Avijit Dutta on Art
An artist who I greatly admire is the Chennai-based R Balasubramanium. His works are quite rooted in the earthy religiosity of the hinterland and forms a major theme in his work. His installations are conceptualised around old south Indian temples. His works are in the post-modern tradition of being very minimalistic. His abstractions are very futuristic and yet retain an ethnic flavour, making his works unusual, traditional and yet timeproof. His work stradles the contemporary and the post modern in form and treatment. Chitravanu Majumdar of Kolkata is another artist I like. I particularly like his use of colour, pigmentation and the overlapping treatment. He belongs to a rare breed of figurative artists, whose human figures become very expressive. He is post-modern in his usage of contemporary elements like pop images. He is spontaneous and to me symbolises great power.
Dutta is a Kolkata-based artist
Mamang Dai on books
I’m currently reading Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams, which brings out imagination and desire in a modern landscape. It’s a beautiful book, wonderfully written, celebrating the landscape and people of a rather remote area. It’s very important. It brings our worlds back to us. It’s evocative, and magical too, yet involves a tremendous amount of scientific research. It’s written with a lot of feeling and compassion, and sometimes makes you want to weep. A must read.
Dai is a journalist and author of The Legends of Pensam. She lives in Arunachal Pradesh
Makarand Deshpande on theatre
I would like to recommend Sex, Morality and Censorship. It’s a part fact, part fiction story, which is difficult to execute in theatre. It’s set in the 1970s, when censorship was rampant in politics, film and theatre. It revolves around the release of Vijay Tendulkar’s classic, Sakharam Binder, which was being attacked by various sections of society for it’s ‘scandalous content’. It’s incredibly well directed. Sunil Shanbag is a director who knows his lighting better than most others (he’s the cameraman plus director of the stage!), so it’s exceptionally well lit as well. The performances are very good – particularly those by Nagesh Bhonsle, Umesh Jagtap and Puja Swarup. There’s live music and interesting use of the Tamasha in the play. Despite the use of projected documentary footage, which is a different medium altogether, the play doesn’t lose theatrically.
Deshpande is a Mumbai-based theatre director and playwright
Sudeshna Roy on film
A recent film I really enjoyed was Vishal Bharadwaj’s Kaminey. I’m a great fan of Bharadwaj’s work in general, but I loved Kaminey. I think Mumbai is doing a great job with mainstream, urban, cinema – movies like Kaminey, New York, A Wednesday, Gulaal andDev.D. Dev.D is the kind of film that I’d like to make. Commercial films can be brainless at times, but they can also be intelligent and fun. In Bengal, our mainstream films are still village-based and blockbusters are usually copied from south Indian films – sometimes even shot-for-shot. Films like Kaminey are like documentaries of our time. I think cinema should reach a larger number of people than it does now. It’s an important vehicle for communication.
Roy is a Kolkata-based director of films like Cross Connection
Raghu Dixit on music
There are quite a few albums I’ve been listening to lately. One is Amadou and Mariam’s Welcome to Mali. They’re blind folk musicians from Mali. Their sound is very contemporary, funk and colourful. Another band I’ve been listening to is Staff Benda Bilili’s Tres Tres Fort. The interesting thing is that they live in a zoological garden and all members of the group are paraplegic and ride tricycles. Their music is earnest and about their day to day life. The third is Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, a blind aborigine folk singer from Australia. His music is so full of imagery that it’s difficult to believe he’s blind, his voice so serene it would put anyone at ease. But the most amazing band I’ve come across is Tinariwen. It’s a nomadic band that travels through the Sahara desert. Now they’re jet-setting and performing at all the major world music festivals. Their album Imidwan is spectacular.
Dixit is a Bengaluru-based singer-songwriter