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Kala Kahani’s Magazine

South Asian Arts and Literature



Spring 09

Charnwood Arts 31 Granby Street Loughborough Leicestershire LE11 3DU 01509 821035

Editor and Writer Raakhee Modha

Project Manager Rebecca Abrahams

Technical Designer/Publisher Manuela De Castro

Technical Support Anthony Parkes

Photographer Front Cover Kajal Nisha Patel

The views expressed by contributors to Kala Kahani’s Rangoli magazine are not necessarily those of the staff or trustees of Charnwood Arts

Kala Kahani is a Charnwood Arts project funded by Arts Council East Midlands. Charnwood Arts is an independent community organisation and a registered arts and educational charity (number 505977). The work of Kala Kahani is the promotion and appreciation of specifically South Asian arts and literature. All text, articles and images submitted for the Kala Kahani’s Rangoli magazine are the property of individual authors and no part of this magazine may be reproduced without the express permission of the authors or Charnwood Arts.


Rangoli a kala kahani magazine

CONTENTS A Forum with the Editor


The Darbar Festival


An Insight into the South Asian Classical Music Heritage

Darbar’s Music Retreat


East Meets West

Sitar Virtuoso - Purbayan Chatterjee


Purbayan adds Immense Excitement into India’s Classical Music Heritage

Collection Of Poetry - Shayari Ki Mehfil


Dr. Satyam Shika Moorty -My House of Hope Amitabh Mitra -Gwalior 1 and Gwalior 2 Sweta Srivastava Vikram -Gift of Writing Hafiza Nilofar Khan -Apno Ke Naam/For my Own Ones Rumjhum Biswas -After the Passing of my Father Bharat B. Trivedi -The Homecoming

Fine Art and Sculpture - Sukhjeven Chumber


Ideologies of Coincidences and Symbols Rooted in Eastern Philosophy

Photography - Prantik Mazumder


The Travelling Photographer

Bangladeshi Folk Music - Bhatiali


Nostalgic Memories of Bangladeshi Folk Songs by Prantik Mazumder

Writer’s Corner


An Interview with Quirky Co-writers, Sheetal and Rajvee Vyas

Visual Artist - Sumit Sarkar


A Modern Interpretation of Hindu Gods

Kala Kahani Recommends Links



A FORUM WITH THE EDITOR Editor’s Greeting ‘Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.’ Albert Einstein From an unfathomable vision, to the launch of its first edition last summer, Rangoli has received remarkable feedback and support from its national and international readers. Fully charged with creative excitement and a growing branch of Kala Kahani, Rangoli hopes to submerge its audiences into the culturally vibrant and dynamic content collated in the second issue. Our feature articles, give exposure to the prestigious Darbar International Festival, held annually in various cultural cities across the UK. Effortlessly attracting the finest South Asian Classical Musicians, the festival hosts extraordinary performances, from some 20 traditions, enchanting and transporting its audiences to the far corners of the subcontinent. ‘Darbar’s Music Retreat-East Meets West’ gives an exclusive insight into one of Darbar’s pioneering programmes, where distinguished world class musicians rigorously train and develop rising classical artists, from the UK.

Rangoli a kala kahani magazine

A regular solo and collaborative performer at Darbar, Purbayan Chatterjee’s breath taking sound embodies a unique blend, reminiscent of Pandit Nikhil Bannerjee’s style interlaced with Purbayan’s own contemporary virtuosity. Hailed as one of the most promising Sitar players of his generation, Purbayan tells Rangoli about his disciplined musical upbringing and his views on fusion music. Birmingham-based fine artist Sukhjeven Chumber transports us into the depths of his vivacious mind as he unveils his interpretations, using a plethora of creativity. Sukhjeven is motivated by Eastern philosophy based on coincidences, profound symbolism, and his personal meditation. Sukhjeven’s most recent work utilises sculptures to investigate complex layers within his identity. His exhibition portfolio includes Brick Lane’s Studio 95, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Walsall New Art Gallery. New York-based Research Scientist Prantik Mazumder, a reflexive and intuitive travel photographer, explains how he arduously captures moments of magic, inspired by the cultural idiosyncrasies of a place, its people and its dynamism. Prantik explores a particular image taken in his birthplace, Calcutta, which triggers nostalgic memories of Bhatiali folk songs; the music of Bangladeshi fishermen. Successful designer, illustrator, and curator, Sumit Sarkar adds Visual Art to his personal repertoire. Sumit’s work ranges from fantastical characters of his KrikSix world, to his modern interpretations of the Hindu Gods. Sumit’s childhood fixation with stories of the Gods, combined with his creative fascination, animate a refreshing perspective on Hindu Mythology. Quirky co-writers and sisters Sheetal and Rajvee Vyas contribute to our ‘Writer’s Corner’, in this edition of Rangoli. Through the Theatre Writing Partnership, the siblings have showcased two plays, ‘Mucky Boots’ and ‘The Cursed Blessing’, at Nottingham’s Lakeside Arts Centre. The pair collaboratively write novels, plays and poetry, bringing influences from famous childhood stories, thrillers and the urban underground music scene. Sheetal and Rajvee’s work reflects their magnetic connection, and exudes an alluring vibe, which is a unique feature of the co-writing partnership. Following international requests for literary submissions, our Poetry Collection- Shayari Ki Mehfil weaves together a myriad of talent within the South Asian Literary scene. I extend gratitude to our contributors: Amitabh Mitra, Sweta Srivastava Vikram, Dr. Satyam Sikha Moorty, Bharat B. Trivedi, Hafiza Nilofar Khan and Rumjhum Biswas, for sharing their profound experiences. I anticipate their work will invoke a deep and introspective journey within each one of you. Every edition of Rangoli is defined by the brush of evolutionary artists articulating their passionate energies in a most inimitable style, swaying our understanding of many worlds, both seen and unseen. Come, bring your colour and infuse with this rising force!

Raakhee Modha EDITOR



QUESTIONS TO THE EDITOR Q: At a recent conference I heard Ian Jack, novelist and writer for the Guardian, and co-founder of the Independent on Sunday, refer to Salman Rushdie as ‘a monument to South Asian writing.’ Would you agree with this statement? Sapna Patel, Berkshire

© Kajal Nisha Patel

Raakhee: I am currently reading the 1981 Booker prize winning, second novel from Salman Rushdie, which also won the Booker of Booker in 1993 and 2008, for the best novel in the 25 and 40 year history of the award. I have not read any of Rushdie’s work prior to this yet I have always been intrigued by the controversy surrounding his literature. Born and brought up in Mumbai, Rushdie has been honoured with prestigious awards globally and his writing has influenced a generation of established and aspiring authors - these achievements alone are monumental and cannot be ignored. However I feel Rushdie’s readers come from highly educated backgrounds and I am not sure how accessible his work is to the wider South Asian diaspora, which is a criterion I would use to judge a writer’s contribution. Q: Do you feel the tag ‘South Asian Writing’ is a useful or valid term? Should it only be used to categorise writers from the subcontinent? There is a school of thought which feels this terminology encourages nostalgia for the ‘Homeland.’ I would be interested to know what you think. Rekesh Chauhan, Northampton Raakhee: I feel it is inevitable a writer’s upbringing shapes the way they perceive the world, even the way they express emotions, which I imagine naturally translates into the writing. If nostalgia creates a great piece of literature how can we discourage this? I believe categorisation is a useful way of organising mass volumes of information and our libraries prove this. Personally, I feel the tag can be used for the purpose of collating work. For example if we place books under the title of ‘South Asian Writers’, are we to assume they are all nostalgic renditions of colonial India? The real question is whether the label ‘South Asian Writers’ puts authors at a disadvantage in terms of achieving success and if the general consensus is ‘yes’, then we really should be debating this issue.

