Infinitely Curious

Seeking a Renaissance in San Francisco


March 18, 2011 will mark an exciting day – the world premiere of the long awaited documentary, UPAJ.  Directed by Hoku Uchiyama and produced by Rina Mehta and Antara Bhardwaj, the piece follows a 64 year old Kathak maestro, from Kolkata, India and a 28 year old Tap artist from Hells Kitchen, NYC, in their tour across India.  UPAJ will take you behind the scenes, showing the inception of India Jazz Suites (IJS), a collaboration between Pandit Chitresh Das and Jason Samuels Smith, that has now come to be known as the “Fastest Feet in Rhythm.”  The documentary is not about IJS, but rather about the ancient meeting the new, the common language of rhythm, and the journey of two artists who are completely different, but yet, the same.  You can read Bhardwaj’s first hand account of producing the documentary, here: Producer’s Notes.  You can also look out for interviews with the artists, filmmakers, and producer here: Kathaka.

UPAJ will be featured at the 29th annual Asian American Film Festival in San Francisco, which will run from March 10-20, 2011.  The documentary will be screened at the San Jose Opening Night Presentation at the Montgomery Theater and will be followed by a live performance by Pandit Chitresh Das and Jason Samuels Smith themselves!  After the post-screening performance, the audience will have a chance to engage in a conversation with the artists and filmmakers.  Don’t forget that there will also be a special opening performance by the Chhandam Youth Company!  The screening and performance will be followed by a Gala at the San Jose Museum of Art.  Tickets go on sale, on Feb. 14th and can be bought here: Tickets!  For more details and a complete overview of the documentary, see below:

Friday, March 18, 2011

  • Film & Performance ($30) – 7:00pm
    • Montgomery Theater
      271 South Market St., San Jose
  • Gala ($45 for Film & Gala) – 9:00pm
    • San Jose Museum of Art
      110 South Market St., San Jose
“Pt. Das is a 64-year old artist who exemplifies the elegance and mathematical precision of kathak, one of India’s classical dance forms. Jason is a 28-year old African American tap dancer who hails from the freestyle, streetwise American tradition of contemporary tap. As the two join forces, an unlikely friendship develops that bridges continents, generations, cultures and communities- as well as the largely unknown histories of their respective art forms.


But when these passionate dancers take their show on the road, cultural and generational clashes threaten to unravel their groundbreaking collaboration, and each performer must come to terms with personal and artistic demons. Shot backstage and on the pulsating streets of India and the United States, Upaj captures the exhilaration and exhaustion of the India Jazz Suites tour, and the resolutions Das and Jason must make to complete their artistic journey together.”

For a quick sneak peak trailer of the documentary, see below:

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