Friday, March 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Marriage of film and art fascinates spectators
Rana A Siddiqui

Vintage romance at its best.

It is not always the landscapes and the figures on canvas that attract the audience, it is also the world of glittering cine stars and persons behind camera that pull them.

In fact, the expos on glitterati have often more visitors though there may not be many buyers. That’s why, of late, the paintings on the film world have started catching up with the artists, both old and new.

A painting and still photography exhibition on the world of cinema created by Gayatri Sinha, a veteran artist, proves it. The exhibition at Visual Art Gallery, India Habitat Centre shows some 17-odd artists from Delhi and other states of India in styles and expressions as different as the vagaries of thoughts.

Stills from Sholay and Mother India.
Stills from Sholay and Mother India.

On the one hand, you have Aramugam, a traditional, professional hoarding painter of Tamil Nadu who paints Tamil film icon Rajnikant in seven manifestations: a hero, a villain, a leader, a cheat, a spoilt brat and others in oil on canvas.

His paintings tell you how meticulously the painter has worked out on smaller details of the artist despite being under pressures of the deadlines.

He tells you that due to the onset of digital photography, professional hoarding makers have fallen on bad days and the profession has a bleak future as politicians cut-outs are also banned now. To top that, producers pressurise them to come out with the best in a very short time.

On the other, you find Arpana Caur, an artist of repute who has made a comeback after four years with the legend of Sohni Mahiwal on canvas. She nostalgically paints the famous scene from Shri 420 that shows the legendary Raj Kapoor and Nargis under one umbrella, in the song, ‘Pyar hua, iqraar hua’.

“I feel I belong to the black and white era where sharing one umbrella was the ultimate thing in love…” she remarks about her work. The black and white painting with only water painted in blue colour adds a certain charm to the work, though the artist does not confine the feeling to the two cine stars only, hence, she makes certain modification in their looks.

You also have an interesting amalgamation of terracotta and projected image by Sheba Chachhi under the title, Warrior/ Saint. The artist uses a contrast of Lord Buddha, the epitome of tolerance and today’s “icons of new globalised masculinity” projected through the heroes like Hritik Roshan, Ajay Devegan and Sanjay Dutt with guns in their hands and anxiety and conflict in their eyes. Amid the flashes of light when the viewer’s eyes oscillate quickly between the macho, violent heroes and a peaceful Buddha, he cannot but is compelled to think what should be the ultimate end of a man.

Though Rekha Rod Wittiya feels strongly about the feminine stars of 70s which broke the “stereotype image of sati savitri and initiated a parameter of thinking within arts,” her portrayal of `Nayika’ belongs to the good old days. A blend of elements of traditional Rajasthani painting and photograph in her creation clearly reflects the contrast between the two ages.

The famous choreographer Saroj Khan who made ‘dhak dhak girl’ (Madhuri Dixit) top the ladder of popularity with this number, is a major crowd-puller in the exhibition. She is seen teaching dance steps to the stars of yore as well as of today in several photographs.

Similarly, Gulmohhamad Sheikh’s ‘India my India’ in digital image and printing, beautifully represents two individuals treating India in their own ways. On the one hand, there is Mother India (Nargis in the film), on the other, Gabbar Singh of Sholay facing each other against the backdrop of several maps of India.

A mix of painting and film, the exhibition (on view till 30th of this month) is a good attempt at enticing both the laymen and the connoisseurs. Worth visiting.



Celebrating the carnival of colours in a conventional style

Shakar Yadav and party regaling the crowd at Rang Barse.
Shakar Yadav and party regaling the crowd at Rang Barse.

That tradition scores over pop has been proved time and again, especially when it comes to celebrating the colourful festivals of India. Be it Haryanvi ‘Loor’ dance, Rajasthani ‘Langa’ song or Holi, celebrating them in a conventional style wins many a heart.

Without actually celebrating the festival of colours, many enjoyed it through ‘Rang Barse,’ a programme of ‘Musical Holi Festival’ organised with the joint efforts of All India Radio and Doordarshan at Pragati Maidan’s Hansdhwani theatre on Wednesday evening.

Against the backdrop of a makeshift stage, enveloped in fragrance that oozed out from countless plants and flowers, the carnival had various regional artistes from different states to entrance the audience. ‘Kaisi Karo Barjori’ the much-acclaimed thumri and ‘Aaise na khelo kanhai’ (dadra) were the first items which cast a spell on the audience.

Later, singer Prabahati Mukharjee from Kolkata, the disciple of the world-renowned classical maestro Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, wowed the crowd. Though many were not aware of the nuances of classical music, a captivating beginning was made.

Next was Manipur’s Padmawati’s colourful treat through ‘Thabri role’, a Holi dance with other artists in traditional attires of fabulous shades. The audience had their eyes slipping quickly from dresses to song, dance to colours – it was not an easy choice.

‘Charkula’, Mathura’s famous folk music and dance by Ramesh Rawat and party had many in the audience singing with them while Hyderabad’s famous qawwal Iqbal Hussain Khan ‘Bandanawazi’ presented Ameer Khusro’s famous Holi numbers like ‘aaj rang hai ri’ and also ‘chap tilak sab chini’ that enthralled the elderly.

There were titillating numbers like the one from Awadh’s Shakar Yadav whose ‘aaye mahinwa phagun ke’ where the artist says how he enjoyed watching his brother, sister-in-law and the elderly at home getting wet and somewhat embarrassed on Holi. He adopted a typical teasing and tempting method to wow the audience through his gestures, that had many controlling a belly laugh.

The much-acclaimed folk artiste Bundu Khan from Rajasthan, who has sung in London’s famed Albert Hall, had the audience sing with him, the number ‘nimbura’ and ‘hori’. The artiste has been in the profession for 35 years now. The pitch of his voice even amazed the connoisseurs.

The major attractions here, however, were his eight-year-old son Sonu Khan and khartal (a locally made musical instrument) player Bahiron Khan, whose remarkable beats on two parallel stones, send the listeners into raptures.

The village girls of Haryana have their own way of celebrating Holi. “They do not celebrate it with their menfolk but amongst themselves, away from the teasing male crowd,” Haryana’s famous artiste Premlata Allahabadi told the audience before she began singing ‘Loor’, her own composition which showed the girls from the state, welcoming the festival in traditional, colourful apparels.

With a crowd that mounted to 3,000 in the festival, surprisingly had some persons leaving the venue before it finished at 10 pm. The comperes Pervez Alam and Lavleen Tondon kept the audience bound to the chairs by their wisecracks. Interestingly, Alam added to the audience’s knowledge by talking to the performing artistes before they would began their item – a never-before addition to the culturally charged evening.

The gala evening was managed in reasonable expenses as most of them were approved artistes of All India Radio, who, when called for the special concerts, are provided with only double their fee plus first class train fare,” the managing committee informed. The highlights of the evening can be viewed on DD’s national channel today and tomorrow on DD Bharti.

Rana A Siddiqui


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