This is the Eight Issue of "ART ECHO

"
(an organ of Shilpangan).
All the outset we express our deep
sorrow as Mukunda Devnath , the legendary
Art Teacher of Barak Valley has breathed his
last. We all bow our head in his memory. He
was a great art organiser and lover of
humanity. He could create the atmosphere
through his devotion that one could pass
one's lifetime as Art faculty in this valley also.
We also show our respect to the
memory of Prakash Karmakar, the great
artist of this Era.
We have published different articles on
visual art in this issue also. Moreover, we
have published writing from abroad. We are
happy to declare that we have received the
related INTERNATIONAL STANDARD SERIAL
NUMBER (ISSN) which we will quote from
this issue onwards . We renew our vow to
stick to our goal again.
We always welcome the valued
suggestions of our patrons .
Let all be happy.

Yves Klein
Born : 28 April
1928
Nice, France
Died : 6 June
1962 (aged 34)
Paris, France
Nationality :
French
Field : Painting,
Performance art
Movement : Nouveau Réalisme
Works : IKB 191 (1962)
Monotone : Symphony (1949)
"The essential of painting is that something,
that 'ethereal glue,' that intermediary
product which the artist secrets with all his
creative being and which he has the power
to place, to encrust, to impregnate into the
pictorial stuff of the painting." Yves Klein

.................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

FROM EDITOR'S DESK

Infrequent Photo

Ramkinkar speaking on his Lalit Kala award receiving ceremony ay
Nandan, Viswa Bharati University. From left Dinkar Kaushik, Shankho
Chowdhuri, Ram Niwas Mirdha, Ramkinkar Baij and Surajit Sinha

CONTRIBUTORS
Rahul Bhattacharjee, is a Delhi based art critics
and writer.
Raj Kumar Mazinder, is an Assistant Professor,
Department of Visual Arts, Assam University,
Silchar.
Dr. Nirmal Kanti Roy, H.O.D Department of Visual
Arts, Assam University, Silchar.
Sumeet K. Chaudhary, an independent art critic,
artist and writer based in Baroda Gujarat.
Rollie Mukherjee, is Desire paths publishers,
Vadodara (Baroda) based Independent artistcritic-poet-research editor.
Dr. Ayiriddhi Bhattacharjee, is an Assistant
Professor, Department of Mass Communication,
Assam University, Silchar.
Abhibrata Chakrabarty, is an Assistant Professor,
Department of Visual Arts, Assam University,
Silchar.
Kumar Ajit Dutta, is a Guwahati based art critics
and writer.
Rajiv Banik, is Silchar based researcher and
freelance Writer.
Jhimli Nath, is Silchar based freelance Writer.

Cover Artist
Vinita Dasgupta

1

OBITUARY
Prokash Karmakar
Art Echo Correspondent

3

Vinita Dasgupta Re-telling
a story teller
Rahul Bhattacharjee

4

Contemporary scenario of
Film Art Practices in Assam : A Brief Overview
Raj Kumar Mazinder
6
Comic-Culture in India
Rajiv Banik

12

Site Where Art Awakes : 3rd Regional Art
Workshop' 2014 at Silchar
Abhibrata Chakrabarty

14

Face To Face
Rollie Mukherjee

17

x¢öì›îû ~éôé²Ì‹öì§Ãîû „þöìë„û þ‹˜ !‰þe!ŸÒ#
„%þ›yîû x!‹“þ ”_

21

A review of the show - (In) to the middle of the
"stories"
Sumeet K. Chaudhary
25
Suchitra Sen: the mystique 'mahanayika'...
Dr. Ayiriddhi Bhattacharjee

28

Barak Art Fair - 2014
Jhimli Nath

30

Copyrights of the articles belong to the respective
authors. All the views expressed in the writings are
of the respective authors. The publication does not
necessarily subscribe to the views expressed by
the contributors.
Printed at :

N. N. Dutta Road, Silchar - 1, Ph. +91-9401140888,
e-mail : mailme_printmaker@rediffmail.com

.................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

OBITUARY
The Legendary Artist and Mentor Mukunda
Debnath : the Torch Bearer of Barak Valley
Dr. Nirmal Kanti Roy

Chief Advisor
Prof. Tapodhir Bhattacharjee
Ex-Vice Chancellor, Assam University, Silchar

Advisor
Dr. Nirmal Kanti Roy
Dr. Meghali Goswami
Rajkumar Mazindar
Dr. Ganesh Nandi

Publisher & Printer
Sandipan Dutta Purkayastha
+91-9864374011, 9401236225

Editor
Tapojyoti Bhattacharjee
+91-9435503475

Contributing Editor
Dhaneswar Shah (New Delhi)
Kumar Ajit Dutta (Guwahati)
Ashok Barma (Silchar)

Managing Editor
Sanjay De

Cover Design
Kanika Chanda

Asstt. Editor
Pinak Pani Nath

Creative & Production
Mithun Paul
+91-9401140888

Marketing & Advertising
Ananta Das
+91-9854145448
Binay Paul
Joydeep Bhattacharjee

Photographer
Arup Mazumder

Silchar Correspondent
Anurupa Bhattacharjee

Karimganj Correspondent
Manas Bhattacharjee

Art Echo Office Address :
Mahaprabhu Colony (Sri Gauranga Pally)
Malugram, Silchar - 2
District - Cachar, Assam
Ph. No. : +91-9864374011, 9401236225, 03842-262178 (O)
Fax : 03842-262125, e-mail :
artechoshilpangan@gmail.com

OBITUARY

The Legendary Artist and Mentor Mukunda Debnath :
the Torch Bearer of Barak Valley
Dr. Nirmal Kanti Roy
It was probably a Sunday afternoon in the mid eighties,
when I saw him for the first time at the Government Girls Higher
Secondary School, Silchar. It was an annual art exhibition of
The Fine Arts Academy, Silchar and he was the principal of that
institution. He was instructing the students and they were
listening to him attentively. At first I did not notice too much about
him but found him very dynamic and motivating. I was a regular
visitor of the Academi's annual art exhibition and used to admire
their exhibits a lot.
My first interaction with him was, when I approached him
to learn fine arts. From there my journey towards art started
and he became my mentor and inspiration in the field of creativity.
My visit to his house as a student gave me an opportunity
to see him as a persona rather than artist. He was a man of
discipline, hard work and dedication. Apart from the teacher student relation, he was very
friendly with his students, but at the same time never compromise with his ethics and moral
values of teaching. He was a versatile artist, who was equally master in various aspects of fine
arts such as painting, sculpture, design, print making etc.
As a student of Kala Bhavana at Santiniketan, he got the opportunity to study under the
legendary artist like Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar Beij and Binode Bihari Mukherjee. He was very
creative and dynamic in nature.
Apart from painting he also excelled in the making of sculptural pieces. He created some
excellent sculptures which were expressionist in character. Being a student of Ramkinkar Baij
he was highly influenced by him which was reflected in his
sculptures.
As Kala Bhavana itself was established by the concept and
the philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore, therefore his stay at
Santiniketan allowed him to come across an ambience which was
not there in Barak Valley at that time. So, he came back with a
positive attitude to start an institution with the notion of Kala
Bhavana. Thus in 1977, under his dynamic leaderships and effort
The Fine Arts Academy was established in Silchar. He was the
pioneer and architect of art education in Barak Valley. He sacrificed
his personal career and dedicated himself to developed art
education of this valley.
As a teacher he was very strict and could not compromise in
quality and sincerity. He was aware about the weakness of each
individual student and tried to solve their problem in different way
and that was his uniqueness as a teacher. He used to say that " I
want my students to earn more name and fame than me and that
will be my success ".He used to work along with the students to
give them motivation and encouragement in the true sense. He
had his own style of painting or Gharana . His signature style reflects
1

amongst his disciples till date. Most of his students are now well established in different part of
the country.
In The Fine Arts Academy, the art history classes were given equal importance. He had a
good collection of rare books on art. At that time the syllabus of Baroda and Santiniketan were
taken as reference and a combination of both were finalised as a syllabus for the institute. Two
other members of the institute, Shyamalendu Chakraborty and Tribeni Prasad Chakraborty
were also involved in the process of preparation of syllabus for The Fine Arts Academy. Later
on both of them used to take theory classes while practical classed were conducted my Mukunda
Debnath. Within a few years The Fine Arts Academy flourished as a temple of creative exposure
in the entire valley under the true leadership of Mukunda Debnath.
Mukunda Debnath wanted to amalgamate the art of literature, performance and fine arts
together to give a new dimension because his thought was very contemporary and innovative.
He had keen interest in Indian classical music and drama. He had an important contribution in
the field of Drama in Barak Valley. He introduced the culture of Set Design for drama at Silchar
and created some remarkable drama sets.
The contribution of Mukunda Debnath in the field of printing cannot be ignored. He
introduced designing logo and book cover for various organizations. In the time when printing
was not developed in Barak Valley, he initiated in producing logo and book cover for printing.
He used his own technique of lino cut and wood cut for making logos and drawings for printing.
It was a very pain staking job and most of them were done for the voluntary perpose. It's all
because of his patience and interest in art he used to do that. In his initial career he did a
number of commercial art as well. According to him, "a perfect artist must know all forms of
visual arts".
Like a bee, who collect nectar from the flowers and the result is the growth of multiple
flowers. So, Mukunda Debnath as like bee, was a catalyst who for the first time sawed the
seed and thus a giant tree is seen today. The tree of his effort is now having a multiple number
of branches which are the present art institutions of Barak Valley.
He will always remain immortal with all his achievements and contributions: an artist
intensely involve in a silent quest for self as well as region's identity.

