There are certain songs that give you that “feel good” vibe and just make you want to get up and dance. Texas-based artist Amar Sandhu recently released a new single in collaboration with DJ Harpz, and let’s just says these ‘patakay’ are being felt all over!
With any artist, comes a story and more often than not we see the artist only for their music and not who they are behind their music. But we wanted to get to know the Amar behind Sandhu’aa, so we sat down with him for all the “cha.”
Amar started out as a young boy just trying to escape from reality. He says that it all began with being a listener and persistence and love became his driving forces in making music into his career from a hobby.
But where did ‘Patakay’ come from? And what inspired Amar to make this song? Well, after shooting the music video for Raxstar’s recent single “Rewind,” he met up with a close friend of his and well known U.K. producer, Steel Banglez who introduced him to Grime music and Amar instantly felt a connection. Of course, Grime was a fresh face in today’s industry and so I was curious to know if Amar drew inspiration from non-desi artists, and he said that while he there wasn’t an artist in particular that he was inspired by, as an artist he definitely finds creativity in all genres because of the fact that you can always dig deeper into somebody’s work and understand their message. I think this is such an important thing to keep in mind because I think many times we get comfortable with what we’re used to and stick to it, instead of venturing into new territory.
Grime music originated in London in the early 2000s, from genres such as UK garage and jungle, and pulls from styles such as dancehall, ragga, and hip-hop. He really liked the genre and wanted to record a bhangra-esque record with that concept in mind. After he arrived back in the states, it remained in the back of his head…until DJ Harpz sent him a few beats. One of those beats brought out the same vibe that Amar had back in London, and the rest is really history. Sparks flew, and ‘Patakay’ or ‘fireworks’ was born. According to Amar, any dance floor track he comes out with is for one sole purpose…for us listeners to get up and take over that dance floor. (Whether that’s your own room or someone’s reception.)
There’s a saying that goes something like, “music knows no boundaries.” It transcends country borders and state lines, as well as cultures. But living in a western society, I think many South Asians lose touch with their roots. When I asked Amar for his take on this he said,
“As an American born artist living in a not so desi populated city, it’s hard to stay connected to your roots. I sometimes feel even my music isn’t culturally accepted by some. But that to me is the beauty in art when you can take two cultures and keep them both rich but make a blend for everyone to enjoy. The excitement of making that art has kept me in touch with both my American and my Indian roots. You will only be disconnected when you no longer have the desire to care, for me the resources are endless and I will always care about who I am and where I come from.”
In this identity struggle, Amar found his craziest fan experiences. He is constantly amazed at the fact that non-desi fans can sing along word for word to all of his songs, which only further reinforces that music has no language and his words and voice go so far.
The urban desi music community is so diverse, and because of this, there are so many different tracks that are brought to us as listeners. But as listeners, I think we many times disregard how much work artists put into these tracks we love so much, and how they maintain the balance between songs that are more lighthearted vs. sentimental. I mean think about it. There are so many emotions we experience out there, how are artists able to create that balance and make us feel so many different things?
When I asked Amar how he maintains this balance, he talked about how each song he comes out with expresses an emotion or feeling. When writing and composing a song, the process is made much easier when you tap into your emotions. This was something he found great difficulty in doing as a new artist, but through his patience and persistence, it became second nature.
With any music genre industry is that so many artists are blessed with so many amazing fans and of course the fame that comes with their successes. Having said that, I think as fans we have this misconception that our favorite artists always have the most fun in what comes from their successes. However, Amar said that his favorite part of the music making process isn’t the money or anything like that, but the “in the moment” experiences. Every project of his is started by simply having fun. He makes up various lyrics and melodies and sings like nobody’s listening until he’s got something that he knows he likes. He says that so many of his ideas just come out of having a “go with the flow” attitude and just being himself. And of course, with the hard work comes the joy of having his work appreciated which he labels as the second best thing.
Amar is one of the most well-known artists in his industry, which is constantly growing. So as an “OG” artist, I wanted to know more about what the Urban Desi genre lacks and what hopes he has for future artists in his industry. The biggest missing piece Amar sees currently is a lack of identity. In his own words he says,
“When you hear things like, “this is too English” or “people won’t understand this” it really gets you thinking what the genre actually is. Is it urban beats with only Desi lyrics? Is it English and a Desi language blended together? My definition would be music that elevates the quality of desi music. It’s hard to be considered Urban while having so many similar sounds, lyrics, and melodies from your counterparts.”
That being said, the future holds so much for future artists and Amar really hopes they bring creativity above everything else. He wants them to be real and generate a factual fane base and following. His advice is to future artists is to try writing their own songs first and ask for help where they need it, instead of just trying to buy their way into the industry. He also says to spend money wisely on marketing, merchandising, building show quality instead of fake views, likes, and followers. He believes the future can bring changes to an industry that is very much in need of a makeover.
