Sometime between 1987 and 1988, a 10-year-old boy found his calling while on a school picnic to Gorai Beach. He collected seashells that were in sight to create one of the first art pieces he was ever truly proud of. “I took a cardboard and stuck all the shells together, rather shabbily, using Fevicol. I showed it off to my teachers and classmates. I didn’t understand why they didn’t like it. In my eyes, it was the most beautiful thing I had created,” laughs contemporary artist and auto ethnographer Parag Tandel, who is now best known for his huge body of works that document and safeguard the life and history of one of the earliest original communities of Mumbai — the Kolis.
A fisherwoman participates in the rituals on the festival in Mahim Koliwada. File Pics
“The Tandel Fund of Archives [TFA] is a means to counter-archive a recent claim by a scholar that Kolis are not originally from Mumbai. It brings to fore our history and facts because only a Koli can tell you the accurate history of our community,” shares Tandel, whose works, be it for his art of the TFA, are stringently research-oriented. One such artwork that documents the colonisation by the Portuguese is the Arrival of Port Wine 3 (2023) and the impact on the age-old tradition of jambul wine-making once enjoyed by the Kolis. The Portuguese outlawed the traditional fermentation process to promote imported Port wines. Tandel’s artwork was a sculpture of ships constructed out of the wood of the jambul tree the artist planted with a friend in 2011. “The ship also had Portuguese coins to signify the colonial loot,” the artist informs.
Parag Tandel works on a sculpture at his studio in Thane
On March 17, art community Art and Wonderment will step into the Koli artist’s creative headspace as they walk through his studio and witness Tandel at work. “Often, people wish to engage with art and either don’t have company or feel intimidated by the art,” says Art and Wonderment co-founder Nishita Zachariah, “We often host walks to galleries that are conversational and light-hearted. We do our research and demystify the artworks for them. Our studio visits take it a step further and allow participants to further break the barriers and connect with the artist, witness them at work and let them see the many trials and errors before the finished works are displayed in the galleries.”
A sculpture by Tandel currently on display at Indian Ceramics Triennale exhibition in New Delhi
Zachariah will conduct the four-hour-long walk with co-founder Alisha Sadikot. This visit is an extension of the ongoing Indian Ceramics Triennale exhibition in Delhi, where some of Tandel’s works are currently on display. The participants will begin with a studio visit in Thane, followed by a traditional Koli lunch prepared by Tandel’s mother Kamal Kashinath Tandel, and his wife Kadambari Koli-Tandel. The group will then return to the studio to learn more about the Tandel Archive Fund.
Arrival of Port Wine 3. PIc courtesy/Tarq Mumbai
An art enthusiast who has been close to his community for as long as he can recall, Tandel reminisces how he requested his father to shift him from a Convent school to a Koli school because he missed speaking in his mother tongue as a child. “I was always good at art and my parents didn’t mind me pursuing it.
Kadambari Koli-Tandel and the artist
Although once, I told my mother that even if I take up art as a career, I will never stop selling fish. She replied saying that I still would be selling fish, even though it’s in the form of art,” Tandel reminisces, adding how this response stuck with him and inspires him to dig deeper into the history of the community. “I don’t use one specific material for my artworks. For me, the material is a metaphor,” he says, explaining that his artworks are a blend of materials that reflect traditions, food, culture, history and religion of the Kolis.
A traditional home-cooked Koli meal
“Not many are aware that creating illustrations is my hobby. I will show the participants my sketchbook during the walk,” Tandel reveals. He will also talk about how Koli food in festivals is becoming commercial, gradually departing from the traditional food that they eat at home, and an upcoming project on creating a food museum boasting of over 50 traditional Koli recipes. Zachariah tells us that if time permits, and participants are up to the task, they will visit a nearby Koliwada with Tandel, and learn stories from his childhood.
An artwork by Tandel
On: March 17; 11 am to 4 pm at Parag Tandel’s Studio, Kalva, Thane. Cost: Rs 1,200; Rs 1,600 (including lunch) Log on to: urbanaut.app (for registration); @artandwonderment (for more details)
February, as the heartbroken would remind TS Eliot, is the cruellest month of the year. It is no surprise then that one of the freshest music releases of the month evokes the sense of struggle with the self that follows a bitter breakup. New Delhi-based singer, and now producer, Ananya Jafa AKA JAFA’s new release, Words leave, stands out for its soothing pop overtones that elevate its lyrical poetry. The song is only the second release from the 23-year-old, but marks a gradual evolution of her style.
