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The Sensational Sound of Nitin Sawhney

Compiled by Sabrina F Ahmed

There's something to be said about music piracy…it's actually brought us face-to-face to some real talent. When the pirated compilation First Prize hit the stands in the local market, it boosted the music producer Habib into overnight superstardom. It also introduced us to the genius that is Nitin Sawhney. This week, we take a closer look at the man who brought us "The Sunset Song", "Nadiya" and other hits.

There is no disputing the fact that Nitin Sawhney is widely regarded as one of the most influential and versatile creative talents alive today

Firmly established as a world-class producer, songwriter, DJ, multi-instrumentalist, orchestral composer, and cultural pioneer, Sawhney has become a latter-day Renaissance man in the worlds of music, dance, theatre, and film.

An acclaimed flamenco guitarist and classical/jazz pianist (Sawhney will be performing with the Britten Sinfonia at London's Royal Festival Hall later this year), he entered the professional world of recorded music approximately ten years ago, and has since released 6 studio albums - each one garnering critical acclaim. London's Outcaste Records released the breakthrough Beyond Skin in '99, which took a prestigious Technics Mercury Music Prize nomination and won Sawhney the coveted South Bank Show Award. Subsequently Richard Branson's V2 Records signed Sawhney to a six-album deal, and released the millennial epic Prophesy in 2001 (winning a MOBO Award as well as the BBC Radio 3 Music Award). This year will see the release of All Mixed Up the definitive Nitin Sawhney remix collection (including mixes of Sawhney's seminal works by MJ Cole, Bugz in the Attic, Nasha, Joe Clausell, London Elektricity, KV5, Fink, Ojos de Brujo, and Sei-ji). Sawhney's seventh studio album will follow shortly thereafter in the early part of 2005. He has toured each of his albums extensively around the world (single-handedly selling out London's Royal Albert Hall a month in advance), with the latest DJ performances being at the Lincoln Center Festival (NYC), the 9:30 Club (D.C.) and the Hollywood Bowl (LA) in July 2004.

Sawhney has either written, remixed, played, or produced for a host of world-class artists, including Sir Paul McCartney, Sting, Sinead O'Connor, A R Rahman, Jeff Beck, and countless others. Currently, Sawhney is writing with Will Young (signed to Simon Cowell's 19 Mgmt, and whose debut album sold over 1.5m records worldwide) for Young's second studio album.

Sawhney's skills as producer and composer were called upon in 2000 when Cirque du Soleil approached him to produce the studio album of Varekai, which brought his unique sound to an even-wider audience. In 2002 he worked with Akram Khan and Anish Kapoor, scoring the music to Khan's critically acclaimed choreographed work Kaash, which toured worldwide between 2002 2003. Sawhney has since been commissioned to score the forthcoming Mahabharata adaptation by Olivier-award winning writer Stephen Clarke, as well as Khan's forthcoming new piece in 2005.

To date, Sawhney has scored over twenty-five films from his London-based Spirit Dance studios (six in the last twelve months), as well as having scored TV ads for the likes of Nike and Sephora . His music for Channel Four's Second Generation saw him nominated for the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for Film and TV Composition (2004), and his music has accompanied everything from dark, high-tension drama to light-hearted animatronics. Known for his incredible degree of versatility and exceptional standards of excellence, Sawhney has established himself as one of the UK's leading scorers for film and television.

This year, Sawhney has been commissioned by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra , the Britten Sinfonia , and the Nuance Ensemble to compose several new performance works. Past commissions include 2000's Urban Prophecies for The Proms, as well as 2001's Neural Circuits for the Britten Sinfonia and leading British pianist, Joanna MacGregor. He is also currently in discussion with London's Royal National Theatre to stage a new production, written and scored by himself.

Much of Sawhney's attention remains focused on the areas of education and community building, accepting the role of Artist in Residence for no less than 5 separate performing arts organisations across Great Britain and Asia. This year Sawhney joined Sir George Martin as a patron for the British Government's Access-to-Music program (which brings non-traditional music education programs to inner-city kids), and is also patron of the Raindance East Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards. Sawhney also appears regularly as an arts and current affairs commentator on topical discussion and news programs such as the BBC's Newsnight, Newsnight Review, Channel Four News, and HardTalk . He has also written for UK national broadsheets:

The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, and The Observer.


Review by Gokhra

Collateral opens with Tom Cruise exchanging briefcases with a stranger in an airport. Then, intriguingly, it seems to turn into another movie. It opens with a deliciously well-written flirtation between a cabbie named Max (Jamie Foxx) and a fare named Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith), a pretty, stressed-out lawyer who marvels at Max's ability to bring out her playful side. She's all business rattling off the streets he should take to get her to downtown Los Angeles. He says he knows a faster route. They end up making a bet: The ride will be free if he doesn't get them downtown faster.

The scene continues. It's not about flirtation. Sometimes you only need to have a few words with a person to know you would like to have many more. They open up. She's a federal prosecutor who confesses she's so nervous the night before a big case that she cries. He says he plans to own his own limousine service. They like each other. He lets her get out of the cab and knows he should have asked for her number. Then she taps on the window and gives him her card.

But then Annie gets out and Vincent (Cruise) gets in.
Vincent has five contracts--people he has to kill before 6 a.m. and his departing plane. To him, a reliable pro like Max is a godsend.

