Sunday, February 07, 2016

Print at NSD’s Bharat Rang Mahotsav

Like the way Bhakti poets saw God everywhere, we print people tend to see print everywhere. We would attend a public event and the first thing we would notice would be the prints. We would carefully study the quality of the wide-format displays, their substrate, their design and colour, the quality of the print job. We would try to guess which machine was used, or perhaps, which printer did the job.

This is exactly what happened when we visited the 18th Bharat Rang Mahotsav, the annual International theatre festival hosted by the National School of Drama, which is on from 1-21 February 2016 at its premises in New Delhi.

What caught our attention were the large posters, depicting the scenes from the plays to be performed, adorning the outer walls of the venue, from the Mandi House Metro station to all the way across Bhagwan Das Road, where the institute is located. The life-like pictures of the stage actors in the middle of their act (printed on flex), next to the busy sidewalk, is indeed a heartening sight, especially in our time when such large OOH displays are reserved for promoting multinational companies.

Talking about posters, the NSD building is a veritable museum of classic theatre posters, from pre-Independence to the heydays of 1970s to our time. Printed on A3 size paper, in multicolour, NSD has loving framed and displayed the posters of all the plays that were performed at the institute over the years. While the posters themselves are a study in the changing style of design and representation, they also hold within them the living history of the Indian theatre.

Proposed provision in book bill could land you in jail

As we celebrate the rise of publishing in India, here is a bit of news we need to watch out for.

The ministry of culture, government of India, is seeing to repeal a certain provisions in the existing ‘The Delivery of Books and Newspapers (Public Libraries) Act, 1954’ with the ‘Deposit of Books, Newspapers and Electronic Publications in Libraries Bill 2016. The bill is now with the legislative department of the law ministry.

The bill seeks to replace a pre-digital-era avatar identified as ‘obsolete’ and fit for repeal, as it does not take into account eBooks.

However, there is a catch, as the bill suggests harsher punishment for those who do follow the rules. According to the proposed bill, failure to deposit their books with designated libraries can land publishers in jail. “Two-year jail term for non-delivery of books” is one of the two penalties being considered in a bill.

The law was originally drafted to develop four public libraries in different parts of India to encourage scholarship. According to the law, a copy of every book has to be deposited with the National Library in Calcutta and three other libraries - Connemara Public Library (Chennai), Asiatic Society Library (Mumbai) and Delhi Public Library in the capital.

The old law does have a penal provision -- a fine equivalent to the value of the book. The ministry is proposing to scale up the fine 500 times the cost of the book in addition to the two-year jail term.

The procedure for submissions will be simplified. Only two copies, instead of four, of a book have to be deposited; one to the National Library and the other to a state central library.

The relevant provisions of the bill have been uploaded for information of all stakeholders/public at the ministry of culture website (

The objections or suggestions, if any, may be addressed to Director (Libraries), Ministry of Culture, Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi 1 or sent by e-mail to, on or before 29 February, 2016.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Urdu author Intizar Husain passes away at 92

India-born Pakistani author, Intizar Husain, considered to be one of the greatest writers of Urdu, passed away on 2 February 2016 in Lahore, Pakistan. He was 92.

Revered by readers of Urdu and Hindi, Husain, whose works have been translated into English only sporadically, received a late but deserving recognition when he was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2013. He was also awarded France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2014.

A chronicler of change, Husain was a short story writer, novelist, columnist and poet. Today, he is known for his five novels and seven collections of short stories.

Basti, his 1979 novel, traces the history of Pakistan through the life of one man, Zakir. This is his only novel, which has been translated into English, by Frances W Pritchett, besides five volumes of his short stories. Basti was recently republished as one of the New York Review of Books classics.

In the novel, Zakir lives in a dynamic, conflictual and contradictory world. Throughout the novel, there are threads of nostalgia, displacement and ruptured continuities. The Partition of India in 1947 is the centre of the novel’s sombre, impressionistic landscape. That year turns everything topsy-turvy, and more so, it transforms the fate of the basti (settlement).

