Desi: South Asians in New York

Desi Photo
Photo courtesy of the Center for Asian American Media

Genre: Documentary
Ethnicity: South Asian American
Themes: Culture (Religion), Identity/Representation, Immigrant/Refugee Experience/Diaspora, Political/Legal Issues
Date: 2000
Running Time: 58 min.
Producers: Alan Glazen and Shebana Coelho
Availability: Center for Asian American Media (formerly NAATA)
College/Institution: $225 Purchase/$65 Rental
K-12/Public Library/Community Group: $99 Purchase/$40 Rental
"Desi" is a Hindi word for "countryman" or "people of the soil," but in America it has come to mean any member of the South Asian community, reflecting a growing sense of cultural unity among Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, and Nepalis living in this country.  Numbering over 200,000, the members of this diaspora represent a wide variety of cultural and religious traditions—Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Syrian Christian, South Asian Jewish—and immigrant experiences.  Through interviews with religious community leaders, Bhangra DJ Rekha, stand-up comedian Alladin, and Punjabi cab drivers, and with running commentary from New York Times journalist Somini Sengupta, this film is an excellent introduction to the vibrant and ever-expanding South Asian communities of New York City.

Aseem Chhabra, "Desi, a huge hit in pardes," Rediff. March 16 2000.

V Thakkar, "New York's South Asians do the talking on new TV show," Indian Express. March 31 2000.

Supplementary Material
Michelle Caswell, "Documenting Desis: An Interview with Shebana Coelho," AsiaSource. May 3, 2002.

Asian American Filmography ExEAS