Dosa hunters and friends: (L-R) Stereogum's Amrit Singh, Yeasayer's Ira Wolf Tuton, Steve Marion of Delicate Steve, and Anand Wilder, member of film cast and Yeasayer. (Photo: Harley Oliver Brown)
For a small sect of New York's indie-leaning set, this past Friday (and Saturday and Monday) was dinner-and-a-movie night. Specifically, a South Indian dish called dosa and Dosa Hunt night at Williamsburg's Nitehawk Cinema, where Stereogum Executive Editor Amrit Singh premiered his 22-minute documentary about himself and six musicians -- Yeasayer's Anand Wilder, Das Racist's Himanshu Suri and Ashok Kondabolu, Alan Palomo of Neon Indian, Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend, and jazz musician, composer, and producer Vijay Iyer -- as they searched for the best place to eat dosa in New York City.
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Each screening was followed by a Q&A with MTV's John Norris, who also recently interviewed Singh for Interview Magazine; and afterparties with free Kingfisher beer and DJ sets by DFA Records' REWARDS (Friday), chillwave enthusiasts Small Black (Saturday), and Brooklyn-based Suckers' Quinn Walker (Monday). Along with admission to the movie and afterparty, each ticket came with a free dosa and samosa from Manhattan's Anjappar Restaurant.
Doors were at 11 p.m. and it was a warm night, so naturally everyone who snagged a ticket to the sold-out screening came early to enjoy a few drinks on the loosely regulated sidewalk with friends. Among those in attendance were author Michael Azerrad ( Our Band Could Be Your Life), Antlers frontman Peter Silberman, Yeasayer bassist Ira Wolf Tuton, New York Times music writer Jon Caramanica, Steve Marion of Delicate Steve, music journalist Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, Sarah Barthel of Phantogram, and The Blow's Melissa Dyne and Khaela Yvonne Maricich (formerly of The Microphones).
Others seen included: Angel Deradoorian (formerly of Dirty Projectors), rappers Alec "Despot" Reinstein and Aleksey "Lakutis" Weintraub, Gawker's Rich Juzwiak, MTV Style's Mary HK Choi, and music critic Zach Baron.
Of course, Singh's proud parents were there: He commissioned his mother -- who, according to her son, stayed up until 4 a.m. to decorate the interior of the van Singh and co. used to hunt dosa -- to sell merchandise while his father coolly represented the family in a camel-colored leather jacket ("They're the most stylish family in the world," Maricich told me). His brother, Sarab Singh, who plays drums in the band Harper Blynn, was also present.
Q&A panel, helmed by John Norris. (L-R) Norris, Ashok Kondabolu of Das Racist, Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend, jazz musician Vijay Iyer, Anand Wilder of Yeasayer, Himanshu Suri of Das Racist, and Stereogum Executive Editor Amrit Singh. (Photo: Harley Oliver Brown)
Singh kicked off Dosa Hunt with, "Now usually when someone stands in front of a theater like this they'll say something like 'I'd like to ask you to please turn off your cellphones at this time, with the implication being that you won't use your cellphone to tweet. But given the fact that this project was launched by a tweet, I'm gonna say go for it! But if you're not entirely on board with the project, or think you might not like it, I'm gonna have to ask you to please turn off your cellphones at this time."
The film was often a comedy routine between the six men (Palomo could not be in attendance, as he was in L.A. this weekend) of south Asian descent, and in person, Norris brought out the chemistry between the dosa hunters. Singh's idea for the film was inspired by Batmanglij's tweet, "Eating a dosa" ("The only thing I'm glad I shared with the world on Twitter," he quipped), which evolved into a Twitter thread and then an email exchange between everyone involved. "It was like an all-Indian a cappella group," self-described "Uncle Vijay" Iyer said, followed by Kondabolu's contribution, "We were all just naked. It was insane." Suri -- who had a little trouble containing himself in front of the audience, he just found everyone so hilarious -- said they would probably have no trouble finding good dosa in India, since he was recently named one of GQ India's "50 Most Influential Global Indians."
The crowd gathers outside for drinks and schmoozing before lining up to see Dosa Hunt. (Photo: Harley Oliver Brown)
"If someone here can lend us $10,000," Singh said during the interview, "then we can do Dosa Hunt in India." When someone said Kickstarter, the former lawyer rolled his eyes. "Don't get me started on Kickstarter." Since the film was such a success, selling out for all three showings, maybe Singh's dream will happen after all. But until then, there were empty dosa plates to clean and free beers to be consumed, so at 2 a.m. everyone left standing headed downstairs to dance off their dosas.