Among his other books, Naya Gar (The New House), paints a picture of Pakistan during the ten-year dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq. Agay Sumandar Hai (Ahead is the Sea) contrasts the spiraling urban violence of contemporary Karachi with a vision of the lost Islamic realm of al-Andalus, in modern Spain.

His other works include Hindustan Se Aakhri Khat (The Last Letter from India), Shehr-e-Afsos, Janam Kahanian and Wo Jo Kho Gaye (Those Who are Lost).

Husain is known for his nostalgia for older places and phenomena. Keki Daruwalla, writing in The Hindu in 2003, said, “Intizar Husain’s stories often tread that twilight zone between fable and parable. And the narrative is spun on an oriental loom.”

Born on 7 December 1923 in Dibai, Bulandshahr, Husain migrated to the newly formed Pakistan in 1947, an experience he wrote about 50 years later in The First Morning. The short story captures the horror and optimism that accompanied the Partition of India where an estimated 14 million people were displaced, the largest mass migration in human history.

He had a master’s degree in Urdu and worked for the Urdu daily, Imroze, and later, the Urdu daily Mashriq.

He was also a regular literary columnist for Pakistan’s leading English-language daily Dawn, and in later years became known as a voice of moderation and advocate of what he saw as the subcontinent’s ancient traditions of pluralism and tolerance.

He received the Lifetime Achievement award at the Lahore Literary Festival in 2012.

Husain’s wife Aliya Begum died in 2004. The couple had no children.

Fellow Urdu writer Munnu Bhai told the media after his death: “Intizar Husain was a man of letters. His death has left a huge gap in the literary circle of the subcontinent that would be felt of the centuries to come.”

Author Kamila Shamsie twitted, “Cruel of the world to take away both Urdu literature’s great Husains, Abdullah and Intizar, in such a short period.”

Read Intizar Husain’s novel Basti online HERE/

(From news sources.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

David Bowie

I am so gratified to see so much love for David Bowie on my Facebook timeline...

Coming from a small town, and growing up ‘different’ in middle class India, Bowie was my ‘touchstone’ in so many different ways. There was something about this tall, pale man, who charged his appearance as if it were clothes, or makeup, and he was all about quiet dignity, never loud, never in your face, despite this persona/s he created for himself, which were always beyond the convention.

My discovery of him was slow and precarious. In fact, I found him via Nirvana’s cover of his ‘The Man Who Sold the World.’ Then ‘Heroes’, which came just a year after I was born, then ‘Ziggy Stardust’ and others. Then I watched him in Nicolas Roeg’s ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ and in Nagisha Oshima’s ‘Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence’, over and over, especially in the Roeg classic.

The great Roger Ebert wrote on the Roeg Classic: “Bowie has an enviable urbane charm. I met him once, and rarely have been so impressed by someone’s poise. If he hadn’t been a rock star he could have had success as an actor (...). (H)e and Roeg make no overt attempt to show Newton (the character Bowie played) as particularly alien. They simply use his presence. He is ... Other. Apart. Defined within himself. And lonely...”

David Bowie wasn’t my favourite singer or favourite performer. But, as I stumbled along with my life, he was always there, beside me, urging me to keep going, cheering, giving me the confidence that I could be what I wanted to be. And now, I hum his ‘Space Oddity’: “I'm floating around my tin can/ Far above the Moon/ Planet Earth is blue/ And there's nothing I can do.”

Monday, December 21, 2015

Eisenstein in Guanajuato

The Oscars be damned! Eisenstein in Guanajuato, the latest masterpiece from British master Peter Greenway is the best picture of the year 2015. At least, it should be. In Greenway’s astute hands a drab, award-baiting subject (after all, we are talking about the Russian master of silent cinema, his repressed homosexuality, and those bloody communists!) becomes a carnival of sex. It’s irreverent, chatty and shameless, with full of full frontal.

This movie will not play in a theatre near you!


