The Asian Age en The many bhavas of Indian artists and their creations <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 430px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/manyjpg-175"><img src=" many.jpg" alt="the many.jpg" title="the many.jpg" class="image image-content_image " width="430" height="292" /></a></div> </div><p>The other day I was regaling my niece Harika with stories about the various vahanas or animal perches of the Gods from the Hindu pantheon and I couldn’t help marvel how beautifully the faith/belief system has been dove tailed into environment protection and societal inclusion. It has been inculcated from childhood that flowering and fruit trees shouldn’t be cut as specific fruits or flowers are the preferred choice of a particular God and when they bear fruit or bloom, they must be offered to the Gods. Non fruit giving trees like the peepul is the abode of spirits and hence it shouldn’t be cut, ashok trees can’t be cut for they are awaiting the arrival of the Padmini woman on Basant Panchami who will touch it and make it flower and so forth!<br /> Same goes for animals and birds too. Even the lowly mouse is the much loved vahana of our darling God Ganesha or the peacock is the perch of Lord Kartikeya and interestingly their father Lord Shiva loves snakes! Goddess Laxmi’s vahana is the owl and on the beauteous swan sits Goddess Saraswati.<br /> Similarly, there is room for every human aberration too. Sadhus of every sampradaya or sect, be they the gentle Vaishanv bhakts or the ferocious nagas or the aghoris, all have a place that may be out of the normal grihasta or householders’ system, but on the larger canvas, have a position and relevance. The transgenders and eunuchs too have traditionally enjoyed a place of significance for no newly married couple or new born can be considered truly blessed until consecrated by a hijra. I am convinced that this system was created to give contextual significance to aberration for the system recognised the importance of deviation.<br /> I have often described a collective of artists as Lord Shiva’s baraat for their sheer unique brand of deviation or madness. It is the depth of the madness and its inimitability that sets them apart and makes them truly special.<br /> Celebrating these deviations is Anita Kulkarni’s solo Malang — the unfettered wanderer. Malang is a bhava or emotion Anita understands beautifully for she has seen her father, the doyen of dance, the great dance guru and absolute inclusive performer, Pandit Birju Maharaj virtually embody the bhava. She must have been surrounded by artistes all her life, who perpetually lived in that state of mind or bhava. I am sure her life too would be a string of many such moments, which is why each of her paintings explores this bhava in its myriad dimensions. The works are ablaze with unusual colours almost as if one has wandered into the Valley of Flowers in bloom.<br /> But that is only the visual manifestation. The sthai bhava of the wanderer is his quest for the absolute and total freedom to soar into skies of his own making. In fact that is the wanderer’s permanent address — an inherent contradiction? So be it. The sanchari bhava are the dance of colours on her canvas. It is a difficult one to conjoin but she succeeds where many whose experiences are not so varied would certainly have failed.<br /> Anita chose a rather literal interpretation in the very detailed sculptures she created of sadhus of different sects — perhaps to convey the mundane aspect of the madness? The perfection she attained in the literalness was aesthetic as the human forms were perfectly proportioned and well delineated. Anointed with the tilaks of different sects on the foreheads of the heads she created, colour that flowed through them in as much as it flowed on them. A contradiction again? Yes, but isn’t life about many contradictions jumbled together? Women have often been called repositories of culture and keeping the chain intact is perhaps a cultural need of a civilization in as much as it is a desire to share the incredible experiences both of those around us and our own. In Anita’s case, it is also her genetic code apart from environment that plays a significant role.<br /> One of the genres of art that have held me enthrall are watercolours. Their sheer tensile quality and ability to convey a thousand meanings with a single stroke never fails to move me. It is a pity that one my favourite watercolour painters, Paresh Maity is going through a different phase and not creating the poetry he used to with watercolours. But the other person whose watercolours are in no way any less is Bikash Poddar. He is arguably one of our best-known landscape painters from Bengal.<br /> His landscapes reflect the flow of colour that Bengal art assimilated from Chinese and Japanese calligraphic art and blended with the detailed depiction of monuments and human figures we find in our miniatures.<br /> In his work, the proportions of the human figures merge beautifully with the landscape and yet hold their own in a symbiotic relationship that is evocative of the connection between nature, man and his habitat. In the present show, Bikash has created synchronisation between forms and the formless flows of colour, inviting the eye to explore space while following the narrative of his figures set in the rather theatrical milieu of architectural forms. These romantic interludes of spaces in the mind work largely because of his brilliance as a painter without which his landscapes would have been reduced to being mere pretty picture postcards.<br /> These they are not. In fact they span the hiatus between two great neighbouring cultures, those of India and China, the first highlighting detailed forms bursting with life while the other evokes a sense of the essence of aesthetic expression of the human presence at its minimal best. The success of these works exists in how he balances the two with a delicacy few artists are able to achieve.