Master takes

Framing Light
Mriganka Madhukailliya’s Passage is an optical experiment with light


We rarely encounter works by north-eastern artists in mainstream India. I presented Passage, a video work by Guwahati-based artist Mriganka Madhukaillya, in The Landscapes of Where at Galerie Mirchandani and Steinruecke, Mumbai. The work draws one into the spirit and textures of a threatened society and ecology, using the motifs of twinning, partition, rupture and suturing. The video focuses on a single window in an old mansion. This optical experiment records the properties of light coming through the wooden slats of a window, the subtle shifts effected by the movements of shutter and pane. For Mriganka, abstraction is not an indulgence, but a route to speak the unspeakable, to dwell on the window that can never be opened. Mriganka’s vision is auratic in its etymological multiplicity: it is breath, as well as gold, as well as light.

The deliciously conventional plot of the novel renders social issues all the more striking

Adajania is a cultural theorist, art critic and independent curator



Zadie Smith’s On Beauty is perhaps one of the best contemporary novels I’ve ever read. She interweaves issues of culture, race, class, ethnicity, academia and family with a psychological acuity and imaginative richness that is truly rare. Smith’s novel is deliciously conventional, where the personal sphere of relationships, ambition and self-doubt drive the plot, rendering the social issues she addresses all the more striking. Also, Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach deals with a woman’s ambivalent relationship with sex. I love how what seems like a minor incident becomes larger-than-life in McEwan’s hands. I also recently re-read Anita Desai’s Clear Light of Day. A Delhi novel, it evokes the languid, privileged lives of the city’s bureaucratic elite, its stifling heat, the hierarchy of Old Delhi vs New Delhi. Its contemporary, un-pretentious quality and rich imagery makes it difficult to shake off for days.

Dalmia is the author of Life is Perfect. She lives in Delhi



I saw Charandas Chor a few years in Mumbai for the nth time and have been thinking about Habib Tanvir saab’s work since his death. I first saw the play in the 1990s and think it’s a milestone in hindi theatre. I’ve seen almost 40 shows since I was a student of theatre and it’s still as fresh and as relevant as it was when it was first performed, even though it was written in 1974-75. It’s based on a Rajasthani folk tale and is about a thief who makes some really extraordinary promises to his guru as a joke — things he has to face through the rest of the play. The comic socio-political satire is very beautifully nuanced and is a must watch.

Gaur is a theatre drector who heads Asmita, a Delhi-based theatre group


Steppe brother
A scene from the movie Mongolian Ping Pong


Besides the many beautiful Iranian films, two favourites are Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away and Ning Hao’s Mongolian Ping Pong. The animation in the former is just lovely. The metaphors (liminality, gluttony) are stark and often hilarious. Mongolian Ping Pong is special because every child has a cowboy dream and this is a cowbow Eastern of sorts, set on the Mongolian steppe. Three little boys, horses and a motorbike. And it’s adventure ahoy! And then there’s a film with child actors — the Brazilian City of God. Directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, most of the characters in this story about children and crime, are in fact residents of favelas in Rio. Kaleidoscopic variations in the movies with one common factor: children.

Kumar is an actor and filmmaker. She lives in Bengaluru


Back to the future
1970s style rock band,
The Parlur Mob


I’ve been listening to Burnt Friedman a lot. He’s a german musician who plays a mix of jazz and electronica. I’ve been listening to him for almost five years now but his last album, Secret Rhythms 2, is absolutely superb. He doesn’t fit into any mainstream genres and is always developing sounds and experimenting with them. I’ve recently discovered a really beautiful rock band called The Parlour Mob. They’re a sort of 1970s revival rock band with a very Led Zepplin-like sound. It’s very refreshing to listen to a young band that’s still doing that sound when everyone else is making electronic music. I’ve also been listening to Evil Nine, a more mainstream band that’s somewhere between dance music and rock.

Correia is one half of Shaa’ir + Func, a Mumbai based duo

Compiled by Isha Manchanda


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