My personal inspiration has been Thota Vaikuntam, who I think is one of India’s great contemporary artists. I love his depiction of the human figure. The Telangana woman in Vaikuntam’s hands is transformed into a village deity. His use of primary colours is also extremely attractive and very true of Telangana. It was Vaikuntam’s work that inspired me to take up the canvas. Another artist I like is Ramesh Gorjala who’s got a Kalamkari inspired, narrative style with mythology — the Ramayana and the Mahabharata — figuring heavily in his works. He’s able to effortlessly take Kalamkari motifs and make them very contemporary. Coming from an artisan family myself, our traditional handlooms and handicrafts with their intricate detailing, have been a big influence
Aelay is a Hyderabad-based artist
The Road and Blood Meridian by Cormac Mc- Carthy are in my view two of the greatest works of fiction to have emerged in the last 20 years. Both are dark and brilliantly bleak books. Blood Meridian is written in magnificently recreated 19th century prose, set in the dog-eat-dog days of Indian wars in the American South West, with both the Indians and American settlers engaged in almost pathological violence against each other. Yet, there’s immense beauty that Mc- Carthy brings out, despite all the viciousness of that world. The Road, on the other hand, is a post-modern, post-apocalyptic novel, where a great but unspecified calamity has destroyed the world. Nature is blasted, dead. All that’s left of humanity is moving bands of cannibals and primitive war groups. Through this a father and son move, trying to survive against all the odds. But despite being unremmitingly grim, The Road ends with one of the most perfectly redemptive endings I have ever read. It is an ending of such hope, such perfection, that the bleakness of the previous pages is almost, but not quite, negated by it, leaving the reader both devastated and uplifted.
Dalrymple is a Delhi-based writer
One Indian band I really like is Menwhopause. They’re a great band and have catchy, intimate lyrics. They’re not the kind of band that’ll shout from rooftops, they let their music do the talking. As a whole, their acoustic all-rock sound is very refreshing and I’m looking forward to their next album. I’m also tripping on a track from Himesh Reshammiya’s new movie Radio. It’s called Mann Ka Radio. Besides that, I’m listening to Prodigy’s new album Music For The Jilted Generation. The album is hard-hitting. Prodigy’s a different genre in itself. I’ve also been playing Radiohead’s In Rainbows a lot. The album has a lot of great melody and is very tastefully done.
Singh is the guitarist for Delhi-based band Them Clones
I’ve recently seen two heart-warming films. The first is an American indie film by Sean Baker called the Prince of Broadway. It’s the story of Lucky, an immigrant from Ghana who works to solicit customers for knock-off brand merchandise in New York’s fashion district. The film opens with a scene where his world is suddenly turned upside down as a child is thrust into his life by a woman who insists that the toddler named Prince is his son. The story is a play between what is fake and what is real told in a rough and tumble way which suits the film. Shot with a meagre budget of $30,000, this film is a good example of how a good script and honest execution can go a long way. The second film is called Taking Root – The Vision of Wangari Mathai by Lise Merton and Alan Dater. It’s a film about how a simple act of planting trees can actually start a ripple effect
Jain is a Mumbai-based filmmaker
Dhiraj Arora On Food
The place I frequent and would recommend is called Machan, on the DLF Golf Course Road in Gurgaon. It’s actually a liquor vend shop which opens into a massive outdoor dhaba large enough to seat 300 people. Service is eccentric, the food unexpectedly diverse from boiled eggs to mezze platters. But what makes the place for me is how it has become the after work watering hole for the mid-level corporate. It’s affordable, has a feel-at-home vibe and has everything that you want after your office. At closing time the dhaba owner makes his round from table to table, engaging everyone in glib English and gently encouraging everyone towards the exit.
Arora is the owner of Shalom in Delhi