<br /> Then there are his boldly coloured works that concentrate on objects of daily use, another important trend in Bengal art that he manages to balance with large areas of formless space. His works are an important contribution to the art of Bengal, dialectical and evocative and of course memorable for the quality of its execution. This is what makes Bikash’s work unforgettable both visually and in terms of the feelings or bhava it evokes.<br /> Dr Alka Raghuvanshi is an art writer, curator and artist and can be contacted on <strong></strong></p> Arts Age Correspondent Alka Raghuvanshi Mon, 21 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0530 293176 at Brave play explores situation of the gay community <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 430px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/bravejpg-820"><img src="" alt="brave.jpg" title="brave.jpg" class="image image-content_image " width="430" height="252" /></a></div> </div><p>A Straight Proposal is a very brave play written by Happy Ranjit on the situation of the gay community in India. Actors Dilip Shankar and Teekam Joshi have shown courage and dedication to good theatre by performing in the play.<br /> A young man, Mitesh, goes to New York to convince his elder brother to return to India to look after their old parents as he does not know how long he is going to live. Unable to convince the brother, he wanders off to look at the city. He enters a bar which has a few members of the staff at that time of the morning. He is called by a jovial man at the bar, Dhruv, who offers him a drink. They talk for a bit and Dhruv offers to take Mitesh home to wait for his flight back to India in the evening. They go to the flat and play with the sari stretched across the flat. Dhruv remembers an errand he must run. He goes off leaving Mitesh in the flat alone. A tired Mitesh goes to sleep on the chair. When he returns, Dhruv observes the sleeping Mitesh and lets him sleep well past his flight time. Mitesh wakes up and he realises he has missed his flight. It does not bother him, as he is becoming aware of another emotion that is gripping both the men.<br /> They are both caught in the throes of love. They discuss things and decide this love is for keeps. Dhruv promises to return to India as he wants to spend the rest of his life with Mitesh.<br /> In the midst of making love, Mitesh tells Dhruv that he thinks that he has AIDS through a chance encounter that he regrets. Dhruv tells Mitesh that he will take him for a blood test before he flies out.<br /> On his return home, Mitesh tells his father that he is gay. Unbelieving at first, in a scene full of sound and fury, the old man shoots and kills his son. Ashok Dhawan as the father is a bit on the loud side. He manages all the same. When Dhruv arrives at the house, he is shocked to hear the news. He also brings the good news that Mitesh did not have AIDS. He then invites all Mitesh’s lovers to attend the funeral. They come with their own agendas. His first lover Kranti, who made him aware of his sexuality, comes to celebrate and sing at the funeral. The principal of the school where Mitesh taught has come to make sure that his picture is not in the book that Mitesh has written and which Dhruv is going to publish. Dhruv returns all the pictures to him.<br /> We meet the young lovers in a playful mood. Things become a little serious for Mitesh when he hears that Kranti is leaving town. With the principal, the affair had become unbearable for him because Mitesh is calling him during the weekend when he is with his wife and child. He reminds Mitesh that they are together the entire week to which Mitesh gives a typical lover’s response that he was missing him too much to prevent the call. Both Yuvraj Bajwa and Nitish Goel make an impressive show in the play.<br /> The peon at the school takes advantage of Mitesh’s kindness that has led him to give the peon shelter in his own house. He blackmails Mitesh emotionally and forces him to sleep with him.<br /> With this we see a very rough side of gay life. The loose-limbed Junai Kaifi as a peon who appears in the end as a servant of Mitehs’s father was quite convincing.<br /> However, it was Dilip Shankar and Teekam Joshi, who in their subtle playing of two explosive characters, displayed their talent and showed their ability to get into the skin of many characters. Happy has crafted a good script which he directed with skill and finesse.<br /> To Gandhi Ji With Spelling Mistakes, staged by Pierrot Group, was a delightful solo written by the well-known figure, Khwaja Ahmad Abbas. The play was directed by M. Sayed Alam, with the young actor Ahmad Omar in the role of a 12-year-old boy who is writing a letter to Gandhiji. He and his friends Gopal, Seeta, Mohan, Bankey, Ali and Zainab believe that Gandhiji died because they did not heed his plea to stop playing “Hindu Sena Pakistani Fauj”. Since Anwer is the eldest among them and his English is comparatively good. His friends make him write a letter to Gandhi in English requesting Mahatma to come back from heaven as they have stopped playing the seemingly violent game. Interestingly, the letter written by Anwer Ali is full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. For instance, he writes “beleev” for believe. The poorly-composed letter highlights the significance of Gandhi’s voice for one united and peaceful India.<br /> Ahmad Omar plays very well the sentiment in the letter he dictates to Gopal. There is humour in the play as he corrects his spelling mistakes with further mistakes. He is crying at the end when the letter is complete as he wishes for Gandhiji to come back from heaven. He addresses his letter to Gandhiji in heaven and goes out to post it.<br /> The play is entertainingly and Ahmad Omar is an actor to watch out for. </p> Arts Age Correspondent Fri, 18 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0530 292821 at The guru of ‘meditation in motion’ <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 430px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/thejpg-681"><img src=";_0.jpg" alt="the&#039;.jpg" title="the&#039;.jpg" class="image image-content_image " width="430" height="263" /></a></div> </div><p>At 60, when you come out after your practice, your granddaughter’s boyfriend will freak out seeing you and say, ‘whoa, what a woman.’ That’s what I call women empowerment and that is what I like to teach my little children,” says Pandit Chitresh Das, the veteran Kathak exponent and the founder of the Chhandam School of Kathak, the Chitresh Das Dance Company in California and Chhandam Nritya Bharati in India — about his innovation, Kathak Yoga and how it helps one to stay strong even when you are old. Das, at 69, is a living example of it, as he engages in a conversation with gusto, without showing a trace of any exhaustion of a long overnight flight.<br /> Das, who lives in the US with his wife Celine Schein Das and daughters Shivaranjini Chandravati and Sadhvi, was in Mumbai for a performance. The Kathak whiz gets into his element when he starts talking about the rich Indian culture and classical dance he is a part of and his wish to maintain the uniqueness while improvising on a 500-year-old dance tradition — Kathak. “Indian classical dance is historical, philosophical and involves highly complex mathematics,” says Das about the unlimited potential of the classical form. He is trying to explore this potential through Kathak Yoga, where the dancer himself/herself dances, sings and plays an instruments, for example, the table or the harmonium, all by themselves — an immense feat that requires deep concentration and sharp knowledge of both music and dance. According to Das, Kathak Yoga is meditation in motion.<br /> It was the sadhus of the Himalayas who inspired Das to formulate the Kathak Yoga. “These sadhus, with just a thin loin cloth around their waists are performing various difficult asanas in freezing temperature and it got me thinking about doing something similarly challenging,” adds Das. His last concert in India was in the late 80s with Ustad Zakir Hussain and after that he did not return to India for over a decade. He was conceptualising the project that is Kathak Yoga, in the Redwood Forest. It took him many months to create it in the form we see performed today. Das maintains that with Kathak Yoga, you improve your cardio vascular health, blood circulation and<br /> concentration.<br /> Das believes in riyaas with mehnat. So all his students play harmonium and are trained in music. He also insists on knowing the history and philosophy because he considers it a necessity.<br /> Loves to be known as the modern guru in training, Das has very strong views when it comes to experimentation in classical dance. “I believe you can only experiment when you have performed as a classical dancer for some years, alone. There is nothing wrong in experimenting. If you want to do western style dance, then go study western style. If everybody is going to follow a trend without knowing your own heritage, then there is a problem,” explains Das.<br /> Also, Das does not see any limitations in being a man and performing a dance form well known for its feminine undertones. He blames the society for not many young boys taking up Kathak. “Boys go play soccer or cricket and girls play with dolls, why? Many think Kathak is not challenging enough. That’s why; I have created something where you play the tabla, you workout, run for five-and-a-half miles and then dance for five-and-a-half minutes, with heavy dumbbells. And then you have the chakkars to push it even further. You will see how hard it is. You want it manly, we can make it equally macho and challenging,” says Das. He further adds that it is a horrible misconception that women are physically weak. “They give birth, which is so hard a thing to do and sexually they are far superior to men. So what are we comparing here?” challenges Das.<br /> “They (society) don’t value art as something equally important as your studies. How many MIT professors can divide twelve and a half into three equal parts and dance for one hour?” questions the Kathak connoisseur who is renowned for his speed on stage.<br /> An erstwhile Don Bosco senior captain of football, cricket and hockey, Das admires cricket stalwarts Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly and his other favourites include famed Yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar and Swami Vivekananda. But it is none other than lord Krishna who is his role model. “We do not know who wrote the Bhagavat Gita, but knowing his life style, he was the greatest philosopher, greatest warrior and diplomat of his time,” says Das.<br /> So how did this macho Bengali Rajput who dabbed in sports become an artist with unmatched ability to portray men and many women on stage with such accuracy? Das recounts a story that happened when he was 14, staying and studying with his guru, Pandit Ram Narayan Misra.<br /> He was a typical boy, who put in hours to practice chakkars and footwork vigourously. One day his father visited his guruji’s house and expressed his wish to see Das perform Radha’s part in a Radha-Krishna act. The teenager was furious with his father. “I did not think the abhinaya part was great compared to the chakkars and tatkars I have been practicing, since I have to now enact a woman. I did it in such a way that my father was appalled and puzzled. There was no Radha in my abhinaya. It was like a soldier’s march,” chuckles Das. “So my guruji told my father, ‘don’t worry, let him meet women and then he will know what Radha is’,” adds Das. It didn’t happen at 14, but after many years, when he started falling in love, he began to discover “Radha”.<br /> According to Das, “I was very much an Indian macho man and I did not know any better. But when I met the second woman in my life, I began to see…she straightened me up. My present wife and all these women around me (his students) taught me how to respect women.” He considers himself fortunate to be an Indian dancer. He is enamoured with the idea of Ardhanarishwara and thinks of it as an empowering concept.<br /> On the dwindling classical dance audience, he says, “It is limited audience, because the audience is not educated in the nuances of the art form. So I am trying to create an educated audience through my children, which will take another 20-25 years.”