Style is a key part of the production as well. The song’s video captures the journey of complex social relationships viewed through the lens of a generation that grew up on Facebook and Instagram. The song is also the second part of a triptych, the singer reveals. “There is a third song as well, Parchment. The three are part of a common narrative. So, 2018 is written from my perspective. Words leave is told from the perspective of a second girl in the situation, while the third song is from the boy’s perspective,” she says over a phone call.
A moment from the music video. Pic Courtesy/Youtube
Yet, the song brings in the touch of soft melancholy and deep questions. These, layered with complex harmonics and subtle choral elements, add to the listening experience without drowning out the poetry. With the verses exploring themes of love, loss of friendship and rediscovery of the self, the soft-pop sound was a natural choice, says the singer who also produced the track. “I had the freedom to delve into details. It was instinctual since the lyrics were close to my heart. I realised that this is a bit more refined and lyrically complex. Subconsciously, the production style ended up complementing the verse play.There is a lot happening rhythmically, so I opted for sounds that complement that,” she reveals.
Production is the latest addition to her repertoire, and not an easy one. Working with the Molfa Music Label, JAFA has already finished the master for the third track in the set. “Parchment,” she notes, “Is more complex in terms of harmonics. There is a little musical dissonance in the song, but it is my personal favourite as a musician.” While production is more challenging, the singer shares that she is enjoying it. With Parchment expected to release in April, the singer reveals that she has already started on her next set of projects. “While it is in the writing stage, I am open to experimenting with different sounds,” she says, insisting, “I am still growing a lot as a producer, and there is a lot of learning to do. There is time to experiment with many more styles. I enjoy hip-hop and would like to fiddle with rock sounds as well.”
For now though, it is Words leave that remains at the forefront. “It is a smooth track. The casual listener might not notice the harmonics that are thickening up the track, but they will feel it through the course of the song. As a producer, it is a compliment. If they [the audience] can feel it, without having heard it, that’s the key,” she concludes. Log on to: Words leave on Spotify; Apple Tunes
Mix it up
If you’re the type who is single and ready to mingle, here’s a way to get started. Sign up for a singles’ mixer event that promises a careful curation of participants, and a set of fun interactions including board and card game-based ice-breakers.ON March 3, 11 am onwardsAT Chai and Games: The Board Game Café, Prime Mall, Irla Lane, Vile Parle West. LOG ON TO insider.inCOST Rs 799
Brewing good times
Coffee-loving couples can head to a workshop organised by Something’s Brewing and Bili Hu. Helmed by Bharat Singhal, it will cover fundamentals of brewing and tasting.ON March 3; 12 noon onwardsAT Food Square, Linking Road, Santacruz West.LOG ON TO insider.in
Peaceful, natural vibes
A natural setting at a Panshet campsite will offer a live indie fusion band by night and open-air movie screenings under the stars. Other activities include a BBQ and a bonfire session.FROM March 1, 3.30 pm to March 3, 11 amLOG ON TO gypsysoultribe.comCOST Rs 2,000 onwards
Poet, art critic, and scholar Ranjit Hoskote’s book of essays on late Gieve Patel’s art, To Break and To Branch (Seagull Books), is a beautiful nod to a friendship he shared with the painter. It is also an acknowledgement of the legacy Patel left behind as an artist. To know Bombay (today’s Mumbai), his paintings whispered to us, is to know it through its people.
In the six essays, Hoskote directs our eye to Patel’s assiduity in finding untold stories — “the private drama” — of the characters who make the city. Among them, we witness a street performer at the BEST bus stop with a garland around his neck; an illiterate Andhra migrant worker dictating a letter to be sent home; a boy enjoying a slice of mango; a man running in the rain with bread and bananas; a typical scene from Off Lamington Road. We also encounter the wounded, the mourners, and the aged. “Gieve Patel’s testimony is important,” shares Hoskote, when we catch up with him over a call. “His Bombay was not self-enclosed. Through his characters, you also understand the deep connection that the city has to its hinterland. You see the circulations through which people come to the city for work,” he tells us.
