#| The Eye
A Note from the Editor
Another month! Another issue! This issue is The Eye's 'All India' special. India has been an epicenter for art through the centuries, and in the 21st century our artists are creating new benchmarks. Some of these maybe inherently western, but they bring in an Indian context to these arts. On the other hand some of India's indigenous arts have crossed boarders to become global. This issue we speak to Shiv Ahuja, a veteran music photographer and one of his mentor Alex York to discuss the exciting upcoming area of photography that has recently come to limelight. We give you a low down on 14th edition of Mumbai Film Festival. We explore the wonderful world of Warli paintings and take a minute for a quick interview with Raazgi haidri, a young entrepreneur who is making a living off pop art.
FROM CAMERA OWNER TO MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHER
Being a photographer is an amazing thing. Side lining the complexities of ISOs, F num bers, DOF, APO and many other combina tions of alphabets which are supposed to be vital for a photographer to know, it is by far the simplest art from there is. As important as the print is, a photograph is usually looked at - seldom looked into. By look into we don’t just talk about the intricacies of what is in front of your camera but also the complexities around you that can aﬀect it. And with the increasing genres of photogra phy the variables that aﬀect your image are as inconsistent as the British weather. A very interesting niche sub-genre of pho tography is Music Photography. The interest in particular kind of image creation has been a parallel outcome of the growing music scene in India. We spoke to Shiv Ahuja who is one the country’s ﬁrst music photogra phers. Ahuja has shot every major artist in India from the likes of Indian Ocean, Parikrama, Faridkot, Raghu Dixit Project to Shaair ‘n Func. We had a quick chat with him to get a low down on music photography in India.
How did you start off you career as a music photographer? How did you go about networking to where you are today? I was working with a youth organization called The YP Foundation (www.theypfoundation.org). They have a division called Silhouette, which basically deals with performing arts, but they have been focusing on music for the past couple of years. TYPF, in partnership with Prospect, had a concert series called ‘At Home’ which a monthly concert space for bands was playing original music. I started out by shooting Menwhopause and after seeing the pictures they asked me to come to another show, and slowly I started taking my camera to all the gigs I went for and putting up the photographs on the web. It was working out quite well actually. I was listening to bands that I loved and getting entry for free! And now I'm hooked. At the risk of sounding over ambitious, I’m looking for a truly definitive shot. A single picture that kind of sums up the experience of listening to that particular band. I'd like to be able to take pictures that capture what the scene is like and how it’s growing.
What according to you was one of the more Interest in the bands develops interest in the important shoots (Career wise) you have pictures develops interest in the bands dedone? velops. The Eastwind Music Festival. For me, it meant going from shooting one band a week to shooting 60 bands in 3 days from 10 to 10, and sending in the pictures by 12 each night.
Do you think it’s difficult for a band photographer or gig photographer to make it big in India?
Making it big is subjective. If making it big In your opinion how has live gig photography means getting to shoot the big acts, or the inevolved in India? ternational acts that come down, then that’s not too hard, if you are associated with a Well, until recently there were only a couple magazine and have a portfolio to boot.(Oh, and if you’re living in Bangalore, and not De-
of us launched liveshots.in. We get atleast 5 lhi). It just means making a lot of cold calls to emails a day from concert photographers the organizers. By making it, if you mean across the country! being able to shoot concerts full time, then maybe not. We’re looking at a very small part Apart from the fact that a lot more people are of the music industry. Who is covering the shooting concerts now, there are also a lot Bollywood shows? Who is shooting the folk more outlets. Earlier, even if you were shoot- concerts? What about the classical recitals? ing concerts, where would you send the pic- There is no concept of having specialist contures? Now there's RSJ, Blender, Rolling cert photographers yet. So in that respect Stone, Rave and a bunch of online maga- ‘making it’ is hard. zines such as indianrockmp3.com indiecision.com chordvine.com etc. that regularly Do you think this genre of photography could cover the music scene and publish pictures. be a career in itself? Is there sort of qualifiPlus newspapers are taking note. It’s a loop. cation/s clients are looking for from Band and Interest in the bands develops interest in the
live event photographer or do you think a good portfolio is enough?
Any piece of advice for aspirating music photographers in India?
