Compiled by Isha Manchanda
Romain Maitra on Art
KG Subramanyan’s three-pronged exhibitions going on simultaneously at The Seagull Arts and Media Resource Centre, Akar Prakar and Aakriti gallery in Kolkata merit attention for his sheer ability to include a diversity of different traditions, cultures and mediums. The superb compositions of divine, human, demonic and animal figures with characteristic textures in his gouaches and reverse paintings, the creative malleability of squared-up spaces, of boneless limbs and hyper-expressive faces in his terracotta works are a visual feast. A significant feature in his work is that mythical figures, animals of Santiniketan, and modern socialites with queer relations appear in the smorgasbord of his art, often with implicit humour. A living institution, Subramanyan defies critical and chronological categories in art while modernising indigenous tradition with his creative diversity.
Maitra is an art and film critic, independent curator and writer. He lives in Kolkata
There’s a book I’ve recently read called Inspite of The Gods by Edward Luce. In the book he examines how, despite all predictions, India has done so well. Everyone was anticipating that India will either disintegrate or become a basket case, yet, it’s become the second-fastest growing economy in the world. He has interesting insights into India and looks at life from all perspectives. He even looks at the RSS and is quite sympathetic to the dedication they display, even though he doesn’t agree with them. There have been a lot of books on India lately, but this one is definitely the most perceptive. That probably comes from his connections with India – he’s married to an Indian and was here as a journalist. That’s given him additional insight and sympathy.
Mathur is a Delhi-based novelist
Luce’s connections to India lend a fresh perspective to his study of the country’s growth
Paromita Vohra on Film
I really love a documentary I saw some time back, but recently watched again. It’s called Every Good Marriage Begins In Tears,by British filmmaker Simon Chambers. It’s about three Bangladeshi sisters who are his neighbours and focuses on love, marriage and divorce. It’s a meditation on love and the difficulty of one generation trying to reconcile their different personalities with their love for their traditional parents without making any cultural judgements. It’s rare to see a film about women’s relationships and negotiations made with such sensitivity by a man. Another movie I’ve seen recently and loved is Agnes Varda’s The Gleaners and I. Her movies are extremely whimsical and here she’s documented the lives of “gleaners” – people who take leftover crops from fields. She also talks about her own life and her career as a filmmaker and how it’s a form of gleaning as she takes images from other people’s lives for her survival. It’s a beautiful film.
Vohra is a documentary filmmaker in Mumbai
Randeep Singh on Music
I am currently listening to three bands. The first is The National. The vocals grab your attention. They have a new album called Boxer and two songs I really enjoy are ‘Fake Empire’ and ‘All the Wine’. Another is an experimental Icelandic band called múm that I’ve been hooked to. I like the album Go, Go Smear the Poison Ivy and really like the track ‘Marmalade Fire’. Their music creates an environment and it’s like I get trapped. They use pretty eccentric sounds. The third is a project called Muslimgauze produced in the UK by a man called Bryn Jones. He was tired of the conflicts of the Muslim world and kept making music on his computer as a reaction. I really like his repetitive (but not boring) beats. He is way ahead of his time in terms of sound.
Singh is the bassist and backing vocalist with Delhi-based band Menwhopause
Kula Naidu on Food
I love The Living Room cafe in Hauz Khas Village, Delhi. It’s a musician’s haven. The owner allows anyone who enters to pick up any instrument and start jamming. A lot of time and attention is paid to the food and it’s fantastic. The prices are great, the ambience is very casual and the decor is awesome. Every room is a different take on the living room – one is in classic English style, another more contemporary while the third is hippy and bohemian. The concept is brand new and I haven’t seen anything else like The Living Room in India. Besides that, one of my all time favourites is Krishna’s in Mumbai. It’s seafood at its best. They have all sorts of seafood cooked exactly to your specifications.
Naidu owns Kayalan in Delhi