(From left) Man in the Rain with Bread and Bananas, 1990; Stroll, 1997
The first few essays, especially, attest to Patel’s challenge to portraiture. In depicting asymmetries and imperfections, he reconceptualised the ideas of beauty. Against the backdrop of the Bombay High Court, or the high-rises of the city’s financial quarters, Patel showed us figures who are not only everyday men and women, but also anti-heroic in their appearance, with malformations, mutilations, or wounds. Hoskote points us to their “protruding teeth, hunched shoulders, uneven features, rickety frames, and tubercular fingers”. Through these details, we are urged to dwell on the socio-economic conditions that led to the moments frozen in the paintings and the consequences of marginalisation.
When an artist paints characters picked up from the sidelines, what is the position they take? Hoskote addresses this by calling Patel ‘a complicit observer’ — a title he’s previously accorded to his contemporary, Sudhir Patwardhan as well. He elaborates, “Sometimes there’s a fiction that if you’re an artist or a writer, you’re outside your material. To get any kind of writing or painting done, you must obviously have some kind of a critical distance. But as a human being, the choice to represent another human being connects you to their predicament. You bring to that moment everything that defines you. If you’re an upper middle-class person painting peasants or workers, the class asymmetry is part of the contract of representation. It can’t be a neutral act.”
Gieve Patel with Ranjit Hoskote
Patel did not shy away from depicting violence and injustice, Hoskote notes succinctly when writing about the artist’s choice. His politics lay in showing the subaltern figures almost always as survivors than victims. The titular essay looks most closely at this through his sculptures, which take us back to the myth of Daphne and Eklavya, two figures who broke but also branched. Curious, we ask Hoskote if the phrase ‘breaking and branching’ defines the spirit of the city as well. “The title came around intuitively. I wanted it to come from one of the essays in it. But it also speaks of Gieve Patel. It connects to the advice he gave me, which is to go deeper to where things are broken. But he also meant that don’t wallow in it.” He adds, “But you’re right — it also stands in for Bombay’s famous resilience,” although it is uncertain how long that will last. To him though, that phrase remains “a life lesson and an artistic manifesto.”
Come Tuesday, Carrie-Anne Ingrouille will teach theatre-makers, creators, artistes and directors, the alphabets of movement. The Olivier-award nominee and choreographer of the famous girl group Six The Musical has flown down from England to conduct a 12-hour long workshop by theatre and arts management company QTP that will push creators to investigate their own bodies. “Movement is everywhere,” Ingrouille tells this writer over a call just before she sets out to explore Sanjay Gandhi National Park, “It is what we do every day. Like right now, when we are having this conversation, I feel we could communicate so much better with our bodies.”
Her workshop aims at breaking free of restrictions, while also following some in order to explore the various possible ways you can use physical vocabulary in storytelling. “Today, social media has helped creators and performers receive acknowledgement. But on the other hand, it has restricted the performance to a one-dimensional screen,” shares the choreographer, adding how she once found herself stuck in her techniques and styles as well. “It was when I attended a workshop in 2014 that I broke free of the limitations my education in dancing put on me. I stripped away from my previous learnings to explore what more my body can do.”
The idea is not to forget your syllabus, styles or techniques, the celebrated choreographer, clarifies, “They are still very useful. We want you to connect all your energies — physical and mental — and probe within yourself what more your body is capable of.”
The choreographer turned to musical theatre choreography and directing. In her workshop, she will include individual and group tasks and exercises to participants over the 12-hour-long-course to help them find their style. “I won’t tell you that this is not the way you dance. It is not a hard and fast workshop. Instead, everyone should be at the starting page, and push themselves; not just to an exertion point, but to a point where you discover your body, texture, dynamics and style. Learning in a group allows you to spectate as well as work on yourself.”
While her shows have often brought Ingrouille to India, this will be her first workshop in the country. “I am extremely overwhelmed, and I have so many exciting activities planned. All I ask of the participants is to have an open mind when they come along!”