Set in Mexico during the “10 days that shook” Russia’s greatest silent filmmaker, “Eisenstein in Guanajuato” marks Peter Greenaway’s raucous attempt to capture his all-time cinema idol at his moment of greatest personal discovery and deepest professional frustration — which, the film takes great delight in suggesting, coincided with the loss of his virginity, at age 33, so far from his (still) homophobic homeland. Determined to breathe fresh life into a medium he insists has scarcely evolved in the 90 years since Sergei Eisenstein made “Strike,” Greenaway has wrought an outrageously unconventional and deliriously profane biopic that could take decades to be duly appreciated.

Unspooling like some sort of blasphemous passion play, the film depicts Eisenstein’s symbolic death and subsequent resurrection via an act of gay sex. “Somebody has opened the door to a wet and weepy dirty hurricane,” the Russian gushes not long after his studly Mexican guide, Palomino Canedo (Luis Alberti), pours olive oil down his backside and forcefully mounts him. It’s a scene that makes “Last Tango in Paris” seem tame by comparison, crowned by the sight of Canedo planting a tiny Soviet flag in Eisenstein’s bleeding orifice.

More Here/


Eisenstein in Guanajuato is far from a conventional biopic. It hones in on the director’s time abroad working on his eventually abandoned project about the Mexican revolution ¡Que viva México!, which had been backed by left-wing American benefactor Upton Sinclair and his wife after Eisenstein struggled to get a film off the ground in Hollywood.

Eisenstein’s relationship with the Sinclairs broke down amid Stalin’s suspicions that the director had deserted the USSR – and his distraction by more carnal pursuits.

But Greenaway makes production tensions mere background to the very personal tumult of Eisenstein’s intense affair with his guide Palomino Cañedo, to whom he lost his virginity at the age of 33. This is framed as nothing less than a personal revolution – the “ten days that shook Sergei Eisenstein”, as Greenaway mischievously refers to them in a play on the director’s commemoration of the Russian Revolution, October (Ten Days that Shook the World).

“I always felt Eisenstein’s first three films were very different from the last three – why? I think the answer to that is, when you go abroad, you become a different person,” said Greenaway, who believes the personal transformation Eisenstein underwent in Mexico turned him from the focus on mass action of Battleship Potemkin, Strike! and October to a greater concern with the individual, as evidenced in Alexander Nevsky and the two-part Ivan the Terrible.

“He was away from paranoia, from Stalinist persecution and really strange political eccentricities, and he was faced with a brand new and different society. There’s a lot of evidence he freed up, and became much more empathetic to notions of the human condition.”

More Here/


Peter Greenaway, CBE (born 5 April 1942) is a British film director. His films are noted for the distinct influence of Renaissance and Baroque painting, and Flemish painting in particular. Common traits in his film are the scenic composition and illumination and the contrasts of costume and nudity, nature and architecture, furniture and people, sexual pleasure and painful death.

More Here/

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Hateful 8

The close-up was always Hollywood’s answer to the portrait, but the spaghetti western turned it into a landscape. When Sergio Leone first zeroed in on Clint Eastwood’s narrowed eyes and gritted teeth in A Fistful of Dollars, he wasn’t just showing off his leading man’s face – he was revealing the craggy topography of his soul.

For the trick to work, you need time, the right cast, and some very wide-angle lenses to drink the details in – and the stately, imperious, pyrotechnically thrilling new film from Quentin Tarantino has all three in ludicrous supply.

More Here/



Little is as it seems in “Tangerine,” a fast, raucously funny comedy about love and other misadventures. That’s true of its main attractions, a pair of transgender lookers with motormouths and killer gams, as well as the nominally straight men occupying their hearts and minds. Appearances both deceive and delight in this tough yet tender, gritty yet gorgeous movie, which was made with ingenious skill and what would count as chump change at the big studios. Shot along a grubby stretch of Los Angeles, it takes place in the looming shadow of the Hollywood sign, but as far from industrial cinema as another galaxy.

