|ARTS TRIBUNE||Friday, October 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India|
Teachers get tips on arts
European form to depict
All-rounder in love with theatre
At last, people speak
Teachers get tips on arts
IT was a memorable experience for around 90 schoolteachers from different parts of the country. The participants describe it as once-in-a-lifetime event, the memories of which they will cherish forever.
The occasion was a 25-day orientation course organised by the Centre for Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT), an autonomous organisation under the administrative control of the Department of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Government of India. The CCRT also provides scholarships to the deserving students from 10 to 14 years of age, who are good at any art form, on the basis of a test.
The course, the venue for which was Government School (new building), Burail, Sector 45, Chandigarh, concluded recently. The objective of the course was to provide the teachers an opportunity to interact with artistes and scholars and to impart skills and training in creative activities to them with a view to improving classroom teaching techniques.
A unique feature of the course was that teachers of different disciplines from various parts of the country and speaking diverse languages stayed together. This gave them a chance to have a better understanding of the multifaceted aspects of life and culture in India.
The participants were detailed on various art forms, including the visual, performing and literary. Prof Karuna Goswamy of Panjab University enlightened the gathering on cave and mural paintings, laying special emphasis on the Ajanta caves. Dr B.N.Goswamy of the same university explained the finer points of miniature paintings. Mr I.D.Mathur, an authority on architecture and sculpture, spoke on various aspects of Indian architecture and sculpture.
The audience was enthralled by the breathtaking performances of Bharatnatyam by Jayalakshmi Ishwar and Kathak by Geetanjali Lal, widely acclaimed for their talent. Famous Odissi dancer Kiran Segal and Kuchipudi artistes Guru Jaya Rama Rao and Vanshree Rao also delighted the gathering with their soulful performances. The exponents of classical dances also shared their knowledge with the audience and detailed them on the history and evolution of these dances. A group of artistes from the International Kathakali Centre, New Delhi, were also applauded by the audience.
Eminent educationist and academician, Dr Gunaker Muley, delivered an engrossing speech on the concept of time, which was highly appreciated by the gathering. He also spoke on various issues related to town and country planning. Dr Prem Bhandari presented a galaxy of songs in different Indian languages and dialects, including Hindi, Punjabi, Oriya, Kannada, Rajasthani and Himachali. His select collection of ghazals was also liked by the participants.
Mr S. Banerjee, Director, CCRT, highlighted the rich heritage of Indian puppetry. He explained the origin and presentation modes of glove, rod, string and shadow puppetry. Ms Rita Bokil spoke on the history and evolution of Indian music and songs in national languages. Ms Vandana Chauhan of the CCRT introduced the UNESCO’s world cultural heritage in India to the participants.
The participants took keen interest in learning about a variety of Indian handicrafts and skills, including rangoli, wooden flowers, bead-work, pottery, tie and dye and book-binding. They were also taught the method of slide presentation and preparation of teaching aids.
At the end of the course, the participants were given certificates and educational kits worth Rs 20,000 each, comprising slides and other audio-visual teaching aids.
Ms Shally Khanna, a lecturer in dance at Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 18, Chandigarh, who participated in the orientation course, fondly remembers the experience. It was, according to her, an excellent learning exercise and she eagerly looks forward to the next programme in the series.
European form to depict
"East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet". Or will they?
Kipling’s immortal ballad has been proved wrong for East and West have indeed met, at least in a set of paintings by 24-year-old artist Shrutika Gupta whose works on glass range from a grim-faced Red Indian chieftain to a battle raging in ancient Egypt to a royal beauty from Rajasthan. The last seems to be a direct influence of the Kishangarh School of Art.
"Movement" — a two-day solo exhibition of 32 works by Shrutika — was on view recently at the Capital’s India Habitat Centre.
A trip to Europe and America in 1999 breathed new life into an artistic journey that she began at the age of three.
"I saw the cathedrals with their stained glass windows — Virgin Mary and Christ — and decided that would be my medium for artistic expression," Shrutika told UNI in an interview.
