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A Note From The Editor Its been 2 months and 4 issues and boy has it been fast! Visual Art is the most dynamic and versatile of arts. It encompasses years of human aesthetic evolution and packages it into something relatable, something we can see. Everything is about images. Either the images in front of us or those in our head. With Facebook buying Instagram its all the more obvious how our interactions are becoming increasingly visual. This makes it crucial to understand this world because it is slowly transcending the strict sense or art galleries and entering our everyday life. So this issue, we look into visual art that we have seen not as connoisseur of art but as people who interact with on a more mundane basis. We get up close and personal with Nandita Das (who we may remember from Deepa Nair's Water), we explore the ďŹ eld of game designing, a run through folk art we see on a daily basis but fail to recognize. All this and more on this issue of The Eye! The Eye
6. Up Close and Peronal: Nandita Das
10. Whats the deal with game designing?
8. A Run Through Folk Art Lane
18. Interviewing Indian contemporary artists Reena Kallat
14. The Story of Rock â€˜n Roll Through A 70mm Lens
Up, close and personal: Nandita Das Tanvi Hegde
You come from a literary background, bagging masters in Social work. How did acting happen? I started like everybody else does in Delhi, theater. I attended a lot of rallies, got down on the road protesting. I never expected to make it so big, but yeah always had a dream. I was sure that I didn’t want to do a certain kinds of roles, and then I auditioned for Deepa’s Fire. And the rest is history. Your activism is evident in your ﬁlm career as well – Fire, Earth, water, Bawandar. Are you too good for plain old fun cinema? Of course not! Some of the art ﬁlms are boring and pretentious and I don't want to do them as much as I don't want to do a superﬁcial mindless one the running around the trees kind." While not a proliﬁc actor by Bollywood standards ("I don't consider acting as a career, just an interest."), Nandita has to her credit a few good trendy ﬁlms as well, such as Aks, Supari, and Bus Yun Hi. When it comes to originality, creativity and a broad spectrum of themes, Hollywood seems to be lights years ahead of Indian cinema. Does the industry really think that the Indian masses cannot appreciate good cinema? Absolutely not! I think that there are two parts to this question. First, I disagree that Hollywood is light years ahead of Indian cinema. Yes, there is a lot of space for independent ﬁlms here, but some of the Hollywood ﬂicks are as trashy and formulistic, even the big ones such as Mr. and Mrs. Smith? it is so farfetched. What I would like to compare Bollywood is with world cinema. Even smaller countries like Poland and Iran, where there is a lot of suppression, even they come out with great ﬁlms. Their sensitivity, their cinematic language [is superior]. Whereas we have so much of literature, we have so much sensitivity. Technically also in terms of cinematography we are very good. Then, what is it that is going wrong? I have spoken to many of my ﬁlmmakers about this. I have also often asked myself, and to be honest I haven't come up with any clear-cut answers. Recently you became the chairperson of CFSI, what do you think of the current state of children ﬁlms in India? I was so surprised to ﬁnd out that not one ﬁlm of the 250 that CFSI made has been commercially released so far. I do hope that ﬁlms like ‘I Am Kalam’, ‘Stanley Ka Dabba’ and ‘Chillar Party’ start a trend and are not just ﬁlms that come and go by. This genre is more of an ignored one. We are not saying we are ﬁghting big ﬁlms. All we are saying is that there is a space for these kinds of ﬁlms too and there is a need for them. Children do need ﬁlms, which are fun and convey messages in a subtle way. It’s about creating space
for these kinds of ﬁlms. Only big starrers don’t have to be promoted all the time. People want to see other stories as well. Being the chairperson for Children Film Society, what do you think is the most critical issue for a child to be sensitized about? The mandate of Children’s Film Society, India is to produce good children’s ﬁlms that are both entertaining as well as educative, and reach out to as many children as we can. While we are operating in a fairly narrow space, we know that ﬁlms do impact on people’s mind and attitudes, especially that of children who are now growing up unfortunately on regular mainstream ﬁlms, or reality shows, or often violent series that are aired on television. We have no control on those inﬂuences, but we need to create an alternative, an appetite for better and more appropriate ﬁlms. But, the most important thing for a child is to go to school. This is the ﬁrst step towards empowering children. School is not only meant for studies. It has much to do with childhood itself, to be able to grow with other children, question, play, and blossom into adulthood. What prompted your husband and you to launch your own theatre production company? We both enjoy experimentation and we do not fear failure. Apart from that, I have always enjoyed acting on stage and the live audience reaction. But contrary to popular belief that I have done a lot of theatre, I have only been part of two professional plays so far - THE SPIRIT OF ANNE FRANK with Zohra Sehgal and Shabana Azmi and HEADS YA TAILS with Sushant Singh. I did street plays for four years with Safdar Hashmi, but the reasons were less for acting and more for the issues his plays raised. Those plays in some way were triggers for me to pursue my Masters in Social Work. Why did you opt to write the play in English? Doesn't that limit your reach in India somewhat? BETWEEN THE LINES is about urban, educated professionals who speak in English. Our play is for this audience, so it had to be in English. It has to sound real to be communicated; the language is just a tool. I wrote my directorial debut ﬁlm, Firaaq in four languages as the script demanded it. So the language is true to its context. What else is happening on the work front? I have just ﬁnished a ten-minute experimental ﬁlm Fleeting Beauty in New Zealand. It depicts a relationship between a white man and an Asian woman. Then I have a Tamil ﬁlm opposite Mammootty. And I am reading a few Hindi scripts.