<br /> He believes that your mother is your first guru and your father, the second but you are the third guru and you gain wisdom through your experiences and reflections.<br /> For a guru, he is too modern for Indian parameters, because he admits, “I don’t allow anybody to touch my feet and they (his students) cannot have my picture in their house. I touch my own feet and at this age if I can do that, then I am very lucky.”</p> Arts Age Correspondent Pheji Phalghunan Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0530 292682 at Take steps to make your partner sway with you <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 430px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/dancwejpg-679"><img src="" alt="dancwe.jpg" title="dancwe.jpg" class="image image-content_image " width="430" height="285" /></a></div> </div><p>An expert dancer might be very well known the world over for his or her talent and creative work. The dance performances, dance ballets and productions might get him/her loads of praise but many a times we forget that somewhere it might make our personal and family life suffer. A busy dancer is constantly travelling, busy creating choreographies and penning thoughts and ideas for the next show. This can all lead to an estranged family life especially if you are dating or married. If love and adoration from your fans and dance lovers is important to you, I feel it is equally important to keep the fire and love alive in your personal relationships too.<br /> Fans and admirers only know you as a performer and the glamorous side of yours is what attracts them where as, the loved ones and our family shows us the mirror, they keep us grounded. So, after all the admiration and appreciation when you get back home, there needs to be someone who will sit with you to share all that happened and then lets you relax and get back to our routine life.<br /> So if you are one of those dancers who are climbing the success ladder or are on the top already and are having a troubled relationship, try to work on it. There are many ways in which you and your partner can share a stronger relationship even when you are busy with your professional life.<br /> Have you stopped thinking about your next choreography and instead started thinking of an imminent breakup? Are either of you playing the game of love with a different partner? Of course marriages are made in heaven, but you need to always remember that it is here on earth that they are broken and these questions do crop up sometimes. Even good people in very good relationships stray, especially when as a dancer, you travel a lot and meet many people. You need to always keep a few things in mind if you want your relationship to remain intact and last longer.<br /> When a relationship starts dying, not only do the good things stop coming your way, but those lovely fights stop too . So you miss not just those silly unwarranted SMS, post-it notes all over the house but also those little battles and clashes. You start missing the very behaviour that probably used to irritate you. Just make sure that this indifference does not creep into your life. Keep each other involved in each other’s lives, always, in every little way possible.<br /> Remember, it is best not to make unreasonable demands and honesty goes a long way in work as well as in a relationship. Honesty keeps a relationship healthy. Always be honest with your partner emotionally and physically. It is better to be direct about feelings and have him or her do the same. Always know how your partner is feeling and what are the things you could both work on to make the relationship more exciting and alive.<br /> Love and respect for your dance makes you a star and in the same way, loving, caring and respecting your partner will take you a long way and make the relationship shine like a star too. Each and every human being wants to be loved. We all want to be cared for and respected for what we are and when our partners shower us with love, care and respect then we just grow closer and bond better with the other. Best is to plan weekly dates together, compliment each other, bring laughter, gifts and plan surprise activities. The bottom line is to show and demonstrate love. It is the best recipe to make a dull and boring relationship come alive.<br /> For a performance we dress up, apply makeup and perfumes; we dress for success. In any relationship, one of the easiest things to do is take your partner and yourself for granted. Get out of your stained shirts and unkempt hair. Take care of yourself and make sure you are attractive. Show off all your stuff and attract each other.<br /> On stage when we speak, we like our audience to listen to us carefully without being busy on their cellphones. Same way, in a relationship we become the audience and we need to keep our ears open. Being a good listener is important here. There are times when the main reason for a person to stray away from a relationship is that the partner is a bad listener.<br /> Think back and see what got you both closer, those wonderful dating days when you were attracted to each other, and what made you decide to spend the life together. In the beginning every relationship seems perfect, but with time, the enthusiasm to put in that extra effort into the relationship just wanes off. Never stop dating. Plan fun things to do together, see movies, go on weekend trips, hikes, dinners and lunches or simply take your partner along with you if you have an outstation performance and extend a day or two of your stay and spend time with your partner in that city. Make changes in your personal life and bring romance back into your life and marriage. Getting the spark back always helps to make it last longer.<br /> Doing little things for each other can go a long way in every relationship. Like for a woman, a man helping around the house without being asked to can be highly seductive. For a man, his girl being adventurous and bold in bed can be a huge factor. So go that extra mile and your relationship will last all the way. Just like you remember all your difficult choreographies and routines; always remember these important mantras too. If remembering steps help you achieve accolades and cheers from the audiences, same way these mantras will help you gain a long term, beautiful relationship.