Indie Rock Icons Hunt for New York's Best Dosa in New Movie

By Paul DeBenedetto on October 3, 2012 7:22am 

NEW YORK CITY — It's a movie you can really sink your teeth into.

A new film about some of the most popular names in indie rock searching for New York's tastiest dosa is hitting the screen this week, and New Yorkers will find some of the locales familiar.

"Dosa Hunt," a documentary that's as much about culture as it is food, is a whirlwind search by a group of friends for the best dosa — an Indian dish that is similar to a crêpe — in the city.

The film was directed by Stereogum editor Amrit Singh, who said his curiosity in the dish was rooted in the love of Indian culture, diversity and identity, particularly in the country's food.

Singh, whose family is from the Punjab region in Northern India, was initially unfamiliar with the Southern Indian dish. He said it reminded him of the diversity of cultures in the country, and he became obsessed with the dish.

"That became a representation of something larger," Singh said of his interest in dosa. "Food itself is a portal to larger thoughts about culture and identity and tradition."

The idea to turn the hunt into a film started on Twitter, Singh said, when Vampire Weekend musician Rostam Batmanglij tweeted that he was eating dosa. Singh responded, and soon other musicians were joining the conversation.

Eventually, the dosa talk moved off Twitter, where Singh and Batmanglij were joined by Heems and Dapwell from Das Racist, Neon Indian's Alan Palomo, Yeasayer guitarist Anand Wilder and jazz musician Vijay Iyer. 

The group started to plan an outing, and Singh suggested putting it on film.

Queens residents in particular might find the trailer familiar. Two of the film's locales are in the borough, including a stop in Flushing's Dosa Hut, and a memorable stop at the Jackson Heights supermarket Patel Brothers, where the group runs around the store looking for dosa ingredients while picking up tips over the phone from their moms.

"We were attracting the most incredible looks from the patrons," Singh laughed.

While the documentary, which Singh said was filmed in one day on a "shoestring budget," is ostensibly about the hunt, Singh said he also used it as a way to explore culture.

When he was growing up, he said, there were very few musicians that he could culturally identify with.

Singh's hope is that the film's diverse cast — Singh, Wilder, Iyer, Heems and Dapwell are Indian-American, Palomo was born in Mexico and Batmanglij is Iranian-American — would show a new, younger, multicultural generation a group of artists that they could relate to.

"If I was a 15-year-old kid, and I had the opportunity to see these guys together," Singh said, "that's really beautiful."

"Dosa Hunt" premiers on Friday at Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg. Tickets come with dosa and samosa provided by Kips Bay restaurant Anjappar. Friday, Saturday and Monday screenings will be followed by a Q&A moderated by former MTV reporter John Norris, and an after party will feature free Kingfisher beer.

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