Monday, February 28, 2005

art and lies

have just finished jeanette wintersons’ ‘art and lies’. three characters handel – catholic doctor contemplating his body and the body of his women patients, picasso – woman painter abused at home and sappho the spirit of the lesbian poet whose independent narratives intermingle in distinct ‘themes’ to tell a story about identity, gender, art and love. a difficult prose-poetry novel.. disturbing, opaque and extremely beautifully written.. an extract below..

Curiosity and desire for beauty in equal measure. These are the flares that light her face. She is a light to see by, though not of trees and wood, wood with a gift for burning, the light that consumes her is her own.

On her face, the play of light is theatrical. Rapt effect, concentration, the arch of her eyebrows, the pageant of her hair. Here in subtle staging are the nuances of nature and the refinements of art. That a piece of work she is, at once original and well known. Applaud her? I will, and something more, offer her a beauty fit for her own. A gift of burning – The word.

What comes first? The muser or the Muse?

For Sappho (lesbian c. 600 BC Occupation: Poet), herself, always, muser and the muse. The writer and the word. Strange then, that what is left of her beauty should be interred under the commonplace of facts. And not facts. The search for truth is tainted with willing falsehoods. The biographer, hand on heart, violates the past. The biographer, grave robber and body snatcher, trading in sensational dist, while the living spirit slips away. The biographer, inventory of pots and pans, dates and places, auction house and charnel house in one room.

So little of her remains. Her remains are scandalous. The teasing bones that shock and delight. Yet, it is certain, that were every line of her still extant, biographers would not be concerned wither meter or her rhyme. There would be one burning question from out the burning book. Not Sophocles, but Savonarola, with his raging face . . .

What do Lesbians do in bed?

‘Tell them’ said Sophia, the Ninth Muse.

Tell them?

‘There’s no such thing as autobiography, there’s only art and lies’


Sunday, February 27, 2005

party lights at madh

the dancefloor in the silence before the party

drove alone on a dark road listening to rachmaninoff to prajna's celebration party. the music took on new meaning..

a lot of people from her class were there including amit, mayuri, prasad, hasnain and a bunch of others from various years before and after her batch- ateya, saachin 'boytoy', sonal shah, nilesh, yogita..

prajna's batch was the class that i got closest to in the years that i have taught at krvia- perhaps too close is what many would say. i cant help but be attached to all of them. to see them yesterday night partly out of school gaining paunches and becoming older was strangely sad and beautiful at the same time. felt like giving them all one large collective hug.

after a while the others slept in weird positions on floors or on the one existing bed, or spoke 'deep thoughts' into the night with the pink floyd soundtrack that seems to emerge at the end of each party. thats when i left in a rachmaninoff drive back home and slept.

'deep thought' expressed in a conversation last night: 'some people you love you cant talk to, others you can talk to but you cant love.' true?

Saturday, February 26, 2005


arnav- shyam and roopali's son

roopali and arnav

finally.. here are the photographs of arnav- shyam and roopali's son. congratulations guys!!! and babu- thanks for the snaps..

highway machines

more- this time in malad.

more experimenta 2005.. this time with blurbs..

Nicky Hamlyn ‘Water Water’ - 2003 16mm silent colour 11min
Reflections and refractions of lights, alternated in hard, optical flicker and gliding dissolves. basically lots of lights floating in and out of focus with reflections and refractions.. duh..

Neil Henderson ‘Polaroid Films’ - 2004 16mm silent colour 9min
This film originated out of a desire to simply capture the arrival of an image. With Polaroid photographs there is a sense of anticipation with the image coming into being out of the whiteness of the film stock. This tension or anticipation is unique to Polaroid film. The films presented here represent an attempt to capture this anticipation and turn it into a filmic event.
[Premiered at launch 2004]
white screen to image.. 4 or 5 times.

Butler/Mirza ‘Bombay Heights’ - 2005 16mm silent [length to be completed]
A work in progress - shot in Bombay during Experimenta 2004
images of an apartment building in bombay overlapping over and over again , i 3 movements each almost identical but with only colour seperation.

Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen ‘Fade to Light’ - 2004 16mm silent colour 1min
Scratches applied directly onto the filmstrip gradually obscure an image of a candle.
[Premiered at launch 2004]

Emma Hart ‘Skin Film’ - 2003 16mm silent colour 11min
"Going from my head to my toes I stuck strips of splicing tape to myself, taking off the top layer of my skin. I then stuck this down onto clear 16mm film leader, using 300 feet in total. It is my actual skin that goes through the projector. I have made a film of how much space I take up and this takes 11 minutes to watch" [EH]
i know it sounds like nonsense and was pretty much as far as image on screen for 11 mintues is concerned.. but the idea of this woman performing this bizarre act was always there as part of the experience of the film somewhere in the backgroud.. dont know if it was experimental film or performance art.

David Hall and Tony Sinden ‘Between 1973’ - 16mm, sound, colour, 19min
David Hall and Tony Sinden ‘This Surface 1973’ - 16mm sound colour 19min
‘Between' and 'This Surface' are two films from the series:View, This Surface, Actor, Edge and Between made by David Hall and Tony Sinden in 1973. The films explore the relationship between screen image and spatio-temporal illusion - the materiality of the screen in relationship to the image as representation.
another exploration of the screen as a space of representation.. not very exciting- both these films- one in particular was a guy carrying a camera in between a screen and projector many many many (too many) times..

Chris Welsby ‘Colour Separation’ - 1974-1976 16mm silent colour 2min
This film is based on the colour separation process. High contrast film stock was run three times through a stationary camera, once for each of the light primaries. In the composite image, anything moving is represented in primary or secondary colour whilst anything still, having been filmed through all three filters, is represented in 'correct' colour [CW]
some boats on the water. in three colours overlayed. ok, i guess..

Nicolas Rey ‘Terminus For You’ - 1996 16mm sound b/w 10min
Shot in a Paris subway with high contrast stock - the film becomes a revelry of the chemical process of reticulation.
black and white grainy shots of escalators and people on them that then distort.. dont music videos do this stuff all the time? with or without 'reticulation'

Pip Chodorov ‘Charlemagne 2: Piltzer’ - 2002 16mm sound colour 22min
A precise notation of a concert by Charlemagne through a process of visual discordance. The 6495 notes played in the concert correspond to 6923 frames of super 8 film. No frames are left out or were printed twice. The speed of notes playing controls the speed of frame succession. Discordant diminished fifths are translated into the following methods of visual discordance: flicker between negative and positive, between blue/yellow, between red/green, between different flicker frequencies, between clusters of b/w negative and monochromatic frames, between left right screen masking and mirror image printing, between crossfading between negative and positive images.
extremely tiring and not doing anything else besides whats written above.

Pierre-Yves Cruaud ‘Le Silence Est En Marche’ - France 2001 DV sound colour 3min30
“A horizontal arrangement of bands of light slowly gives way to emerging human forms, seen from above, passing through the frame. Through digital manipulation, a situation is suggested, but never seen” (Mark Webber)
like looking out of a window and watching people go by..

Ho Tam ‘In The Dark’ - Canada 2004 DV sound colour 6min
Made in the year after the SARS crisis, using video technology, but referencing the languages of experimental films, this video re-visits the images collected from the Toronto media. Through black and white re-photographed pictures, all we can see is the darkness of a time passed, a city under attacks and assaults, politicians scrambling for words of comfort, citizens living in a state of fear, distrust, paranoia and shame.
ok- we got it. the text is the movie.

Ichiro Sueoka ‘Studies for Serene Velocity’ - Japan 2003 DV sound colour 6min
This is one of the “Requiem for Avant-Garde Film” series work. It refers to Ernie Gehr's masterpiece film, “Serene Velocity” (1970, US). The rapidity of the alternation of shots, and the sense of increasing distance between represented spaces, creates images of superimposition. The disjunction between the structure of the film as discrete units, and the appearance of superimposition makes the viewer conscious of the distorting illusion which causes the transformation. Just as the film object is filtered through a distorting mechanism, so all perceptions of the exterior are mediated by the individual's consciousness.
dunno bout all that but the film worked for me cus of the staitonary interior shots that were juxtaposd with each other.

Reynald Drouhin ‘Beta Girl’ - France 2004 DV sound colour
“This is the rabbit hole into my world. I hope you all do stay a bit here in Wonderland, for I'm quite interested in visitors. I often get lonely all by my Cheshire Cat self. It's just sort of nice to know that someone is looking; here I'm defenseless, no guards, just me. In between all the spaces I touch I'm here now. There's an infinite amount of babble to be spouted but for now lets begin our broadcasting day. Stay here with me and keep me company because even if I don't see you there, I can feel you.” [Airalin]
a film about beta girl- a woman who lives perpetually on line. a stationary camera allows us ot look at her as she sleeps, eats pizza and watches tv.