The trip was followed by a crash course in this kind of painting at Dallas University.
"Wonderland" is entirely Western in design. A hamlet complete with windmills forms the background. Three rugged farmers are engaged in tending roses while a girl flits about the gargen like an angel. "Light in the Dark" has a young woman and is an experiment in nudism while "Only Words" depicts what appears to be a balding philosopher bending over a manuscript while holding a quill. His crimson attire contrasts with the floral designs that border the work.
"Mewar" is familiar Indian territory. A lady in traditional attire shields her eyes against the brightness of the desert sun as she looks on for her beloved’s arrival. A palace-like structure, sand dunes, birds and reclining camels form the background.
What strikes the viewer is the natural quality of the products making them seem like oil-on-canvas works.
"I select the glass according to the design," Shrutika explains. While creating "Ship of Desert" — which has a turbaned rustic leading a camel sporting a superbly colourful saddle — granular glass was chosen so that the background would present a sandy appearance.
After the selection of glass comes the wirework. The network of wire on the glass forms the outlines of people and objects represented. The gaps between the wires are then painted in myriad hues. The paint used has to be imported and is more durable which is imperative because her works are not merely for decorating walls. "If people want them to form portions of doors and windows, all I have to do is remove the frame," says the artists.
"There is lack of realisation about my art form," she regrets. "I want to break the vision of the cathedral and make people realise that stained glass work need not always be associated with Christ and churches. My endeavour is to use a distinctly European form to depict an Indian picture.
"I called this, my first exhibition, "Movement", because I want a greater exchange of art between India and the rest of the world," she adds.
All-rounder in love with theatre
Parvesh Sethi is a Jack of all trades and master of them too. You put him on a stage, and he will be the perfect comedian making you spill your guts with laughter or the perfect villain making you hate him from the bottom of your heart. Give him a brush and a pancake in his hand, and he will transform you from a 25-year-young chap to an old man of 60, within a few seconds. Or better still, put a spatula in his hand and, there you are, he is ready with "machchi tashalli baksh", a dish that earned him the reputation of one of the top 10 chefs in the city by none other than Sanjeev Kapoor of "Khana Khazana" fame.
But all said and done, it is the theatre that got his complete loyalty. "Theatre is my first and foremost love and the medium that gives my soul absolute satisfaction," says this 58-year-old veteran actor, who has recently completed 50 years of his acting career.
"Theatre is a medium which is complete, both in terms of giving a meaningful message and entertaining the audience at the same time", says Parvesh. "I started acting on stage at the age of seven and it helped me to grow as a person in terms of intellect and maturity," he adds.
However, the modern alternative theatres are not his style. "The abstract kind of theatre is good for critics only," says the artiste. "Plays should be both meaningful and entertaining. They should be easily understood by the common masses, takes home something meaningful and not just confusion," says Parvesh.
Parvesh has acted in more than 1,000 plays, that include a few famous ones like "Rani Jindan", "Banda Bahadur", "Chandni Chowk Ton Sirhind Tak," "Dulha Bhatti" and "Court Martial". Besides writing a few plays like "Bahurupia", "Nau Pandrah" and "Ghori Charya Kubba", Parvesh has also directed a number of plays like "Talash Ik Aurat Di," "Khada Peeta Barbad Keeta" and "Chhatarian".
The Punjabi feature films and teleserials in which he has acted make an impressive list too. "Though I have performed all sorts of roles, the roles of a comedian and that of a villain are my strong forte," says Parvesh. "I like comedy because I love to make people laugh," he says. Then why villains? "Because I have the perfect voice and beady eyes to play the role of a villain," says he making his eyes roll in such a way that makes you shiver. And it was his throaty voice that got him the opportunity to dub in the Hollywood made film "Jesus".
His name has already been familiar with the audience nationwide with his performance in TV serials like "Ulta Pulta", "Flop Show", "Wanted Gurdas Mann Dead or Alive," "Bad Boy" and Punjabi feature films like "Guru Manio Granth", "Shaheed Udham Singh" and e-Mohabbat". His forthcoming serials include "Ghacha Macha" and "Heer Ranjha".
