Master Takes


Compiled by Niha Masih

Grey matter A photograph by Shahid Datawala

Rahab Allana on Art

I have been moved by the images of photographer Shahid Datawala. I first saw his work at Sarai in 2003. It was a series of images on cinema houses that presented a deeply intimate panorama of their past lives. The haunting composure, at times even the ghost-like fog cast in the centre of the frames, of crowds passing in-between and among us, of broken billboards and empty cinema reels, created an air of eeriness. Datawala has since produced several bodies of work, including Shadow Boxing, another favourite.

Allana is Curator, Alkazi Foundation for The Arts, Delhi

Richard Allen On Books

Vikram Sampath’s My Name is Gauhar Jaan! looks at the life of a famous courtesan and traces the emergence of the recording industry in India. The author has taken meticulous care of delving even into the judicial archives of Kolkata. Capturing an important transition in the music industry, the book imaginatively recreates the era.

‘The book captures an important transition in the music industry’

Allen Has Co-Authored The Book Islamicate Cultures Of Bombay Cinema

Oozing melody Assamese singer Joi Barua

Raghu Dixit On Music

Joi Barua is an Assamese folk singer whose voice, melodies and music have kept me captivated. His exceptionally well-produced debut album Joi-Looking out of the Window is my pick of the season. He makes you cry, laugh, dance, lament, wail, feel comforted and loved, all with his honeycaressed voice. The songs Aikon Baikon and Teje Teje are evergreen. Listen to him and he will give you ‘Joi’.

Dixit is a Folk-Rock Musician Based in Bengaluru


A still from Man of Aran
Quest for survival A still from Man of Aran

Paco Wiser On Film

A film that has left a lasting impression on me is Robert J Flaherty’s documentary Man of Aran. It’s a silent, black and white film about the life of the people of Aran island at the beginning of the last century. The island is almost bare. Wind blows all year long. The inhabitants can grow nothing but a few potatoes in between rocks. They live on shark fishing. The big fish they catch are bigger than the boats they float on to catch them. The harshness of everyday life seems from another epoch but it made me realise that we are still in this era everywhere.

Wiser is a  French Cinematographer Living in India

Shaun Kenworthy On Food

One of my all-time favourite eating joints in Kolkata is Jimmy’s Kitchen. Being a pork fanatic, my top pick has to be the pork char siu. It is mostly fresh and perfectly cooked, red-rimmed and full of flavour. The pork in black bean sauce is another absolute winner. It has loads of fermented black bean flavour, garlic, a little chilli and lots of fresh green capsicum. Their Jimmy’s special fried rice with chicken, pork, shrimps, a few veggies and heaps of spring onions, topped off with a crispy fried egg is perhaps the best in India.

Kenworthy is a  Restaurant Consultant Based in Kolkata


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