Wednesday, October 14, 2009
For years, the Eurovision song contest has been a major event in Europe, in which singers from across Europe compete and showcase their talent. Over 100 million viewers tune in, despite the criticism of some that the contest promotes kitschy and shallow music.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has proposed such a contest which would center on Chinese and Central Asian musical talent. He proposed the name "Intervision", which is a name that would probably not offend anyone.
There is a whole galaxy of music out beyond Europe and America's borders. When India and the USSR signed in 1971, it had the concrete affect of creating a market in the former USSR for Indian moves, which combine romance, action and beauty with fairly strict rules about showing flesh. What truly marked the Taliban as intolerant fanatics was not banning American movies, but when they banned "Bollywood" movies from Bombay, the Hollywood of India.
There is a vibrant pop music scene in China. Iran has made award winning films that are popular not only in Iran but in Afghanistan and beyond, where languages related to Persian are spoken. I do not like the idea of Russia and China teaming up, but if Putin succeeds in shining a spotlight on music from the Chinese, Turkic, Iranian and other language groups of Asia, I will be very happy.
My preliminary nomination for "Best Female Vocalist from Former Soviet Asia" would go to Nigora Kholova, who achieved childhood stardom much as did Tanya Tucker back in the early 1970's. Kholova sings in Tajik, Farsi and other languages of her region. Recent videos of her music have proven that her talent will last well past childhood and hopefully into a lifelong career.
Sound tracks for Chinese music are also an entire category. Vietnam has 90 million people and a great pop scene Bollywood is a genre with a worldwide following. In Israel, there is a full time Bollywood channel that is watched by an audience comprised of Arabs, Russians and Jews from Arab countries. The cultural treasures in the combined Russian and Chinese domain of interest are vast and enchanting. If "Intervision" succeeds in bringing to world attention the music of Asia, it will prove a worthy counterpart to the Eurovision contest.
When I was a child, sushi was unheard of. Today it is a household word. Falafel has also conquered large areas in the west. Who knows what treasures await us from Central Asia? The political landscape that is unfolding in Asia is bewildering in its complexity at a time when leadership in Europe and America is sorely lacking. If "Intervision" arises from our complex and troubled times, we will be fortunate indeed.
Borat Sagdiev, was a satirical character who put a Kazakhstan on the map that has no relationship to the reality on the ground. Perhaps now, Kazakhstan, Turkmenia, Uzbekistan and other parts of formerly Soviet Asia will have an image of their own creation. I look forward to seeing this process unfold.
I am also including the following link to Mera Joota Hai Japani, a classic song from Shree 420, one of the films that made Raj Kapoor a famous Bollywood star. This particular song clip has English subtitles. Some of its words would make it a worthy inspiration for an international song contest.
"My shoes are Japanese. My trousers are English. The cap on my head is Russian. But my heart is Indian."
Well said. Thank you Raj Kapoor.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZTmPRvW-f4&feature=related Sphere: Related Content