NYU Abu Dhabi streams comedy, musical shows to ease social distancing

The streaming initiative is kicking off today with comedian Maysoon Zayid. (File/AFP)
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Updated 01 April 2020

NYU Abu Dhabi streams comedy, musical shows to ease social distancing

  • The streaming initiative is kicking off today with comedian Maysoon Zayid

DUBAI: If you’ve been self-isolating for the past few weeks, chances are that you have probably already sifted through your favorite streaming platform’s entire catalogue.

The good news is there’s a new form of entertainment coming our way, courtesy of The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi as it launches an online streaming series in an effort to make physical distancing efforts more enjoyable while supporting the UAE’s #StayHome campaign.

Entitled “Reconnect,” the center’s newly-launched streaming series will dip into its archives to present shows from past seasons on Wednesdays via its Facebook page, kicking off today with comedian Maysoon Zayid.

Executive Artistic Director of The Arts Center at NYUAD Bill Bragin said in a statement: “More than ever, people crave platforms for the arts as a means to spark conversation, to build community, and to inspire. Even as a nearly infinite amount of content is available for on-demand viewing, there’s something special about the act of connecting as a community, together, in real-time. We realized that The Arts Center could help fill this need in an online space, while digging into our archives of amazing performances, many of which haven’t been seen since they originally took place. We’re especially grateful to the artists who have agreed to let us share these archival videos at a time when staying connected has never been more challenging, or more important.”

Wondering what to look forward to? Read on for the first set of performances announced by the center.

April 1: Maysoon Zayid’s stand-up comedy


Maysoon Zayid is an actress, comedian, writer and disability advocate. The American-Palestinian is also the co-founder of the New York Arab American Comedy Festival and The Muslim Funny Fest. Following the event, there will be a post-show Q&A with the Muslim female comedian.

April 8: 47SOUL’s electro Arabic dabke


Audiences can relive the UAE debut of the Palestinian-Jordanian shamstep– electronic dabke– group 47SOUL next week.

April 15: Cuban-Khaleeji project

Revisit the Cuban-Khaleeji Project, a musical journey exploring the traditions and sounds of seafaring cultures from the Gulf and North Africa to Cuba. This was a world premiere collaboration commissioned by The Arts Center.

India’s croon jewel: Lata Mangeshkar on turning 91 and acing the Twitter game

Updated 48 min 14 sec ago

India’s croon jewel: Lata Mangeshkar on turning 91 and acing the Twitter game

  • Legendary singer speaks to Arab News about her career spanning 75 years and a life that has ‘given her much to be grateful for’

PATNA, India: On Monday, as Lata Mangeshkar turns 91, India’s most accomplished and acclaimed playback singer says she will “continue to sing until her last breath.”

“Even today, I feel like a student of music. I have so much to learn when I compare myself to the great musicians of our country. I will sing until my last breath. There is no retirement for an artist,” Mangeshkar said during an exclusive interview with Arab News.

Born in 1929 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, Mangeshkar moved to Mumbai, Maharashtra with her family and four siblings — Meena Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar and Hridaynath Mangeshkar — in 1945.

After recording her first Hindi song for a film titled Aap Ki Seva Mein in 1947, she gained prominence when, at the age of 20, she regaled audiences with Aayega Aanewala in the film Mahal two years later.

“Then there was Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya from Mughal-e-Azam. Audiences would throw coins on the screen when that song came on,” she said.

To date, in a career spanning 75 years, she has recorded more than 30,000 songs in 35 Indian and foreign languages — including Malaysian, English and Nepalese — and earned a Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, in the process.

But remind her about her achievements, and she shrugs it off with habitual modesty. 

“There have been many talented singers before and after me (such as) Noor Jehanji, Shamshad Begumji, Geeta Duttji before me, and my sister Asha who were all extremely talented. Among the contemporary voices, I like Alka Yagnik, Shreya Ghosal and Sunidhi Chauhan,” she said.

Nearly 60 biographies have been written about the legendary singer, but she has not authored any herself. The platform where she does unleash her creative writing skills is Twitter.

With more than 14.6 million followers since her social media debut in 2010, the nonagenarian says she turns to Twitter to “stay in touch with friends” and has rarely forgotten to commemorate a colleague’s death or birth anniversary with a tweet on occasion.

“It’s the least we can do. We owe it to the entertainment industry. Earlier, we could pick up the phone and talk to one another. The only option I have is to meet them on social media,” she said.

And while there are no “fixed hours” for her time spent on the social media platform, she tweets when she has “something to say.”

“Otherwise, I stay away. Social media is addictive, and I advise more personal contact than virtual,” she added.

While the coronavirus outbreak and ensuing lockdown across India since March this year meant restriction on movement, Mangeshkar said that it did not derail her offline schedule.

After a “severe” lung infection last year, and based on doctor’s orders, she now leads a quiet, secluded life at her home in South Mumbai.

“The doctors have severely curtailed all my activities, including movie-watching,” she said, adding that she enjoys listening to music, as long as they are not her songs.

“I don’t listen to my songs. If I did, I’d find a hundred mistakes in my singing. Even in the past, once I finished recording a song, I was done with it,” she said.

This, however, was not the case for several Indian actresses, from Madhubala in the 1950s to Sridevi in the 1980s, who insisted on Mangeshkar singing for their onscreen personas. 

The supreme songstress has sung for five generations of Bollywood heroines, but ask her which actress did most justice to her voice on-screen and she replies after a pause: “That’s a tough one because each heroine brought something special to my songs. But I’d have to go with Nutan. She was a singer herself, and when she emoted my songs, she sang along. The way she performed on Mann Mohana Bade Jhothe (Seema) is exemplary. Jaya Bachchan is also one of my favorites. I think the way she emoted to Bahon Mein Chale Aao (Anamika) added a lot to the song’s enduring popularity.”

And her career-defining song?

“It would have to be Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon (a patriotic song). No matter where I go, people ask about it, and some even ask me to sing it for them,” she said, before considering the question of her “lasting legacy” to the world.

“I honestly don’t know, but if I’ve received so much love for so long, I must’ve done something right.”

Borrowing a few lines from one of her popular songs, she seals off her birthday advice with a message for her fans: “Light one lamp to another and let the love flow. We are going through the worst possible phase in the history of civilization due to the coronavirus. Be kind and generous to those who are less privileged than you. Now is the time to stop being tight-fisted.”