Rangoli a kala kahani magazine

Q: I recently completed my first novel and have had problems finding a Publisher willing to invest in me. I am now considering ‘self publishing’ as I believe I have a real future in the literary world. Do you feel self publishing is ‘vanity publishing’ for those with little talent, or should I pursue this route if finances allow? Ryan George, Bristol

Raakhee: Of course you should be a champion of your own work! I really feel inner selfbelief is the first step to success. If finances allow, self-publishing can be a great way to gauge public opinion. However, I would advise caution at this point and ask you to be realistic before you invest. Circulate your work to readers and gather constructive criticism before proceeding. Use any literary connections you have and submit draft copies of your work to writing groups for critical review. We interviewed Preethi Nair in our first edition, who self-published under a pseudo name. I would urge you to read her background and contact her for advice? All the best! Q: One of my favourite books is ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini and I have also seen the film. In my opinion the use of Pashto by the actors gives the motion picture tremendous depth and added emotion. Do you feel this adds weight to your argument regarding translated works (Rangoli Spring 2008)? Simran Sandhu, Brent Raakhee: Mainly set in Afghanistan, ‘The Kite Runner’ is a beautiful piece of writing and I have also seen the film adaptation of the book. I feel expressions and non-verbal cues form a large part of our communication. I do not speak Pashto and I have limited understanding of Afghani culture yet I was completely absorbed into the book and captivated by the film. In my opinion, when we keep art authentic we leave our lives behind for a few hours and get a glimpse of someone else’s world. I enjoy this process of transformation and walking away with heightened awareness of new cultures. I do believe this adds weight to my argument regarding translated work (refer to Rangoli Spring Edition 2008). Q: A majority of South Asian literature is written by authors brought up and educated in the West, within affluent families. I am interested in taking part in a programme, which sponsors and promotes writing by under privileged and struggling writers, from the subcontinent. Do you know of any such programme? Vinoth Iyer, Solihull Raakhee: This is a very interesting view point, and to a certain extent, I expect it is true; certainly in the case of authors such as Mohsin Hamid, Preethi Nair, Meera Syal, Khaled Hosseini and Kiran Desai. However, I admire your good intentions and I can recommend several volunteering organisations, with dedicated projects in India. The most prominent group is Indicorps ( The British Council ( supports educational assignments in India, with a focus on literature. Alternatively, with a little research, you could take the initiative and apply for funding from organisations such as the Arts Council England ( or the Paul Hamlyn Foundation (, and create a project yourself. Let me know how you get on!



Š Darbar 2008

Rangoli a kala kahani magazine


THE DARBAR FESTIVAL An Insight into the South Asian Classical Music Heritage Words | Raakhee Modha The Darbar International Festival, held annually in various cultural cities across the UK, is a tribute to the late and talented Tabla player Bhai Gurmit Singh Virdee and features an impressive selection of accomplished South Asian artists and rising stars. Participating artists are given a rare opportunity to show their respect and appreciation for their peers, whilst engaging with the public, during the awe inspiring and soul stirring recitals. The festival immerses classical music lovers into a world which unleashes a treasure chest of graceful melodies, blended with complex contemporary rhythms and enchanting mystical vocals; all deeply rooted in Asian Classical Heritage. The Darbar Festival attracts a vibrant crowd, whether one is cultured in the riches of South Asian classical music or simply intrigued.

Last year’s event boasted an impressive collection of over 35 artists from the UK and abroad, representing some 20 traditions. This year, performances were held in London, Leicester, Gateshead, Dewsbury, Nottingham, Cobham and Birmingham. The Leicester event was hosted at the Curve, a brand new contemporary theatre, in the heart of the city. Highly respected and championed by the artists, this festival is an exceptional privilege and one not to be missed!


DARBAR’S MUSIC RETREAT East Meets West Words | Raakhee Modha Rangoli is granted access to Darbar’s intensive classical music retreat (shivir), an event which brings the South Asian gurushishya (teacher-student) method of learning to the UK, allowing promising Indian classical artists to develop skills over an intense period of training... The venue, a Victorian style building, is the intimate setting for this shivir. To the left of the entrance taals (rhythms) from an array of Tablas pierce through the room’s wooden doors. In the room, students sit in a semi-circle poised on Yogesh Samsi, India’s renowned accompaniment and solo Tabla player. As they sensitively tune into Yogesh’s musical instructions, the students engross themselves in relentless and repetitive practice. In the adjacent room, Ajay Joglekar, an outstanding Harmonium player, explains in great detail the classical method of learning a chord sequence. Dharambir Singh, one of England’s most prominent Sitar players, and Nina Virdee, UK’s leading exponent of Kirana Gharana style of classical singing, along with two other students, listen attentively. Across the corridor the melodious sounds of the Sitar penetrate the atmosphere. Sitar maestro Purbayan Chatterjee lends his expertise, helping students reconnect with their instrument. It is refreshing to see a mixture of musicians, both from Indian and non-Indian backgrounds. Above the grand staircase, singing in different scales of a particular raaga (melody) hurriedly carries photographer Kajal Nisha Patel and I to its beautiful source. The enchanting and effortless vocals of Kaushiki Chakrabarty, disciple and daughter of the eminent vocalist Ajoy Chakrabarty, reverberate through all the students and around the room.