On: March 5 and 6; 10 am to 4 pm At: Laxmi Industrial Estate, Andheri West (full address revealed upon registration) Call: 022 41642142 (for enquiries)Log on to: @qtpindia (registration link in bio)Cost: Rs 5,000
If you were to observe a young adult approach a flight of stairs closely, you can identify the exact moment their heart shatters when they realise there isn’t an escalator in sight, usually followed by a deep sigh. Kushal Gaikwad, a skater from Dombivli, thinks it’s no big deal. A firm strike with his foot on the edge of his skateboard, and the 22-year-old is airborne; and before you can wrap your mind around the physics behind it all, Gaikwad will have slid his way down the handrails, on to his next trick. It’s all happening under the sun at the newly inaugurated skatepark at the Grand Central Park in Thane, a landmark that skaters from the suburb have been waiting to open for perhaps a tad too long.
The skater tests a down ledge at the park. Pics/Sameer Markande
Walking into the new skatepark managed by the Thane Municipal Corporation, Gaikwad shares what it means for the community. “There were no skateparks in the city in 2017 when I started practising. The Carter Road skatepark opened in 2019, but it soon became too small to accommodate the growing community. While it is a great spot to experiment, it offers little in terms of growth and training. This one is even more special for us because we will no longer have to travel from the central suburbs to the city every time.” Gaikwad is in for a pleasant surprise even before he is done slipping into his gear — a dedicated attendee is stationed at the skatepark to provide first-aid and keep a watchful eye on young skaters for their safety. “I’ve never seen this anywhere else. Hopefully this encourages parents to get their children into the sport,” he remarks.
Tricks and treats
Gaikwad beelines straight to the street section that forms one half of the park. After 30 minutes of kickflips, ollies, and slides on the down-ledges, stairs, rails, ramps and the euro gap — a specialised ramp that opens to a gap followed by a flat ledge — Gaikwad takes a breather. He shares his half-time report, “The courses are built in full length, without cramming things together to save space and the installations feel rigid, giving you the confidence to go all in.” You’d expect that from a 20,000 sq ft park; but the skater offers some deeper insight, “Having standardised installations means learners who train here will be better prepared to enter professional competitions in the future. It’s also convenient for intermediate and professionals who scramble for spots leading up to competitions.”
Gaikwad balances at the edge of the skating bowl as he enters it
As Gaikwad cruises on to the neighbouring section where a concrete bowl awaits him, he lets us in on what it takes to maintain a skatepark. “The defining characteristic of a skating bowl and a well-executed park, is its smoothness. It offers you control and flexibility over how and when you approach a trick. I see a few cleaners here who are making sure the course stays clear. That’s a welcome change. We had a skatepark in Dombivli that is now in ruin because no one bothered to maintain it,” he recalls, adding that a complete revamp every eight years will ensure the new skatepark doesn’t go down the same path. While skaters have easy access to the common washrooms and purified water dispensers at the park, the maintenance of these perks will ultimately dictate their longevity. Being maintained by the Kalpataru Group, the skater shares that he’s hopeful of timely audits and maintenance.
Cracking the culture
Gaikwad’s second, and larger concern might leave the authorities, parents, and our readers divided. “Wearing a helmet was never a part of skateboarding culture. Even at the professional competitions, you’ll never spot one; but the park makes it mandatory. It might be a good idea for children and learners, but others must have the freedom to ditch it,” he sighs. The skater’s concerns around a possible culture gap between the authorities and skaters extend to a rumoured price hike. While the Grand Central Park currently levies a common R20 entry charge, the 22-year-old worries the skatepark might soon charge a premium, a move adopted by private skateparks in the city.
We leave Gaikwad with a question that has been brewing in our minds since the inauguration of the park — does the park lack visually what it compensates for technically? “The basics have been taken care of. There is ample lighting post sunset and the ledges are marked in red for increased visibility. It is true that skateboarding has long been associated with hip-hop, graffiti and freedom of expression, but we understand that the skatepark is a part of a larger park that follows a broader visual aesthetic. A skatepark is not about visuals as much as it is about the facilities, but it would be great to see the authorities invite some graffiti artists to spice things up.” he concludes.
