"
      says Madhulika Khandelwal, 46, director of the Asian American Center
      at Queens College in New York. "They're operating with people in the
      same class and income level." They also spoke English, a result of
      years of British rule.

      By quickly fitting into white-collar America, the children of this
      first wave of South Asians earned "model minority" status, which
      could be a mixed blessing. "People said, 'We think of you as
      white'," recalls New York filmmaker Nisha Ganatra, 29, of her
      suburban high-school years in Pasadena, Calif. "It was meant as a
      compliment." Now, she says, "when I walk down the street, people
      assume I'm a doctor or lawyer, that I'm exceedingly nice, that I'm
      either a virgin or an expert on the Kama Sutra. They're not
      stereotypes that will prevent me from getting jobs." Since 9/11,
      however, the image has become more complex. "For every person who
      thinks I'm smarter and better," she says, "there's someone who
      thinks I smell bad and I'm about to blow up a building."

      While many young South Asians have followed their parents into
      science and medicine, others have chosen the nonprofit world or the
      arts. Manu Narayan's father was an engineer in Pittsburgh, but
      Narayan, now in his early 30s, says, "I was someone who had
      different dreams." Although he says he was admitted to the
      engineering program at Carnegie Mellon, he majored in theater
      instead. His parents backed his choice, and that support paid off
      this fall when he won the lead in "Bombay Dreams." His costar,
      Anisha Nagarajan, 20, a New York University student, also grew up in
      Pittsburgh—a coincidence that has already earned them headlines in
      the local paper even before their Broadway debut.

      Even for South Asians who embrace new paths, the pull of tradition
      is strong—especially when it's time to get married. In Indian
      shopping areas like the New York City neighborhood of Jackson
      Heights, Queens, young women buy elaborate red saris and go to
      special salons to get their hands decorated with henna. Some
      wealthier couples choose to have two weddings, one in India for the
      relatives there and one here. While the ceremony may be traditional,
      the reception often mixes new and old: curry for dinner, American
      wedding cake and bhangra mixed with hip-hop on the dance floor.

      Although the first wave of immigrants tended to settle in just a few
      communities, particularly the New York area, there are now vibrant
      South Asian communities all over the country, and the demographics
      are increasingly diverse, encompassing everyone from ABCDs (for
      American-born confused desis) to FOBs (those fresh off the boat). In
      Houston, new immigrants typically settle in the southwest portion of
      the city, where there are dozens of Indian grocers and clothing

      The goal for many is to ultimately move to the upscale suburb of
      Sugar Land, where Sunil Thakkar, 36, and his wife, Sandhya, 34, run
      their en-tertainment company, Music Masala. The enterprise includes
      a weekly radio show featuring fast-paced Indian and Western beats, a
      moderately successful independent film about a recent Indian
      immigrant in Houston called "Where's the Party Yaar?" and cruises
      with a South Asian flair. "This truly is the American dream for me,"
      says Sunil, who quit his job as a Shell Oil engineer in 2001 to work
      on the business.

      As success stories like these become more common, some South Asians
      worry that those who haven't made it will be overlooked. "Not
      everybody who came over early was a doctor or a lawyer or an
      engineer or an accountant," says comedian Aladdin Ullah, whose
      Bangladeshi father started his American journey as a dishwasher.
      Ullah, 29, grew up as one of the few South Asians in New York's
      Spanish Harlem, where he still lives. More recent changes in
      immigration law have allowed a wider range of South Asians to come
      here, including many who are less educated and take lower-paying
      jobs. But their chances for achieving the American dream should
      improve as the overall South Asian community continues to gain
      visibility. The stage is set for a long-running hit.


      Bombay Dreams Performers Moonlight With Snapshots Musical
      By Kenneth Jones

      Snapshots, a collection of songs highlighting major moments and
      memories in four people's lives– a mother, a father, their daughter
      and her boyfriend — will be seen for two performances at the 45th
      Street Theatre Off-Off-Broadway Aug. 6-7.

      The piece was co-written by and features Bombay Dreams actress
      Anisha Nagarajan, who plays Priya in the A.R. Rahman musical at the
      Broadway Theatre.

      Middle Management presents the show 11 PM Aug. 6-7 on the stage
      where 4th Interval is presenting a double bill of Marry Me a Little
      and The Diary of Adam and Eve.

      "Tracing their lives as they encounter triumphs and tribulations,
      Snapshots covers humorous moments such as love at a middle school
      dance, to painful memories such as watching a parent slip away,"
      according to the announcement. The "unique theatrical experience"
      began as a few songs that have since evolved into an entire evening
      of music.

      "Different from other cabaret shows, the songs of Snapshots are
      connected by an implied plot as opposed to a theme," the producer
      announced. "We watch the main character (the daughter) from the
      moment she is born through the moment she realizes her true love.
      The trajectory from that first moment to first love is Snapshots."

      The music is by long-time collaborators Michael Mitnick and Anisha
      Nagarajan, with lyrics by Michael Mitnick. Nagarajan, who left her
      sophomore year at New York University to make her Broadway debut in
      Bombay Dreams, is an award-winning pianist and composer. Mitnick, a
      senior at Harvard College, is an up-and-coming composer who co-wrote
      the music and lyrics for "Winning Caroline," winner of Best Comedy
      at the Ivy Film Festival.

