Compiled by Manjula Narayan
Seema Kohli on Art
Neelima Sheikh is showing in Delhi after a long time and I’m very impressed by her latest show, which is based on Kashmir. Her work is very detailed. Lately, I’ve also been watching installation performance art videos. Interestingly, most of them suggest that the body is invariably enmeshed with social and political realities. It’s about the transgressive potential of the body as an art medium. Artist Tania Brugurea employs that in her performance El Peso de Culpa (The Burden of Guilt), where she uses body-based performance art to gain control of subjectivity. Ma Liuming, in his performance Fen-Ma Liuming Walks The Great Wall, used his nakedness and his feminine face to explore sexual ambiguity and the porous line between male and female.
Kohli is an artist based in Delhi
I love The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple for its sheer poetic pageantry, its flamboyant portrayal of the human condition and ultimately, the pity of masculine and colonial power through its portrait of the life and times of Bahadur Shah Zafar. William is often indignant and emotional as he recreates an almost forgotten epoch and society. Though based on painstaking scholarship, his representation of history is ultimately spiritual, rather than linear, and built on exhilarating flights of artistic imagination. In The Last Mughal, Dalrymple seems to be searching his own (albeit colonial) roots from a profound need to exorcise the ghosts of a troubled past and liberate stifled cultural memories — a need which all of humanity shares with him. I look forward to reading more of this author.
Sen is the author of Baulsphere, a book on the Bauls
I love Dalrymple’s book for its poetic pageantry and its portrayal of the human condition
Sunil Doshi on Film
This year, at the Berlin Film Festival, I saw London River by Raschid Bouchareb. It is an amazing film with some great performances that tells the story of two people affected by the London bomb attacks, although they were nowhere near the sites where the explosions took place. Both the protagonists differ in terms of religious beliefs and cultural background, and yet, they share the same hope of finding their children alive. The characters are played by a promising actress called Brenda Blethyn, and Sotigui Kouyate, who won the best actor prize at the Berlinale. Another remarkable film I saw at the same festival was About Elly by Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi. It’s about a group of friends who organise a three-day break on theCaspian Sea. On the second day, Elly disappears. The friends go over conversations and try to identify the moment that could give them a lead. During the course of these two days their opinion opinion of Elly takes an about face… until the last day of the holiday when the truth emerges.
Sunil Doshi is Director, Handmade Films. He lives in Mumbai
Romit Ranjan Gupta on Music
I like the work of electronic DJ Jayant from Delhi. His basic genre is breakbeat and house, which has suddenly become popular. He adds Indian elements and yet doesn’t make his work sound like the typical fusion stuff. He has worked with Medieval Punditz and he’s one of the biggest Indian DJs to look out for right now. Among international bands, I like the two-member Kings of Convenience from Norway. I like their kind of music, which is acoustic harmony and melodic rock. They are just two guys who sit together and make music, so you hear two voices and two guitars, and with that they come up with great stuff! Gupta was a member of rock band Them Clones.
Gupta was a member of rock band Them Clones. He works for Channel V in Mumbai
Ritu Dalmia on Food
I’m very impressed by Chef Guy working at the Aman Bagh in Alwar. He uses fresh ingredients, grows his own vegetables and herbs, and tries to use as much local produce as possible, with fantastic results. The warm gnocchi salad was to die for. Indigo always is a favourite in Mumbai. The chocolate fondant with jalapeno here cannot be beaten by anyone else in the country. Chef Rahul Akerkar of Indigo has been a pioneer in many ways. Outside India, at the moment, my favourite is Il Desco in Verona. Chef Matteo is a young arrogant chef in his early twenties, who has decided that he will revive traditional Veronese cuisine in his Michelin- starred restaurant. I was impressed by the John Dory with almonds, the risotto with pumpkin purée and the Barolo wine.
Chef Dalmia owns Diva restaurant in Delhi