2

OBITUARY

PROKASH
KARMAKAR
Art Echo Correspondent
The painting fraternity mourned the death of eminent
painter Prokash Karmakar, who was passed away on 24
February 2014 Monday following age-related illness at the
age of 81.
One of the most original and outstanding painters of
contemporary India, Prokash Karmakar confirms in his
works the rich inheritance of Indian art and the dynamic
spirit of the modern age. Born in Calcutta in 1933 he has
lived through wars, famine, communal riots, and partition, and his powerful brush has caught
the anguished search of his age for meaning and direction in bold lines and rich colour.
Influenced by the works of Picasso and the classic impressionists .His magnificent distortions
offer a profound insight into the hidden matrix of experience.
Prokash's father Prohlad Karmakar, a pioneer of modern printing in India, died early
leaving Prokash to fend for himself. Prokash had a hard life in his boyhood and youth - he
found shelter in station platforms, city parks, brothels and pavements - and all this experience
enriched his creative imagination. In spirit he remain a bohemian whose head is warms and
generous but whose head in unbowed to any authority.
In 1968 Prokash get an Academy Award of a Fellowship which took him to Paris to study
the Master Painters Creations and other great country of artistic activity in Europe. He gradually
achieved in his style a rich and original aesthetic fusion from Eastern and Western art while
retaining in every on his strokes the authentic stamp of his individuality. He has exhibited in
innumerable solo and group shows. His paintings have been acquired for their collection by
the Modern Art Gallery, New Delhi, Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Calcutta, Rabindra
Bharati University, Calcutta, Allahavad Museum, Allahabad, U.P., Lalit Kala Akademi, Lucknow,
U.P., Art Heritage of India, New Delhi, and
by many governments and private
collections throughout the world.
He is one of the most powerful artist
in India. His landscapes are unparalleled.
It has the true essence of India, and … at
the same time very modern. His figures
his lines, bold distortions are simply
magnificent. He himself is now an
Institution and many young contemporary
painters are following his path.
He will be a source of inspiration for
all those interested in art and culture and
his death leaves a void in the world of art
and creativity.
3

COVER

STORY

Vinita Dasgupta Re-tell ing
a story teller
RAHUL BHATTACHARJEE

The early works of the artist reveal a deep love
for expressing an autobiographical narrative. Often
using portraits, she created metaphors of herself and
her realization of womanhood. Even at that point one
can locate an attraction towards popular culture.
Thus it was not surprising that her work has focused
on fashion, cinema and popular icons. However, over
a period one could notice many changes in terms of
medium, style and technique. Her natural flair is
towards a modernist gestural approach to figuration,
but possibly the artist felt that that style came too
easily for her. In an effort to challenge herself,
Dasgupta began a journey into a more controlled
technique, and began to introduce various
compositional elements in her works. As the artist
was going through a re-visitation of her personal
understanding of style and technique, she also became more interested in telling stories
about the world and her social empathies and engagements…
Yet the search continued, she discovered that to work with popular imagery she needed
to re-present them with greater conceptual layering. The gestural modernist within her can
only be deconstructed through a practice connected with tradition and discipline. Her (re)
discovery of Raghurajpur folk painting tradition finally leads to this search finding a resting
place from where she can explore future directions. How do craft, storytelling and meditative
practice become carriers of contemporary concepts? This body of work 'The Story Tellers'
marks an important turning point in her journey, specially reflecting a sustained engagement
with technique, inspiration and concept.
Odisha has been a part of the artist's childhood, and that nostalgia has played an important
role in Dasgupta being able to culturally respond to it's artistic tradition. The Raghurajpur folk
painting tradition also offered her a different access to the 'popular', a 'popular' that was
deeply entrenched in a disciplined and controlled approach to art. This art making is robust,
colorful and yet deeply in dialogue with the culture of contemporaneity. The philosophy of
craftsmanship attracted her deeply along with its notions of detailing, precision and the
'handmade'. Moreover, Raghurajpur offered her an escape from the noise of mainstream
popular culture as well as an alternative understanding of the narrative possibilities of art
making. Since her (re) visit to Raghurajpur about three years ago, newer pictorial style and
artistic practice slowly began to find space in her works. Initially it was just motifs coming into
the borders of her paintings depicting Bollywood and popular personalities...and slowly it
entered deep, deep into the artwork itself.
4

Vinita Dasgupta’s works on Display at India Art Fare - 2014.

Anjali Ela
Menon at
Art Konsult
Gallery’s
Solo Booth
of Vinita
Dasgupta.

The encounter with Raghurajpur did not lead her throw away her personal love for the
urban popular traditions, instead what resulted is a complex layering of both. Taking
photographs of the Raghurajpur paintings, the artist painstakingly makes numerous canvas
rolls and uses them to make portraits of painters, performers and story tellers to make her
world. Paint is given at a final layer of detailing that helps the artist to develop a language that
challenges the boundaries of painting. This merging of boundaries makes her a child of
postmodern eclecticism and also gives her meditative therapy of craftmanship that her soul
has been looking for.
Apart from the artist's natural flair for figuration and an ability to strike a chord with
portraiture, what makes her current body of works significant is the possibilities of enquiries
that they open and the complex layering of folk and urban they embody. This layering of folk
and urban also mirrors the zone between art and craft that mark the physicality of her works.
The inspiration behind these rolls has been earrings she discovered where in Coke and
Fanta cans were cut and rolled. This dismembering and creation of a new identity opened up
the possibilities for Dasgupta to assimilate the Raghurajpur paintings into her works and yet
mask them. Over the last two years apart from the painters and performers of Raghurajpur,
other prominent personalities have come in her artworks...almost as a continuation of her
earlier subject matter. However even though sometimes these popular mainstream icons
enter her work, their representation has completely changed. There is a fragmentation and
realignment that happens, this breaks their iconicity and positions them within the vulnerability
of popular storytelling.
As she moves deeper into understanding and practicing this direction in her practice,
she is also beginning to realize that within this idiom there is a great possibility of conceptual
fine-tuning and experimentation. These works have captured the imagination of viewers, yet
the artist is looking for more, eager to walk a tightrope between making her practice more
deeply personal, and universal. The journey is to entrench her works deep into the dialog of
contemporary, yet go deeper into her love for craft and the handmade. The Storytellers is
standing on the edge, rooted and yet ready to take off.

5

FEATURE

Contemporary scenario of

Film Art Practices in Assam : A Brief Overview
(In the context of shorter version and innovative exploration of New-media)
RAJ KUMAR MAZINDER
Film is a series of still or moving images.
Synonym with Film, the word 'Cinema' is the Latin
spelling of the Greek word (Kinema) of kinetic,
meaning 'a motion' (as according to
www.wikipedia.com , 5.9.2011). It is produced
by recording photographic images with cameras
or creating by using animation techniques or
visual effects. The process of filmmaking has
developed an art form and industry. In general,
film is an object of art, a commodity for sale and
a technological as well as social and cultural
product. It is therefore, necessary to pay equal
'Joymoti', 1935, Jyotiprasad Agarwala
attention to understand a film at a deeper level
of intellectual apprehension. At same time, like old visual arts (i.e. traditional painting, sculpture,
etc), it is not a passive reflection of society, but active participant in the broad historical
context and social issues. As quoting from the book entitled 'The Story of Film' by Mark
Cousins from his conclusion chapter; "The digitization of the film process, which began properly
in the early 1990s, is more than a trickle now. The most striking comments about this come
from film editor, director and sound designer Walter Murch in a New York Times article,
"Digital Cinema of the Mind". He compared film at the beginning of the twenty-first century to
painting in the Renaissance and early modern period. In moving from painting frescoes using
pigment in wet plaster to painting in oils on canvas, artists went from an expensive, collaborative
process requiring patronage and dedicated to "public" subjects, to a cheap, individual process
depicting more personal situations and themes. So it is with film, Murch argued. The slow
digital revolution opens the doors to what Dogme called 'the ultimate democratization of
cinema'." 1
During the 1960 the development of the new technologies of video produced the media
art experiments of Nan June Paik, Wolf Vostell and A. Michael Noll and multi-mediaperformances of Fluxus. Video art is named after the video tape which was most commonly
in the form's early years, but before that artists had already been working on films, and with
changes in technology Hard disk, CD-ROM, DVD and solid state are superseding the video
tape as the carrier. One of the key differences between video art and theatrical cinema is that
video art does not necessarily rely on many of the conventions that define theatrical cinema.
Video may not employ the use of actors may contain no dialogue, may have no dissemble
narrative or plot or adhere to any other conventions that generally define motion pictures as
entertainment, because it delineates video art not only from cinema but also from his distinction
is important, but also from the sub-categories where those definitions may become muddy
(as in the case of avant garde cinema or short film). Video art's intentions are varied from
exploring the boundaries of the medium itself to rigorously attacking the viewer's expectations
6

of video as shaped by conventional cinema. At the end of 1980s the development of computer
graphics, combined with real time technologies then in the 1990s with the spreading of the
web and the internet favored the emerging of new and various forms of interactivity.
Video art practices in India, has arrived in reality rather late on the global art scenario.
The video artscape abroad is quite different. Though it was in the mid 60s that artists first
started using video, it took more than thirty years before smaller projector models were
introduced in the consumer market. This fascinated a break through vis-à-vis video, exhibitions
and the so-called 'new media arts' so much so, that today, any international exhibition without
projectors and monitors is almost unthinkable taken with the process of Global isolation that
took the art world by storm in the ' 90s. It is not surprising that more and more video works
from non western countries have found their way in curate shows in the west.
Browsing through
video art in India (2003),
Press, one tends to get
video art has substantial
book gives the impression
form has conquered a
sculpture for which there
that
time.
John
beginning
of
the
reader through the works
practitioners of the first
Malani,
Novjot,
Sundaram,
Ranabir
B.V.Suresh as well as
artists of the younger
likes of Sharmila Samant,
Gupta, Subodh Gupta,
Khurana and many

the coffee table book,
Published by Apeejay
the impression that Indian
visibility within India. The
that this relatively new art
place next to painting and
are booming markets at
Pijnappel's essay at the
publication takes the
of
the
foremost
generation such as Nalini
Rummana Hussain, Vivan
Kaleka, Amar Kanwar,
through the works of the
generation, including the
Archana Hande, Shilpa
Kiran subbiah, Sonia
more.2

