Performer: Helen; singer: Geeta Dutt; film: Howrah Bridge (1958)
A band from Boston. Worth it just for the band name alone. But the performance is very nice, and the song choice is excellent.
My latest research into the origins of the Gypsies started with a post at Transpontine’s South East London Blog, where I learned a little bit of South London Gyspy history, along with the fact that over in the UK, June has actually been Gypsy Traveller Roma History Month. Back on Transpontine’s blog, there was some discussion about the origins of the Gypsies, in terms of both time and place. I participated, but a little late in the game, to the effect that I was probably at that point only talking to myself. However, in the process, I got some very nice and succinct history of the Gypsies over at a Rajasthani tourism page. Here it tells us that:
Before they left India, little is known about the culture which generated the Gypsies, except for their migrations, within and out of India. Linguistics and historians believe that the Gypsies were originally from North Central India. Their first known migration started around 300 BC, when they moved to North Western India. The Persian Book of Kings relates an incident corroborated by independent chronicles that took place in the fifth century, when the Indian King Shankal made a gift of 12.000 musicians to the Shah of Persia. It is assumed that those musicians were the ancestors of the Roma since after a year the Shah sent them away from Persia.
Why and when, then, the Roma left India is clouded in uncertainty, yet some scholars state that the Gypsies entered southeastern Europe in the last quarter of the 13th Century. Because they arrived in Europe from the East, they were thought by the first Europeans to be from Turkey, Nubia or Egypt, or any number of non-European places. They were called, among other things, Egyptians or ‘Gyptians, which is where the word “Gypsy” comes from. All analysis seem to corroborate the fact that the Roma ancestors are linked to this common lineage in India. As well, the Roma have been known as entertainers and inspired musicians in every country they have traveled, as some of the nomadic groups present in the Thar Desert today.
The page then goes on to describe several tribes of Rajasthani Gypsies, which is very interesting information that I haven’t seen before.
One of those tribes is the Kalbeliya, or “snake charmer caste.”
And it just so happens that are a lot of very nice current-day Kalbeliya dance clips available. Here’s one with a song that I’ve known well for over a decade, because it was on Musafir’s Gypsies of Rajasthan LP:
Oh, did I say something about challenging gender roles?
I was delighted to see that Queen Harish is on tour and will start dancing in New York City within the next couple of days. Her schedule is up on her blog site right now.
Here’s a fun scene from a new movie that Queen Harish is in, called Appudappudu:
This is a trailer for an animated film by the same title. The music is very nice, though I can’t make much of the lyrics. (Are they singing “Sita-ji” over and over again? Obvously, there’s a good reason why that thought kind of amused me. Sometimes, though, it sounds like “Sita-genie.” Or maybe it’s something else in Hindi.)
From what I can gather, the band that made the music to this clip is My Pet Dragon. According to My Pet Dragon:
“Sita Sings the Blues” played to rave reviews at the Tribeca Film Festival! The animated feature film by Nina Paley includes original compositions and score music by Todd Michaelsen of My Pet Dragon and also features the voice and dance of Reena Shah as Sita!
We are working to get a soundtrack record for “Sita Sings the Blues” available for digital download, stay tuned.
That’s all quite interesting. But I found out something far more interesting – at least to me – when I looked at the site of Reena Shah:
Reena graduated from the Padmini Institute of Fine Arts, where she studied Bharata Natyam, an Indian Classical Dance Form, under The Late Guru Padmini Ramachandran, a famous Indian Actress & Dancer.
It’s funny, because that information is just buried in the middle of the “about” section, as though it wouldn’t interest people much. (I fell off my couch when I saw that, but never mind.)
P.S. Padmini was born on June 12, 1932. Unless something happens to drag me away from my computer, you can expect a birthday post.
No, I didn’t go to this one. For one thing, I lost my job and didn’t feel like paying the $37 ticket price. (Nor am I about to pay the $250 to $750 per person that’s being charged at some MoMa benefit that she’s doing.) For another thing, I don’t like Williamsburg that much, and I never had any desire to go to McCarren Pool. And I’ve also been very busy watching old Tamil movies. (Old Tamil movies? Who the hell got me into that? LOL.)
Oh, well, it does look as though it was kind of fun. A few very choppy videos started to appear, some with terrible sound. This was actually the best one available. Thank you, Domiennyjoe.
Bo Diddley, Dec. 30, 1928 to June 2, 2008. He was always one of my favorites. I could listen to him even at times when I wasn’t listening to any American rock’n’roll. (Like now?) R.I.P. Bo Diddley, one of the greatest.
(P.S. I actually wrote this on June 6 (I hadn’t been very up on the news this week), but it goes better here, at June 2.)