At: Grand Central Park, Kolshet Industrial Area, Thane West.Timings: 1 pm to 9 pm Entry: Rs 20 (Rs 30 on weekends)
>> Nerul SkateparkAt Sector 19A, near Yashwantrao Chavan Ground, Nerul East.Timings: 9 am to 7 pm
>> Dadar Pep SkateparkAt Hindmata Signal, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Road, Dadar East.Timings: 9 am to 9 pm
>> Carter Road SkateparkAt Opposite Additional Police Commissioner Office, Carter Road, Bandra West.Timings: Open 24 hrs
The traditional image of a Kathak guru — stern, uncompromising and conventionally rigid, found no reflection in Kathak maestro late Pandit Durga Lal of the Jaipur Gharana. “There was a certain child-like innocence in his demeanour around his disciples. He would often tiptoe his way to practice and stamp his foot at the door exclaiming, ‘Main aa gaya’ with a wide smile. The words still echo in our hearts,” reminisces Uma Dogra, who has been organising the Pt Durgalal Festival in remembrance of her guru since his passing in 1990. The Sangeet Natak Akademi-awardee will present the 34th edition of the festival tomorrow to commemorate the 75th birth anniversary of the late pandit.
This year, the festival is set to host an all-male classical dance showcase of the theme —Purushartha. “Guruji was a charismatic man who exemplified the supremely skilled male Kathak talents that graced stages in his era. Interestingly, his charm and aura earned him the title of the Greek god of Kathak,” Dogra chuckles. In tune with the theme, Dogra informs us the festival will host Bharatnatyam dancer Praveen Kumar and Kuchipudi artiste Gururaju N from Bengaluru, and Kathak dancer Souvik Chakraborty from Kolkata this year.
For Gururaju, who will be performing Dashavatara Shabdham, a dance set in raga Mohana and Mishra Chapu taal that depicts the 10 incarnations of Vishnu, the performance is a tribute to a guru whom he never met, but reveres just as affectionately. “I never met guruji, but as I read about him, his selflessness in giving to the community without expecting anything in return moved me,” he shares over a short call from Bengaluru. Chakraborty, will open his recital with a performance set to Bengali musician Agnibha Bandyopadhyay’s compositions and conclude with a performance to the thumri Darash dikha ja sawre, one that evokes a deep sense of longing.
As the curtains rise at the festival tomorrow, it will mark another year of keeping a promise Dogra made to her guru 34 years ago. She reveals, “As I watched Guruji’s last rites being performed in 1990, I promised him I’ll dedicate my life to keeping his legacy alive. There have been years when planning the festival seemed difficult, but a promise made to your guru is one to be kept till your last breath.”
ON March 1; 6.30 pm AT Veer Savarkar Auditorium, Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Marg (Old Cadell Road), Dadar West. MESSAGE 9819387077 (for bookings) ENTRY Rs 300 onwards
Folksy vibesMusic: Tune into a listening session of Qasr, American urban folk composer Sheherazaad’s debut mini album, followed by a candid Q&A with the artiste. Time 6 pm At Subko, Chapel Road, Bandra West. Log on to @therevolverclub Entry RSVP mandatoryFree
Ballet for little feetKids: Get your kids to learn about the classical form of ballet with a special workshop. From pliés to en pointe, this session will introduce them to this graceful dance form.Age 4.5 years and above Time 4.30 pm to 5.30 pm At Hullaballoo Children’s Studio, Juhu. Call 9653410559 Cost Rs 1,000
Decoding SavitribaiTheatre: Take in an evening that celebrates a woman who defined feminism before its time in Sushama Deshpande’s Vhay! I am Savitribai. Time 7.30 pm At Harkat Studios, Aram Nagar Part 2, JP Road, Versova. Log on to insider.in Cost Rs 350
Korea on a platterFood: Hungry for tapas? Try chefs Ssuni and Yen from Busan’s delicious take on Korean tapas as the Sattori Food Labs from Busan visits the city. Taste the diversity of fare from fried chicken, dak ggochi and tteokbokki. Time 7.30 pm and 9.30 pm At Cafe Calma, August Kranti Road, Kemps Corner. Call 9930141178
Live in the fast lineSports Get your weekend thrill of high-octane action as the 2024 Formula One season kicks off with the Bahrain Grand Prix. Choose between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen as they go head-to-head once again. Time 8.30 pm At Studs The Bar and Grill, Thane West. Call 8282823064