In the time of Political
upheavals and dramatic
social changes, artists are
known to probe new
'Debdas', 1935, Pramathesh Barua
materials and forms to
somehow reflect what
society is experiencing.
Video has become the
medium par excellence to tell the story of our times. Therefore great post-modern writer
Umberto Eco remarks- "We are beautiful like the Acropolis or Parthenon, but we are based
on concrete technology and deceit." Political and social engagement and the creative use of
technology are some of the defining features of these art works. Again Gulammohammed
Sheikh, the well-known artist and art historian told, "We are in a situation where we have to
be political". Video art showcasing cultural resistance has been supported by many NGOs.
Since the early'90s, artists used footage taken from works by documentary filmmakers like
Madhushree Dutta and Anand Patwardhan, who very generously gave free footage to support
video art experiments.
(Goswami, Borah, Barbaruah: 2012) stress, "North-east India, is flooding with visionary
filmmakers; who, on almost zero support and budget, are being able to make mark for
themselves at various film festivals, both in India and abroad. Bagging National awards and
entries to national and international film festivals, it seems the game has just begun. This is
whole new breed of filmmakers from the region, which has defined all odds and journeyed
7

afar, to voice social concerns that need attention." 3
Before discussing on film making in Assam, it is worth to mention few lines about film of
neighboring Manipur, where negligence and terrorism hit ambiance, as a whole can be seen
as prime content in present days. Following the pathway of legendary writer, sculptor and
film activist Late Binodini Devi, eminent film-maker Aribam Shyam Sharma and also as being
simply frustrated with the way things are, in their home state Manipur, a young band of filmmakers has been come out and taking serious attention towards filmmaking.
Borun Thokchom, Chandan Netraj, Saikhom Ratan, R k Suresh, Dominic Megam
Sangma, are few names who able to carve niches with their low budget short films, against
everyday conversion of box office commercials and main stream big budget cinema. Despite
the lukewarm response meted out to it and lack of proper platform for screening, their short
film is making a remarkable breakthrough in recent times. As noted filmmaker , writer (Vohra;
2012) narrates, "In the last few years several people are making independent films, making
the styles, languages, forms, concerns and themes incredibly diverse and increasingly unique
to different cultural contexts. It's very exciting that there are more and more voices emerging
and flourishing from states in the Northeast. As these films and filmmakers become better
known, it would be important that we know them by name, as filmmakers and by specifies of
their location- Aizawal, Guwahati, Garo Hills- and not just the homogenizing term North-east.
This move towards heterogeneity is the one of art's greatest contributions to cultural life."4
Worth mention that the first edition of Imphal International Short Film Festival (IISFF) held
during April 15-18th, 2012, at local Rupmahal Theatre concluded with the screening of 15
International and 29 Regional films.
As noted film director and critic from Assam ( Mazid: 1998) narrates about beginning of
cinema in Assam, "Film history began in Assam in the twenties of twentieth century when the
Guwahatians had the novel experience in witnessing silent movie pictures instituted by a
South Indian, namely Menon. People who came from village in connection with business or
to attend court were his main customers. The name of the make shift cinema hall was Kamrup
Cinema. Mostly Mc Sennet and Caplin films were flashed on the screen. In course of time with
the advent of the talkies, Kamrup Cinema faded out and Menon left Assam for good. It was
Jyotiprasad Agarwala (1901-51), a gifted poet, musician and artist who become the pioneer in
producing the very first talkie of Assamese film, 'Joymoti' during the year 1935. Assam is one
of the few places from which no silent film produced. Film is a medium imported from the West
and Jyotiprasad virtually introduced the medium lifted directly from Germany." 5
Joymoti was perhaps destined to fail, for there was hardly any theatre in Assam of those
days to screen films, but Jyotiprasad, a poet-playwright-novelist-musician-freedom fighter
who is called Assam's foremost cultural icon for more reasons than one, had perhaps was
more intent in creating a film culture than just a commercial venture. Which is why he did not
just go ahead and make a film - he first got himself trained in filmmaking at the UFA Studios
in Germany with Franz Osten and Himanshu Rai, and then established a makeshift studio in
his family-owned Bholaguri tea estate on the north bank of Brahmaputra to shoot the film.
Assam recently officially celebrated the Platinum Jubilee of that first step by Jyotiprasad,
which, in other words, was the 75th anniversary of cinema in not only Assam but the entire
North-East India. The celebrations were, however, low key, confined to one cultural evening
coinciding with the state film awards ceremony on March 10 followed by a festival of some of
the most-acclaimed old and recent films at one single theatre in Guwahati. Perhaps the
mood was made sombre - even if unintentionally - by the fact that Assam's filmmakers in
8

recent years have been facing an almost similar predicament as Jyotiprasad did 75 years
ago - there is a dearth of theatres to screen their films.
Assam's contribution to the film world beyond has also been significant with Pramathesh
Barua, a contemporary of Jyotiprasad and a scion of the royal family of Gauripur, a small
erstwhile princely state in western Assam, being the most prominent. The people in the
"industry", if one may call it that just for the sake of argument, even though in reality it is more
a passion for cinema that drives a bunch of people to indulge in filmmaking, are debating
ways to get the local cinema out of the rut, back to what was once a relatively healthier
situation in the 1970s and 1980s, when filmmakers could hope to not only regain their
investments but also probably make some profit to start their next venture.
But the lack of commerce has been made up many times over by the national and
international laurels that some of the state's filmmakers have brought in over the years,
particularly starting from the second half of the 1970s, even as the typical masala film or the
family tearjerker made news at the local Box Office now and then. If Piyali Phukan (1955) by
Phani Sarma was the first film from Assam to earn plaudits outside, winning a Certificate of
Merit in the National Film Awards of India, in 1959 Puberun by Prabhat Mukherjee was the
first film from Assam to be screened at an international film festival, in its case Berlin.
(Barpujari: 2010) describes as, "Dada Saheb Phalke Award winning singer-lyricistcomposer Bhupen Hazarika, mentored as a child by Jyotiprasad Himself, was one of the key
contributors to Assamese cinema too, making films like Era Bator Sur (The Tune of the
Deserted Path), Pratidhwani (The Echo), Latighatiand Chikmik Bijuli. But it was in 1976 when
Padum Barua made Ganga Chilanir Pakhi, giving a new direction to Assamese cinema.
Barua's only film, it was the first film after Joymoti to give a realistic treatment to the subject,
eschewing melodrama and presenting a story reflecting the society in rural Assam. The next
year saw the emergence of Bhabendra Nath Saikia through Sandhyarag, based on his own
novel. The film attracted the attention of the world beyond to Assamese cinema. Saikia, a
physics professor-writer-playwright-director, made a mark internationally through his simplytold stories in Anirbaan, Agnisnaan, Kolahal, Sarathi, Abartan, Itihaas and Kaalsandhya." 6
If Saikia provided the spark, Jahnu Barua fired Assamese cinema to greater heights.
This FTII-trained filmmaker started off with Aparoopa and its little-known Hindi version Apeksha
in 1982, and went to highly-acclaimed films such as Papori, Banani, Pokhi, Kuhkhal and
Konikar Ramdhenu. His Halodhiya Choraye Baodhan Khai (The Catastrophe) and Hkhagoroloi
Bohu Door (It's a Long Way to the Sea) won a host of top international and national awards.
Following his footsteps, a host of filmmakers emerged, tackling diverse subjects in a realistic
tone, some of whom are Gautam Bora, who made the outstanding Wosobipo (1989) in the
Karbi language, Sanjeev Hazarika (Haladhar andMeemanxa), Santwana Bardoloi (Adajya),
Bidyut Chakraborty (Rag Birag), Bodo filmmaker Jwndao Bodosa (Alayaran, Hagramayo
Jinahari) Manju Borah (Baibhav, Akashitorar Kothare, Aai Kot Nai) and Sanjib Sabhapandit
(Juye Poora Xoon, Jatinga Ityadi). In this regard, Gauhati Cine Club (Estd. 1965), Forum for
better cinma, Anwesa, Assam cine arts society (ACAS), Bikshon (Silchar) are few names of
organisation within Assam who really has been laudable jobs as creating atmosphere for
viewing good films from all over of our country and abroad.
In our state Assam, since 1980s, some film enthusiastic personalities, after
taking initial training from renowned film- institute of Pune, Kolkata, Guwahati and also other
part of the globe as Berlin; has been able carved a niche in terms non feature film movement
in India with their low budget short and documentary film making. Jahnu Baruah, Gautom
9

Bora, Mouli Senapati, Jhang deo Bodosa, Pinky Brahma Choudhury, Abhijit Das, Aparaj,
Moni Bhattacharya, W Dorendra Singh are few names who takes over the whole generation
not only with their talents, enthusiasm, mastery on film- craft but also along with their
intellectually sound laudable works. Along with them, Altaf Mazid, Gautam Saikia, Biswajeet
Seal, Sandipon Bhattacharjee,Soumitra Adhikari as being self taught film makers, made
some wonderful short films, touching the core of some vital themes within our state Assam as
on human bond, eminent personalities, man animal conflict, natural disaster etc. Remarkably,
with his short films as'Jiban', 'Lakhtokiat gulam', 'Bhal khabor','Boliya pitair sohoki sotal', Altaf
Mazid has carved the niche both national and international arena, depicting sensitive portrayal
of local multiplicities along with universal plead.
As avant-garde, new generation of film-maker, video artist, alumni of National Institute
of Design, Ahmedabad and participant of famed Khoj residency, Mriganka Madhukallya and
Sonal Jain's joint initiative 'Desire machine' has been done several video works and
experimenting it conceptually with various burning issues in the backdrop of violence- torn
North-eastern States. Video work 'Daily check up', duration 8 minutes by Desire Machine
collective made as part of Khoj residency2005. The video looks at the politics of remembering
without excluding for forgetting. The hierarchy between memories and real events is dissolved.
The collective memory of people is as a reflection that runs from the personal to political. The
memory of intimate bodily violence experienced everyday in the Northeast India, of a region
of imposed geographies pushed into periphery of a nation's imagination.
Worth to mention that, Khoj residency of Guwahati chapter has been organized by them
in Guwahati at a ship in the river bank of mighty 'Brahmaputra' called 'Periphery' since few
years. This year they had been praised for prestigious Venice Biennale participation as
representing India along with their video works. A comprehensive observer Shake Shack
remarks on a particular film by Desire Machine collective as obnoxious characterization in
this juncture, "I just went to the Guggenheim to see Desire Machine Collective's film Residue,
2009, full of slow-motion pans through an abandoned factory in India as weeds and decay
take over. I'd seen part of it when Stephanie's family was visiting. What drew me back was its
sound design, which is like Philip Jeck jamming with Aaron Dilloway - damaged vinyl crackle
juxtaposed with deep sub-bass moans and Buddhist throat-singing. It's cool and I definitely
recommend it if you're not crowd-averse."
'Adda', an initiative of yearly short film festival has been organized in the street of
Guwahati city and also few small towns of Assam since few years. Noted litterateur Sourav
Kumar Chaliha describes his experience of 'Adda'(means gossip) Short Film Festival in his
writing entitled "A viewer's Impression",
"The basket of short films prepared for 'Adda' would seem to fall into two broad categories:
" Films with a story-line (e.g. The Reflection), and
" Films with no recognizable story-line (through perhaps with some underlying theme,
e.g. Do the Dew, Architecture….Rose)
Not all can pretend to understanding or enjoying the second variety, but what strikes the
viewer about both of these types is that there is nothing casual or slipshod about them.
Nowhere is there any attempt to cut corners and finish the film somehow or other and be
done with it (unlike many of our so-called mainstream or commercial film). One can see that
a good deal or thought has gone into them, and that the young directors (and their associates)
have taken great care to present audio-visually what they have in mind. An attitude that is
10