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“Acting is not about wearing skimpy clothes” 7 | The Eye
A Run Through Folk Art Lane Vaidehi Tendulkar
olk artists of India beautify the objects of use and the surroundings of their dwellings like ﬂoor, wall, courtyard, Clothes, etc. There are many kinds of folk arts in India, like painting, sculpture, toy, costume, utensils, furniture, weaving etc. Almost every village of India has its own style of folk arts. Among these, some are very popular and well known, for example, Kalamkari, Kolam, Madhubani, Kalighat, Phulkari, Kantha and many more. Kolam is ﬂoor decoration while Phulkari and Kantha are embroidery on cloth. The artists use the same motifs and designs generation after generation. The Phulkari artists use geometrical design. The Kolam painters prefer diﬀerent objects from nature and Bengali women like to use human and animal ﬁgures as motif on Kantha. . These innovations are to be found in the motif of Kantha design. Bengal has a delightful folk tradition of embroidery and quilting known as Kantha. The Kanthas are made of discarded sarees and dhoties. These are sewn together to make it thick. Kanthas are generally made by the women of all classes in Bengal, particularly the old women. They use their spare time to sew these Kanthas by coloured threads from the border of old sarees and are stitched along the border line and the surface is ﬁlled with various designs. Quilts, wedding mats, bags and wraps for mirror and jewellery were all quilted and embroidered. Motifs and designs are taken from rural landscapes, ritualistic activities/purposes (mandala), objects from everyday life, rural festivals, circus entertainers and even historical ﬁgures such as Queen Victoria
to Lenin. The motifs on these Kanthas make it clear that the folk women were mostly illiterate but had keen power of observation for day-to-day happenings around them. The enlisted Kantha is a saree which is stitched in a typical traditional style and technique. The motifs are stylized forms of animals and human ﬁgures. The base pink colour of the saree is done in chain stitch with various coloured threads like white, green, purple, red, brown, yellow, grey and black. A king like ﬁgure is sitting on the horse with an umbrella in his hand. Some stylized forms of birds and bees are used as motifs. The inﬂuence of Kalighat Pata Chitra is very clear on these motifs. The art has now become very popular. A complete show was dedicated on this work in Lakme Fashion Week spring summer 2008. Phulkari actually means “ﬂowered work”. This term is used for a type of embroidery practiced by folk women in Punjab. These are done on both small and large cloth pieces and these are used for diﬀerent purposes like veils to cover heads, garment pieces, chadar and bedspreads or bed covers. The embroidery is worked in ﬂoss-silk upon the coarse cotton cloth in darning stitch over counted threads being worked from the back of the fabric. Basic motifs of Phulkari designs are
geometric. Squares and triangles are composed all over the space, which are covered with mainly warm colours. There are simple designs and large sized elaborate ones. Squares, dashes, triangles and straight lines and zig-zag lines from endless innovative variation. The predominant colour is the gold of the ripening wheat harvest in Punjab. The women will ﬁrst pick up the outline of each section with a needle before it is worked in a direction that contrasts with the section adjacent to it. The combination of contrasting vertical and horizontal stitches results in a beautiful pattern. The enlisted work of Phulkari is designed with traditional geometrical shapes. Star forms are stitched with golden yellow and silvery white thread on red cloth. The basic motif is consisted of a large star surrounded with small stars to create a diamond shaped space on the design. The silken shine of the thread creates bright relief on the warmth of the red surface of the cloth. Now this art is again trying to grip its root and the medium through which it plans to do so is ﬁlms. Recent movie TERI MERI KAHANI of KUNAL KOHLI has made Priyanka Chopra expose this work. There is a era in the movie in which you see her wearing a fusion of Phulkari work.