Rangoli a kala kahani magazine


Š Darbar 2008


© Kajal N isha Patel

We find ourselves in the midst of a spontaneous question and answer session, where aspiring artists are given the opportunity, amongst the revered teachers, to delve deeper into the classical music heritage and its place in the contemporary music scene. The discussion begins with Sandeep Virdee, one of the founders of Darbar, asking how the accompaniment of Tabla has changed over the years. Purbayan distinguishes between the previous generations and the current trend. Wit and an element of interactivity between an accompaniment and a musician is more prevalent in recent times according to him, and the duty of an accompaniment is to enhance the drama of the main music, where the rise and fall of his or her contribution matches the lead musician. Purbayan highlights that audiences have begun to realise less is more and musicians should only demonstrate a few tricks from their repertoire, to maintain a level of heightened suspense. The teachers are asked to evaluate their experience of the shivir. Purbayan and Kaushiki contrast the eastern and western styles of learning. From their experiences and findings, the Indian method is to feel the subject first and then analyse it. In western training the reverse is the case. Kaushiki’s training involved heavy repetition until the music was in her system and once she succeeded, she searched for the technique. Kaushiki does not undermine the severity of training in the west, she merely points out both styles are distinct in their approach, although from a teacher’s perspective, she believes the western and Indian vocal training techniques are conflicting. Kaushiki candidly states complete surrender as well as an element of sacrifice is required from the student during the initial stage of training, and those who question this rigour are antagonising a time tested process. Purbayan believes in order to gain the best of both worlds one needs to know what to analyse and when to analyse. Following recent trends in classically trained Indian musicians forming groups, some even lending their talent to the Indian film industry, the discussion flows towards the topic of crosscultural fusion music. All of the teachers vehemently stress the importance of being a great solo artist first before diverting towards other projects. Purbayan uses Zakir Hussain’s fusion band Shakti, a successful cross-over group, to illustrate the

© Kajal N isha Patel

Rangoli a kala kahani magazine

point. He feels that each member of the band is a great solo artist in their own right. Purbayan does not suggest this to be the only driving factor for success. He also stresses the need for artists to develop projects and explore their creative medium where they leave behind some of their creativity for posterity. Yogesh chooses to perform in classical concerts over fusion music. His concerns rest with the distractive elements of fusion music for classical students. Yogesh feels even in India semi-mature classical students explore the fusion genre and lose their classical roots. Kaushiki adds that students can get egotistical about their performances as fusion artists, giving them a false sense of proficiency. She stresses the importance of riyaz (practice) in Indian classical training. The corporate dynamics in India give students, who are not ready, opportunities to perform live on stage, Purbayan adds, therefore students are not motivated to spend five years in classical training, which is a minimum requirement. Sandeep expresses the rarity of Indian classical musicians with depth and discipline. He recounts a story where he asked Bahauddin Dagar, a Rudra Veena maestro, why he had not released a recording of a particular raaga. At the time Bahauddin explained he could only find a few routes to the raaga. Once a 100 routes are found, perhaps in 10 years time, he will have the conviction he has covered most paths to that raaga.

© Darbar 2008

However, using the successful collaboration between George Harrison and Ravi Shankar as an example, Purbayan believes fusion music has had a significant impact towards popularising Indian classical music globally. Interestingly, in defence of fusion music, Dharambir traces the roots of the Tabla back to the fusion of the Pakhawaj and Nagara. When asked whether it is the prerogative of a professional musician to do more classical or fusion concerts, Kaushiki emphasises it is a choice. Students are keen to know at what point in their training they should start learning from different teachers. Using her personal experience, Kaushiki expresses the need for students to stay with one teacher for a few years, at least 10 years if possible. Students can only seek knowledge from a variety of teachers, once they know what they need to learn. Dedication and regularity in practice is necessary for an aspiring classical Indian musician. A major concern for the teachers is the lack of time UK students dedicate towards their practice. Yogesh Samsi advices frequent attendance of Shivirs and regular trips to India if classical artists wish to further their growth. Born and brought up in the west, Nina Virdee inspires the audience with her journey as a classical Indian vocalist. She re-iterates the difficulties of western life and the lack of support an artist can face from family and friends. Nina empathises with students who

© Darbar 2008

13 cannot make regular trips to India. The key, in her experience, is to find the ‘right’ guru. Nina made regular trips to India and the times she was unable to go, she sent vocal recordings to her guru on a weekly basis, which Nina received back within a week, with corrections she needed to make. Through breathing techniques, from Operatic singers in the UK, Nina also learnt voice projection and delivery. Passion, perseverance and dedication allowed Nina to accomplish her dreams against the obstacles. Sandeep ends the session on this positive note and urges the nourished students to resume their afternoon riyaz. Attending the Shivir, Rangoli is able to gain an insight into the difficulties UK born aspiring classical artists face. Just a few days into the retreat, students are able to establish a solid classical foundation, cultivate and understand the rigour necessary in their personal practice, whilst connecting to a community which shares their struggles and aspirations. Darbar serves as an inspiration and provides a unique opportunity for UK based artists, to explore their creative medium, whilst preserving the incredible tradition of Indian classical music. Rangoli would like to thank Kulbir Natt, Sandeep Virdee, all of the Darbar team, the students and especially the eminent teachers, for allowing us the rare privilege of attending the Shivir.

© Darbar 2008


SITAR VIRTUOSO - PURBAYAN CHATTERJEE The Interview Words & Interview | Raakhee Modha

© Kajal Nisha Patel

Born in 1976 and already described as one of the brightest and most promising Sitar players of his generation, Purbayan Chatterjee adds immense excitement and longevity into India’s classical music heritage. His background is imbued in the classical music tradition. Purbayan’s journey began at the tender age of four, under the tutelage of his gifted father Shri Parthapratim Chatterjee, disciple of late Pandit Nikhil Bannerjee and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Purbayan received vocal training from the renowned Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty and made his first public appearance at the age of nine. A regular participant of music festivals globally, attending some of the most prestigious venues, Purbayan is highly regarded as a solo and collaborative artist, whilst also lending his expertise in teaching a new generation of musicians. His breath taking sound embodies a unique blend, reminiscent of Pandit Nikhil Bannerjee’s style interlaced with Purbayan’s own inimitable contemporary virtuosity. He has successfully collaborated with distinguished maestros resulting in numerous recordings and albums. Purbayan’s classical Indian group, Shastriya Syndicate, fuses traditional sounds of North and South India, presenting diverse compositions with inventive vigour. Rangoli interviews Purbayan Chatterjee at the Darbar retreat.

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R: Are all aspects of your life connected to music? PC: “No, I have many different interests in my life. I have a lot of technology around me, like my laptop and my phones. I am a big movie buff! But yes, music is number one and it is important to get your priorities right.”

R: Is this the first time you have taken part in the Darbar Shivir? PC: “Yes in this particular Shivir for Darbar. I have been involved with teaching in the UK, for about seven years. I have taught in many other countries also.”

R: So, you are used to this environment. Is there anything that surprises you here? PC: “I am surprised by the standard of the students here and a lot of credit has to be given to Sandeepji and Dharamveerji. The Tabla students are of such a high standard that they are almost at performance level!”

R: Unlike India, in the West we do not have a gurukul system. Do you notice any differences in the quality of the musicians here compared to the musicians in India? PC: “In India, the real gurukul system is almost nonexistent. I am talking about the scenario where the student lives with the guru and is fed and clothed by him. The western life is very different; people here are busy and they lead parallel lives to their music. It is not a part of their life; even the day-to-day business is more complicated because people have to do everything by themselves, whereas in the east we have help. I think there is potential, especially in a country like the UK, to develop a gurukul system parallel to the ones in India. One thing is for sure, the basic principles of the gurukul institution need to be there for the propagation of teaching. There really is no substitute for this.”