eminently laudable." 7
In recent years, thus a group of group film-makers and cine artists has been emerged
promising future generation as Anshuman Barkakoti, Sasanka Das, Dip Choudhury, Utpal
Choudhury, Biswajit Changmai, Jhulan Krishna Mahanta,Dipnkar Sarkar, Suroj Duwara,
Anubhav Mahanta, Bonti Bora, Deep Kamal Gogoi, Tinat Atifa Masod, Merjur Rahman Barua
has received the commonwealth vision award2006 for his film "Beyond the Zero Line" from
the Royal commonwealth Society, United Kingdom and Best Director's Award at the Hyderabad
International Film Festival 08 for his film "Shifting Prophecy". For the same film he has received
Rajat Kamal for best film on Social issue in the 55th National Award 09.
Jayanta Bhattacharjee and Monoj Chakraborty are those few artists from painting and
sculpture background respectively, engaged in experimenting with video art in this part of the
country.
According to Garo film maker Dominic, "If making a feature film is writing poetry, then
short film making is writing Haiku. Both the category demands specific crafts. It's just that the
short film is still in its fancy; it still needs to grow, develop and mature." For rather newer
generation, the option of using short film presented itself as a budget saving digital technology.
"We, who believe in digital technology, never stop thinking towards a production of film in
other format and the best part is that it is a total success among viewers." 8
In this juncture government, non-governmental agency, corporate bodies and above all
viewers/ public has to be really responsive to take special attention, nourishment, also proper
initiative towards these film makers in this troubled torn part of our country.

References :
1.
2.
3.

Cousins, Mark, 'The Story of Film', Pavilion,2008, p. 491
Pijnappel, J, 'Video art in India', Apeejay Press, New Delhi, 2003, p. 23
Goswami, P, Borah, M, Barbaruah, A, 'Get shortly Voicing concerns against conflict', eclectic
Times, May, 2012, p. 36
4. Ibid. 3, p. 41
5. Mazid, A, 'Sixty years of cinema from Assam Close up of the socio-political image', seminar on
"North East through the eyes of the film directors and film critics", Deep Focus, Vimochana &
Bangalore Film society at Bangalore, 8th September, 1996, p. 1
6. Barpujari, U, "Assamese Cinema: 75 well- traversed years", Deccan Herald, 04.04.2010. p. II
7. Chaliha, S K, journal of Adda film festival, Guwahati, 2006
8. Ibid.3, p. 40
9. www.wikipedia.com 5.9.2011
10. www.Altaf Mazid blog
(Courtesy to Chihna, an Annual Art Journal,
ISSN No. 2330-0464 of Gauhati Artists' Guild, Guwahati)

11

FEATURE

Comic-culture in India
RAJIV BANIK

Did you ever, as a child, flip through a storybook just to peek at the pictures first? You
must have realised that fewer the pictures, the more boring they must be. Well, a story is a
magical thing and half of fun is in how it comes alive through illustrations. It's actually the clan
of adults who are pencilling restlessly to spark an imagination in a child's mind. Alas, the
illustrators in India did not get the recognition which they deserve.
Bantul the Great, Chacha Choudhury, Phantom, Nagraj, do these names ring any bell in
your nostalgia? Yes, I am talking about the legendary characters of the comics. The characters
which has given you hope, laughter, courage, education, entertainment and lot more than
you have expected. Let us take a tour down the memory lane.
The realm of comics has evolved relatively later in India than in the West. Around three
decades ago comics were not much in vogue in India. The selection that was available was
in the form of imported digests and books like Tintin (originally French private detective),
Asterix and Obelix (superheroesof Gaul, erstwhile France), Archie and Commando (war stories
of World War II) etc. A costly product for an average Indian, these comics were rather available
to the children of the wealthy. The change came in the mid '60s when a leading newspaper
publication house of India launched Indrajal Comics. Itwas the first serious effort directed
towards the evolution of comic culture in India. Well within the buying capacity of middle
class children, Indrajal Comics made foreign comic heroes like "Phantom- the ghost who
walks", Mandrake the magician, and Flash Gordon household names in India. The immediate
success of Indrajal Comics gave a further boost to the indigenous comic industry and in 1967
came the educational comics series called Amar Chitra Katha (ImmortalPicture Stories) by
Anant Pai, who is also considered as the father of Indian comics. A welcome change, Amar
Chitra Katha effected a fusion of the rich treasure of folk tales and exploits of mythical and
legendary characters in comics. Each of the comics in this series was devoted to a person or
eventin Indian history, religion and mythology. Anant Pai conceptualised all of these and
wrote the scenarios for most of them. With over 70 million copies sold in the last 40 years
these comic books are regarded as internationally successful.
12

Most Indian children have grown up with
Amar Chitra Katha's vast and rich treasury of
Indian folk tales, the brave exploits of mythical
and legendary characters-from Birbal's witty
and lively stories to the endearing and didactic
tales of Jataka and Panchtantra. Amar Chitra
Katha forms a store house of books for all
age groups in several Indian languages. Like
Anant Pai, cartoonist Pran has also made
positive contribution in the evolution of Indian
comic culture. Pran broke the monopoly of
syndicated foreign comic strips and gave India
its first comic characters 'the teenaged Dabu
and his mentor, Professor Adhikari' in 1960.
He followed it up with Shrimatiji, and in 1973
with Chacha Chowdhary and Sabu, the duo
who combine brain and brawn to fight the evils
of society. These characters like those of
Anant Pai have proved tough contenders for
the foreign counterparts in their Indian comic
scenario.

Cartoonist Pran regrets the deterioration.
According to him,the violence and mild sex,
which is being served through cable television
cartoons, is having a very bad impact on
thechild's mind and the remedy for many
publishers seems tolie in introducing more
blood and gore into comics. The fact that the
Indian television viewers are more interested
in Indian versions of comics and cartoons can
be ascertained from the roaring success of
the animated JungleBook, Ramayana,
Chacha Chowdhary, Pandavas and
TenaliRaman.
There are hardly ones who haven't
enjoyed the colorful world of comics. These
come in a various sizes and formats. It is pity
that the reading culture in some regions
(India) has nosedived. The tech-savvy
generation is too busy in their apps in their
hand and taking these art work of art as
negligible. The pleasure of feeling and
touching paper book and the mystery of
turning the page to look what's on the other
side is immeasurable. This piece of literature
is an overview of the moral values taught by
the comics.

The Indian children have found their own
heroes in the form of comic figures like
Shaktiman
(person having powers like Superman),
Nagraj (Snakeman), Tenali Raman (witty
minister of a king), Motu-Patlu(fatso and
skinny), Chotu-Lambu (short and tall),
Billoo(naughty kid), Kapish (monkey having
the power to lengthenhis tail), Chacha
Chaudhary (intelligent uncle), RajanIqbal(detective friends), Mahabali Shaka
(extremely powerfulman), Fauladi Singh (Iron
man), Agniputra Abhay (son of fire) etc.
However, many of these indigenously
produced comics are substandard-not only do
they lack a proper storyline, content,
imagination and visual graphics but they also
draw heavily on characters from western
comics like those of Superman, Laurel and
Hardy, and Dennis the Menace, etc.

References:

With the advent of cartoons on television,
comics in print are facing a tough time, it all
started with Jungle Book's Mowgli. After that
Disney's characters tookthe scene by storm.
Now many channels have dedicated timeslots
for cartoon shows but lack Indian sensibility.

• Charlotte S. Huck, Barbara Z. Kiefer, Children's literature
in the elementary school, McGraw, 2004 • Elizabeth
Soumya, DNA, 2009 • Manan Kumar, Today's comic
culture in India, hindustan times, 2003 • Tinkle, 2012
• www.wikipedia.org • www.Worldcomics.com, The Indian
comics

13

REPORT

Site Where Art Awakes : 3rd Regional Art
Workshop' 2014 at Silchar
ABHIBRATA CHAKRABARTY
The green meadow of a remote village of Choto Dudh Patil in Silchar was awash in colour on the
evening of 15th January of 2014. The topsy-turvy landscape of the meadow stood transformed
into a new architectural horizon of an unknown space in the other reality with various works of
site-specific installation. A group of young artists from different parts of the country as well as
beyond the country enjoyed the work of art under open sky along with the people of that village.
An Installation and site -specific art workshop was held under the title of '3rd Regional Art
Workshop, 2014' in Barak Valley on 13th , 14th , and 15th January at Daffodil School, Malugram
and at Choto Dudh Patil village respectively. The workshop was organized by Shilpangan, a
premier institute of Fine Arts and Craft in association with ACRDS (Art and Cultural Research
Development Society).
Shawon Akand was invited as a resource person of the workshop from Dhaka, Bangladesh, by
the organizers to manifest a new kind of art practice in the valley. Shawon is a doyen of the field
of site-specific installation and performance art. He himself is involved with such art practice
where the so-called gallery involvement is not necessarily required. Shawon used to practice art
in the remote villages of his country with the indigenous people and practice performance with
their folk resources.
The first two days, 13th and 14th of January workshop was designed with Rickshaw Paintings. A
good number of participants had joined in the workshop from different parts of entire Northeast,
most of whom were students from different art forums of Barak Valley and from the Department
of Visual Arts, Assam University. Shawon Akand encouraged executing a particular kind of sitespecific project along with an interactive process of sharing thoughts and ideas among the
participants. Rickshaw painting is a popular genre of the urban culture of Bangladesh. Usually
TITLE : CELEBRATION
OF SOURCE
(Artist- Shawon
Akand)