Friends on canvasArt: Unleash your inner artist in an evening of nostalgia at this F.R.I.E.N.D.S-themed guided paint and trivia party. Take home your best Phoebe, Rachel, Joey or Chandler as a memento. Time 4 pm at Jamjar Diner, Hill Road, Bandra West. Call 8779479183 Cost Rs 1,600 (per person, inclusive of material)
On a high in MumbaiAdventure: Catch undiscovered glimpses of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park forest on this trek to Gaimukh, the second highest point in the park.Time 7 am to 10.30 am Meeting point Main Gate, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali East. Call 9833173564 Cost Rs 600 (includes internal transportation)
Speak easy eveningsPerform: Join an intimate conversation with poets and writers at this open mic event. It might be the perfect way to wind down your weekend with wholesome conversations. Time 1.45 pm onwards At Rasa The Stage, Goregaon West.Log on to @ankahibaatein events (to register) Cost Rs 100 (audience); Rs 250 (performer)
Winston Churchill knew a thing or two about actions that define an age. Perhaps it was this knowledge that led him to remark that ‘We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.’ It could not be truer in the case of Mumbai. After all, every resident of the city, and its far-flung suburbs, has been influenced by its spaces or lack thereof. Starting from this weekend, Art Deco Mumbai Trust in collaboration with the Mumbai Research Centre of The Asiatic Society of Mumbai will present an exhibition that highlights the Indian architects whose contribution laid the foundations of the urban lifestyle of the city today.
Swastik Court bas relief. File Pic
“We wanted to transition the conversation towards acknowledging Indian masters. They built large swathes of the city, designed it, and not only gave us a quality of life but also a way of living. Not just that, but they imbued a culture into the city as well,” says Atul Kumar, founder of Art Deco Mumbai Trust. The nine-day exhibition will feature talks, discussions and walkthroughs that offer insight to names such as Gajanan Baburao Mhatre, PC Dastur, Bhicaji Edulji Doctor and Dattatraya R Chowdhari among others.
Many of these names shaped the buildings that are now living monuments to the urban skyline of Mumbai. “If you ask anyone about Eros Cinema or Shivaji Park, they would know in an instant. But few know who designed them. Over the years, we have been in touch with several archivists and the families of these architects. This led to a unique exhibition that honours not just the individuals, but also many of the firms,” he adds.
Photograph of Sea Green Hotel, designed by Gajanan B Mhatre (right) with Suvernpatki & Vora; contributed by Sachin Goregaoker, grandson of Gajanan B Mhatre
It is often easy to forget that Mumbai once lacked the skyline that now defines it. The famed Art Deco buildings that line one side of Oval Maidan and Marine Drive’s promenade, were dreamed up in offices by their creators. “GB Mhatre, who designed Soona Mahal, was one such artist. His grandson Sachin Goregaoker, who will be attending the event, has shared several priceless notebooks of his drawings for the exhibition,” Kumar reveals. Another rare memento is the silver replica of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, designed by Doctor & Vazifdar. Then, there is Marathe & Kulkarni whose ideas shaped the now famed Shivaji Park and its neighbourhood in Dadar. “While we were researching, someone revealed how they [Marathe & Kulkarni] first built the park, and then approached the designs for the neighbourhood around it. This was an example of their high thinking,” he remarks.
Architecture, he explains, was not simply a work of bland buildings. “Many of them were products of Sir JJ School of Architecture. The artist Narayan Pansare, for instance, was the hand behind the iconic bas relief structures on the New India Assurance buildings in Fort among other works. Kumar notes, “He also designed the iconic Black Lady for the Filmfare Awards in 1960. The model of the statuette, lent by his son, will be on exhibit as will his personal drawings and notebooks.”Mustansir Dalvi, Professor of Architecture and trustee, Art Deco Mumbai, Trust adds that the works were just as much a product of the Art Deco movement and internationalism of the period from 1930s to 1950s. “The exhibition will have a lot of names, but for every name you could add another 10. There have been many Indian architects,” Dalvi notes, adding that there was a synergy that ran through the group during that period.