© Kajal Nisha Patel


R: What are the differences in the experience of a solo and an ensemble performance? Do you need to have both to grow as a musician? PC: “I have been taught and groomed to be a soloist so my performance and teachings reflect this. I think it is very important for every musician, especially in the present times, to lend his or her creativity in the form of compositions/projects, which he can visualise; for example putting two or three musicians together. I will use Miles Davis to illustrate my point. He was phenomenal musician and put together some great ensembles, which I feel is one of the main reasons why he is still remembered today. This trend has now started in India. When I perform in a solo concert, I know I am in the driver’s seat and I can plan the performance according to my needs. Ensemble concerts are very much centred on teamwork; a musician cannot lose himself in his own flow. An artist has to tune into the demands of that particular situation, and the latest trends in music. The ensemble performance has to have phased layers of sound... so within the group, there is tremendous coordination amongst the artists. One needs to rehearse and have a lot of mixed material. These are just some of the differences.”

R: How do you feed off your audience? Do they become part of the performance? PC: “The performance of Indian music is very much an interactive process between the artist and his audience. When the artist performs on stage it is almost like he’s talking to the audience and by their reaction they communicate back. It could be a verbal gesture like ‘wah wah’ or even just a nod of the head. The artist is always expecting this dialogue and any appreciation inspires the best in him or her. There could be a lot of clapping, but all in the wrong places, and that would put the musician off. If I was playing say in the Sydney Opera house, I would expect a very knowledgeable, cosmopolitan audience who are familiar with the music. On the contrary, I played a classical concert in Nice, which took place in a church, amidst an attentive audience, who were completely poised on my performance. To me, this level of concentration was respectful to my art and rewarding in itself.”

Kajal Nisha Patel: A scientist friend of mine conducted an experiment where eastern and western audiences were exposed to a piece of classical music and the two groups had a different experience of the sound. Do you notice this? I will elaborate my point, I have always grown up with Indian classical music so when I listen to it, I feel like I am embarking on a journey... PC: “It is interesting that you use the word journey because I have called one of the pieces on my album, A Journey Within; it could be a journey within your own soul, or it could be a journey within India. There is an expectation of transcendentalism in Indian music and that’s all true, I mean our music is very spiritual by its nature; it is definitely very exploratory and the artist himself is going on a journey. But one should keep in mind that sometimes an audience’s perception of this spirituality is a preset notion of this transcendentalism and they can be disillusioned or

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Š Darbar 2008


Cont. disappointed. First of all, going on a journey is as much the audience’s responsibility, as it is the artist’s and secondly, whilst the music itself is very spiritual and has all those elements, it is also entertaining. I performed at the jazz festival, in Madrid, and a guy came up to me to say ‘You are the Jimmy Hendrix of the Sitar’. In his compliment I could understand that this person had no preconceived ideas about Sitar music. He was just looking at technique.”

R: You started training at the age of five. Was it important to create a spiritual foundation within your practice? PC: “Yes, it was. Spirituality is a thing which has many layers of definition. It is very much like the word romance. When we say a raaga (a melody) is very romantic in a very sensual way, it could also mean romantic in a very spiritual way. The rigour of our training cultivates a strict discipline. This method itself teaches you to be very submissive. When your guru teaches, his word is the law and part of the discipline is to do your riyaz (practice) everyday without asking too many questions. I think these things teach you to be very spiritual. In a situation, where you are trying a phrase or a note or you are trying to pick up a composition and you just cannot master it, you give it up to God; you think I will just keep trying until something comes... like a moment of inspiration. I think just that very mindset breeds a lot of spirituality and that pain of not being able to achieve something and continuously exploring within a raaga is a way of looking inward. These elements are present in Indian music but they are also there in all forms of music. Let me expand on this...when Mozart, Beethoven, or Bach were composing, they had the same feelings. The discipline of sitting down with your instrument every day is spiritual; there is a connection between you and the instrument, almost, like a communion with God because it is a medium where you are lending all your emotions and feelings quite selflessly. You are not doing it to gain something. When an artist sits on stage he does not think that ‘I’m getting paid less for this performance, so I will play less’. You sit on stage, and once the connection happens with the instrument then you are lost.”

© Kajal Nisha Patel

Rangoli a kala kahani magazine

R: I wanted to know your thoughts about fusion music... PC: “These days everything is, clothes, music.... I love fusion music when it is well researched, comes from a solid point of inspiration, where good chemistry is shared amongst the collaborators, and the central idea of the project has some substance. Then it can be a very good. Unfortunately, I do feel there is a lot fusion going on for the sake of fusing two art forms together, which does not always work. To be a good fusion composer or fusion artist you need to be a great classical artist first. For a chef to cook really good fusion food, he needs to know the ingredients for both styles of food only then can he really bring out the flavours. It is really an amalgamation of two things. Similarly, in fusion music this understanding is also very necessary. Another important note: if you are part of a fusion ensemble, it is necessary to remain true to your roots. I have regularly performed in many ensembles, with a lot of international musicians, but I always try to remember that they are calling me because I am a Sitar player. They want to hear a Sitar, not a Guitar; they do not want to hear my Sitar sounding like a Guitar. People called Miles Davis to play Saxophone or John MacLauchlan to play Guitar, to hear these instruments in their original flavour. So one has to remember that in our earnest interest to cross over or to do things which are different from what we do, there is a very strong urge or an unconscious tendency to leave our roots behind or to go against them.”

R: Do you feel you have preserved the authenticity of what you do?

PC: “Yes, even within the structure of fusion ensembles. I worked on a project called World of Strings, bringing together String players from all over the globe, such as China and Holland. My role, in this particular ensemble, was to give a flavour of India. If I did not live up to this role and I had played like a jazz Guitarist, I would be defeating the basic purpose of the project. The challenge is to search for common ground amongst the international artists and work with this thread. Fortunately Indian music is very universal, which is a real advantage for Indian musicians. The rhythm and melodies speak the language of many varying musical genres.”

R: And finally what are your thoughts on the Darbar Festival?

PC: “The kind of atmosphere I m seeing here is phenomenal! Especially in terms of the teachers, all of whom are very dear friends of mine. I have heard many great praises from musicians who have been here in the past and it has truly been a long time since I had such a good time. I am simply letting myself go, just intensively focusing on music, without constant phone interruptions!”




Dr. Satyam Shika Moorty -My House of Hope Amitabh Mitra -Gwalior 1 and Gwalior 2 Sweta Srivastava Vikram -Gift of Writing Hafiza Nilofar Khan -Apno Ke Naam/For my Own Ones Rumjhum Biswas -After the Passing Away of my Father Bharat B. Trivedi -The Homecoming

Dr. Satyam Shika Moorty

Dr. Moorty’s poetry has been recited and published in India, Moldova, the U.S.A., and Bulgaria.

