Friday, June 10, 2011

Dance the Body Music

Have you ever wondered what makes some men and women are more attractive than others?  Well, science has been trying to figure it out, and has spread its probing tentacles in every direction, statistical, symmetrical, body fat ratios, you name it, and they have sent their sniffer dogs that way way before you thought of it.  One of the confirmed findings is that certain dance moves do make a potential mate appear more attractive than others.  This explains the popularity of dance across cultures and time.
Salsa is one of the most popular contemporary dance forms the world over.  Debdoot Das, the brilliant young filmmaker from Kolkata, is also the maker of the world's hottest selling instructional DVDs on Salsa and, recently Hip Hop.

New Digifilm Quick And Dirty Guide To Hip Hop The Health Fitness Dvd Movie Excellent Performance The Quick & Dirty Guide to Salsa - 4 DVD Boxed Set

Debdoot, who had the dubious distinction of being one of my closest friends through high school and college, was busy writing filmscripts while the rest of the class was battling trig and economic geography, playing the blues with paper and combs that the rest used to keep their sugar syrup'ed hairdo's in place.  He started making what he calls “arty short films” at just 16, collaborating with novices who are now Bollywood stars. His TV series, Daylights Again was among the first to address social issues like drug addiction, broken homes, juvenile delinquency, and alienation among affluent youth.

He immigrated to the U.S. at 25, and we lost contact.  He popped up on my social networks a few years back, and I was thrilled to find that one of his claims to fame was as the director of this hugely successful Instructional Video series with cutting edge technology and built creatively around the New York ethos. 

While for many, he is the creator of the Quick & Dirty guides, for me, he is the cranky genius who stayed up nights writing scripts that we thought were useless but ended up finding sponsors, who stopped talking to me for months over a disagreement over J.J.Cale versus Clapton, and who came up with answers to the most obscure quiz questions to pip the rivals in the finals of intercollege competitions.

Never one to fear experimenting, he boldly went forth where others wouldn't, frequently with us in tow, and almost always into big trouble.  The first time that he and I went electric was live on stage at a concert that we had barely rehearsed for, that too on acoustic instruments, and with borrowed guitars (with straps too loose for our frail frames and no time to adjust them either) from the previous act.  It was a rocking disaster with neither of us having any idea of how to deal with the sound and the amplification of our deficiencies.  His sense of humor was unearthly, and contributed to our popularity as a creative team at events across the country.  While his unconventional take on life and art (I learned from him that art and life could never be viewed separately) often kept us away from the prizes, we were always the most popular act with the masses.  Another incident from our college days revolves around the shocked look on the face of a snooty audience when he used sacred music as background for a scene in a play depicting matricide. 

I will leave you to rush and get his DVDs from Amazon by clicking here.  But before I sign out, here is an excerpt from an interview featured by Apple's Pro series that will offer a glimpse into the depth of his thinking.

The story concerns immigration, a topic that continues to resonate deeply for Das. “It’s about Cubans and what’s called the Wetfoot-Dryfoot Law,” he relates. “People who swim over and manage to set foot on American soil are allowed to stay, but if they catch you 10 feet out in the water, you’re sent back. That law has turned immigration into a game of life.”

"On a clear day you can see the lights of Havana from Key West,” he continues, “but that particular 90 miles is so treacherous, even the Spanish conquistadores didn’t attempt to cross there — they went to Tampa.

“The immigrants try it because it’s the shortest route. But there are huge waves, storms, sharks, cold nights, hot days. They’re pursued by the Cuban and American navies, and they don’t have a compass or navigation equipment.” Debdoot focuses his movie on a young couple. “The girl makes it to land,” he says, “but the boy is interdicted 10 feet from shore, so he’s sent back. She waits for him every night for a year at their meeting point, but he never comes. It’s kind of like Casablanca, and it’s vaguely inspired by the Dostoevsky short story ‘White Nights’.”

I wish Debdoot all the success and happiness that he deserves.

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