Shawon Akand

14

TITLETITLE- INDIAN
INDIAN LEAF
LEAF
SHOP
SHOP (ARTIST(ARTIST- NIRUPAM
NIRUPAM DAS)
DAS)

Rikshaw Painting

the rickshaws of Bangladesh were painted gorgeously with high contrast of colours and by defined
contours. Shawon's idea was to transform this cultural genre of rickshaw painting beyond his
own soil by breaking the political border of two countries through a process of a typical act of art.
He had tried to enhance a form of art where installation, site-specific and performance art can
intermingle together with the common folk. The performers of the workshop begin their work by
trying to search out the source of the rickshaw making and in this active process participants
have started to interact with the common people (especially the rickshaw pullers) and getting
acquainted with their culture. Shawon inspired them to paint rickshaw with the images of their
own cultural elements to enhance the presence of self as a being in the work. One of the
participants, Gangotri Das Gupta expressed her view about her new experience in such
unconventional practice of art and said, 'It was a new experience for me to paint upon the back
of the seat of the rickshaw. When I was doing my work I felt that I was doing a moving installation.'
Generally rickshaw is an insignificant object, which is owned or borrowed by the poor people of
the society. But when it is painted with gorgeous colours and delicate motifs, it becomes an
attractive object for the common mass because of its visual appeal. This new transformation of
the trivial object also inspires the poor people who were economically attached to it and this
whole event can be treated as a celebration of the native subject against the so-called value
system made by the society.
The 3rd day of the workshop was held in the village called Choto Dudh Patil, quite close to the
town of Silchar on the bank of a small river Madhura. Sandipan Dutta Purkayastha, the organizer
of Shilpangan and the artist, Sawon Akand had searched out a space adjacent to a school and
local huts at Choto Dudh Patil. Shaon and the other participating artists of the workshop had
already explored the various corners of the site with their contextual possibilities.
Artists were divided in groups to carry out different site-specific installations and developed their
works through the continuous process of interaction with the local people. It was a group work,
15

which was the central idea of the workshop to enhance a work of art by de-authentification of the
signatory value of a single artist. In this process artists had made their group and shared their
ideas with other and tried to make a faithful work of art that may communicate with the culture of
the common people.
Artist Shaon Akand made an installation with a log and nails in a circular arena and textured with
colourful dusts. The title of the work was 'Celebration of Source'. This installation was lit with
candlelight at evening along with a musical performance of the local people. It was a deliberate
attempt by Shaon to spread his work among the common mass without any individual
authentication. This particular work may have started with the urge of an artist to search out a
source, but it was no longer an individual work after a time, when other participants got involved
with the work and shared their hands in the making of installation, lit up the candles. At the end
a musical performance was performed by the villagers within the premises of the arena.
The small village of Choto Dudh Patil really became a new arena of cultural amalgamation,
when different groups of artists started executing ten site-specific installations in an open horizon.
These young artists primarily tried to collect materials from the resources available on the selected
site, except a few things like powder-colour, plastic bag, soft toy etc. These ten site-specific
installations were executed with specific titles to create a textual approach to the visuals. The
works are titled as, 'Hanging Life' done by the artists Jagotjyoti Paul, Tapajay Roy and Subhabrata
Choudhury, 'Endless Journey' by Rinki Nath, Suparna Bhattacharjee, Sanchita Nath, Sourav
Baishnab, 'New Post Office' by Swarnali sarma, Bithi Singha, Prasenjit Banik, 'Dragon Fly Home',
by Sabita Deb Nath, Payel Goswami, Rumi das, Mili Barman, Bijoy Deb, Uttam Ghosh, 'Paradox
of Museum Culture' by Sanchita Nath, Sourav Baishnab, Prasenjit Banik, 'Indian Leaf Shop' by
Nirupam Das, 'Intimacy' by Kishan Bagdi,Bibhu Suklabaidya, Tirak Nath, Kishore Sukla Das,
'Lost Nature's Beauty' by Kishan Bagdi, Bibhu Suklabaidya, Tirak Nath, Kishore Sukla Das,
'Intact' by Gangotri Das Gupta, Nayak Amritanand and finally "Celebration of the Source' by
Shawon Akand and the group.
In the installation of 'hanging Life', artists like Jagatjyoti, Tapojay and Subhabrata have hung
some pieces of barks (collected from local trees) from the rooftop of a room with long threads.
When evening descended and everything became dark in the area, the artist's group suddenly
lightened up a piece of candle outside a window just across the work. It was a marvelous view
when the work was seen from the dark room with a semi-silhouetted projection. Here another
interesting possibility was built up with the fact that one can roam around the work, having the
touch of the objects of art and can interact silently with the whole visual ambience.
Gongotri and Amritanand made an installation named 'Intact' with metal utensils locally called as
handy, which were collected by the artists from the local huts of the village. These artists have
placed those utensils in a circular pattern upon a bed of hay simply to show the transformation of
the identity of common object in the other space.
This splendid effort of the workshop came to an end with an informal adda and casual interaction
among the local people, organizers, artists and people who visited the place to observe the
workshop. The efforts undertaken by Shilpangan and ACRDS in associated with Sarbagin Manab
Kalyan Sanstha a local NGO to make this programme successful are undoubtedly appreciable.
This workshop has not only encouraged people to familiarize themselves with such kind of practice
of other art, but also it has established a confidence among the people to conceptualize new
thoughts or ideas from a marginalized space denying the parochial occupations of the centre.
COURTESY- ART & DEAL, NEW DELHI

16

INTERNATIONAL

FACE TO FACE
ROLLIE MUKHERJEE
This is an interview with the curator Kathleen Wyma about the show she curated titled- "The
Material Point: Reconsidering the Medium in the (Post)modern Moment", from 20 July - 19 August
2013, at Gallery OED, Cochin.
Rollie : The trajectory contemporary Indian art took was very different from that of the west. From
an imposed idiom it moved to a cultural exploration by emphasizing on the living tradition, barring a few
exceptions. So here, unlike the west, the artist in India have resorted back to the traditional past not
only for the history but for its method and materials. How do you see this bent where the traditional
means is not absolutely rejected?
Kathleen : Ok. I am not sure how this question is related to the show - can you clarify? Let me
first offer a preliminary response and say I think that maybe you are referring to a Subramanyan-esque
idea like the "living tradition" and so I will begin from there. Subramanyan notes in 1971 that many
artists working in the post Independence moment were struggling to find an "identity" and to gain
insight into their role in the world at large. This is understood as something that is not specific to India,
as many artists across the globe where struggling to find an appropriate place and language. Significantly
though, within India, the struggle takes on greater importance given the country's postcolonial status
and the emerging dominance of American style painting in the 60s. It is against this historical backdrop
that Subramanyan notes in his "The Struggle for Image in Contemporary Indian Art," published in the
Fine Arts College Alumni Get-Together Souvenir (1971) that struggle is the stuff of an artist's life; it is
that which enables the creation of not only a valid artistic language but also valid images. So with this
in mind, the idea of a living tradition may be more focused on the aspects of "living" rather than "tradition"
and if this is the case, then such an approach produces results that are much more prismatic.
If there was - as you say - a tendency of the Indian artist "to resort to the traditional past" I would
counter and ask whose past? To suggest that there is (or was) a stable tradition is problematic as
collapses a diversity of engagements into a singular expression. History tells us that Geeta Kapur,
Swaminathan and Subramanyan all had different takes on the methodologies of modern art and the
role of tradition within it. I think that some of the opinions registered in the pages of Vrishick and Contra
66 or even early volumes of Lalit Kala Contemporary (to name a few) suggest that there were an
abundance of positions regarding the role of tradition. If there was a consensus on some level it may
have been that the long history of Indian art could function as a barricade to slow the encroachment or
the blind mimicry of the modern art from the west and perhaps this is what you mean. While these
issues may characterize the 60s and the 70s, I think that artists living and working in India today have
varied approaches to art making which may or may not have anything to do with traditional art practices
and if there is a traditional past, as you say, present in the work of the artists in my show then it is one
which emerges on a personal level as an engagement with the self and ones own personal history rather than with tradition writ large but really that is a question to ask the artists.
Rollie : "Tradition" again was not only seen in the cultural and historic , but as you had suggested
non traditional materials, which I read as non conventional mediums like painting, sculpture etc "which
valorises and promotes the singular fine art object". So my question is whether the post modern
initiation is understood with an inventive use of non traditional material which somehow seems a
default for being post modern and claims for being contemporary currently. Also I suppose the dilemma
of trying to being Indian yet at the same time contemporary is a recurring theme and concern all
through in the Indian art in the entire stretch of the country and not only the narratives in Baroda and the
swaminathan style traditionalism (One more interesting aspect of Indian art history is the canonization
and the spokesman ship of speaking for the tradition by the select few which needs to be implored).
Though with the onset of globalisation and neo imperialism and the subsequent opening up of market
and the sudden surge in the new media art practices unabashedly derivate from the west churned out
17