My House of Hope by Dr. Satyam Shika Moorty I made my hope a house Roofed with beams of love, Carpeted with colors of affection, Draped with fabrics of goodwill; But fools stubbornly refuse To admire my simple affluence.

Rangoli a kala kahani magazine


Amitabh Mitra

Amitabh Mitra is a poet, artist, publisher and a medical doctor based in East London and South Africa. In September 2008, ‘Tonight, An Anthology of World Love Poetry’ edited by Amitabh, was launched at the World Literature Festival in Oslo.

Gwalior 1

Gwalior 2

by Amitabh Mitra

by Amitabh Mitra

Another day I came to see you After many deserts Had cut into many a season And an insanity As old as the tamarind tree Had redrawn its borders As is this road By an ugly coated Tar Only afternoon of summers survived The once massacre Stretching it far to me Friday prayers in the same mosque Hold years brittle of hope I bow my head to an avenging storm You knew I will come If only to peep Inside musty shadows If only to hold you Shameless In suffused Silence If only to smell The surge In glee In abandon. With you Again.

Let me go I had told you then Your smile unleashed a sea In the ravines Palaces were swept off To a distant sky And a painted afternoon burnt the fort For ever Yes, we must all leave, you concluded The reign has finally ended To a long summer that had once brought us together Birds that had flown off somewhere Our kisses stayed only with hurts Breathing against ageless stones And a rainbow that climbed an arid bastion Leaped to escape a promised Another day.


Sweta Srivastava Vikram

Sweta Srivastava Vikram is a poet, writer, and communications professional living in New York City. In 2008, she published her first book of poems, ‘Pabulum’.

Gift of Writing by Sweta Srivastava Vikram Words can’t begin to describe, What I feel for you and how indebted I am to thee. As I jog, down my memory lane and reminisce about my fondest memories, I discern you were the sole element, consistently present in all of them. My persona, in innumerable ways, is a reflection of you, I learnt the essence of life under your purview. Of all the things I am grateful for, The gift of writing is incomparable. Without words, you can understand what would be my plight, Dad, I would be like a humming bird, without tune or a flight.


Rangoli a kala kahani magazine

Hafiza Nilofar Khan

Published writer and poet, Hafiza Nilofar Khan is currently translating Selina Hossain’s fiction ‘Anobic Andhar’(Atomic Darkness) from Bangla to English.

Apno Ke Naam by Hafiza Nilofar Khan Chale the qafle ke saath Hazaron hasrat godh liye Jane kese peeche reh gaye Tariq-e-hayat mor liye? Kaise karte sunnate ka shiqwa? Bheerd ka her ek chehra apna tha.

For My Own Ones Translated by Hafiza Nilofar Khan As part of a caravan I had embarked upon a journey Bagging along a thousand aspirations -Somewhere, somehow my steps slackened And I found myself submerged In a pool of desolation.

Raye qaem karte kaise? Her rishtey ka lihaz jo karna tha.

But with whom could I register My complaints of isolation? All the faces in the crowd Bore my own reflection.

Ghari kye phisulti rahi Iqrar-r-mutmaini barhti gai Adakaari ka hunr jo sikh liya Dushman ki bhi ghalti sudharti gai.

How could I be judgemental When time demanded That I nurtured unconditional Respect for each relation?

Qafla beshaq agey barhta rahe Mujhe qabar ka thikana mil gaya Abh Khuda se khudgarzi karun gi Jis ne patthar ki jage ye dil diya.

So with the slipping away of each hour My pledges of atonement gained power As I mustered the art of acting Even my enemies rectified their error. Let the caravan proceed on For the grave is my destination And it is time to be selfish with the One Who installed a heart Where there should have been a stone.


Rumjhum Biswas

Based in India, Rumjhum Biswas’s prose and poetry have been published in ‘Words-Myth’, ‘Muse India’, ‘Eclectica’, ‘The King’s English’, ‘Arabesques Review’, and ‘Poems Niederngasse’, both online and in print.

After the Passing Away of my Father by Rumjhum Biswas After death’s ceremony there is numbness After funeral’s festivity there is stillness Afterwards, when the house has emptied, they arrive A long and loyal line of days, to follow you around Twilight days to softly follow you around, mother Sentries of quietude - a river of boundless, soundless solitude So tell me mother, when your eyes against your will Peer back into the past and your tired hands swat At another intruding memory bouncing on that net Of emptiness - a fly caught in a cobweb When you, so alone in your quiet home Mother, will you still be the stoic, then? Tell me, how much of grief can a human heart Store beneath the lid of a tranquil face?


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Bharat B. Trivedi

Bharat B. Trivedi’s writing style combines powerful imagery with a sprinkle of melancholy, strongly influenced by his belief that life is a pendulum swaying between a tear and a smile.

The Homecoming by Bharat B. Trivedi Sometimes in distant foreign lands, when pangs of loneliness caress me with the forgotten love and eerie solitude smothers me with gloomy affection then I blow the dust of time gathered on my mind’s chronicle bearing the tag “Home Sweet Home” and carry the excess-baggaged burden of my recollections from the past. I still recall our sad parting when your tearful eyes dripped saline water which blended with the salty waters of the seven seas I had crossed once, sailing with sobbing sentiments in a stone-hearted ship. After my nimble departure how the streets in my hometown were deserted, and prickly cactus plants spawned from the rose shrubs in our garden. The age old Banyan tree had shed silent tears under its gregarious shade, where wailing peacocks dance no more

and my desolate dwelling transformed into an abandoned hoary graveyard. I long to kiss those burgundy lips of the blowing easterly winds that whisper your enamourous name while immortal memories of the whiff of my native soil and floral landscapes, snow-clad mountains and rusty desert sands, lush-green forests and sun-kissed pastures, crystal-clear streams and foam-covered beaches, cosmos of unfettered torrents and intrepid thunderbolts, milieus of gold-dusted mornings and hue-sprinkled evenings, glittering metropolitan skyline and vivid village panoramas, welcome me with their wide open benign arms to come back to my sanctimonious roots. Though I have come a long way from home far away from your sacred lands, very far from your perfect ambience but it is my heart’s desire now to end my alien life’s journey in your perpetual paradise. Hence, I will return to the emollient womb of my motherland, where I was once born…




SCULPTURE Sukhjeven Chumber

Words | Sukhjeven Chumber

“My work is based upon visually communicating ideologies of coincidences and symbols. The number 8 signifies many things to me, such as luck and good fortune, from Chinese philosophy, and when turned horizontally it transforms into the infinity symbol. In the 70’s, Carl Jung defined ‘synchronicity’ as meaningful coincidences, which I feel the iconography and philosophy reflect.