Guido Braun ‘The Green House Revisited’ - Germany 2004 DV sound colour 6min22
The green house revisited is a sensitive love-story with one extraordinary colour. It is dedicated to Mrs. Marion Graef of Giessen (Germany), who died several months before Guido Braun and Stella Friedrichs had the unique opportunity to capture these pictures of her lovely, but strange, mint green world.
really interesting film about legacy, memory, space and love.

Gurvinder Singh ‘Passage’ - India 2004 DV sound colour 8min47
A Passage of time and drifting sounds through a house whose inhabitants work dexterously. intense close ups on insects in an apartment. claimed to have been influenced by tarkovsky. did absolutely nothing for me.

Mukul Kishore, ‘Snapshots from a Family Album’ - India 2004 DV sound colour 63min
“Family and home, the definitions of both were to put to test over the years when my parents were working out of different cities. Both of them were nearing retirement, while my brother and I were settling down in our respectives professions. 'Snapshots from a Family Album' is a look at my family over those five years.” [MK]
what can i say.. fabulous! the reaction from the audience was also great.. shai heredia gushed about it in the introduction and 'moving, delicate, personal yet universal' generally a hit.

Noud Heerkens, ‘Re-Action in A’ - 1976 16mm b&w magnetic-sound 6min
A man is alone in a factory. His loneliness is visualised with fascinating moving camera techniques and a mesmerising soundtrack.
music video no 2

Marie Losier, ‘Lunch Break on the Xerox Machine’ - USA 2003 16mm b&w sound 3min
“For 3 months, every day at 1pm I would hide in the copy room at work and lay my face on the Xerox machine. The result: a rhythmic animation of my face eating my fist.” ML
distorted surreal black and white faces and hands.

Amit Dutta, ‘Kshya Tra Ghya’ - India 2004 35mm sound colour 22min
A boy (who is also an old man) tries to tell a story. This film is in two parts. The first part deals with the ritual of a boy going to school, and the second part deals with the story-book. With a rhythmic structure, this abstract narrative tale is told using in-camera special effects. Mythological references have been used as puns, some of the riddles are from Somdev's book Katahsaritsagar, and some of the stories from Milord Pavic's "Dictionary of the Khazars".
the most intereting 'experimental' film i saw yesterday.. folk tales told using a non-narrative structure. stunning visuals and great sound work blurred the bnoundaries between fable and real. still dont understand what the stories were and perhaps a tad too opaque- but as he said in the q&a later 'i am not aiming for the conscious, my target is the unconscious'.. hmm.

Friday, February 25, 2005

wishful thinking

rahuls house at d n nagar needs some work but would make a nice office space.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

the krvia as a dragon(?)

sonal my love.. as you have your strange objects thatland on the lawns at spa.. here is ours at krvia.. supposedly the tail and the horns of the building when it came alive for a brief week at the end of last year. today they lie as installation art in the lawns assembled together by some 2nd yr students with no one having the energy to get rid of them.

doggy daddy party

'hyper' - usha maushi and dharmu mama's dog has sired a bunch of pups in borivili..
in celebration of the birth of these a party was held at my house..
these are a few photographs form there.
top left- the proud father..
top center- my mother..
top right - my mother and usha maushi..
bottom left- rahul and sushma..
bottom center - dharmu mama and hemant mama..
bottom right - the sisters yet again with the proud father..

sernya - tibetan food at andheri

hmm tibetan food at lokhandwala.. near the lotus petrol pump.. fabulous food. sernya is the name of the place. highly recommened.. everything we ordered was fabulous- mom, dad, mukul and me had gone there on sunday..the thukpa is truly divine..
dont be too put off by the weirdly coloured photograph up there.. just wanted ot show the black sauce which had ginger and garlic paste in it.. i am hungry again..

bullock truck chariot

a shiny decorated something on the western express highway..part bullock cart, part truck, part chariot.. the horns of the bullocks match the paint of the steel.. cool, eh?

daddy shyam mommy roopali

this announcement to celebrate the birth of my childhood friend shyam and hi wife roopali's first child. still don't know the new entrants name.. will post it with a photo as soon as i find it.. (are you listening shyamu- send it to me!!!)

congratulations and love and give the boy a kiss from rohan uncle (imagine being called that!)