of magazines and of course the ill informed and biased art academies has not necessarily brought a
radical change in viewing of art though now it's in different mediums. Don't you think the revaluation of
the material in conventional ways of practices seem to be more potent when compared to the so much
formally different mediums but fundamentally similar works of art sold consumed within the framework
of art world alone with whatever little spillages and forays into public arena.
Kathleen : Interesting. Yes as I said above the notion of tradition as it played out within a given
historical moment is as prismatic as the engagements with it. And I agree that globalization and the
liberalization of the economy introduced a change in artistic practice but not necessarily a change in
viewing practices. I can be quite cynical about this, but pessimism is wholly unproductive and tends to
put a full stop on further conversation or understanding. Within the context of the exhibition, I was
particularly interested in work that employed non-traditional materials and creating a space through
which to consider the current state of "materiality" and its role in artistic production. In particular I was
curious about how the tendency to "salvage" impacts artistic practice in the "post modern moment" (in
deference to time rather than style). I don't think, or at least I hope, that new materials are not, as you
say, "the default for being post modern and claims for being contemporary." And further to this, I
apologize but I cannot state with any degree of certainty whether the use of nontraditional material is a
leitmotif of postmodern art because I think that the field is too complex to make such a conclusive
declaration.
In further response to you query about material, I would like to stress that I was particularly interested
in how artists reuse "old materials" in new ways. If one looks at the work included in the show from
Ranjith Raman's use of embroidery to create an image or Riddhi Shah's use of melted wax or Manish
Nai's repurposing of newspapers one can see that the focus is upon practice and engagement with
materials. With this is mind, one of the operating assumptions of the exhibition was to pose questions
about how the repurposing of materials (not necessarily objects) for artistic expression can be seen as
representative of a contemporary critical stance that reflects "real time" social and cultural inclinations
and concerns. Let me perfectly clear and say that repurposing was not simply about going to the shop,
buying something, putting it the gallery and stating with Duchampian certainty "this is art!" Objects
bought in the shop and put directly into the gallery run the risk of erasing time and labour - they are in
some ways the ultimate expression of Marxian alienation. This is where I was fascinated with exploring
Smithson's notion of entropy and the creation of what he identified as anti-monuments - things that
empty out time rather than accumulate it. The issue of time is very important to me, but perhaps I
betray my disciplinary allegiances with my concern over a lack of historical consciousness.
Rollie : Post modernism encompasses a huge variety of art practices, but in your curation "the
Material point: Re considering the medium in the post modern moment" seems to focus on materials
which are non conventional and ephemeral, with its emphasis on readymade and recycles.Is there an
attempt to equate post modernism to the concept of 'new'?
Kathleen : No there is no intention on my behalf to suggest or equate postmodernism with anything
new. Post modernism is a problematic term at best, its very linkage with the modern suggests that no
break has occurred and so therefore it could hardly be considered a new concept but rather one, which
recycles the old.
Rollie : By catering to Smithsonian idea(which advocates to shun traditional materials and prefer
a less durable material thereby facilitating a different vision of time) but by exhibiting within a white cube
don't you think that the very Smithsonian notion, which is for a site specificity, seems to fade, as the
gallery space adds an aura to the work of art and transcend it from mundane and rise it to the level of
"Art"- where art is valorised and promoted as "art object"
Kathleen : Well, I would not say that I was catering to a Smithsonian idea as you say; rather I was
exploring a concept that he advances - one that I might add - he borrowed from the theory of
thermodynamics in his essay "Entropy and the New Monuments". Your question seems to suggest
that because the exhibition took place within a gallery, Smithson's ideas of entropy are nullified - I do
not see this as the case - as in fact Smithson is not specifically writing about his own earth works or site
18

specific interventions but rather the essay stood as a critique of the work of artists within the space of
the gallery. To be sure, Smithson is writing in a moment of tremendous cultural change - a moment that
witnessed the escalation of the cold war, there was a lingering crisis over the emancipatory possibilities
of "progress," painters and sculptors were no longer wedded or identified by their materials of choice
and Alan Kaprow claims that everyone can be an artist! Performance - process - land art - feminism I can name a million changes to the field but the net result is a pushing of the limits of artistic practice- a push and a change that witnessed the birth of the postmodern.
Rollie : You suggested at the end of your curatorial note the possibility of breaking free the gallery
space and entering into the realm of public .Your emphasis is on the exchange of ideas in the market
place of social and cultural circumstances. This would have definitely aided in breaking the elitism
because once art enters the gallery space it is destined to be in an elitist sphere. Here the real time
vanishes into a spiritual space. How do you think a gallery space can give a similar level of interaction
as a market space.
Kathleen : I agree that the gallery tends to be an elitist space but not always. I would contend that
OED, given its location in Mattancherry, is a unique site that resonates with the historical cosmopolitanism
of the area. The gallery is a restored godown, which enjoys tremendous international tourist and local
traffic; therefore, it is a unique space that does not only cater to the elite. Its location beyond the pale
of the metropolis allows accessibility to all - whether the gallery-goers are Indian or not. Many, many
people came to see the show and I talked to people from all over the world who were quite surprised to
see the work. People, who would not normally venture into a gallery in their own cities, or in places like
Delhi or Mumbai, crossed the threshold of OED to have a look.
My purpose was to start a conversation - it was not to tell people how to think or to give answers.
It was not to pontificate on the evils of elitism though I am well aware. To my mind, we all must work
within certain structures. I am curator and at this point I work within the spaces of the gallery as
problematic as they can be at times. To my mind an engagement is always better than being silenced
and not contributing at all or giving into the pessimism I mentioned earlier.
As to the second part of your question about the social and cultural exchange - people from other
countries still seem to think that Indian art is all about "traditional" art - what ever that is - and many
were surprised about the kind of work that was being done by the artists in the show. I see this as a little
coup for the artists and their practice - as their work widened the conceptual horizons of people beyond
India. It is in this context that the gallery, as I suggested in my concept note, can serve as a nexus point
of exchange. I referred to it as a "market place" not in terms of elite exchanges of financial or social
capital but rather a unique space (particular to Kerala and the location of OED) whereby "ideas" could
be traded, discussed or debated.
Forgive me but I also have to say that I do not understand what you mean when you say that real
time vanishes into spiritual time - this sounds very orientalist to me. India lives in the real time, as do
many of the artists living and working there. Although the work in the show had something to do with
time for sure but emphatically there was no connection to the spiritual or the religious - perhaps I am
not getting your meaning.
Rollie : When I meant spiritual I was trying to equate with the notion of the transfiguration of the
commonplace art objects into work of art through and within the art world comprising the gallery, artist,
critic, collectors etc... I was also mentioning it with the view of reading a work of art as a magical
experience within a sacred space.
Kathleen : There was not a transfiguration of commonplace art objects in the show. The work in
show for the most part repurposed old materials to create new objects. I cannot say that this allowed
for a magical experience within a sacred space, as I emphatically believe that the gallery is a space that
is completely void of aspects of spiritualism. If you mean to suggest that galleries are the new temples
and artworks are the new icons or objects of veneration then that is worthy of a further and longer
conversation between us and I look forward to an interesting discussion in the future.
Rollie : The politics of a material can be dealt with despite being conventionally inclined. A
19

conventional material can be recontextualised /decontextualised/appropriated to a newer materialism
and contemporised by its content. This possibility post modernism has provided. Please share your
views on it.
Kathleen : I actually don't really think that postmodernism has a historical monopoly on this - it
has been happening for as long as humans have been creating artwork. If post modernism did anything
new it was to introduce the idea that art need not be produced - art can simply be a thought - a concept
- an approach - it is a footnoted practice. By this I mean, postmodern art, if such a thing exists (please
note that my concept note refers to the moment - rather than the art), is a practice that is supplemental
it is always predicated on something else. But then, was this not the same conceit of modern art? This
is a very complicated question and there is no easy answer - I think I may need some time to think
about this carefully.
Rollie : When you talk about vernacularisation in this context there is always a trap of an imposition
from above for various needs. How do you see the artists in the exhibition have stood apart from this
imposed languages in global currency today.
Kathleen : In terms of the vernacular as a common language, I was positing a common language
of material practice or a common methodology among the artists of the show. I made no claim that my
show (or that artists in it) stood apart from the vernacular languages of global art - the point was that
these artists used a global Esperanto to speak of their own lives and their own processes. We live in a
world where we can not police cultural borders - the art world is now a matrix of exchange - artists travel
and read international journals more than ever before- to say that it is an "imposed language" is to
diminish the validity of their engagements and to reduce their efforts to a derivative practice.
Rollie : Why do you think as a critic you reoriented to properties and effects arising from medium itself.
Kathleen : The opportunity to curate shows is a wonderful way to explore ideas and test hypotheses.
It is an ongoing process and I confess I am still thinking about the show in preparation for the catalogue.
The issue of material was one that had preoccupied me for some time not only as a result of my
research but also my teaching and my conversations with others. To be sure, medium is becoming
more politicized but I wanted to see if there was something beyond the material - I wanted to consider
the material approaches of artists and how the work was informed by it. Although I am still thinking
about this, I discovered that the choices most of the artists made were based on memory. The work of
the artist's seemed to be about interrupting history and challenging dominant ideas in order to create
their own unique counter narratives.

20

REVIEW

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„þÄy˜¦þyöì¢îû çþ™îû ö“þœ îûö숣z x¤yöì„þ˜ öî!Ÿîû ¦þy†

THE URBAN STEP : OIL : 7' x 7' Simanta Jyoti Baruah

Manika Devi, Title - Paribhraman, Acrylic medium on canvas. Size 80cm x 90cm, Year - 2010

21

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Artist
Kamal
Mohanta,
Title
Blue
girl
Acrylic
on
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S‰þœöìîV

Artist - Sandipan
Bhattacharjee,
Title - Woman & the
Shadow
23

REVIEW

A review of the show - (In) to the middle of the "stories",
15 March - 14 April 2014. Gallery OED Cochin.
SUMEET K. CHAUDHARY