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My ideas transport me to the subconscious and subliminal level, and in this sphere I visualise a movement of various elements. I submerge into the depths of my mind, absorbing all the colours I envisage, and this journey in itself is almost spiritual. I feel we take part in activities leading us towards the idea of divinity or taking us closer to the concept of God, which in turn releases a latent positive energy. The methodology I use becomes a form of personal meditation, because I am completely engrossed in the moment. Meditation, to me, is wholly releasing oneself in the moment. The outcome of this practice subconsciously fed into my design work and one day, I realised I was creating a pattern with the number 8 and infinity. This revelation made me inquisitive about my approach, and I allowed the layers to unfold naturally instead of actively controlling the creativity. I believe my work is heavily influenced by my personal intimate experiences, which reflect very fine details. When I am articulating these undisclosed ideas and seeing them visually, the results highlight many hidden phases within my concepts. This is an explorative journey, which is still in the process of unravelling itself.

I wish to define my work through the use of colours, textures, lines, marks, and the symbolism of infinity. I have chosen red in my paintings to reflect the visions which emerge during my meditations. I see deep red almost blood-like and, to me, this depicts the sensation of depth and space I experience whilst on an inner journey. My most recent work took a slight shift as I started using colour to explore my philosophical thought processes. I investigated the truth behind the number 8, its source, how it affected my visual ideas and how this impacted my spiritual and creative journey. At present, I am dissecting my identity, as a British Asian, whilst extracting and analysing my Indian heritage. I use toys because I feel each toy has its own unique persona and invokes affectionate nostalgia within the owner. I strip the toy of its original identity and mould a new perceived personality, by coating the toy in a mixture of plaster and turmeric. Consciously, the shape and form are left intact, leaving behind only the toy’s silhouette as a point of personal internal reflection.

27 I wanted to utilise a material which was symbolic of my Indian roots. I chose turmeric based on its colour, smell and texture and mixing turmeric and plaster yielded very interesting observations, in particular how its properties evolved over time. The striking colour and odour of turmeric subsided and transformed when combined with plaster, generating a new medium. This process kept progressively repeating itself with time, and I feel this explorative work is reflective of my own identity. These questions propel my quest to seek answers, which create more questions. My vocation is solely about who I am as an individual, as an artist and my place in the world. I work spontaneously with drawings and concepts and later experiment with materials, which express or relate to the subject matter, with appropriate sensibility.”


PHOTOGRAPHY - PRANTIK MAZUMDER The Travelling Photographer Words| Prantik Mazumder “My parents originated from erstwhile East Pakistan, presently Bangladesh, and moved to Calcutta after Partition. My parents were able to integrate in the cultural milieu of Calcutta, without difficulty, and yet they maintained strong ties with their country of birth. I was born and brought up within this progressive liberal environment. After finishing my undergraduate education in Chemical Engineering, I moved to the United States, where I graduated in Materials Science and Chemical Engineering.

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I currently work in New York, as a research scientist in a major US company. While science and technology remain both a vocation and avocation for me, over the last two years, I have picked up photography as a hobby. Today, I am still at an early stage of the learning curve yet I believe I may have a deeper understanding of my relationship with photography. I am a reflexive and intuitive travel photographer. I realise my true passion is travelling and connecting with new cultures than photography per se.


When I walk the streets of a new town, I am in a heightened state of awareness and I soak up everything my immediate surroundings have to offer. I am inspired and intoxicated by the cultural idiosyncrasies of a place, its people and its dynamism. When the neurons in my brain fire, signalling something special is about to unfold, my camera tries to capture those magical moments or visuals. Photography simply reflects my arduous attempt to discover something novel in a place, which makes it singularly discerning from any other place I have travelled to before. ”


BANGLADESHI FOLK MUSIC Bhatiali Words| Prantik Mazumder “The connection to Bhatiali did not occur to me the moment I pressed the shutter of my Pentax K1000. The idea crystallized once I processed the photo. Subconsciously, the photo reminded me of words to my aunt’s songs...”

“My aunt Mrs. Geeta Choudhury, the disciple and sister-in-law of legendary folk singer Nirmalendu Choudhury, is an eminent exponent of East Bengal folk music. Through her, I was immersed in the alluring charms and mystical world of Bangladeshi folk music. Although both East and West Bengal boasted a rich folk tradition, the poignant Bhatiali songs of boatmen from Bangladesh, struck a deeper chord within me. Bhatiali is the music of fishermen and communities living along the banks of rivers. In simple and eloquent language, often in local dialects, the boatmen composed songs telling tales of daily struggles such as the simple pleasures of life, human affliction and nature’s wonders, intrinsically connected to spirituality. In a specific genre of Bhatiali, a flowing river represents the physical and spiritual qualities of life, such as the present and after-world, the bondage and freedom, and the suffering and joy. Similar to the mystic Sufi or Bhakti tradition, Bhatiali is seldom a musical expression of man’s quest to unite his soul with the Supreme Soul or God. Hence, melancholic sentiments are a frequent leitmotif of Bhatiali songs, lyrically represented as the pain of separation, where the boatmen symbolize metaphorical vehicles to ‘transcend’ this divide. Some of the most renowned composers of Bhatiali music include Abbas Uddin Ahmed, Rashid Uddin, Umed Ali, Jalal Khan and Jang Bahadur.”

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Beneath the Persian Rug

Modern Aunty Remember Girls; you’re not alone – Just holla at the Aunties – They’re sure to know! They’ve seen you naked Nick eye-liner from Boots; Promised never to tell your parents And perved at your boobs. Buzz them a call; Or whizz them a text Wallpaper on facebook, Or catch em in Next. Don’t worry, be happy They’ve been through it too, Periods, boyfriends, hang Overs; gooey puke. Whipping up a haldi paste, Threading the tash and hairy face; Aunty’s sure enough got all the tips Dance moves n all – gyrating hips. Come off it! Aunty’s only a vooman. With her blouses low cut, And sarees see through So don’t diss or be ashamed, Someday, you’ll be one too! by Sheetal and Rajvee Vyas

I lie across, tired, washed, Worn away. Stretched sideways Taut. Once a sign of class, Prestige. Eyes deceived By the rich thread; intricate Symmetry. Now drenched Dry by polluted Airs, jealous stares, Human Sins. I’m draped by The Tree of Knowledge; But also a universe full of forest Fruits; plucked and tasted. Once vermilion red, fresh, flowing Inside me lies; now dried, like saffron Thread. Swept underneath purposely, I’m masked Well. No longer light enters here. Lost in Its journey, sun’s rays search paradise Only. Not even a drop to cast me my Shadow, lie next to me, be My companion. Each footprint – Different. Bringing their clogging Vapours, heavy labours, nailing me Further into the ground. You only, leave an Imprint on my stoned heart; you whose heart has Already sunken, whilst in search For mine ashore. Only do you Come back each year, to accompany Me wither away. Only, now, you Like them and these walls Have forsaken me. I waited, Jake, but can wait no more. Mary. by Sheetal and Rajvee Vyas

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WRITER’S CORNER Interviews with Sheetal and Rajvee Vyas Words | Rebecca Abrahams

Sheetal and Rajvee Vyas are sisters and participants of Kala Kahani’s Writers Development Programme. Their work reflects a unique approach, as Sheetal and Rajvee also co-write. Rebecca Abrahams eagerly talks to them about their journey so far...