experimenta 2005

i couldn't help it.. thought i would definitely not post another film review.. but this i cant let go of..

yesterday tejal shah of gay activist-artist fame with lots of foreign funding had an 'encounter' in college. she showed her surprisingly not too awful but not terribly exciting work to a bunch of 17-20 year old children. thankfully, there was no extremely militant posturing and the work was still allowed to express its rather mundane observations regarding loneliness (a film that consisted of a shot of lake michigan with the sounds of tejals mom making phone calls to her making a 'liminal' space to spend time in) or gender (a film where on a split screen tejal and some other artist wearing blue shirts- first shave and then wear make up and then take the make up off. )

then in the evening after a meeting at the aga khan offices at marine lines i stepped into 'experimenta 2005'.. the third season of an 'experimental film festival' at the british council at nariman point. maybe i need to just be able to explain the films to you..

the first film was a 'cameraless' film.. 'skin flick'. a woman (she had to be white) had stuck tape all over her body and then methodically peeled it off and pasted it on 16mm film. this was then projected for us to see. 11 minutes of her skin. Next- a guy carrying a camera in an auditorium walks to the screen and then walks back to the projector in loop for a long time. then a candle that shot through scratched film.. then some apartment buildings in bombay that were shown in different levels of saturation - thrice..

and many more such.. and we saw them religiously expecting to be moved (?) intellectually stimulated(?)- i don't know what.

i guess it must be about form and technique that the experiments were.. complicated processes of shooting or developing that as much part of the 'experience' as watching because quite frankly while watching the films i did not see anything that could not be acheived with some basic animation package. that makes me think- does it not? what is it then the nature of experimental film. mukul tells me it is a hangover from the 60's when people were playing with the 'medium' itself.. to achieve new forms of cinema..

i guess for me the search for new form needs to be informed by a search for more relevant ways to deal with the questions plaguing the medium. as a layman i dont know the questions that concern the medium. i only watch. to me the films did not work as experiences cus i really don't care about the experiment as the consciousness of the particular experiment is an essential part of the viewing.

or then again there might be the phenomenological- or the poetic moving image- abstract and sublime that i was supposed to imbibe. for me to imbibe i needed to contextualise the image.. place it in a relationship with me to be able to relate to it. pure image like abstract art rarely is able to draw me in, except perhaps a mark rothko or a jackson pollock..

'experimenta' interested me as a space though. these strange people trying things out.. very cutting edge/avant-garde.. everyone was young, good looking, liberal..belonged to the fancy designer shirted, clubbing, smooth lot that fancies itself intellectual.. those in the film world most studied at some film school in new york or london.. i guess 'experimentation' takes on this meaning there..

anyways, we drank free red wine and some really nice crackers and hummus..

confusion: what in the world is mukul's documentary doing in these surroundings? friday screening by the way.. see it if you haven't yet..

Monday, February 21, 2005

the princess diaries

god ! this blog is gradually becoming a film review piece. the third in a row! ridiculous.. what to do? we are like this only..
i think hollywood should only make films like 'the princess diaries'. silly fluff with no pretentions of seriousness in any way. anne hathaway is charming and julie andrews is beautiful. a cinderalla story like so many other teen films, completely predictable and i could not care less.. didnt i just say (in the earlier post) that narrative does not matter.. give me some more of that candy floss.. its pink , its sweet, pointless and disappears when ingested..
perfect for tv when you have got home early and decided to vegetate for the rest of the day after getting a rather violent massage (courtesy kerala ayurvedic in borivili east) and had a long hot bath in hot water with two drops of lavender oil that i can still smell as i type..
time to get back to my bed and continue my book- 'art & lies' and listen to more morose russian romantic music.
wish it was friday.


an improvisation on the theme of the longing one feels for home or a place where one belongs. the bare framework of a narrative is a russian poet visiting italy to research a composer who had spent some time in that country before the yearning for the homeland pushes him back to russia. during the time that the poet spends in italy he meets people and experiences spaces and events that are used allegorically to express the primary themes of the film. much like the other tarkovsky films i have seen (especially ’mirror’) these disjointed fragments are held together by the thin string of a storyline where images are used to create a moving poem of a film.

i know here that by the use of ‘poem’ i fall for the ambiguous generalisation that plagues most critique that appreciates a work of art. how many times have we heard that word used to allow a vague mistiness to envelop our understanding of a piece. however, i cant help but use it in this case because i think that with narrative being only a thin string holding together the images tarkovsky is not trying to ‘tell a story’ at all. instead he is ‘sculpting with time’- to use his term. after watching the film i think i understand what he means.

