Master Takes

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Compiled By Naina Manjrekar

BEHNAM SADIGHI on ART
My favourite photographer is James Nachtwey, an American photojournalist. He has covered the wars in Iraq and Lebanon, and their devastating aftermath, as well as the difficult lives of American coal miners. So while he has travelled the world, capturing historic images from Cambodia, Indonesia, Pakistan, he has also shown the underdog in his own society. He has an eye for contradiction in a moment of social upheaval. Despite his impeccable photographic skill, many find that his art makes them uncomfortable. For me, that is what photography is about. It is an eye to the world we are often blind to.

SADIGHI IS AN IRAN-BASED PHOTOJOURNALIST

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NEERAJ TYAGI on FOOD
Ranveer Brar, now executive chef at BanQ in Boston, remains one of the most innovative masters of culinary art I’ve come across. His nuanced exploration of spices and textures has allowed him to develop a signature style, bringing together flavours from South Asia, South West Asia and France in an exquisite blend that lets all these diverse traditions mingle without losing out on their uniqueness. The Lost Flavours of India, a food festival conceptualised by him, delved deep into different Indian culinary traditions to bring even their lesser-known secrets to the plate of the connoisseur.

TYAGI IS THE EXECUTIVE CHEF FOR THE CLARIDGES, NEW DELHI

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SUNAINA WADHAWAN on MUSIC
An artist I am looking forward to listening to much more of is Asa, who recently came out with her debut album by the same name. A Nigerian woman based in France, her music tops both in the lilting and husky texture of her compositions and voice, and the sharp political lyrics. Her music has been able to catch the pulse of our times, fraught with violence as well as militant resistance, promising her as the Tracy Chapman of our times. The songs Fire on the Mountain and Iya sung in collaboration with Keziah Jones will stay with me for long.

WADHAWAN PLAYS WITH WHO’S JIM, AN BEHNAM SADIGHI onART ALL-GIRL BAND BASED IN DELHI

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FEISAL ALKAZI on BOOKS
I recently read a moving novel by Japanese author Natsuo Kirino called Out. It is about four women who work the night shift in a factory, producing boxed meals. When one of these women accidentally kills her abusive husband, the other three assist her in dismembering and disposing of the body. While the characters in the novel are beautifully etched, the story deals with alienation, despair and loneliness — some of the overwhelming themes of our time. It is a powerful parable for where the world is today.

ALKAZI IS A DELHI-BASED THEATRE DIRECTOR

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SURESH CHABRIA on FILM
I watched the documentary Last Train Home by director Lixin Fan, which compellingly tells the story behind the Chinese economic boom. By following the lives of one family among the 130 million migrant workers, it painstakingly details this story. While the children and older people live on agriculture, the parents migrate to urban industrial centres only to live in cramped dormitories. At New Year, these workers take the train to be reunited with their family. Through their suffering, it poignantly shows the human dimension of commodity production.

CHABRIA IS FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL FILM ARCHIVE OF INDIA

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