34 Sheetal Vyas Interview | Rebecca Abrahams

R: Sheetal, could you tell Rangoli a little about your background? SV: “I was born and brought up in the diverse County of Leicestershire, where I currently live with my family. My formal education includes an undergraduate and postgraduate degree in the Social Sciences. At present, I’m a Research Student at Loughborough University, and have a real passion for innovative learning. There is no doubt, innovative learning and creative thinking go hand in hand. Kala Kahani has provided a rare opportunity to integrate both of these interests of mine. I have been a member of the organisation for almost a year and so far, it has been extremely rewarding. You are able to get first hand mentoring and advice from established writers and professionals in the industry.”

R: What started the writing process for you? Sheetal Vyas SV: “To be honest, I never really considered my earlier writing experiences to be ‘creative’. As a young teenager, I was heavily influenced by the urban underground music scene, and tried to dabble in a little song writing, or should I say freestyling! I guess, for me, music has been instrumental in my writing process, as I developed a huge love for lyrical rhyme and rhythm.”

R: Do you feel your love of music has influenced your writing style? SV: “I would say my younger sister, Rajvee, has recently ignited my passion for creative writing. Since 2006, we have been writing together as a collaborative team. We take great pleasure in writing poetry and novels as well as screen-writing. Our love for theatre, and writing dialogue, has hugely contributed towards our playwriting process. We have been lucky to have two of our plays, ‘Mucky Boots’, and ‘The Cursed Blessing’, showcased at Nottingham’s Lakeside Arts Centre, through the Theatre Writing Partnership.”

R: How would you describe your writing style? SV: “This is a tough one! I try to incorporate various styles in our work. I can’t speak for Rajvee, but I’d like to think that we shake and stir our ‘creative juices’ together, (non-alcoholic, of course) and try to generate something fresh, and hopefully stay true to ourselves. My favourite styles are mock epic, and satire; especially the latter.”

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R: Who has inspired your love for writing? SV: “Quite a few people have inspired me to write. As a child, I loved listening to the talented works of Urdu and Hindi writers on the radio, such as Freda Izak, Najma Saeed, and Navinder Bhogal. Also, the gifted playwright Amanda Whittington has played a large role in the development of my playwriting. She truly is a great mentor.”

R: Do you use your own life experiences in your writing? SV: “I haven’t as of yet, but I suppose like with all writers, my feelings and emotions, especially towards something I feel strongly about, filter into my work. For example, ‘The Cursed Blessing’ is based on a family of Hijras, living in Mumbai City. The Hijra communities in India have always been an area of interest, which I wanted to explore. Both my sister and I try our hardest to write about under-represented or unexplored issues.”

R: Do you write for personal reasons or do you aspire to be a published writer? SV: “Well for me, creative writing has become somewhat of a companion, which does not seem to want to leave (yes, I include my sister in this category too). I am privileged to be working with her, and we thoroughly value the time we spend writing together. In the future, we hope to continue acquiring and developing our writing skills both personally, and professionally. It would be an amazing achievement to be able to touch and move, or at least entertain an audience/reader - even if for a split second.”

R: You work individually, and collaboratively as sisters. How does this impact the type of work you produce? SV: “Working alongside Rajvee certainly makes you keep to strict deadlines! She’s very particular about time, and I suppose I’m more laid back as an individual. Writing together can be somewhat stressful; the pressure seems double. Not only are you working for yourself but you also have a huge responsibility and commitment to the production of another person’s work. We constantly disagree on things, and therefore have to be very tolerant and open towards one another’s contributions. We share similar interests, which helps, and we spend a lot of time together. So much so, we even say the same things simultaneously and complete each other’s sentences in conversations, which I am sure many people find disturbing!”

R: I personally find it fascinating and unusual that you write ‘together.’ What reaction have you received from other writers? SV: “Thank you. Yes, the reaction has been pretty similar. They question how we are able to write together, and how we overcome the difficulties, as writing is usually a solitary process. Normally, we answer with a wide smile, and say “it’s not that bad.” We have received some great support from other writers, and industry professionals, who want us to continue working as a sibling team.”


36 Rajvee Vyas Interview | Rebecca Abrahams

R: Rajvee, can you give Rangoli a little insight into your background? RV: “I was born in 1985, into an East-African Asian family. I currently live in Leicester, with my parents, elder sister and brother. A love for literature must run in our genes – it’s infectious, and we’re completely addicted - even my 88 year-old Nan, Kusumben Raval, gets grouchy if she hasn’t had her daily dosage of reading! Formally, I have a BA in English, and I recently completed a Creative Writing M.A. Aside from university, Kala Kahani has enabled my sister and me to receive a one-to-one session with a literary agent, and we even got to meet the author Hanif Kureishi, which was fantastic!”

R: What triggered off your writing process? Rajvee Vyas RV: “I have always loved reading. As a little girl listening intently with an excited and eager ear to children’s stories was my favourite pass time. That’s all I ever wanted – to hear the sounds of words, of imaginary worlds and characters. I used to get my Mum to read Goldilocks – just for me to smell and taste the hot podgy porridge! These stories sparked my initial writing process as a child, as I loved creating scripts of dialogue, which I politely asked (bullied) my brother and sister to enact. Writing poems suddenly spurted out during my undergraduate degree, where I had to study a vast amount of poetry in various forms, and I believe this compelled me to try and create my own. Now, I cherish the opportunity to work alongside my sister, and we certainly have the task of challenging each other, as well as trying to negotiate on our creative writing.”

R: How would you describe your writing style?

RV: “I especially enjoy literary genres such as thrillers and crime. I like to experiment and try my hand at different styles of writing, and therefore, try to avoid categorising it specifically. I would like to think, and I am sure Sheetal would agree, that we would love for the audience/reader to make up their own mind as to what style they believe we are trying to convey.”

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R: Who or what inspired you to start writing? RV: “I think the process of reading inspired me to start writing. My parents too, take great pride in writing poetry, and short stories in Hindi, and Gujarati. This has been a great source of inspiration for me, as I have always been surrounded with the richness of languages and translations. Also, the critical and encouraging words of Steve Campsall, and Dr Jonathan Taylor, continue to inspire my self-belief as a writer.”

R: Do your personal life experiences influence your writing?

RV: “In some of my poetry, definitely. The personal poems are not intended for an audience (not even my sister!).”

R: Do you write for personal reasons or do you aspire to be a published writer?