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The reason to involve kolam is its on the same line of Phulkari. Both have set of geometrical designing enhancing the beauty of the art. KOLAM Floor decoration is one of the most popular forms of art in any culture all over the world. This is also to be found in every part of India in diﬀerent medium like Alpana, Rangoli, Kolam, Sanjhi etc. Kolam is the most important part in the cultural and religious festivals of South India. During Pongal and other festivals, this decorative art work is done on the ﬂoor in front of the house and on the space before the alter of the deity. Kolam, like other ﬂoor decorative arts of India, is a symbol of fortune. Designs and motifs are tradional in nature and these are both ﬂoral and geometrical forms. The ﬂoor should be wet or moist by sprinkling water on it. The dry coarse ground rice ﬂour is held between the thumb and foreﬁngers. The hands keep on moving while the rice powder is rubbed to release on the ﬂoor along the predetermined design. It is very important to continue the drawing as long as possible without any pause. This ﬂuency of line is achieved by the artist only from experience. Young girls learn this from their mother and grandmother. Besides the symbolic value of these motifs, it expresses a very interesting meaning of life also. Rice powder is readily available. It seems to feed ants to show one must take care of other forms of life too. This Kolam is being painted by a house wife. It shows the freehand drawing skill of the artist. There are diﬀerent symbolic forms like pitchers, lamps and coconut trees. All these are integral parts of Indian rural life. These designs are basically in geometrical format and with very bright colours like Red, Orange, Blue, Yellow and
Pink. India has inherited a preAryan culture which is reﬂected in the folk art. Diﬀerent religions, sects and beliefs have co-existed throughout Indian traditional life. Cults like Tantra Shakti, Vaishnav, Buddhist are very important in the life of folk artists. The rural society’s needs for art and craft objects are supplied by the local artists and craftsmen who are mainly of three types viz ritualistic, utilitarian and individualistic. There are many kinds of ritualistic folk art like Patachitra, Pichuai, Alpana, Kolam etc. Decorative wood carving, embroidery, basket work, earthen ware etc. are among the typical utilitarian folk art. These are
made by rural artists without any formal training, and most of these designs are repeated by generation after generation. For example, there are hardly any changes in the motif of terracotta toys. Those were also made in Harappa ﬁve thousand years before. Some folk artists attempt to experiment with new forms from time to time and create an individualistic type of folk art. These artists develop a new style within the old format.
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Whats the deal with Game Designing? Tejaswini Jogelkar shares with Mohita Namjoshi what game desgining is all about, where one may learn it and what one can do after. Please shed some light upon what game designing involves and what the job of a game designer is. Game designing is mainly related to designing the concept. We design the rules and regulations of the game. Most people confuse it with animation, but animation is another section altogether. In game designing we do the abstract. We are the brain and the animators function as the eyes. We decide upon the story, universe, and key features in a game. It also includes level designing. Being a level designer is a job in itself. The level designers have to make sure that all the levels are balanced. Recently I played Guild wars 2. The story and graphics are brilliant; however, the game gets repetitive, and therefore boring. This is where the job of a level designer comes into play. You make the game predictable, the gamer’s reaction would become predictable as well. Understanding the psychology of the player is very important for a game designer. A player earns an achievement by doing a certain task in a game. This achievement keeps him going. We have to be certain that the game doesn’t turn boring at any point. Every time before deciding upon the game mechanics, we must keep in mind the core target. Mechanics and concept may vary according to the target audience. E.g., Athletes prefer sports games; hardcore gamers prefer games, which need a lot of time and attention. They play games which are challenging and hard to crack. Casual gamers, on the other hand, are into simpler games which only are played for some light fun. For some, games are for momentary satisfaction, for a few others they are stress busters and for a many others they are war! Could you tell us a little about the institute that you are studying from? I am pursuing my Bachelor’s degree from DSK Supinfogame, Pune. It is a French institute collaborated with DSK. They have 3 Schools – animation, game designing and industrial designing. Once I pass out I will get a Bachelor’s Degree in Game Designing and Production Management. The institute is extremely student oriented and they help you enter the best places in gaming industry. I really enjoy the subjects they oﬀer. I am learning game designing, production management programming and 2D and 3D Art.