Parvesh is equally adept at applying stage makeup. "Stage makeup is a tricky art that requires the science of reading the natural lines of the body, skin tones, and above all the character one has to play on the stage," he says. Parvesh who was lured to the art of makeup during his childhood days, narrates his first lesson in stage makeup when with the golden threads of maize and adhesives he used to make mustaches for his friends.
"I started as an amateur makeup artiste for my co-actors in plays, but later I got a chance to improve my skill by observing Indo Ghosh, a famous makeup artiste who teaches this art in the National School of Drama," he reveals.
So what does he do when he is not acting, writing or putting on makeup? "Cooking," comes the easy reply. So refined is his cooking skill that Sanjeev Kapoor in a recent cooking contest held in Chandigarh declared him one of the best cooks in the city.
last, people speak
Now we have heard George Bush so many times, speaking tough cowboy language, and Tony Blair a mixture of stiff upper lip and charm and sudden glimpses of Osama bin Laden and company wearing modern watches and apparently passing on codes by wiggling their fingers, not to speak of the General-President next door going on and on about Kashmir, and the Israelis spouting venom about Palestine that at times the eternal experts on every possible national and international channel holding forth ad nauseum almost seemed a relief.
No more. At long last, we are getting some genuine men and women in the street, in bombed huts in Afghanistan, rioters in Karachi, immigrants speaking in pucca British accents in London and Birmingham telling the British government exactly where they get off and schoolchildren in Delhi giving their views on September 11 and after. And it is quite a revelation, In fact, far more revealing than the experts.
First the BBC’s Panorama, shot largely in Birmingham and London, where Muslims who are British citizens voiced their views on the current situation. First there were heads of mosques who wore caps which looked as if they were straight out of Okhla, except that they wore trousers and had very modern watches like Osama. They spoke in such British accents that if one shut one’s eyes one could imagine them to be several generation white British. But the young mullah’s oration inside a mosque in Birmingham with the sets filled with immigrants in suits could well have been by the mullahs who also speak, but in broken English in the BBC news, but from Islamabad or Karachi. Its sentiments were the same, except that it was in pucca English. It strongly condemned both the USA and Britain in strong terms, mentioning their alleged bias towards Israel and against the Palestinians. The women in the protest marches on the streets of London were dressed, with their heads covered, like the one or two orthodox women students I saw in Aligarh at the Women’s College some months ago, and they spoke in equally orthodox terms about the attack on their religion and how America was to blame for the September 11 attack.
Cut to the poor bombed villagers outside Kandahar and Kabul, courtesy the Western media on their Taliban-conducted tour of destruction by the American bombers. Their agonised sentiments, in spite of cynicism by the media about the statistics of the dead not matching the number of graves, were genuine, as were the wails of the fleeing mothers with dying children at the Pakistan border.
Then to the people on the street in Pakistan. There were very articulate young men but hardly any women voicing their views, although the way they pushed their way through to the cameras and often laughed in triumph when they made it made us a little cynical too. But the religious leaders, in both Urdu and English, knew how to use the media and went to town. Pity our media did not go to town by interviewing the moderates and intellectuals amongst the Muslim community in India who number far more than Pakistan’s population. Indian channels only picked up the pro-Pakistani fanatics in Kashmir because they make the most noise and mostly left it at that.
Then we came to the schoolchildren of Delhi. I might remind readers that during Communist days, the Soviet government made a strict rule that any toys advocating violence were banned. So Russian toy shops did not sell toy guns, swords, tanks and other weapones of war and violence. I have no idea if that still holds good in Russia, but I would certainly recommend the measure to every nation on earth.
But all the same, I admired the sophistication and intelligence of the sentiments, about September 11 and after, voiced by schoolchildren, even if I was dismayed by the trauma caused to children in Afghanistan after the bombings, and teachers in India mentioning the psychological effects, as have teachers and parents in the USA and elsewhere on children growing up in an adult world which seems to have gone insane and terror has become a way of life.