RV: “I hope to pursue my writing further, and if it gets published, then that would be a dream come true. However, for now, we are overwhelmed and thankful by the motivation, and opportunities given by organisations such as Kala Kahani. Kala Kahani has provided a foundation and unique platform, to promote and showcase work for aspiring writers, like us. Sheetal and I are deeply grateful to their ongoing and invaluable support.”

R: You work individually, and collaboratively as sisters. How does this impact the type of work you produce? RV: “Writing together, I feel, has had a positive impact on our work, as we both bring something different to the creative process, and the end piece. We’re able to bounce and feed off initial, individual ideas and thoughts, and direct them into a whole new collective concept. For me, this enhances the process of writing all the more, because our end work is a unification of generated ideas. Individually, Sheetal allows me to push my inhibitions aside, and encourages me to try something new, which I perhaps may not have been comfortable to express.”

R: I personally find it fascinating and unusual that you write ‘together.’ What reaction have you received from other writers? RV: “To be honest, I also find it quite fascinating. Some of my favourite authors are co-writers and related to each other, for example, Nicci French, and it’s interesting to know how their relationship feeds in to their work. So far, other writers have shown a lot of appreciation for our collaborative work, which we are very pleased to know.”



VISUAL ARTIST - SUMIT SARKAR Shiva Nataraja: The Lord of Dance

A Modern Interpretation of Hindu Gods Words | Sumit Sarkar Interview | Raakhee Modha Visual artist Sumit Sarkar’s character-based artwork takes the form of digital artwork, canvas paintings, digital sculpture, and aerosol art. The content of Sumit’s personal work ranges from the fantastical characters of his KrikSix world, to his modern interpretation of the Hindu Gods. Sumit takes a little time away from his hectic schedule and talks to Rangoli…

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Goddess Durga: Destroyer of Demons

A designer, illustrator, and curator, Sumit Sarkar has exhibited in and around Manchester, with solo exhibitions at the Cornerhouse, Contact Theatre, Creative Consultants Gallery & Art Lounge, and the Arch Bar. His joint exhibitions with various Manchester artists include SpearďŹ sh, Doodlebug, Sketch City and Ink Tank.

Sumit is currently on a year-long Artist Residency at the Lanternhouse in Ulverston developing a new exhibition of digital sculptures focusing on his most recent work; the Hindu pantheon.

40 Sumit Sarkar Interview | Raakhee Modha

R: Who inspired/inspires you as an artist? SS: “My creative background combines the study of both fine artists and comic book artists. The artist Ryo Okamoto, who painted cartoon characters on canvas, first inspired me to realise that the two forms needn’t be mutually exclusive, and my two separate sketchbooks became one. I also take inspiration from books on Hinduism, The Transformers, comic books, film, and music...pain and thought drive my creativity.”

R: What turned your attention towards Hindu Mythology?

Saraswati: Goddess of Knowledge and Arts

SS: “A decade ago I started looking at Hindu motifs in my allegorical KrikSix work and found many similarities between its use of symbol and metaphor and those in my own work. Shortly after beginning my investigations into Hindu iconography, the main focus of my research and work turned to Hindu theology. The stories of the Gods enthralled me as much as they did when I was a child. Visually animated tales of Gods and Demons, Love and Death, Infinite Time and Space, and Meditation and Wrath, fitted in perfectly with my obsessions as an artist. They inspired me to ‘re-design’ the Gods and ‘re-imagine’ their stories in a contemporary, futuristic and universal setting according to my sensitivity.”

R: How does your work tie in with what you believe? SS: “I am irreligious and deeply spiritual in the same breath, and vice versa...a Hindu and an Agnostic…and a Librian. I don’t know what I believe, or how to express it with words. One of my favourite Hindu stories is of a demon who hated Vishnu, Preserver of the universe, so intently he cursed Vishnu’s name every day of his life. Unwittingly, through this non-intended ‘devotion’, the demon found liberation and a place in heaven.”

R: What is the purpose of your work? SS: “The purpose of my work is the same as any artist who uses religion as subject matter - it is for me, my spiritual growth and a form of expression; the art shares my beliefs with others, and offers another perspective on that which is infinite.”

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R: Who are your audiences? SS: “My intended audience is anyone who might get something out of it.”

R: Do you think art has the freedom to engage and stimulate points of discussion/debate? SS: “I create my work with love, respect and devotion, accompanied by a great deal of research and study, and in my mind my work is not controversial or disparate from traditional Hindu artwork. However I am wary of the ‘right to be offended’, i.e. one person being offended superseding the right of the artist or of free expression. While I have had emails from young Hindus praising my work, I have also had the odd angry Hindu who has found my work to be subversive or sacrilegious. Whilst I am wary of such reactions, I still welcome reaction and debate.”

R: You use diverse forms of media to create your art form. Are all of these facets an integral part of your progression as an artist? SS: “I utilise different art forms depending on the project/piece, and derive great pleasure from learning new techniques. I knew the Ananta exhibition had to be sculptural, though I had no experience of the techniques. A research and development phase taught me that my conceptions were impossible to achieve using traditional sculpture and the clear route, as with my 2D work, was to go digital. The main body for the development of Ananta has been learning digital 3D modelling techniques, and I am currently learning to animate the work, to give it life. On the analogue side, my foray into aerosol art was originally inspired when I attended Live Art events, where I painted canvases alongside graffiti artists. They would finish their pieces ahead of time, and I was still there three hours later, desperately trying to finish the work. On learning aerosol techniques, I discovered the passion for letters and the control of high-speed paint, which drives graffiti artists. It then became feasible to finish a huge wall in a day, further fuelling my zest for this technique. Then I discovered the digital equivalent of aerosol, which is quicker, more versatile and more precise. My present live art practice is live digital artwork, created using a graphics tablet and a projector. This is the very essence of my artistic practise – having an idea, needing a new or quicker art form to realise it, learning that art form, and loving it.”

Lord Ganesha: Bestower of Success and Prosperity

42 Sumit Sarkar

Lakshmi: Goddess of Luck and Fortune

R: How do you feel prior to, during, and after the live artwork?

SS: “There is a very different energy which goes into live work-you have just a few hours to create a piece, in front of a live audience. I tend not to sketch the idea before the event (lest I accidentally create the perfect version there and then). Instead, in the build up, I allow the idea to ruminate. Then adrenalin kicks in and focussed creativity takes over.”

R: Tell me about the Epic Hindu Story you want to create. What resources will you need to undertake this bold project? SS: “The ‘Epic Hindu Story’ I hope to create is an ambitious dream, and my life’s work, if it is to happen. The idea is to create five seasons of animations that tell the Hindu story, from the birth of the Gods, their mythology, their interaction with the world (i.e. the tales of The Ramayana and The Mahabharata), to the end of the Universe and its cyclical destruction. For this vision to come true, I would need a considerable team of animators, writers, musicians, actors, etc., and a budget I cannot possibly imagine!”

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Rangoli #02 ... Spring 09  

Kala Kahani's Magazine: South Asian Arts and Literature

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