</p> Arts Age Correspondent Sandip Soparrkar Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0530 292680 at Piracy of music no longer remains stationary, but goes mobile <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 429px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/artjpg-410"><img src="" alt="art.jpg" title="art.jpg" class="image image-content_image " width="429" height="209" /></a></div> </div><p>You just cannot stop technology. While that statement has an upside and a downside, I would rather consider the positives of how technology can provide opportunities for the growth of music through its consumption.<br /> There is little denying that the transformation of music consumption to digital has resulted in the creation of new consumption opportunities, expansion into global markets that had little access to music until now, and creation of alternative models for monetisation. All of a sudden, music labels can now deliver content through additional platforms, monitoring unlicensed product more vigilantly, and provide their respective artiste bank to a global market. In support of these innumerable changes in trends, music consumption has shifted from desktops/laptops to on-the-go tablets and mobile devices.<br /> Of all mobile devices, the smartphone appears to provide an unprecedented potential. While in 2012, only 12.9 per cent of mobile devices worldwide were categorised as smartphones, but the penetration is assumed to reach 36.2 per cent by the end of 2016 as per Portio Mobile Factbook (<a href="" title=""></a>). With that, the number apparently equates to over two billion potential music consumers globally.<br /> The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) is a non-profit members’ organisation, registered in Switzerland, which represents the interests of the recording industry worldwide. In its last year’s report, IFPI estimated that approximately 54 per cent of Internet users accessed pirated sites in India, “Asia’s second largest music market after Japan…” In its 2014 annual report, IFPI speaks of 26 per cent of Internet users globally regularly accessing pirated sites and, that too, this study only makes reference to desktop based devices. It makes no reference to the threat of tablet-based “piracy” or those accessing such sites through smartphones. That, then, is precisely the biggest potential threat to the music industry’s long drawn, ongoing battle with piracy: the smartphone.<br /> According to a recent study published by the U.S. based NPD Group (<a href="" title=""></a>), a leading global market research company, mobile applications have, for the first time, overshadowed unlicensed streaming websites, peer to peer (P2P) file-sharing services, online storage sites known as “digital lockers” or “cyberlockers”, and stream-ripping software as the most widely used source of free music downloads.<br /> One of the more popular sites utilised by U.S. citizens for downloading music was, which was established in 2003, but was shut by the Motion Picture Association Of America — a body whose Indian arm I consulted for in 2009 — as part of a settlement on October 21, 2013. A visit to the site today announces: “A United States federal court has permanently shut down because it was in violation of copyright law”. However, old habits die hard, and the demise of this website has ensured that two more have arisen: and<br /> Other opportunities of streaming/downloading content arrive through the Google Play store that offers a multitude of applications for downloading mp3 files to smartphones (and tablets) utilising its Android software. One of the more popular of these apps is Music Maniac which, I noticed, is easily downloadable for free from the Google Play store, and is being promoted as: “This app is a great source of mp3 downloads to all the free songs licensed under creative commons.” This application has apparently been downloaded more than ten million times and provides access to virtually any current song that you can think off, including those presently appearing on the Billboard charts.<br /> The music industry needs to be aware of the utilities of the smartphone beyond it being just a voice service. It has its upside in terms of music consumption, but the downside can be dreadful, when you consider its easy accessibility to apps. While Google maintains an open marketplace, its developer guidelines expressly prohibiting copyright infringement, relying on copyright holders to flag those that enable/support piracy. In comparison, Apple takes a curated approach to software being offered, and directly rejects apps that it believes support piracy.<br /> While there is no denying that search engines remain the largest source of traffic directed to pirate websites, the industry needs to take a unified stand to support technology like the ongoing boom in smartphones at one end but, at the other, also ensure consumer education on copyrights and the implications of it being violated, working with(in) the amended Copyright Act to tackle online piracy, pursuing digital offenders through the honourable courts of law and, as maintained earlier, working alongside online stores to ensure that they do not direct traffic to pirate sites. Support the smartphone, not the phoneys!<br /> The writer has been part of the media and entertainment business for over 23 years, still continues to pursue his hobby, and earns an income out of it!