It can be. But not anytime soon. Even music magazines don’t have full time concert photographers and neither do venues. But it seems like its headed towards a positive direction. There are more albums being launched, more tours and more festivals now than ever before and with the launch of The Syndicate, the first booking agency in India, one can only expect more concerts to shoot!
I can only talk about what has helped me the most, and that’s shooting one band over and over. Plus. I think knowing the bands music is key. If you know the music you can predict what’s coming. That way you’re just a lot more tuned in. There’s a difference when you’re shooting Advaita and when you’re shooting Demonic Resurrection. Thinking about what image you want to portray of the band goes a long way in helping you see images before they happen!
With the new wave of people who aspire to be Band Photographers and Gig photographers, do you think it’s a trend here to stay or just a phase? It’s here to stay. For sure!
“Cameras and beer don't mix.” Mohita Namjoshi digs further into Extreme Music Photography.
Music Photography may be a relatively new concept in India, but it has been popular abroad for quite a while. We spoke to Shiv Ahuja's mentor Alex York to see how this art transcends borders into our country. Besides a miliion other things, Alex York has specialized in architecture photography and extreme music photography.
How did you start off your career in photography? I have been a writer/reviewer for UK-based extreme music magazine Zero Tolerance for many years and have known Leon and Lisa Macey (the mag's creators) for even longer. I think it was at an Enslaved show that, for some reason, I decided to bring a camera to. I now look back at those shots and realize they were a bit rubbish but you have to start somewhere.
Could you elaborate how you have networked to get where you are today? As for networking, I'd have to say that Leon/Lisa/Calum and all the guys at Zero Tolerance, Paul from Arcane Promotions and of course everyone that puts on these awesome shows .I would also like to mention Patricia Thomas – truly a wonderful woman and responsible for spreading my work all over the internet and the extreme music (particularly Black Metal) community.
Which particular band shoot that you did took you to the next level and in what way? Undoubtedly it's Taake last year at the Underworld in Camden. In fact I just shot Taake again a couple of weeks ago, again at the Underworld, and just received some really nice feedback from Hoest himself.
Any band/s that you wish to cover as your photography subject? Darkthrone are at the top of my “to shoot” list, closely followed by Nokturnal Mortum and Kataxu. Of course if Weakling were to ever reform I would be at their first show in a shot. Not that it's ever going to happen. I would also like to shoot Wolves in the Throne room. Lucky for me they're playing here in a few weeks and I'm booked in to shoot it! On a more technical basis, how do you think the usage of the camera differs for live shows of Rock/Metal bands as compared to other forms of live events?
Clearly metal musicians move around a hell of a lot more than, say, a wedding couple or people in some kind of play
or classical concert. That generally means you need to be able to track your subject(s) more quickly, which can be tough, especially when there are heads and fists flying around in front of you. One solution to this is to use a lens with a stabilizer, but that's often way out of the price range of us poor metal photographers and it's rare to find a fast prime lens with a stabilizer.
What according to you is the most difficult part of live photography for Metal bands? We tend to shoot with a wider aperture (typically f/1.4-2.0) and/or higher ISO. Also metal gigs will naturally be lit much darker than most other live events. Again, with wider apertures and higher ISOs than you might like. This is why I always shoot RAW – I'd rather underexpose slightly, use a wider aperture and a slightly lower ISO and boost the exposure in post production. Black metal shows should of course be extremely dark and atmospheric – that's key to the music and therefore should be key to your photography. It is for this reason that I never use flash. I try to capture what is actually there, not what I'd like to be there. You can often tell (if you know the music) when the vocalist or guitarists are about to go nuts, so you can prep your settings for some fast action high shutter speed shooting just before and away you go. Then, when things calm down a bit, you can switch back to slower speeds and try to capture some more elegant flowing motion.