      The cast of Snapshots includes Bombay Dreams performers Aaron
      Albano, Krystal Kiran Garib, Ian Jutsun, Miriam Laube and Aalok


      NRI, Nagarajan, Narayan Announced for Broadway's BOMBAY DREAMS

      Two young performers, Anisha Nagarajan and Manu Narayan
      coincidentally both from Pittsburgh and with roots in the same
      Indian state of Tamil Nadu (formerly Madras), whom the accident of
      show business had brought together to entertain with a duet from the
      musical "Bombay Dreams."

      It is confirmed that Nagarajan will portray Priya and Narayan will
      be Akaash when Bombay Dreams arrives at the Broadway Theatre in
      spring 2004. The musical — set in Bollywood and featuring a score by
      A R Rahman and Don Black — will begin previews March 29 with an
      official opening set for April 29

      Singer-actress Anisha Nagarajan is also a composer. Produced by
      Andrew Lloyd Webber, Bombay Dreams made its world premiere at
      London's Apollo Victoria Theatre in June 2002. The musical concerns
      a "handsome young slum-dweller and his dreams of becoming a
      Bollywood movie star."

      Anisha Nagarajan and Manu Narayan will play the romantic leads
      in "Bombay Dreams," the Bollywood stage musical produced by Lord
      Andrew Lloyd Webber, right, that will open in April on Broadway.

      The master showman responsible was Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber,
      producer of "Bombay Dreams," who has cast Nagarajan, from Fox
      Chapel, and Manu Narayan, from Delmont, in the lead roles for the
      Broadway opening next April. The petite Nagarajan with her rich
      voice will play Priya Kumar; the tall Narayan will play Akaash, who
      rises from the slums of Bombay to become a star in Bollywood movies.

      To play leads in a big Broadway musical is dream enough -- plausible
      for Narayan, a 1995 CMU grad who's been working professionally ever
      since, but implausible for Nagarajan, who's just a sophomore at New
      York University and hasn't yet performed professionally at all. But
      to have their lengthy audition process and whirlwind workshop capped
      with this gala performance goes dreaming one better.

      Although both had been cast in New York auditions, the final
      approval rested with Lloyd Webber, so they were brought to London
      for a two-week workshop. On its second day, Lloyd Webber appeared
      and "everyone's hair stood on end," says Narayan. After 15 minutes,
      musical director Paul Bogaev came to say, "Manu, Anisha, come
      downstairs and sing for Andrew."

      They headed down a long corridor. Nagarajan remembers Narayan
      saying, "It's like being taken to the principal's office." "More
      like the guillotine," joked Bogaev.

      They sang their duet. "I couldn't ask for anyone more professional
      or talented than Anisha," Narayan says. "I looked into her eyes and
      she was rock solid."

      Lloyd Webber applauded. Some 20 minutes later, director Steven
      Pimlott asked if they'd be willing to sing for the president and
      prime minister the following week. Later they heard that the queen
      would be there. Lloyd Webber's people took them shopping for
      outfits -- for Nagarajan, a black evening gown with Indian style
      shawl and probably glass slippers, too.

      On the day of the dinner, after their usual rehearsal, they were
      taken by van to the U.S. ambassador's mansion in Regent's Park.
      There was an hour's wait while the guests finished dinner.

      A duet at state dinner

      Lloyd Webber opened the entertainment with a piano piece, followed
      by three other singers. "Then Anisha and I came out," Narayan
      says. "It was a really small dining room with maybe 45 people. The
      first person I saw was President Bush." After their duet, they
      joined with the others in a song from Lloyd Webber's "Whistle Down
      the Wind." Then the ambassador's secretary arranged them in a
      receiving line.

      "First out was Gen. [Colin] Powell and his wife," Narayan recalls.
      The queen shook their hands and asked if they were in the
      London "Bombay Dreams," then turned to recommend it to President
      Bush, who asked them where they were from. The princes followed --
      Philip, Andrew, Charles -- the last two asking if they'd been
      nervous. Then Michael Caine and his wife Shakira, David Frost,
      Condoleezza Rice. "She was so charming and intelligent, I was taken
      aback," Narayan says, admitting there was so much to take in, he
      can't recall who else was there.

      The White House photographer took photos. Then Lloyd Webber treated
      the performers to a late dinner at a posh new restaurant. "I had
      David Frost and Andrew Lloyd Webber on either side of me," Narayan
      says. "And coming from Pittsburgh, having been a CLO Mini-Star, I've
      heard about Andrew Lloyd Webber for so long!"

      Both performers come from suburban Pittsburgh. They have immigrant
      parents, from the same part of India, who know each other through
      attending the same Hindu temple. And they have been supported by
      their parents in their unusual and risky career choices.

      Internet ad leads to role

      Nagarajan's father, Nandu, is a professor in the University of
      Pittsburgh business school, and her mother, Geeta, works with people
      with disabilities. They moved to Pittsburgh when Nagarajan was 2.
      She went to East Hills, Winchester-Thurston and Allderdice, then
      spent a year in India.When her family moved to Fox Chapel, she did
      her final three years of high school there. A piano player since she
      was 3, having studied with Natasha Snitkovsky at Duquesne
      University, she was offered scholarships to several music schools,
      but she chose to go to NYU<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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