Compiled by Isha Manchanda
Chirodeep Chaudhuri On Photo
I recently picked up two books that I thought were gorgeous. One of them, Elliott Erwitt’s Museum Watching is rather rare. Erwitt’s pictures have a great sense of humour and I’ve been a fan for years. What’s great is that in a career spanning four decades, he’s been consistently producing great pictures. A compulsive people watcher, he photographed people looking at art in museums. His works aren’t obvious or superficial but very layered. Besides the obvious metaphors, like a photograph of an old woman looking at a nude of a younger woman, there are some real gems in the collection. There’s one picture of people watching a building burn as firemen are busy working. He has tried to capture how all of us love a spectacle and how art is viewed. The other books, Philip Jones Griffiths’ Vietnam Inc., is an important body of photojournalistic work. Griffiths photographed the war for nearly three years. His work on Vietnam is probably one of the most powerful and in-depth look at how a society is destroyed gradually. It’s a poignant and powerful collection. It’s also phenomenal how well images and text work together in the book.
Chaudhuri is a Mumbai-based photojournalist and documentary photographer
Gita Wolf On Books
I’ve recently read WB Sebald’s The Emigrants. Sebald is a German writer who grew up in the UK. The book falls into a strange genre between biography and fiction and Sebald is a very poetic writer. I’ve also been reading a lot of graphic novels recently and one of them is John Muth’s very powerful M. The story has been taken from an old film and the novel is an intriguing mystery. Another graphic novel I read just last week that I liked very much is Berlin by Jason Lutes. It’s a history of the city in the pre-war and war years. It’s both fiction and non-fiction and reveals a sort of subversive history of the city.
Wolf is a writer and the founder of Tara Books. She lives in Chennai
Shashanka Ghosh On Film
I enjoyed watching James Cameron’s epic Avatar. It’s quite an amazing visual experience and has a great story. Another film I really liked was Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring by Kim Ki-duk, a South Korean director. I think it’s stunning how the film encapsulates human life. It breaks every law of filmmaking, but it’s fabulously deep. Aparna Sen’s The Japanese Wife is another fascinating piece, especially the way the story has been told. I’m going to see Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots and I have no clue what to expect. Everybody’s been raving about it, except Chetan Bhagat, of course.
Ghosh has directed Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II and Quick Gun Murugan. He lives in Mumbai
Abhijeet Tambe On Music
I have been going back to some older bands like The Cure and Cake. In the newer stuff, I’ve been tripping on female voices that are different. Hence, I’ve been listening to a lot of The Kills. They’re a two member band, kind of like The White Stripes and The Yeah Yeah Yeah, and have good lyrical content. I don’t like too much of lyrical gymnastics. There’s an Indian band called A Perfect Circle which keeps popping up on my playlist and is irritating me a lot since they’re horrible. I’ve also been listening to The Doves, which is more in the space of a quality act. The songs are well put together and have good emotional content.
Tambe is a guitarist and vocalist for Bengalurubased post rock band Lounge Piranha
Mohan Maharishi On Theatre
At the Ibsen Festival in Delhi, director Zuleikha Chaudhari put on a remarkable production of Ibsen texts in Some Stage Directions for Henrik Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman. She collected non-theatrical texts and created a thrilling experimental performance, especially in her use of theatrical spaces. I feel theatre should open up to other disciplines — or at least meet them halfway — and explore new ways of visualisation and expression. I’m also looking forward to the NSD Theatre Festival, which features directors from Japan, China, Indonesia, Europe and India.
Maharishi is a Delhi-based actor, director and playwright