A showing of paintings and drawings by nine artists is held at the OED gallery in Cochin from
15thMarch - 14th April, 2014. The show has been conceptualized by artist/writer Rollie Mukherjee
whose paintings too are part of the show. Below is a detailed review of the conceptual framework
of the show and the artworks of the nine artists.
Between the beginning of things and the end of things lies an infinity of infinite complexity and
within this infinite complexity dwells man.
We live amidst an immense ocean of knowledge, experiences, situations and stories and in
order to see, to interpret and to ascertain any meaning from it we need to begin somewhere and
for that what choices do we actually have? Every time we begin to ponder about this we discover
that we must inevitably begin to make sense from within the middle of things because the middle
is where we are all embedded.
'In medias res' (Latin "in the midst of things") is the literary and artistic narrative technique of
relating a story from the midpoint, rather than the beginning. The key is to tell a story by plunging
directly into the most crucial part first which is related to the chain of events in various ways. The
narrative then moves forward with random flashbacks shedding light on earlier events to reveal
the relationships between different constituent parts. The Illiad by Homer is a great example of this
technique as are many others. The reason for starting in the middle is to select the most interesting
opening for a story or an artwork under scrutiny so as to maintain the utmost interest and take the
viewer directly into the midst of the action.
The content of the present show of paintings and drawings precisely embodies this very narrative
technique. This show consists of paintings and drawings which can be read simultaneously from
different angles and which manage to endlessly project multiple meaningful interpretations within the
viewer. The idea of 'medias res' is to create a multi dimensional perspective of the observed thing by
selecting a strategic observational point from somewhere in the middle in order to generate the most
enriching possible experience immediately from the first instance onwards. It is like jumping straight
into the heart of the story and slowly unraveling the plot and in the process letting the viewer take an
active part in the interpreting of meaning by simultaneously focusing on the many aspects involved.
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Rollie Mukherjee titles the show as, (In) to the middle of the "stories" because her working
conceptual framework is based precisely on the idea of 'medias Res,' Here is what she has to say,
"When a work of art is exhibited in a gallery, it is always in the Medias Res. The work of art as a text
produced by the artist is now open for the viewers for an interpretation. The artwork is in fact read
in the Medias Res where the overlapping meaning of a work of art as an aesthetic experience, as
a commodity, as a virtual entity, as an ideology etc merges. The significance of such a reading is
that one doesn't start from or search for a primordial beginning of a work which has been for long
the guarded territory of the author or artist. One begins from one's own position as a viewer
responding to a visual text at front which is already mediated and permeated by various ideologies.
The unwanted attachment with the illusionistic idea of innocent and honest eye of viewing is done
away to a matured responsible and conscious viewing process."
Each artwork in the show has a story to tell and lay bare open the constituents of reality to the
one who is willing to actually see. The paintings and sketches are somehow related to our own
stories and fates. Our stories are the stories of reality which we have lived through and stories
which we know nothing of and stories that are yet to come and whose part we may or may not
become. Nine artists and nine different perspectives on reality but all somehow encompassing a
common theme. Lets take a look.
Sarika Mehta's minimalistic and uncomplicated paintings and drawings catch the viewers
attention as if allowing a moment of relief for the eyes and intellect but strangely the relief is only for
a fleeting moment because immediately after one is irrevocably pulled into the exercise of attempting
to see more and one begins to feel that something about the work stands out and calls one to read
in further. One of her drawings of water falling from a tap and getting spread on the floor in a small
puddle is quite simple enough to make sense of at first but it goes beyond and manages to fascinate
the mind somehow because of the simple yet deliberate anomaly put in by her that the water does
not fall off from the tap in a straight line through gravity as it should but flows out and falls in a curve
as it reaches the floor thus defying the gravitational laws. Another work of her, a painting consisting
of little flowers scattered out of a fallen transparent plastic glass is quite simple to read at first but
then one starts to notice the extraordinary meticulousness put in by the artist in painting the flowers
making them seem as if they are almost real and thus drawing one's attention to this detail and
making one contemplate the various intentional and unintentional interpretations and relationship
of such a simple situation to the actual reality of the world in the midst of which we are forever
striving to live.
Priti Vadakath's work 'The sea of lost time' is very interesting work for two reasons. First the
painting at first glance seems quite simplistic but stay with it for a while and you will see new things
open up. It is a perfect example of the work forcing multiple interpretations on to the viewer than
that which the artist might have primarily intended. When you look at the painting it seems four
elder men are sitting casually and you may tend look at it and move on but just linger on for a few
seconds and you will feel a transformation that the men are not merely sitting but in fact in guise of
casualness peering at you very intently as if with some unknown yet focused purpose. The viewer
becomes 'the viewed' and the men in the painting bestow a critical judgmental eye upon the viewer
thus somewhat unsettling the viewer momentarily and at the same time making the viewer look
inward forcing a quick self reflection. The painting is mostly monochromatic and composed of four
elderly men sitting in a nonchalant manner side by side draped in monolithic seeming white clothes.
Another thing to note is that the painting is composed of two panels thus the four figures divided in
middle by a line of separation and this division enforces a feeling of scrutiny from not one but two
different perspectives, it is as if two different ideological groups are scrutinizing you thus adding
more to the gravity of scrutiny. Apart from the figures of men the artist seems to have kept the
background quite minimal thus not allowing the viewer to focus much elsewhere but only on the
gaze of the men in the painting. Both the dimensions add a kind of unsettling and slightly surreal
25

experience leaving the viewer inescapably with some moments of self -reflection.
Rollie Mukherjee's exquisite water color paintings are primarily concerned with the projection
and dissection of the falsity of the notion of freedom of women which in fact is not there in a
patriarchal system of today's modern world. Her highly narrative and forcefully suggestive works
done in simple but vibrant colors carry a somber tone. A striking feature in her paintings is the way
she paints the faces of the women creating a subtle expression of alienation and inner sadness at
the situation of things amidst which the women inevitably find themselves pushed and shackled
and have their freedom undermined in multiple ways and forms by the modern patriarchs. In her
paintings she paints the women in various avatars and places them against sometimes a lyrical
and sometimes against a gruesome background so as to complete the inherent story as well as to
document the entire range of possible fundamental situations for the woman. Her paintings make
one ponder seriously about the validity of the societal customs and questions the so called modernity
of the world which ironically does not seem to extend into the domain of how women should
actually be seen and treated.
Shruti Mahajan : Shruti Mahajan's work is immediately intriguing. The composition is very
well done and visually balanced but the overall subjective reading of the image with all the elements
present within the room indicate that something of vital importance is missing and the viewer is
immediately directed towards it and an unmistakable sense of urgency is evoked. The open door
on the far right of the image and the state of various things within the room suggest that someone
must have been there and is now gone but this simple suggestibility is highly intensified by the way
the painting is painted. First by the unidirectional diagonal composition and second by the loose
yet controlled brush strokes which being quite easily visible create a dynamism on the painted
surface because of the play of uneven continuous shades generated by such application of paint.
This adds to the overall intended dynamic atmosphere of the painting. It feels like the viewer has
been thrown into a middle of an event which has slight tones of foreboding of some kind and the
viewer must deal with the incomplete information and must strive for a conclusion to cull the
uneasy curiosity.
Puja Puri in her work attempts to concretize the inner conflict of existence within children and
ragged people who are thrown in middle of tough circumstances in life. The inner material of shaky
and straggly lines that builds up her work, 'Dilemma of a heiress' is suggestive of the various
conflicts that rage within the self due to the seeming unfairness of the situation that life has put
them in. Look at the work a little further and it does not seem that there is just merely a state of
irrevocable dilemma but there is also a succeeding inner resolve and an inner will to overcome
however difficult circumstances life has rendered and that manages to inject a valid sense of life
within the work.
The works of Sajeev Visweswaran's at quick glance are simplistic and frugal looking drawings
and paintings which seem to be concerned with the projection of the ordinary. However the
ordinariness is not simple as it might seem because he manages to bring viewer's focus on the
ordinary things in life in such a way that the ordinary gains a subtle importance and meaning. It
seems as if the artist has a certain wistfullness born out of relating to these ordinary things and
observations whose frugal yet aptly detailed depictions direct viewer's focus to a certain overlooked
vitality within things that most think as ordinary and unimportant. Simple things and observations
of everyday life carefully chosen and arranged to show that simple is not always simple and it can
have multiple interpretations within multiple contexts which one must explore and discover its
importance if one is sensitive enough a being.
The immediate feeling after looking at SN Sujith's paintings is that of some kind of aftermath
has occurred which has very menacing undertones. The grim but dreamy looking surreal landscape
in which Sujith places his imagery further accentuates this feeling of menace. What exactly is
going on within this carefully selected setting is a mystery to decipher but one can make out that
26

whatever it is, is something serious and probably concerns everyone. Unlike other paintings in the
show Sujith does not provide the viewer any direct clues about what the work is exactly about but
he kind of throws a challenge to the viewer to identify the meaning of what is and thus igniting a
number of inescapable questions like why is landscape so deserted, where has everyone gone,
what could have happened to force the things to a state of conclusion as they stand in the picture.
In one painting there is a fallen horse and another a statue of someone as if an authoritarian but
every painting contains prison camp like architectural structures suggesting that it must have
something to do with brute authority and oppression and rebellion of sorts. What do they all suggest?
Is it that an authoritarian state has been thwarted and made to eventually end but at what price?
Maybe at such a heavy price that none's left and all is deserted. Is the painting about the evil of the
dictatorial power of an oppressive state in order to show what such power game can lead to? How
is it related to our world of today? With our all powerful governments and power brokers at helm
aren't we as a society moving in the same direction to reach a similar gruesome and dismal fate?
All these questions arise in the mind and the painting beckons one to pay attention to a fate which
seems to have been time and again written and played in our historical past but that which everyone
tends to overlook but should not.
Mahesh Baliga's works, Small colorful paintings constructed with varied elements creating a
beautiful visual harmony of colors, figures and lyrical landscapes are a joy to watch. The painting
is painted with multiple layered paint using various painterly techniques to create a colorful aura
about it as if to romanticize the mundane world in the way so as to overcome 'what is' and show
what can be i.e. reconstructing the seemingly monotonous reality to convert it into that which
consists primarily of beauty and harmony thus lending to it a kind of vibrant vitality. In one work a
casual figure lying down below an exquisitely multi hued tree against a rich purple sky and in
another an intriguing yet beautifully colored bird sitting atop a fountain makes one yearn for becoming
a part of the painting to experience all that within the painting. The validity of the work rests in
showing beauty and harmony in things which otherwise would seem mundane and thus breaking
the monotony associated with everyday life.
Shivani Bhalla's paintings are like suggestive representational juxtapositions of figurative,
non figurative, fantastical and sometimes containing surreal quality like that of Chagall. Her paintings
tend to mostly encompass a variety of self oriented themes like that of a woman's tribulations and
her role in construction of life. One of her paintings titled 'In middle of nowhere' seems to be based
on ideas of absurdity i.e. the clash between the human tendency to seek some inherent meaning
in the painting and the human impossibility of finding any meaning. Such a unstructured composition
of landscape strewn with unrelated elements like animals in humanized forms, pulling out a river
from somewhere far off in the background on to atop a tree standing closer to the foreground as if
testing the elasticity and stretchibility of the water body for some reason or like opening up the soil
to display its inner structure in a playful manner but yet the composition makes one look for meaning
into the midst of such ambiguous relationships thus engaging the viewer to discover a subtle
intended metaphorical significance and its relation to the subconscious thoughts that forever dwell
within us as we navigate through life and time.
An artwork even if it looks simple is usually quite a complex phenomenon because what
actually goes into its creation is a plethora of thoughts, situations, histories, experiences,
philosophies, ideas, techniques, influences, emotions and what not. To read an artwork from the
paradigm of 'medias res' involves that the viewer be aware of all this and must interpret it as far as
his intellect may push him to decode the variety of inherent ideas, techniques, meanings,
philosophies, relationships etc in order to generate the most valid and enriching aesthetic experience.
One of the most powerful ways to do this is to read the artworks from as many perspectives as one
can muster so as to discover those seemingly hidden nooks and corners and diverse layers which
would otherwise escape a very casual simplistic viewer.

