You know how Netflix makes recommendations for you? That is how I discovered Brown Nation. At first I overlooked their suggestion since I had no clue what Brown Nation was all about.And then I succumbed out of sheer curiosity and was hooked. Part of the reason for being hooked is the way the series captured the desi elements in an authentic way complete with a sprinkling of Punjabi, Gujarati, Malayalam and Tamil. Oh! And there is a fair amount of Bollywood reference that should appeal to your desi heart.
The series may remind some of you of NBC’s TV show Outsourced, which essentially had an American cast and was about an American’s company’s back office in India. Brown Nation differs from Outsourced in a couple of ways: the cast is a mix of Indian and American actors and the series is about the existential crisis of an American IT company in America. And, the other thing that is different about Brown Nation is that it has a distinct East Coast perspective and I say this after having lived on both sides of the coast.
I ended up binge watching the 10 part series of Brown Nation about an Indian American business family in New York. Hasmukh (Rajeev Varma) owns a small IT consulting company and his wife Dimple (Shehnaz Treasury), who is is working hard to get a break as an actor. Calling Hasmukh an entrepreneur is a bit of a stretch since his company barely makes any revenue and yet he has a small retinue of workers, who try to keep themselves busy. The show essentially is about your everyday life in America told through the lives of Hasmukh and his wife and their pet doggie Bobby.
The people who shine in Brown Nation are Shehnaz Treasury,Remy Munasifi and Omi Vaidya. And kudos to the creators of Brown Nation Abi Varghese, George Kannat and Matt Grubb.
I guess there will be a second season of Brown Nation. Wonder how that will pan out since Hasmukh’s little IT company is at an inflection point. Will his company pivot? We will have to wait to find out.
MeetKen Florance, Vice President of Content Delivery at Netflix. We sat down to speak with him about how we get to binge watch all those pictures and shows from Netflix. How do they do that? As a kid Florance was more interested in literature, philosophy and music. How did he segue and chart this career in the tech industry?
And, then we switched gear and talk about his counter-culture lifestyle as a teenager and a young man. He was a huge fan of The Grateful Dead and traveled thousands of miles to attend their concerts around the USA. Florance is a practicing Buddhist and plays the sitar. What drew him to Buddhism? It was an interview by John MacLaughlin with the Dalai Lama that started his journey towards Buddhism and meditation. How did he come to learn sitar from Ashwin Batish of Santa Cruz? Tune in to find out.
Filmmaker Cary Fukunaga’s new film, Beasts of No Nation, releases today in theatres and on Netflix.This is the first time that a feature film is releasing simultaneously in theatres and streaming online. With this film could Los Gatos-based Netflix became a key player in the film industry?
We spoke to Fukunaga and Abraham Attah, the young actor who makes his debut in Beasts of No Nation in San Francisco. They were here to attend the 38th Mill Valley Film Festival.
As usual I had lot of questions, wich I had to pare down to a few key questions. How was Attah selected for the film? What drew Fukunaga to make this film? What was it like to shoot the film in Ghana? Did Attah get a chance to rap with Idris Elba? Was he surprised at winning an award at the recent Venice Film Festival? How did Fukunaga develop the cadence and rhythm for Elba’s character? And we asked him about Sam Pekinpah’s influence. Of course, we had to ask Fukunaga about the Netflix deal and what it means to the future of films, especially when it comes to distribution in theaters. Will Netflix’s involvement in feature films alter the game? Tune into the interview and find out what Fukunaga and Attah have to say about Beasts of No Nation.
LISTEN: CARY FUKUNAGA AND ABRAHAM ATTAH ON BEASTS OF NO NATION
Beasts of No Nation is based on Uzodino Iwaela’s novel by the same name. Set in an unamed West African nation, the film traces the journey of a young innocent boy to a life of war and brutality. When Agu (Attah) suffers the violent loss of his family in the ongoing civil war, he is left without any family moorings. While hiding in the jungle he stumbles upon a group of child soldiers and finds himself inexorably drawn into the group. He is initiated as a child soldier under the charismatic and brutal leadership of the Commandant (Idris Elba). As part of this small and tight group of child and teenage soldiers, Agu finds himself perpetrating the very violence from which he had tried to escape. How Agu survive the ordeal and what happens to him is what the picture is about.
Director Cary Fukunga and actress Mia Wasikowska talk about their film Jane Eyrethat released in 2011. This is Fukunaga’s second feature film. His first feature filmwas Sin Nombre (Nameless) that he wrote and directed. The film was received well and won him a clutch of awards.
In this 2011 interview we talk to Fukunaga and Wasikowska about the making of Charlotte Brontë‘s famous novel into a film. What was it about this novel that drew Fukunaga to make the film? When did Waskikowska first read Jane Eyre? We also spoke about the notion of home, family and companionship. Michael Fassbender and Wasikowska were his first choice as actors for the film.
LISTEN TO CARY FUKUNAGA AND MIA WASIKOWSKA
We spoke to Fukunaga about growing up Oakland and the kinds of books he read. Alex Haley’s Roots was one of his favorite books.
Fukunaga is back with his new film Beasts of No Nation that is releasing in theaters and on Netflix on Oct 16, 2015. We have an interview with Fukunga and Abraham Attah, the teenager actor, who acts as the child soldier.