That much is obvious the moment the movie opens on Sin-Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor), face to face in a doughnut shop, a single sprinkled confection grandly set before them. Tight friends, Sin-Dee and Alexandra share much in common, including a taste for sweets, a weakness for men and absolute faith in the transformational power of a luxurious wig. Given the girl talk and high-pitched shrieks of laughter, you may not immediately notice that the women are transgender, with identities that speak to the cultural moment. “Tangerine” encompasses dizzying multitudes — it’s a neo-screwball chase flick with a dash of Rainer Werner Fassbinder — but mostly, movingly, it is a female-friendship movie about two people who each started life with an XY chromosome set.

More Here/

Son of Soul

The Auschwitz-Birkenau-set “Son of Saul” opens at the start of a work shift, when a few men with red X’s painted on the backs of their coats herd a large group of new arrivals indoors, reassuring them that they’ll soon be fed and given job assignments. The camp’s newcomers are told to strip and pick up their clothes and belongings after their group shower — from which, of course, they’ll never emerge.

The marked men wait on the other side of the shower door for the screams to stop so they can resume their work as the Sonderkommando, Jews tasked with the grunt labor of carrying out Hitler’s Final Solution.

That five-minute preamble is a harrowing and brilliant sequence, encapsulating the Nazis’ brutally efficient approach to genocide. Cinematically, though, it’s most notable for director László Nemes’s extreme close-up throughout of Sonderkommando Saul (Géza Röhrig), whose face is a mask of silent detachment.

More Here/


Possessed by the same single-minded intensity that drives its protagonist’s every step, “Son of Saul” plunges the viewer into a hell that exists beyond the limits of comprehension or representation. A terrifyingly accomplished first feature for 38-year-old Hungarian writer-director Laszlo Nemes, this indelible portrait of Auschwitz in the latter days of WWII sticks to the limited vantage of a Jewish prisoner who, immune to either hope or fear, becomes bent on carrying out a single, desperate act of moral survival. The result is as grim and unyielding a depiction of the Holocaust as has yet been made on that cinematically overworked subject — a masterful exercise in narrative deprivation and sensory overload that recasts familiar horrors in daringly existential terms. Further festival bookings, post-screening arguments and a narrow commercial life are assured for this rare debut film to secure a competition berth at Cannes.

More Here/


A season in hell is what this devastating and terrifying film offers – as well as an occasion for meditating on representations of the Holocaust, on Wittgenstein’s dictum about matters whereof we cannot speak, and on whether these unimaginable and unthinkable horrors can or even should be made imaginable and thinkable in a drama. There is an argument that any such work, however serious its moral intentions, risks looking obtuse or diminishing its subject, although this is not a charge that can be levelled at Son of Saul.

By any standards, this would be an outstanding film, but for a debut it is remarkable. Director László Nemes’s film has the power of Elem Klimov’s Come and See – which surely inspired its final sequence – and perhaps of Lajos Koltai’s Fateless. It also has the severity of Béla Tarr, to whom Nemes was for two years an assistant, but without Tarr’s glacial pace: Nemes is concerned at some level with exerting a conventional sort of narrative grip which does not interest Tarr.

Son of Saul is set in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 1944, and one Hungarian Jewish prisoner named Saul (played by Géza Röhrig) is a member of the Sonderkommando, a group of prisoners given humiliating and illusory privileges as trusties, with minor increases in food ration in return for their carrying the bodies from the gas chambers to pyres to be burned, then carting the ashes away to be dumped. The task is carried out at a frantic, ever-accelerating rate around the clock, as the Allies close in. Among the dead, Saul discovers the body of his young son, and sets out to find a rabbi among the prisoners to give the boy a proper burial in secret, using pleas, threats, blackmail and bribes – with jewellery (called the “shiny”) that he steals from the bodies – to achieve his aim. Saul’s desperate mission is carried out with the same urgent, hoarse whispers and mutterings as another plot in progress: a planned uprising, which Saul’s intentions may upset. And all the time, the Sonderkommando are aware, through this network of whispers, that they themselves will be executed in due course by their Nazi captors.

More Here/