27

FILM

Suchitra Sen: the mystique 'mahanayika'...
DR. AYIRIDDHI BHATTACHARJEE
The film industry in Bengal has produced many a stars
till date, but few command the public affection and admiration
garnered by the eternal 'mahanayika' of Bengali films, the
enigmatic Suchitra Sen. While there were other female actors
during her time whose acting skills were at par or even better
than Suchitra's, none came close to her so far as her 'star'
image is concerned. Her image in the mind of her admirers
as well as detractors is that of a woman of incredible beauty,
dignity and grace who had unparallel on-screen persona.
Suchitra Sen was born in Pabna district of Bangladesh
as Roma Dasgupta in April 1931. She got married to Dibanath
Sen in 1947 after her family migrated to West Bengal, India
following the partition.
Her foray into films was through an inconsequential film
in 1952, named Shesh Kothay, which was never released. It
was the popular Bengali comedy Sharey Chuattor in 1953,
which brought her fame and recognition, and marked the beginning of the Uttam-Suchitra era in
Bengali films. The Uttam Kumar- Suchitra Sen duo went on to become part of cinematic history for
generations of cine-lovers, who were mesmerized by the charisma of the couple. The romance,
the pain of love lost, the victory of the hopelessly-in-love couple- was depicted with sublime perfection
by these two stalwarts. The Bengali film industry has undeniably produced many great names in
the field of acting and entertainment, some arguably more talented than the duo. Yet movie lovers
have not forgotten this pair. Uttam and Suchitra ushered in a new age of star-power and charisma.
For the audience, Uttam and Suchitra were not just cultural icons but champions of true romance
and ageless love. They were the reason many watched Bengali movies.
With films like Agnipariksha, Sagarika, Shapmochan, Sabar Uporey, Harano Sur, Pathe Holo
Deri, Saptapadi, Jiban Trishna, Indrani, Kamal Lata, Chawa Pawa etc- the duo ruled the hearts of
the audience across the globe and continues to do so even today. Some scenes from these films
have remained etched in the minds of the audience- the iconic 'ei poth Jodi na shesh hoy tobe
kemon hoto tumi bolo toh' bike sequence in Saptapadi or the 'Tumi je amar...ogo tumi je amar' in
Harano Sur: the duo enchanted the audience thoroughly. Saptapadi, which is arguably the most
celebrated romance of Bengali cinema, Suchitra Sen's Rina Brown is a complex, flawed protagonist
who fights her destiny to be with the man she loves. She is an equal to Uttam Kumar in the film. In
fact, if there was any actor who matched Uttam Kumar in terms of charisma and on screenpersona, it was Suchitra Sen. She became the embodiment of quintessential Bengali feminity, the
perfect foil to 'Mahanayak' Uttam Kumar - she became the eternal 'Mahanayika'.
Such was the popularity of this on-screen couple that both cine-lovers and critics would try to
dismiss other works of the duo where they paired with other actors/actresses. One of the most
popular work of Suchitra Sen, that catapulted her to international movie arena, Saat Paakey Bnadha
(1963) - saw her working opposite another heart-throb of Bengal, Soumitra Chatterjee. In this film
which was later remade in Hindi as 'Kora Kagaz', Suchitra Sen's marriage to a young idealistic
professor (Soumitra Chatterjee) is destroyed by the interference of her overbearing mother (Chaya
Devi). Caught between the two important persons in her life, Suchitra Sen is confused and hurt. It
was this performance that won her the best actress award at the Moscow Film Festival, making
28

her the first Indian actress to have
won an international award.
Suchitra Sen led her life in
her own terms. Whatever she did
on and off screen became part of
cinematic history. There is a
scene in 'Saat Paake Bandha'
where Suchitra Sen tore the vest
that Soumitra was wearing. In a
later period, at a party thrown to
celebrate the film's success, she
did a repeat of the scene on public
demand and actually tore
Soumitra's shirt, much to the
amazement of the people present
there.
She mirrored the independent
woman - much earlier than the true
feminist waves lapped on the
Indian shores. Few heroines of her
times would command the same
sense of dignity and respect and
in many cases an unbearable fear in the 'mind' of the male-dominated society.
Suchitra's trajectory in female-centric roles created a niche space for herself. In the 1959 film
Deep Jwele Jai, Suchitra played a nurse in a mental hospital who got involved with a patient. Her
strong performance made the film poignant and it was later remade in Hindi as Khamoshi (1969)
where Waheeda Rehman essayed the role. Uttar Phalguni (1963) and Saat Paakey Bandha (1963)
also had strong female-centric roles performed to perfection by Suchitra.
She chose her Bollywood films wisely, and worked with experimental directors like Bimal
Roy ('Devdas') and Hrishikesh Mukherjee ('Musafir'), instead of big-budget blockbuster producers.
It was not the case that she did not know influential people in Bombay. Raj Kapoor wanted to do a
film with her. Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand- both were her good friends. But she preferred doing only
those films that appealed to her. It took a script of a lifetime, with the enthusiastic Gulzar at the
helm of affairs to make her work in Bollywood again. The film was the critically acclaimed 'Aandhi',
and the role was that of a middle-aged woman politician who has a chance encounter with her exhusband while campaigning. The film was rumoured to be based on the life of the then Prime
Minister, Indira Gandhi. Suchitra Sen's powerhouse performance in the film opposite Sanjeev
Kumar remains a treat for movie-lovers even to this day.
For thirty years after her retirement from films, Suchitra Sen led the life of a recluse. She
did not make any public appearance all these years and even refused to accept the Dada Saheb
Phalke award in 2005 because it required her physical presence in the award ceremony. She
fiercely guarded her privacy and in the last few years of her life the only visitors allowed at her
residence were her daughter, actress Moon Moon Sen and grand-daughters Riya and Raima Sen
and a handful of very close confidantes of the Sen family.
Suchitra Sen might not be one of the best actresses of Indian cinema but she will always
be one of the brightest and most glamorous stars of the film industry. Rest in peace, Mahanayika.
29

REPORT

BARAK ART FAIR - 2014
JHIMLI NATH
Barak Art Fair 2014, a five day long gala
event was organized by Barak Art & Craft
Society (BACS), Silchar. It was held from 8th
Jan to 12th Jan 2014 at Bipin Chandra Paul
Sabhasthal, Silchar 1, Cachar , Assam. It was
the 16th Annual conference of Barak Art & Craft
society where different organizations from the
entire North-east including Agartala and
Guwahati had participated to display their works
with creative ideas. Dignitaries like Jiban
Krishna Shil, lecturer, Agartala Govt. Art College
and Mrinmoy Debberma, a contemporary Artist,
Agartala and Paltu Barman, a renowned artist
from Agartala, joined the event as invited Artist. In the Art Fair, there were about 30 stalls of Paintings,
Sculptures, Printmaking, Installations and Craft products where more than 2000 paintings displayed.
The organization arranges this type of fair since last couple of years but this is for the 1st time they
took the Barak Art Fair to a National Level.
The opening ceremony held on 8th Jan 2014 was inaugurated by Haran Dey, D.N.Biswas.
The other dignitaries who witnessed the ceremony were Dr. Nirmal Kanti Roy, HOD. Dept. of
Visual Art, Assam University, silchar, Dr. Meghali Goswami, Asstt. Professor, Visva-Bharati University,
Rajkumar Mazinder, Asstt. Professor, Assam University, Silchar. They gave valuable speeches
and encouraged the Art and Culture and development in the field of art of this region. Throughout
the Art Fair, various events like National level Gold Medal Painting Competition, Performance Art,
Mime, Talk show on Visual Art, slideshow of some invited artist's works, Painting Auction, Cultural
program were held along with art and dance competition. Ramp walk by a group of Artists was a
surprise event of the Fair.
The National Level Barak Artist Award 2014 Gold Medal Painting competition was organized
at the Barak Art Fair where Gold Medal for 1st position, Silver Medal for 2nd position, Bronze
Medal for 3rd position were given along with 15 consolation prizes. The judgment was given by
eight panels of judges. Kamalesh Kandu from Agartala won the 1st Gold medal, Lutfur Rh Laskar
from Silchar 2nd Silver medal, Sourav Baishnab 3rd Bronze medal. Followed by that, A talk show
on visual art was arranged where Mrinmoy Debberma, Raj Kumar Mazinder showcased their recent
works with slideshow presentation. The talk show was conducted by Jibon Shil.
On 11th Jan 2014, two performance Arts were presented by Raj kumar Mazinder,
Asstt.Professor, Assam University, Silchar and Abhibrata Chakraborty, Reader, Assam University,
Silchar. The closing day of Barak Art Fair 2014 was an eventful day; a Painting Auction was
organized by Barak Art and Craft Society for the 1st time in the history of Barak Valley. The Auction
was conducted by Dr. Meghali Goswami and Dr. Nirmal Kanti Roy, where 48 paintings were displayed
in the auction. Amongst them 9 paintings were sold and the artists are Dadhul Chaliha, Dr. Nirmal
Kanti Roy, Samit Roy, Mrinmoy Debberma, Paltu Barman, Jhimli Nath, Sagar Roy, Lutfur Rh Laskar
and Biswajit Dutta. The total Amount of paintings was 90,000. Prize distribution and other cultural
programme were held at the end of the event.
All together, 'Barak Art Fair 2014' organized by Barak Art & craft Society was a successful
event with fresh ideas. It was a great experience to see such talents with innovative concepts and
a sheer pledge to gift a creative upbringing to Barak Valley in the field of Visual Art.
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