Any advice to upcoming photographers of this genre? Firstly, get comprehensive camera and equipment insurance! Your gear WILL get damaged at some point! Cameras and beer don't mix... Secondly, get to gigs early to give you time to get set up and to find a basic starting point for your camera settings based on the lighting in the room. Thirdly, and most importantly, have the balls to barge your way to the front – don't hide at the back!. Lastly, respect the other photographers in the room/pit by allowing them in to the front for a bit. Also, don't listen to the purist types who insist that post production is a “sin” and that the raw photo should be left pure and untouched. It's rubbish! Seriously the best way is to just get involved with your local scene as much as possible, meet bands, artists, label managers and ideally get involved with a good magazine even if it's just a fanzine or other indie production, online or in print. All you need is a camera, a good lens or three and some kind of artistic flair.
Country’s Premier Film Festival MAMI Commences! - Tanvi Hegde
The 14th Mumbai Film Festival hosted by the Mumbai Academy of Moveing Images received a fairly protracted opening ceremony. Elaborate as is to be expected by the location of this year’s festival at the National Center of Performing Arts. The previous two festivals were hosted respectively at PVR Juhu (and the neighborig Chandan) and at Infinity Mall, Versova. Commendably hosted at both venues on both occasions but the shift to Nariman Point and South Bombay this year was especially welcome to several moviegoers and cinephiles and it led Mr. Shyam Benegal, film-maker and esteemed chairman of the festival, to declare MAMI 2012 as India’s “best film festival”. The screening followed the opening ceremony which introduced the organizers, presented the juries of different programs within the festival. Dimensions Mumbai is a short film competition with a separate jury, as is India Gold and the Grand Jury which looks at the international competition. Then there was the lighting of the lamp and a presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to Zhang Yimou. The festival will screen 200 films from 65 countries and pay homage to Rajesh Khanna, Dara Singh and A. K. Hangal.
Day #2 The second day saw a lot of press conferences and workshops, the one that stood out was convened to showcase Shahid, a film based on the remarkable life, career trajectory and murder of human rights activist and lawyer Shahid Azmi by noted filmmaker Hansal Mehta. The afternoon segment titled “who is the producer of the film?” was an open forum interaction that witnessed a panel discussion that featured illustrious participants such as producer extraordinaire Shrishti Arya Bhel, Guneet Monga (GOw), and Vijay Singh, CEO at Fox Stat
Studios. Enthusiasts of cinema were presented with an opportunity to enjoy works of cinematic genius with movies including On The Road by walter Salles, Beasts of the Southern wild by Benh Zeitln, Satyajit Ray’s Charulata, Vittoto De Sica’s Umberto D. The Taste of Money by critically acclaimed Korean director IM Sanf-Soo as well as works by local filmmakes like Nitin Kakkar’s Filmistaan.
Day #3 The cinematic reverie continued on day 3 of MAMI. The highlight of the day was Ashim Ahluwalia, a recognized Indian director, screenwriter and film producer. His film Miss Lovely, after touring at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and Melbourne International Film Festival finally premiered at the MAMI. Also premiering was Marathi film Balak Palak, the maiden production venture of actor Riteish Deshmukh. The eventful day began with the second edition of “Rendezvous with French Cinema” a segment aimed at showcasing work of contemporary French cinema, with screening of 2012 French-Belgian film Rust & Bone. Among these were the stellar Japanese drama film Like Someone in Love by Iranian auteur Abbas Karostami, venteran French-German filmmaker Alain Resnais’ You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet, Japanese yakuza film Outrage Beyond, Kalpana by Indian director Uday Shankar, L & From Tuesdat to Tuesday by Babis Makridis and Gustavo Fernandez Trivino respectively. Day #4 It was by far the most eventful day yet at the MAMI. It saw MasterChef Australia’s celebrity judges making an appearance to the delegate’s surprise. George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan didn’t speak to the media; they said they were
there only to enjoy films. When they stood up to wave at the delegates in the theater, the audience burst into a massive round of applause. At around 7pm, news of Yash Chopra’s demise began flashing across news channels. As a gesture of condolence on the death of veteran Indian filmmaker Yash Chopra, the MAMI family observed and will observe a minute of silence at every festival screen across the city to pay respect to his memory.