The New India Assurance Building in Fort was designed by architects Master Sathe & Bhuta with sculptural work by Narayan Ganesh Pansare. Pics Courtesy/ArtDecoMumbaiTrust
Kumar explains, “We have, in fact, a section titled Ethos of Collaboration. Many of these architects would actually work freely and offer help on request to their fellows. For instance, GB Mhatre would design a building, and simply forget to sign it. This was a group of people with a vision, and everything we enjoy about the city today is because of them.”
Kiran Pansare beside the bust sculpted by his father, artist Narayan Ganesh Pansare. This was a mock-up of the warrior-like figures on the facade of New India Assurance Building; (right) A photograph of Empress Court, contributed by Karl Bhote. The Art Deco building was designed by Gajanan B Mhatre with Contractor Kanga & Co
Yet, why is it that people pass by these buildings without any curiosity about their creators? Dalvi has an insight. He says, “These buildings formed an urban fabric; they were not monumental, standalone structures. Such buildings often form a background to your life. For 80 to 90 years, people lived happily within them without any concern about who designed these structures. It is only now that we are in a state of retrospective interest, and appropriately so, about these Indian architects.”
The exhibition, Kumar says, seeks to change this notion. “It is a collection of memorabilia, photographs and art works. No one knows how CM Master or GB Mhatre looked like. To juxtapose the person, their work, philosophy and education together in an exhibition offers a different perspective. These were responsive creators focused on ensuring a higher quality of life for the city,” he concludes.
That alone earns them a space in the hall of fame of architecture, especially in the real estate of Mumbai, we think.
ON March 2; 11.30 am (inauguration), 2 pm to 6 pm; March 3 to March 10, 10.30 am to 6 pm AT Durbar Hall, Asiatic Society of Mumbai, SBS Marg, Fort. LOG ON TO artdecomumbaitrust.com to registerFREE
Designs on Mumbai
Interiors of Liberty Cinema. File Pic
. Learning from the pastA talk with Ojus Chowdhari, grandson of Dattatray Chowdhari, senior partner of Gregson, Batley and King, the firm that designed Bank of India and South Court buildings in Malabar Hill.ON March 2; 3 pm AT Durbar Hall, Asiatic Society of Mumbai.
. Liberty Cinema – Showpiece of the NationA walk through the iconic Art Deco interiors of one of Mumbai’s showpiece theatres.ON March 5; 11.30 am AT Liberty Cinema, New Marine Lines.
. The story of Soona MahalA conversation with Mehernosh Sidhwa, third-generation owner of the iconic Soona Mahal on Marine Drive.ON March 6; 11 amAT Durbar Hall, Asiatic Society of Mumbai.
Would you get up from your bed past midnight if you hear an unusual sound — a woman wailing in the distance or the noise from your TV set that you recall having switched off? If your answer is yes, here’s a plan for horror nuts like you. Wench Film Festival, a horror and sci-fi film festival, is back with its fourth edition.
With 30 films to be screened over the four-day festival at Andheri’s Veda Factory, the schedule includes immersive workshops, panel discussions, interaction with directors and filmmakers post screenings, and an opportunity to witness 15 enthusiasts make promising movie pitches to producers. “This is our second-ever offline event,” reveals founder Sapna Bhavnani, adding that when she started the film festival in 2020, it was aimed at making the festival women-centric.
“The first year, we didn’t have any one genre; we wanted to offer a platform to women filmmakers. However, I soon realised that while other genres still have women filmmakers, horror at that point had less than 0.2 per cent female creators,” she says, explaining the reason to organise a genre-specific film festival, which includes works from the people of the LGBTQiA+ community and non-binary filmmakers.
“The word ‘wench’ actually means a girl child, but over time, it developed a negative connotation and now alludes to promiscuous women. Our aim is to retain its original meaning,” explains Bhavnani. The opening night will witness the Indian premiere of When the Devil Roams by John Adams, Zelda Adams and Toby Poser. Poser, who flew down to Mumbai from the USA yesterday, tells this writer that the movie is about a family of murderous sideshow performers. “I am honoured to bring this movie to India. I will also conduct a workshop that will teach the participants how to make independent films,” Poser says.