They train us with recently updated and most used softwares like Unity, Unreal Development Kit (UDK) 3DS Max and Adobe Creative Suit. UDK is wonderful for level designing and setting the environment of the game while Unity works very well for programming. For easy programming Construct 2 is one of the best used softwares. What genre of video games do you think are most appealing to the youth these days? Do you think that hardcore gamers play only violent games? Platformer games with unique concept and good music attracts and lot of gamers. Hardcore gamers, as I mention before, like games which trigger their senses. Most challenging games are violent, but I have seen may hardcore gamers play puzzle games or strategy games which need a lot of logic and thinking. They even indulge in playing horror games like Amnesia, Slender. In both these games, there is no killing or bashing up. What they take is a lot of sharp memory and complex logic. The challenge is to advance the levels while not getting afraid of the horror that strikes in the way. I couldn’t continue playing that game for long and the reason I will leave for you to guess. Which is your dream company to work with and why? I would rather go Indie rather than working for any company. Indie developers mean Individual development companies where 2-10 people come together and establish a company of their own. It risky but you don’t have to work under any company nor do you need to follow their boring rules and schedules. You can develop any game you want. Big companies develop games for mass audiences, hence there I not much creativity involved. If your game becomes successful then you are rich, and ultimately that’s where everyone wants to get. How much scope do you think you have to form an Indie company in India? Gaming industry is developing rapidly in India. But you need to have something diﬀerent. And you should be prepared to invest a lot of time and money. You also need to have a good team, a good concept, mechanics and a dashing way to present it. It involves the same risks like any other business.
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Interviewing Indian contemporary artists Reena Kallat Ojasvi Mishra What have been major inﬂuences in your life and art? There are several artists whose works have impacted my Art and my sensibilities towards art making at different stages that include Frida Kahlo, Rachel Whiteread, Jenny Holzer, Mona Hatoum, Christian Boltanski, while closer home in India the practices of artists such as Nalini Malani, Vivan Sundaram, Arpita Singh, interested me and informed my early years. What achievement in your art career are you .most proud of?
meaning or give context to the diﬀerent bodies of works made.
Although there is a lot to be achieved I’m not someone who’s easily satisﬁed, given the expectations I have from myself. But to be a catalyst in realizing certain key works that have taken me a period of time to develop, such as the series of “Synonyms” made using rubberstamps, “Walls of the Womb” a series of tie and dye silks or the sculptural installation titled “Saline” made in bonded marble amongst others, has been fulﬁlling.
In case of the Synonyms I chanced upon the list of names, out of oﬃcial police records of those who’ve gone missing in India, through a friend who was looking for someone missing. The work stands like a screen holding up portraits formed by several hundred names of people rendered in scripts of over 14 Indian languages. From a distance they come together as portraits, but up-close they almost seem like a circuit-board of rubberstamps. These are people who seem to have slipped out of the radar of human communication, thrown oﬀ the social safety net.
Could you please tell the story of how your Synonym (2007) came about? Why did you create it? How was it made?
Making these works is a slow process but one that throws up sometimes unexpected and startling reMy interest in using rubberstamps as a medium grew sults. I ﬁrst draw out the silhouette of the portrait on out of its use within oﬃcial purposes and it’s associa- plywood, then arrange the wooden pieces that comtions with bureaucracy. I ﬁrst started using them in prise the rubberstamps. After painting the portrait on 2003. I think of each name on the rubberstamp as the uneven surface of the rubberstamps, the names being representative of an individual amidst hundreds are pasted and inked. These pieces are then transof faceless people in this vast ocean of humanity. The ferred onto the Plexiglas where some additions and sources of reference for the names often provide omissions lend the portrait its ﬁnal character. 18 | The Eye
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