He also has a little more advice for aspiring artists, which I think is so needed, because too often South Asians are discouraged from pursuing a career in the arts. He wants budding artists to know to not be scared, reach out for the stars. Most importantly though, he said to build yourself mentally and to not lose sight of your goal if this is truly what you want. He made a great analogy in saying, “completing a song is the hardest part, but the best part is getting to release it” Meaning, many times it’s going to be so hard to want to keep going…but if you stick with it, anything is possible!
But what’s next? What new fire should we be expecting in the future? Well, Amar is going to be releasing a brand new album titled “Coast America” in the near feature, along with multiple music videos of some of his songs scheduled for release. But what really stood out to me was Amar’s idea to start introducing newer languages in his music, possibly by Amar himself or a feature artist.
I’ll leave you all with a fun fact. Amar Sandhu is actually one of the very first singers in the Punjabi music industry to be born in America, how cool right?! We’re sure that your grandkids will take IMMENSE pride in knowing that in the future.
“After so Long” is a poetry film created for Simha’s EP, which is streaming on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. The poem was collaboratively written by Simha, a U.S. native, and Jae, who is based in India, during the 2020 lockdown. “After so Long” was recited by Simha and their parents. In 2022, I directed and produced the film through my studio, Star Hopper. “After so Long” premiered on Nowness Asia in March 2022.
This film is a worldwide collaboration among trans and queer south-Asian artists from the United States, India and Canada. It was recorded, shot and filmed during the lockdown of 2020 and 2021.
Awake at 10 am but out of bed at noon,
I want to be here where I lose myself in these sheets
Glancing through half-shut eyes
At the gold pressing past my window
The glimmer remarks on the ledge of my bed
But the voices are so loud
Like dust collecting in the corner of my room
I am unaware to why I’m still here
With the chilling doubt of the breeze…
I’m swept into lucidity After so long
Mil rahi hoon mein aaj iske saang barso baad,
(Today, I’ll be meeting them after so long)
Koi paata nahi diya tune
(But with no destination sight,)
(What should I do?)
(Where should I go?)
Shayad agar mein chalne lagoon,
(Perhaps, if I keep walking)
Inn yaadon ki safar mein
(Down this road of memories)
Mujhe samajh mein ayega,
(I will find out)
Yeh rasta kahaan jayega,
(Where this road leads)
Inn aari tedhi pakadandiyon pe baarte hi jaana hai,
(Through the twists and turns of this winding roads, I must keep going on)
Mujhe mil na hain aaj uske saath,
(I wish to meet them today)
(After so long)
I feel like I’m retracing my footsteps
From these concrete stretches
To broken cement walls
Chips and cracks forge their way for new designs
I see the old abandoned buildings
That once held the warmth of bodies
Now just hold memories
Supporting the nature’s resilience
In vines and moss
After so long
Dhoondli shishe mein jaaga leli hai
(These isty mirrors have offered refuge)
Bikhri hui laatao ne,
(To these scattered vines)
Zameen pe uchi ghaas pe
(Amidst the tall grass stretching from the ground)
Lehrati kamsan kaliyaa
(The swaying little buds)
Bheeni bheeni khushboo bikhereti
(Spreading honeysuckle scent through the air)
Phir wahi mausam,
(I lose myself in reminiscing, the same season)
(The same heart)
(After so long)
Phir bhi mein chal rahi hoon aaj
(Still, I keep carrying on today)
Khudko khudse milane ke liye
(In the pursuit of my higher self)
Inn galiyo se guzarna hain aaj
(I must pass through these streets today)
Chaalte chaale jaana hai aaj
(I must keep going on today)
Kabhi hum milenge kisi mor paar
(Someday, we’ll meet again, somewhere on this road)
(After so long)
Kabhi hum milenge kisi mor pe
(Someday, we’ll meet again, somewhere on this road)
(After so long)
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For any of us who have siblings, the relationship with them can be one of the most fulfilling ones. And also one of the most bloody frustrating. No one can quite stroke the fire like someone who knows you extremely well, or sometimes not, but have a familial bond with that neither one of you chose. In “Polite Society,“directed by Nida Manzoor, sisters Ria Khan and Lena Khan’s loving, sweet, and sometimes tumultuous relationship takes center stage.
Played delightfully by Priya Kansara and Ritu Arya, respectively, the evolution of their relationship is one of the film’s greatest and simultaneously weakest points. It’s also pretty cool to see two South Asian actresses in an action-comedy movie — how refreshing it is to mention the art of choreography and praise it in regards to fight sequences vs. dance sequences for a film centered on two South Asian women — that itself shows progress.
Set in London, Ria is an aspiring stunt woman who already shows massive talent in martial arts. She looks up to her older sister Lena, who is enrolled in art school and, also holds remarkable potential in a somewhat less traditionally acceptable field. Their relationship starts off as supportive and sweet with no inclinations of jealousy or resentment that sometimes plagues sisterly bonds. But this also means that they are quite protective of one another, almost to the detriment of their well wishes for each other.
