Indo Gold 

Is Bollywood growing up?

SAT 9/24

With the rising international popularity of commercial Indian cinema, all the clichés once associated with Bollywood -- the yellow-and-bubblegum palette, the bejeweled bombshell with her Aishwarya Rai lips, the schlocky melodramatic plotline -- are diminishing. It's no longer fair to say that Indian films are merely rinky-dink Hollywood ripoffs whose best selling point is that the actors are constantly bursting into song. Indeed, rising directors like Ram Gopal Varma, with his new psychological thriller, My Wife's Murder, are better known for plot intricacies and character depth than razzle-dazzle. And yet pop music is still essential to Indian cinema -- in many films, the primacy of song and dance over narrative is apparent. This may explain why India's answer to Hollywood's Academy Awards ceremony, the Sangeet Awards, is a much sunnier affair than its progenitor. Indian music and film moguls would rather stand up and boogie down than sit and watch clips of the past year's tearjerkers. Thus, the Sangeet Awards are a good-times romp through Bollywood's world of Top 40 music, awarding honors for the sweetest ghazals, the peppiest bhangra remixes, and the bubbliest Indipop beats. This year, PDM International and Sahara One bring the Sangeets to the Oakland Arena, in a city known for embracing Bollywood film and music, where a distinguished jury panel will dole out 24 awards to the best singers, lyricists, and pop groups in Indian film. The ceremony is Saturday at 7 p.m., with tickets from $55 to $155. -- Rachel Swan


Games Surrealists Play

The early-20th-century avant-garde artists known as Surrealists -- when they weren't throwing horses out of Paris apartment windows -- were fond of playing a game they called cadavre exquis, in which players wrote a word on a piece of paper, then folded it and passed it on for more writers, thus producing such verbal gems as "The exquisite corpse will drink new wine." That playful anarchic spirit carries on in a new art exhibition, the Exquisite Corpse Show, in which artists collaborate on works on paper, film, sculpture, paintings, etc. It's now on the walls of California College of the Arts' North/South Gallery, 5241 College Ave., Oakland. -- Kelly Vance


If You Build It ...

Film fans will come

Orinda may be an East Bay bedroom community with delusions of grandeur -- or the home of one of the Bay Area's most ambitious film festivals. You decide. Randy Holleschau's labor of love, the Orinda Film Festival, now in its fourth edition at various downtown venues, is screening more than 140 films over four days and nights beginning Thursday -- everything from short animations to an "instant filmmaking" competition to a documentary on bullfighting. Opening night's special guest is actor William Hurt (right), who introduces the drama The Blue Butterfly at the Orinda Theater (7 p.m.), followed by an afterparty. But the multitude of films starts unspooling at 1:30 p.m. at the Library Theater. The fest runs through Sunday. Visit for info and tickets. -- Kelly Vance

THU 9/22

Get a Job

Up the down escalator

With her best-seller Nickel and Dimed, columnist and author Barbara Ehrenreich crossed the line into the first person. Using a made-up name and résumé, she worked a succession of unskilled jobs and found that it was practically impossible to survive as a member of the "working poor" in America. Now it's white-collar wage slaves' turn under the pithy, often humorous, but ultimately dead serious Ehrenreich microscope. In her new book Bait and Switch (Metropolitan Books, $24), the reporter essentially plays herself, as a middle-aged professional woman "in transition" (corporate-speak for unemployed), wandering through a maze of career coaches, job fairs, boot camps, and Christian networking ministries in search of an increasingly elusive job as a public relations consultant. Ehrenreich talks about her experiences in downsized America on Thursday evening (7:30) at Cody's Books, 2454 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, -- Kelly Vance


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