Vincent is dressed in a tailored silver suit, with gray hair and gray stubble; even his eyebrows don't commit to color. He barks questions at Max, pretending an interest that doesn't exist, then impulsively decides to hire the driver for his appointed nightly rounds. The first stop results in a body flying out a window and landing on the roof of Max's cab. "You killed him," gasps the stunned cabbie. "No, I shot him," deadpans Vincent. "The bullets and the fall killed him." Vincent now has to cope with Max as well as the fine details of each murder.

Max is now a chauffeur with a gun to his head and a body in his trunk. Meanwhile, two hip L.A. cops, Fanning (Mark Ruffalo) and Weidner (Peter Berg of "The Last Seduction") are following the trail of murders.

Collateral is essentially a long conversation between a killer and a man who fears for his life. This long scene at the beginning of a thriller establishes two important characters. It is also good on its own terms, like a self-contained short film.

There's a lot of dialogue in this movie which is a cool digression form the usual wall-to-wall action flicks.

Collateral is directed beautifully throughout. Of course in the last bit the producers let loose on the typical stuff instead of carrying on with drama. The movie does have a few improbable scees for exaple in one they turn up at a night-club and you're wondering what the link is. Overall Collateral is an expertly-made thriller that is taut, terrific and realistic with high-tech extravaganza echoing John Woo moves.

Anime Review

Macross Plus

By Lancer

Before I get down to actually reviewing this particular anime, a little bit of introduction seems due to the original series this is based on.

Any anime follower must've heard of Macross, but the series has a special place with me... it was THE series that got this reviewer hooked on to anime eight years ago... we knew it as Robotech and would wake up at 6AM to catch the early morning runs on Star Plus in days before the current waves of Hindi TV drowned out some of the most entertaining TV programming it was ever our luck to watch...

Robotech: The Macross Saga revolved around the crew and inhabitants of an alien spaceship that had been repaired with the concerted efforts of humankind after its crash landing on Earth ended the third world war... and the alien race came along to reclaim "their" ship and eradicate mankind in the process.

Macross Plus is a considerable period afterwards, and is the story (on the surface) of two test pilots for prototype transforming fighter planes competing for the post of miltary approval and replacement of the previous generation's mainstream fighter. However, it seems the pilots have a common and rather rocky past, and a third person from that past is also present at the scene...

This anime (4-part mini series or single movie depending on how you get it) features a storyline that is far from grand, but gripping and beautiful because every character you meet is BRILLIANTLY conceived. Each of them has their flaws... Isamu Dyson is a hothead and a showoff (think Tom Cruise from Top Gun), Guld Bowman is a cold, calculating and rather wicked character throughout, Myung (third person mentioned above) is a singer-turned-producer with her own secrets and a great bleeding LUMP of insecurity, and so on. Animation is some of the best I've seen, with battling mecha swooping by really quickly and with enough style to give you an adrenaline rush like a fire-hose, and the music is sublime. Yoko Kanno (Cowboy Bebop, Escaflowne, etc) is at her very best here, and it shows...

This anime stands out on its own, and managed to live up to the expectations of a die-hard Macross fan like me. Even if you've never seen anime before, this is a treat you have no right to miss. It's probably on Kazaa and/or Ares, though I'm not sure and maybe you could bug the people at Rifles Square into getting you the movie edition..
(Rated Teen)

Sites Unseen

By Niloy

Nothing much has been happening lately, and I haven't got much to say. So let's dive into the virtual abyss of the Widely Weird Web.

Poorly-drawn cartoons inspired by actual spam subject lines!
Ever wondered how silly spammers could be to use subject lines like "Bet you never seen this before…" and "Instant money for free!" This site takes a truly evil step towards blasting them. The result? Some of the best cartoons I've ever seen. Trust me, they are awesome when I say they are. And don't worry, none of cartoons contains anything you won't like.

How the great companies of today were named!
Did you how the giant companies of today named themselves, where companies like Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Sony… got their titles? I liked what the site has to tell, especially the bit about how Apple got named. Apparently, Steve Jobs was furious in a meeting when the executives failed to come up with a good name for the company (the company was expanding and it needed a new name). Enraged, he threatened to name the company with a silly name like "Apple" (he liked apples) if the executives fail to come up with a better name by 5:00 pm. It seems now that the executives failed.

The "Good" wife's guide
Ah! This one's always nice to read. First researched and published for guiding the American women in the 1950s, the guide is now digitized and available online for everyone to cherish!

Proper phone etiquettes
Are you sure you know everything about phone etiquette? Then consult Uncle Sam's ultimate guide for making friends over the phone! Another publication from the 1950s, this guide is a real deal. Funnily illustrated and written, it's nice to read.

Did you know Drugs are bad?
Well, this site tells you that they are, but it does so in style. It's not like the boring drone-like lectures about drugs, but something you'd feel like pursuing. It's about teenagers from across the globe fighting against the addiction, against its effects and against anything that glamorises drugs. Check out the information section while you are visiting the site.

You send it
This site's great for sending large attachments, and it send files sized up to 1 GB. Although you would probably never need to send anything that large, this site is great for sending files that are too big for sending via Hotmail or Yahoo. Just type in the target email address, select the file to attach and press "send".

The dullest blog in the world!
If you are somewhat experienced with the weird internet world, then you would have known about blogs (websites, used for voicing opinions or as open diaries). A huge number of people use blogs… by 2003, 7 percent of America was blogging! With that amount of blogs, it's obvious that there are some really, really awful blogs. This site mockingly bashes those extremely dull blogs that makes you want to weep silently for humanity.
That's it for this Sites Unseen. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you need to contact me about something, mail me at niloy.me@gmail.com


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