Spaced-out spaces

By Devina Dutt

First Published in The Hindu on 08 March, 2015.

Devina Dutt looks at the trend of unconventional performances in unconventional venues through Jyoti Dogra’s experience.

The day Notes on Chai , a striking monologue from Mumbai-based theatre actor and director Jyoti Dogra, opened at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Baroda’s MS University in August 2013, a freak storm visited the city. Only a few people could watch Dogra’s collection of stories, explicit and exact, held together by the everyday business of drinking tea. But the next day, a large crowd showed up in a bare classroom for a previously arranged Q&A session and Dogra decided to have another show, “without lights and the madness of bad mikes”, she says.

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Natya Darshan 2014: A sum up

By Devina Dutt

First Published in on 03 February, 2015.
Photos: Lokhii

The idea of using the blossoming lotus as a metaphor for the chain of creative processes that are triggered when a new artistic work is being made was an inspired one. Dr. B.N. Goswamy whose deep and unaffected scholarship spans Urdu, Persian, Sanskrit poetry and art, chose a poem in Urdu by the Pakistani poet Ahmad Nadeem Kazmito to expand that idea.

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The Fight Back

Art and activism in our times
By Devina Dutt

First Published in The Caravan on 1st September 2013.

TWO DECADES BEFORE INDEPENDENCE, a generation of young Indian artists and intellectuals came, like their counterparts in the West, under the spell of communist ideology. Many had been exposed to Western ideas through colonial educational institutions of the time, and news had reached them of the rise of communism in the West as an alternative to fascism. Their excitement at the idea of a rational, progressive outlook in politics as well as in art led to a range of socially relevant art created in the first flush of post-colonial India.

The Progressive Writers Association (PWA) was formed by a group of idealistic young writers and students with socialist beliefs, such as Sajjad Zaheer, Mulk Raj Anand and Jyotirmoy Ghosh. The idea was to produce literature that critiqued all that was regressive about the Indian polity and promoted progressive and humanist values. The PWA was officially established in 1936 with the support of PC Joshi, general secretary of the undivided Communist Party of India (CPI). The PWA would go on to enlist writers like Premchand, Ismat Chugtai and Saadat Hasan Manto into its ranks.

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A reporter with curious queries

Ian Jack allows shifting perspectives from different points of India’s recent history to reflect in his writing.
By Devina Dutt

First Published in The Hindu on 30th July 2013.

Ian Jack’s book Mofussil Junction has the crackle and unpredictability of new places and unexpected situations as well as periods of quiet. This is the pattern that makes a reporter’s life, but Ian Jack brings empathy as well as distance and an unobtrusive intelligence to the business of travelling and writing.

Ian Jack arrived in Delhi in December 1976 towards the end of the Emergency. It was a subdued start to nearly four decades of writing about India. Right from the moment he landed, he started noticing things, forming impressions, and allowing everything — the smell of disinfectants in the corridors and lobbies of hotels, Mrs. Gandhi’s photo behind the concierge at the Claridge’s Hotel in Delhi and the slogans “Be Indian Buy Indian” — to percolate into his writing.

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A step forward

Lay audiences in Mumbai are opening up to the magic of classical dance.
By Devina Dutt

First Published in The Hindu on 20th July 2013.

A city with a century old tradition of listening to Hindustani classical music with music circles or mandalis in different neighbourhoods and an equally deep rooted passion for theatre, Mumbai is the unlikeliest of places for developing an audience for classical dance. And yet, in the last couple of years an eclectic audience, has begun to form. Flocking to the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) and its multiple venues in the heart of the corporate district of South Mumbai, this audience has taken to classical dance with an all embracing warmth.

The well attended five-day long Stark Raving Mad: Mudra Festival of Dance and Bhakti Poetry, sensitively curated by poet Arundhati Subramaniam, proved that an audience for classical dance is indeed growing. Imagined as a multidisciplinary arts festival, Mudra explored the Bhakti tradition with films, poetry readings and discussions through the day culminating in dance performances every evening followed by interactions with the performers.

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