</p> Arts Age Correspondent Parag Kamani Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0530 292411 at Changing with the times, changing as life progresses... <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 429px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/changinfjpg-273"><img src="" alt="changinf.jpg" title="changinf.jpg" class="image image-content_image " width="429" height="301" /></a></div> </div><p>It is my conviction that any creative person is constantly in a state of change — change of perception, perspective, and even fine-tuning of ideology. Of course, experiences those define the roads taken and the journey thus far too makes their appearance in works of contemporary art. The other day conversation veered towards the change of styles of various artists over a period of time to the extent that it was almost impossible to imagine that they have been painted by the same person.<br /> Till date one of the most beautiful shows I have ever seen in the last almost 32 years of “seeing” art was a show by the Iraqi artist Halim Karim in a tiny gallery tucked away in the pseudo-village of Bastakiya near the creek in Dubai. In keeping with the traditional architecture from the region, the space is built like a dwelling with small rooms and a verandah running all around a central courtyard.<br /> In this quaint setting sans the expanse of a proper gallery were these breathtaking works suspended from the ceiling, set cheek by jowl in two rows, were two-by-two-feet works in hues one had not even imagined, let alone seen. The centre of the works comprised of intricate lattice-like abstract motifs, which were inset in the expanse of amazingly vibrant and luminous colours that almost defy description. Interestingly, in spite of the seemingly clashing colours, nothing shouted, for the hues had managed to find their inherent balance like a garden of wild flowers.<br /> Less than two years later, the same artist was showing in the same place and had chosen to create self-standing cutouts of gun-toting human forms depicting strife. The canvases from this show too were replete with disturbing images of war. Worse is still to come. The same artist had another show later in the same venue and I was disturbed to see the trajectory. The works seemed right out of a gallery from Europe. Black was the predominant colour and dark, dense works had emerged from the artist’s palette. By the way, his latest work is even more disembodied — he has indeed come a long way from being ethereal.<br /> And when I spoke to the artist, he for some reason wanted to distance himself from the earliest works and somewhere it was my feeling that the palette had undergone a natural change as life and times caught up with him and somewhere he was responding to trends in Europe in as much the same way when Indian craftsmen come to various melas and interact and or see the popularity of other styles, they tend to copy them. Perhaps the fact that he became a Satchi artist, he ended up toeing their line of “cutting edge”.<br /> While I am totally opposed to artists painting the same thing ad nauseum and constantly repeating themselves like many of our Indian artists, but surely developing a style is one thing and lack of growth is something else. The point I am trying to make is that in this race for “cutting edge” we are cutting the very breath of art — its inherent and innate beauty.<br /> The other disturbing trend that is striking the death knell of art is over dependence on digital means. I was surprised to see an absolutely “ditto” painting by a young Indian artist that I had personally posted being included in a show in Argentina, in a show in Delhi. When I asked him about it, he sheepishly told me that it was a digital work. Will someone please tell me what is the big deal about smearing paint over a digitally-created or downloaded work? How different is it from craft? Even our crafts are unique and one of a kind. What is the exclusivity in such works? Should it be called art in the first place?<br /> I jokingly said two generations down the line artists will not even know how to draw. All that one will see will be digital works and no art will adorn the walls. Instead, we will have monitors that will beam images in various permutations and combinations. Just like the horrendous trend of interior designers to not incorporate art into interiors, but pick up from the motifs of mundane wallpaper etc and create assembly line spaces of corporate offices, hotels, hospitals and homes. My fear is that I might actually be proven right.<br /> However, till such time, I am happy to see the delicate works of<br /> Yuriko Lochan, a Japanese artist living in India, who is also trained in the classic Suiboku style of painting. Her ongoing show Lotus called Haan in Japanese is so perfectly balanced that it virtually floats on the metaphorical journey called life. It is akin to poetry in its wistful and almost whispering beauty. She has even hung it with the sensibility of an ikebana arrangement that eschews sameness but seeks balance and beauty in minimal asymmetry. To my mind, this is the crux of art.<br /> Dr Alka Raghuvanshi is an art writer, curator and artist and can be contacted on <strong>alkaraghuvanshi</strong></p> Arts Age Correspondent Alka Raghuvanshi Mon, 14 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0530 292274 at The Mirror of Life <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 200px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/thejpg-756"><img src="" alt="the.jpg" title="the.jpg" class="image image-content_image " width="200" height="266" /></a></div> </div><p>The day I have not danced is a day wasted,” said 20th century German philosopher Nietzsche. Did he really also dance, I doubt. Many great scientists, astronomers, geologists, mathematicians have been known to indulge in artistic activities like painting, playing the piano, violin, tabla, sitar etc. Somehow these hobbies would seem to balance the yin and yang energies. But Nietzsche goes one step further by declaring dance to be the raison d’être i.e. giving meaning to life.<br /> I mulled over this for a long time and this is what I understood. It runs parallel to the Indian saying that there are no arts, sciences, various spiritual or academic disciplines or situations which are not mirrored in dance. Dance is the container of life, because dance creates life, looks at life, addresses life, supports life and pours love into life. From mini to mega, from here to infinity, from zero to numberless numbers all can be shown and contained in few movements and moments.