Bhavnani notes that horror is scientifically proven as a tool to calm down. “It is also the best medium to offer a social message. After all, it is fantasy; you have full liberty to add demons and vampires to deliver an impactful message,” she signs off.
A still from the trailer of animated movie Sultana’s Dream
Age group 18 and aboveOn February 29 to March 3 At Veda Black Box by Veda Factory, Versova, Andheri West. Log on to wenchfilmfestival.com (for schedule); insider.in (for passes) Cost Rs 199 onwards
The Guide’s top 5 picks
>> Wicked beatsThis performance by hip-hop artiste Krantinaari (in pic) is sure to send you on a spooky trance.On February 29; 5 pm
>> The mysterious MatrixIn this retelling of The Matrix, popular culture podcast and collective Greek Fruit will conduct an immersive and exclusive table reading of the script with live performances.On February 29; 4 pm
>> The power of wordsLearn how to write impactful scripts with director and author Kaizad Gustad.On March 2; 4:30 pm
>> For kidsAnimated movie Sultana’s Dream by Isabel Herguera is one of the few movies at the festival that can be watched by children.On March 3; 5.30 pm
>> Go independentDirector Toby Poser will guide you on how to create independent films with less resources.On March 1; 7 pm
How did you come across Ajay Giri?Ajay is the Field Director of one of our [Madras Crocodile Bank Trust/see box] field stations, the Rainforest Research Station in the Western Ghats [ARRS]. He joined ARRS as a volunteer on our king cobra telemetry project some 15 years ago, and it has been rewarding to watch his growth in terms of his skills as a rescuer; it means handling not just snakes, but people as well.
You’ve written extensively about wildlife and the environment. Why was it important to share his story, especially with young readers?Well, for one, he’s a great role model for children; a conservationist who has both the knowledge and passion to be effective. Also, as a writer, you want to share stories that move you, and this — his life and work — is certainly one of those stories that inspired me.
In Ajay of Agumbe, you’ve focused on telemetry as a means to study snakes? What makes it a vital field of animal study?Again, there’s a strong personal element here as well. I find the telemetry studies in our field stations — ARRS and the gharial study on the Chambal — fascinating, and have been lucky enough to see them in action for many years. It’s an amazing tool for animal study, especially cryptic species that are otherwise hard to observe. Although my role has been mostly limited to that of a desk babu — applying for permits and licenses and writing reports — I’ve also been on the field enough number of times to feel the stabs of excitement as an animal is located using this simple, but clever piece of equipment.
What was Ajay’s reaction when he saw the first copy of this book?The book is currently on StoryWeaver, and is due to be printed soon. So, Ajay has seen the PDF. Both of us are stunned by Rajiv Eipe’s illustrations, particularly the way he has captured Ajay’s gestures, expressions, movements, and of course, his portrait! Rajiv visited ARRS last year while I was there, with his sketch pad and pencil: no camera. He was constantly doodling away, in a casual sort of way, and has done a fantastic job for the book; better than a camera could possibly have.
Could you tell our readers about the natural wonders of Agumbe?Agumbe is a gem within a gem in the Western Ghats with magic species like the draco or flying lizard, dancing frogs, king cobras, beautiful birds like the trogon and hornbill. A black panther has been camera-trapped at the ARRS gate, and giant squirrels chuckle loudly in the canopy. The place makes for a great visit for people who are especially interested in rainforest ecology, and even more interested in being educated than watching TV during a holiday!
Log on to: pratham.org
About the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (MCBT)
Over the last 40 years, apart from its main location for conservation and scientific research, the Trust has built four research centres in some of India’s most sensitive and diverse habits. These include Centre of Herpetology in Chennai, the Andaman & Nicobar Environmental Team (ANET) in South Andaman Island, the Gharial Conservation Alliance (GCA) in the Chambal River and the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station (ARRS) in Karnataka’s Western Ghats.
Log on to: madrascrocodilebank.org
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