Day #5 The beginning of the 5th day at 14th Mumbai Film Festival was enveloped in gloom as the reality of the passing of Indian cinematic marvel and trustee of MAMI, Mr. Yash Chopra sunk in. the afternoon segment saw the second edition of “Rendezvous with French Cinema” unveiling the film Renoir by Gilles Bourdos. Later during the day was hosted a segment titled “Kabul Fresh: New Voices in Afghan Cinema” the first of a kind initiative in India aimed at showcasing the film movement in the warn-torn nation through a selection of short films by both established and budding filmmakers from Afghanistan. Animated film The Life by 22 year old Mohammad Reza Nawruzi premiered, so did A Day Of Postman Khan Agha by waheedullah Rahmatullah Nazil. Kabul Cards by Samiullah Nabizasa was highly appreciated. The evening witnessed a special selection “Restored Classics” an endeavor to highlight the importance of Preservation and Restoration of films, by screening restored classic Shatranj Ke Khilari and Hollywood movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Day #6 Day 6 saw cinephiles and patrons arrive in large numbers for their day’s dose of cinematic fare. An educative forum titled “Reaching Audiences Worldwide - Do we really understand the overseas film business and distribution” witnessed the participation of successful Indian film producer Madhu Mantena ( Ghajini), Screen magazine's contributing editor of Asia Liz Shackleton
Vice President of the Indian Film Exporters Association Hirachand Dand, Mahesh Ramanathan, CEO at Reliance Big Entertainment and Vikramjit Roy, Head of Production, National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC). In the Restored Classics section, Inferno (1911) by Francesco Bertolini, Giuseppe De Liguaro and Adolf Padovan was shown. At this edition of the festival Film India Worldwide presented the first Film India Worldwide Jury Award to Nepali-French film Soongra - Dance of the Orchid. The award was conferred to the winner by members of the illustrious three-member jury Therese Mayes, Programmer of Indian & Asian Films at Palm Springs, International Film Festival and distinguished Indian filmmaker Dev Benegal and Prashant Nair.
Day #7 Day 7 saw the open forum discussion on “The state of writing today” and the panel included guests Vinay Shukla, Saurabh Shukla, Abbas Tyrewala, Dev Benegal, Atual Tiwari and Sagar Ballary. Mithun Chakraborty’s film Nobel Chor was premiered. In the “Celebration of Italian Cinema” segment Ermanno Olmi’s The Porfession of Arms, LOOSE Cannons by Ferzan Ozpetek and Indo-Italian director Italo Spinelli’s Gangor were shown. The award winning French film Les Rebelles Du Foot (Football Rebels) directed by Gilles Perez and Gilles Rof was shown in the special segment called “The Real Reel”. Must Watch Films At Mami Film Festival Rust and Bones – Jaques Audiard Beyond the Hills – Christian Mungiu Blancanieves – Pablo Berger Cherry – Stephen Elliott Silver Linings Playbook - David O Russell Beasts of the Southern wild – Benh Zeitlin After Lucia – Michel Franco Throw of Dice – Franz Osten Kalpana – Uday Shankar Miss Lovely – Ashim Ahluwalia
Revitalized Art By Vaidehi tendulkar
The subcontinent of India is vast, now organised into four nations, but comprising thousands of separate cultural entities. Indian history evolved through interplay of different beliefs and through a myriad of kingdoms and empires undergoing constant change. As new ruler gained ascendancy and established a court, they encouraged the production of symbols of his wealth, objects to bring out his affluence and to display his power and which made visual art grow accordingly. The style and manner in which these items were made depended upon local traditions and influence of outside sources. Also the labourers or craftsmen involved in this process, when going back home took the impressions of the art they were working on which encouraged the folk art on tribal levels. Folk art was done as paintings, pottery, weaving etc. moreover on things we use in our daily lives like the pots, carpets, clothes etc. Folk art was done inside the home, on outer walls as paintings especially in respect of some occasions or celebrations. Folk art had no specifications or art rules to be followed; it is a form of expression. Every region in India has its own style and pattern of art, which is known as folk art. Other than folk art, there is yet another form of traditional art practised by several tribes or rural population, which is classified as tribal art. The folk and tribal arts of India are very ethnic and simple, and yet colourful and vibrant enough to speak volumes about the country's rich heritage.Folk art has played an important and tremendous role in development of art and culture.