<br /> Ancient civilizations have believed in therapeutic and balancing benefits of dance. When physical elements are in balance, the mind too is calm and equanimous.<br /> Faculties are sharpened and one gets clearer perceptions of the seen and unseen, heard and unheard. Therefore, dance is seen as the highest form of yoga. Nritya yoga occupies such a place of honour and distinction in India that Shiva has been awarded the title of Nataraja, king of dancers. The image of Nataraja has occupied central place in arts and sciences so much as being measured scientifically to create and understand the graph and tangents of energy and balance. The image also sends clear message of taming raging inequities and balancing the opposites. Nataraja image in painting or carving exudes a power that is unparalled. It is the ultimate metaphor for dance as mirror of life.<br /> Let’s examine some obvious points as reference to understanding complexities of life along with the secret key to resolve them provided within the image itself. Nataraja is perfectly balanced on right leg with bent out-turned knee while left leg is held aloft across the right leg as the left knee forms a gentle triangular shape. The torso is erect and shoulders in straight line. The gentle twist of torso happens at the waist level to indicate the lift of left leg. Spine is supple. Muscles on thighs and calves are rippling, but subtly. Right upper arm (Nataraja is always shown with four arms) is playing damaru, a small drum symbolising the first sound, first vibrations, Naada Brahm.<br /> Left upper arm holds the fire symbolising destruction of ignorance (ignorance is compared to darkness) and illumination of knowledge. Right lower arm is giving benediction and blessing called abhaya, “fear not”, while it is held above the left arm thrown right across the torso fingers pointing downwards at a gnome, a dwarf, a gnarled figure with ugly face gazing up at Nataraja’s calm smiling face. This figure is crouched beneath Shiva’s right foot, which is firmly placed on the dwarf’s spine. This figure is called Apasmara symbolising avidya or ignorance. Stupidity, sloth, insolence, arrogance indulgence, intemperance etc are indicative of deep-seated aeonic ignorance about the true nature of life. Therefore it has to be crushed.<br /> Adiguru (the great and primordial master) Shiva’s foot is actually placed on the dwarf’s spine to arouse its higher consciousness. May we pray for that foot to be placed on our spine too.<br /> Now for the balancing elements in Nataraja image: life is full of imbalances and contradictions as every situation has two sides, every relationship has a flip side. At every level of existence there is zig and a zag. So if Shiva’s third eye (the Agya Chakra, mystical centre of the consciousness) can burn Kamadeva to ashes by the fire of anger the smiling cool moonshine emanating from the moon of second day of waxing fortnight, calms those flames aided by the cooling flow of river we call Ganga, the river of life. It is the perennial life force in constant movement of nourishing life across time and space. Water has many synonyms in Sanskrit; one of them is jeewan, meaning life. The river flows out from matted hair of Shiva, the jata symbolising dense forests and vegetation.<br /> The serpents coiled around his blue neck and on arms, ears and ankles symbolise life —renewing force, as serpents shed skin many times in a lifetime. It is also used as metaphor for non-attachment, a state of shedding all extras, superfluous things and unnecessary baggage that we seem to accumulate in life. Shiva mythology tells us about his great drinking spree on the shores of the milky ocean. As Gods and anti-gods vigorously churned the ocean in the hope of getting elixir of immortality (amrit) out came 12 wondrous things such as wish-fulfilling cow Kamadhenu, wish-fulfilling tree Paarijaat, beautiful dancers Rambha and Urvashi, the moon and the conch, great elephant Airawat and the fastest horse Ucchisravas, divine doctor Dhanvantari, the lustrous jewel Kaustubh, the Garland of Victory Vyjayanti, Shri, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity and the great bow Sarang. Gods and anti-gods put in more effort at churning but now it was their turn to shout for help as clouds of deadly poisonous fumes rose from the sea. Cosmic negativity and toxic vapours coagulated as “Halaahala” would not only put an end to their efforts but also spell doom for entire creation. Their collective prayers reached a meditating Shiva who came on the scene and effortlessly drank that poison. By intervening hand of wife Parvarti, the poison got contained in the throat at Vishuddhi Chakra and Shiva’s throat took the colour of poison, blue. Now we know why he is called Neela kantha, he of the blue throat. (This also explains peacock’s peculiar luminous blue colour. Peacocks eat snakes. They can digest snake poison therefore peacock bite can be fatal). It one can reach the stage of accepting negativities and jealousies of people around but not allow them to enter the blood-stream, just contain it by cleansing one’s mind then one can approximate that yogic stage of equanimity. This is what a dancer attains while in performance. But the real test is usually off stage when harsh reality of life overwhelms. This is the moment to imagine Shiva’s blue throat and emulate the supreme example of transcendence.<br /> Nataraja’s matted hair is shown flying out in all directions, in contrast to the equipoise of his body. In a whirl of constant movement there is always the calm silent center. His limbs are in motion, perhaps the Nataraja image has caught that first moment of creation, of cosmic explosion, when in a whirlpool of combusting vibrations Nataraja is holding the balance of the cosmos with his uplifted left leg. The dance of life finds a mirror image in our daily lives, lives full of contrasting emotions and seemingly insurmountable situations, yet and yet…we, the dancers twirl and twist on stage in rhythm with our inner selves, with our lives and with times without missing a step. Audiences have collectively been given a mirror to hold up to their own life and to recognise the divinity of life.