This all happens when Lena gets engaged after dropping out of art school. Ria feels betrayed. They were supposed to be on this journey together in fighting for their dreams. Ria decides that she knows what’s best for her sister and enlists the help of her friends to rescue the damsel in distress from her own wedding. Her deep animosity towards the prospect of Lena getting married is also fueled by Lena’s fiancé and his mother acting extremely suspiciously. The twist that ultimately brings the two sisters back together is both shocking and weirdly somewhat progressive in the motive behind the villain’s origin story. But the twist, unfortunately, is too ambitious for the movie as it tacks on another genre and theme earnestly, but still clunkily.
“Polite Society” tackles not only what it means to fight for one’s dreams but also what it means to have just one ardent supporter. As Lady Gaga famously said, “There can be 100 people in a room and 99 of them don’t believe in you but all it takes is one and it just changes your whole life.” Well, Ria’s Bradley Cooper was her very own sister who seemed to abandon her, and her faith in her, when she chose a different path. For Lena, the film opened up the question of marriage and the weight it bears in the life of a South Asian woman. Ria’s lack of understanding of the pressure it places on Lena is the start of the change in their relationship — the start of Ria’s coming of age and the start of Lena settling firmly into her adulthood.
Standouts from the cast include Ria’s best friends, played by Seraphina Beh and Ella Bruccoleri, who commit to the story and characters with such hilarity and conviction. They add the lightheartedness and playfulness the film needs, and it is refreshing that never once do they use Ria’s cultural background as a way to make fun of her or dismiss her.
It is also heartening to see Lena and Ria’s parents being some of the most supportive South Asian parents seen on screen. At the end of the day, it is not the external family pressure that impacts the decisions made by the sisters but rather their own satisfaction, or lack thereof, with their own lives that become the driving force of their actions.
“Polite Society” is written and directed by a South Asian woman for South Asian women, and is definitely worth a watch when it releases in theaters this April.
March 20, 2023March 29, 2023 3min readBy Rasha Goel
Award-winning commercial real estate and land consultant in Arizona, Anita Verma-Lallian, is venturing into the world of entertainment with her newfound production house, Camelback Productions, making her the first South Asian female in the state to do so. Verma-Lallian is a woman used to paving her own way, and now she’s committed to doing it for future generations.
Through her production company, she aims to contribute towards greater South Asian representation in mainstream media with a focus on storytelling that’s relevant to the community. In a conversation with Brown Girl Magazine, the real estate maven spoke about what inspired her to shift from investing in land to investing in creative dreams.
Tell us more about Camelback Productions and what your hopes are for the company?
The intention is to help communities that are not being represented in the media. As you know, there are a lot more streamers looking for content so that presents an interesting opportunity for people to tell stories that are otherwise not being told.
For us it’s important to tell these stories that aren’t being told, and tell them in the way that we want them to be told. With South Asians, for instance, the roles typically given are stereotypical. There are only four or five roles we are playing repeatedly. I want to show the South Asian community and culture in a different way.
You come from a business and investor background. I am curious to know what catapulted your interest towards establishing a production company?
Good question. There were a few things that inspired my interest. I was looking to diversify the different opportunities we offered our investors. We’ve done a lot of real estate, so we were overall looking for different investment opportunities. And then, at the time when I started exploring this, the real estate market was in this wait-and-see for many people.
Everyone was sitting on the sidelines waiting to see what happens next. There was a slowdown at the end of 2022 which is when I started looking into this more. Film seemed like it was kind of recession-proof and not really tied to what’s happening in the economy, which I thought was refreshing and exciting.
Also, overall, I observed what was happening in the industry with there being a push to see more South Asians in the media. The timing felt right, and I think we’re moving in the right direction.
Good stories and good quality scripts. We are looking at all types of content — movies, docu-series, comedy shows, and reality shows. We’re open to anything that has a good message.
On a personal level, what hits home for you with this production company?
Growing up I always loved film and TV. We watched a lot of Bollywood movies because that’s what we related to and I always loved that. But I did feel there wasn’t a lot of representation of people that looked like me. Being able to change that — especially after having kids, and a daughter who wants to go into film — is important for. It’s a contribution for future generations. It’s important to me that as they grow up, they see people that look just like them.
Is there a significance to the name Camelback?
Yes! Camelback Mountain is a very iconic mountain in Phoenix.It’s one of the most famous hikes we have here and a relatively challenging one.
The significance is being able to overcome challenges and barriers. I have a nice view of Camelback Mountain and it’s something I look at every day, when I’m stressed and overwhelmed. It has a very calming and grounding presence.
To me the mountains signify being grounded and not being able to be moved by external factors. That’s what I want this production company to be!
What would you advise people interested in entering the entertainment industry?
The best advice I would give someone is to align yourself with people that you know are experts in the industry; that have a good track record. Learn from as many people as you can.I learn as much as I can, talk to as many people as I can, and I study different things to understand what was and wasn’t successful.