“Warli” painting takes its name from the “Warli” tribe of Maharashtra. Though spread out in parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra, the Warlis are largely concentrated in Dahanu and Talaseri Taluka’s of Thane district of Maharashtra. The Warlis by tradition have been cultivators and gatherers growing a single crop, usually paddy. (a flooded parcel of arable land used for growing rice and other semi aquatic crops.) Thus their lives are inextricably dependent on the vagaries of nature. The paintings are executed inside the hut walls. The walls are first smeared with cow dung and then red mud is applied to provide the base texture. Pointed bamboo twigs and thin rice paste are used to draw patterns. Traditionally the paintings are always done by “Suvasinis” (married women who are not widowed) and “Dhanaleris”( married priestess). The Warli
art in India have a very simple base and theme. It does not believe in over doing stuff. The theme and content of the drawing varies with the occasion and the deity being worshiped. The Warli paintings do not intend to have mythological characters or images of gods or goddess, but depict social life. For the tribal, life is an eternal circle. At all occasions – birth, marriage, and death they draw circles, symbol of Mother Goddess. Death is not the end for them; rather it is a new beginning. This is why circles best represent the art of tribal, which has neither an end nor a beginning. The Warli paintings have normally human figures doing their daily chores; the forms are simple and basic made out of circles and tri-
triangles. Though there is no theory or rules with regards to “Warli” painting, to enhance the beauty mostly the only colour which used is mud brown and white. Yet the Warli painting looks intricate and beautiful. Images of human beings and animals, along with scenes from daily life are created in loose patterns which seem beautiful and rhythmically framed. As most of the time “Warli” paintings are signified by characters and symbols Painted in white colour on mud walls, which are pretty close to pre-historic cave paintings in execution and usually depict scenes of human figures engaged in activities like hunting, dancing, sowing ,harvesting, going out, drawing water from wells, drying clothes or even dancing.
Although the Tribal lived very close to Mumbai, Indiaâ€™s largest metropolis, they shun all influences of modern urbanization. Since independence, the Indian government has assiduously encouraged the production of marketable village crafts by traditional ways. An Indian folk art painting has traveled across borders and is now the cherished possessions of many a collector and art lover. Even though many paint for commercial gain today, they have continued to adhere to old themes and motifs that can only be appreciated by those who know and understand Tribal culture.
â€œWarliâ€? paintings on paper have become very popular and are now sold all over India. Today, small paintings are done on cloth and paper but they look best on the walls or in the form of huge murals that bring out the vast and magical world of the Warlis. For the Warlis, tradition is still adhered to but at the same time new ideas have been allowed to seep in which helps them face new challenges from the market.
"Life is this painting which you are making, the only difference is you can’t erase it”says the young artist Raazgi from Bag this! The youth is getting trendy and so is the art, pop art is something that every youngster would like in his or her wardrobe. With such a trend, it wouldn’t be justified to not talk to an enterprising youngster. Ms.Raazgi Haidri, a mass media graduate from S.I.E.S College (Nerul) is a pop artist. She is currently working for a radio station as an assistant programmer. Raazgi loved painting from the very beginning, she has always loved painting and colours have always inspired her enough to take up the brush and do something with the colours. A creative youngster with creative ideas and creative paintings has her own outlet called ‘Bag this”which customizes tshirts, shoes, bags for their customers. “Painting is always preferred over printing; it gives a personal touch” says Raazgi. When asked about selling her designs, she has a quick reply which states that she makes her designs and sells it. She markets it on Facebook, it started with just 2 members she and her sister and within an year it is around 600 which is an achievement. Raazgi agrees that there is good scope for pop art since the target audience is the youth and the youth is always trendy! Hand made things are cheaper, trendy, better ad customized, it is new and innovative.
Bag this’started over an year ago, and the idea came up when her sister’s friend commented on their painting and then it clicked that this could easily be done. Trend for her is anything that you think people will notice in you and can follow! Raazgi has a clear vision about what she has to do and she also sees where the generation is going today, “I’m today’s generation, we are quick and smart. We adapt very easily. We are ready to experiment, the only problem with today’s generation is , everybody wants to be perfect, in trying to go proper, o be perfect people are afraid to commit mistakes, when you don’t commit mistakes, you don’t learn, when you don’t learn ,you don’t grow ! I have committed a lot of mistakes and today I see myself and Bag This growing!!