</p> Arts Age Correspondent Sonal Mansingh Thu, 10 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0530 291757 at Meet melody maker Mithoon <div class="all-attached-images"><div style="width: 430px" class="image-attach-body"><a href="/asrtsjpg-556"><img src="" alt="asrts.jpg" title="asrts.jpg" class="image image-content_image " width="430" height="343" /></a></div> </div><p>He first unspooled his sincere potential at a susceptible age of 21 with the haunting heart-tugging number Tere Bin from the thriller Bas Ek Pal which still induces goosebumps and sends the pulse-rate running every time a listener tunes in to it. Followed with the two soul-stirring melodies from Anwar, Maula Mere Maula and Tose Naina Laage Re, he once more took the nation by surprise. The guitar-riffed melody of Murder 2’s Dil Sambhal Ja Zara and the complete album of Emraan Hashmi-starrer The Train further sealed his fate in Bollywood.<br /> The Lamhaa track Madno only re-assured his berth in the industry with a promise to not just arrive, but also stay here as a long-distance race horse. Eight years down the line, his cabinet-shelf is bursting at the seams with all major music honours that one can think of. The Tum Hi Ho composer-lyricist seems to be on a song after the musical Aashiqui 2 makes a record-breaking sweep of awards earlier this year. But, the 29-year-old tunesmith Mithoon Sharma is still cool, calm and collected in his space. Humility might be his middle name, but success doesn’t appear to hit his head either when the boy speaks from his heart.<br /> Did he always hanker after the coveted black lady? “I’ve always watched the Filmfare Award functions since childhood and I do understand its prestigious value as it’s the most popular and treasured statuette that any mainstream entertainment artiste can aspire for. Having grown up in a musically-inclined family and belonging to its fourth generation of musicians (the reputed lineage of maestros boasts of his respected grandfather Pandit Ram Prasad Sharma also known as Babaji, father Naresh Sharma — a leading music arranger-director who worked with all top-league composers in over 200 movies — and of course his uncle Pyarelal, the one half of the legendary composer-duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal), naturally both the relevance of music accolades and the big responsibility to carry forward a rich legacy quietly crept into my consciousness. Though personally, I’ve never craved for any kind of laurels so far,” he politely sets the record straight. “My dad was the music-arranger of the original Aashiqui, whose infectious music had caused a huge stir in the early 1990s,” he acknowledges.<br /> “Observations in daily life drive me crazy. Whenever I come across a thought-provoking incident or some interesting people and their fascinating zeal to take the world by storm, I instantly work it out to hatch a specific subject in my mind and weave ahead a string of couplets around it. There are times I have written songs about my pals who have had experienced a slew of motivating moments which I felt could be converted into amazing ideas and integrated into a song. Here, I’d also like to mention about the immensely gifted poet-lyricist Sayeed Qadrisaab for introducing me to a hitherto unexplored window of poetry. He has had an eye-opening influence on me to grasp the underlying essence and importance of verses plus creating those divinely beautiful stanzas. In fact, till the age of 18, I was quite ignorant about the pre-eminence of shaayari in song-writing discipline until I met Qadrisaab,” he elaborates his tryst with the pen.<br /> Lend a patient ear to Mithoon’s brand of music and you’ll soon discover a scent of silence, poise, pathos, pain, depth and simplicity punctuating all his signature traits. It won’t be improper to say that warm, soul-touching melodies and balmy ballads are his predominant forte.<br /> “Yes, am genuinely fond of such creations as that exudes a formidable part of my taste as a composer. I like the concept of minimalism in music. Period,” he sheds light on the salient features of his gharana of music.<br /> However, the youngster has also proved his versatility with dance numbers and folksy flavours over time.<br /> Would he then want to try his hand at a particular genre in future? “I’ve a special place for classical strains in my heart. May be something of that sort will ensue later this year. I have always subscribed to the fact that classical music is the base of all other musical forms. Earlier though I’ve had incorporated some of its elements in Anwar’s music album but this time, I’d like to take a more purist approach towards my notes,” guarantees the passionate hitmaker.<br /> Albeit by his own admission, this Capricornian isn’t a trained voice, but does have a unique tonal texture to vouch for, which is husky with an intoxicating ring to it, yet he shows no sign of readiness to take a full-fledged dive. Quite a talent-spotter himself, Mithoon has launched many a new voice to the music industry namely, Kshitij Taare, Shilpa Rao, Arijit Singh, Mohd. Irfaan, Saiam Bhatt, Josh etc.<br /> So what exactly are the qualities he looks for in a newcomer? “Well, first and foremost, what delights me in a budding vocalist is the degree to which he or she can get real behind the mike and doesn’t sound overtly plastic or represent a fake imitation. That’s the quality I precisely saw amongst the examples you cited. See, am no talent-hunter as you suggested, but maybe a selfish composer looking for that right kind of raw talent to retain and thoroughly tap into it,” he minces no words as he reveals his working style.<br /> Speaking about his forthcoming movie-music and he rattles of: “The Villain is a very human story, a distinctly powerful script I have come across in a long long time. My emotional side will be unveiled in its soundtrack. I have a lot of confidence in the way Mohit (director Mohit Suri) justifies the songs on screen. Creat