time is treated almost as physical material shaped by the frame and the edit to create a work of art with its themes, rhythms and movements. the story is just another device used in this process.

the rules by which we are used to seeing films are transformed by this process. no longer do we look for consistency and logic of events, but instead, i think, a mood, a notion, a phenomenon that i can find expressed, much like the appreciation of a piece of music where the lyrics don’t matter.

unforgettable image: the poet trying to carry a burning candle across the tank of a spa.

mukul's post on 'nostalghia'

''- an andrei tarkovsky site

Sunday, February 20, 2005

shabd - an analysis

finally a film that breaks the mould of the conventional by inserting a subtext of an unrequited same sex love under the wrapper of a conventional commercial film. perhaps this glossy wrapper is also chosen as a reference to the ‘surface’ created by the central protagonist to conceal from himself as well as ‘the other’ desire seen as illegitimate. perhaps it would be worthwhile here to first quickly draw out a basic storyline of the piece by writer-director leena yadav. this exploration of inner turmoil is told through the narrative of a love triangle (a shape with its own symbolic meaning).

shaukat (sanjay dutt - perhaps ‘the’ symbol of the generative power of manhood in the popular imagery of hindi films) plays a once successful writer who has lost his ability to create. to regain it, he asks his wife antara (aishwarya rai) to make love to a dynamic young man called yash (zayed khan). antara and yash start getting close to each other encouraged by shaukat’s prodding. trapped in the conventions of a heterosexual relationship shaukat uses antara as a medium to connect to yash- a symbol of youth and creativity (he is a photographer), and make love to him through his wife. the world of his imagination creates his feminine alter ego in the shape of his wife (tamanna) through whom his satisfies his libidinous desires. the real and the unreal intertwine and lead to the eventual madness that had to be the culmination of a life led in the denial of the self.

symbols abound in the film beginning with the names of the characters itself. while ‘shaukat’ our central protagonist means power, ‘antara’ – the dutiful wife is the second note of a composition. ‘yash’ refers to the victory of self fulfillment over the conventions of society and ‘tamanna’ the dark desire that lurks within. the inability of shaukat to create has to be read as the impotence of the male when attempting to conceal his lust for another man. these are only some of the more apparent symbols and associations that can be seen in the film. many more of them can be seen like body piercing, phallus shaped cactuses, etc.

the image that becomes the metaphor for the films are the alphabets that seem to float around in the dream like sequences shot in glowing black and white. These seed like fragments float around in a liquid attempting to articulate themselves into a word. From an in depth analysis of the film it is apparent that the word they were looking for is g-a-y.

shaukat - the self in denial

yash - the object of desire

tamanna - the medium

antara - the pierced alter ego

Saturday, February 19, 2005


always a sucker for melodrama, i finally found western classical music that really moved me.
so far i have been generally staring at the surface of the music looking at patterns, appreciating the melody, until i came upon rachmaninoff's piano concerto no 2 and no 3 yesterday - deeply melancholic and sad with a heavy brooding orchestral web from which the piano struggles to break free.

in spite of my professed annoyance with self flagellating artists and their self obsession- when it works their romantic disposition becomes my own.

Friday, February 18, 2005

that aerial view of south mumbai

looking south.. the docklands ot the left, marine drive to the right, cst to the bottom right, the green areas are the oval, cross and azad maidan, nariman point and cuffe parade in the distance. and somewhere over there in the middle of it all the gateway of india, rajabai tower, the stock exchange, etc etc..

the architecture of the impossible dream

RK Studios Reconstruction

Check Naka


Urban Design Research Institute

what you see above ar some of the examples of the entrants for the 'charles correa gold medal' from the other colleges of the city. while some of them are just plain ordinary buildings with terribly overstuffed architecture, some others were perhaps interesting programs that were completely overwhelmed by the scale of the building chosen.

none of them were particularly- dare i say it - 'philosophical' in their approach. the projects veered between banal functionalism and self-aggrandizing formalism. what worries me is that those two approaches seem to be the only ones that architects seem to imagine performing themselves, even when they have been give the authority to imagine an unfettered possibility.

sea view

Amisha at Sea View

last evening, beer at sea view.
watching tourists troop down in droves and stand in line to watch the ocean.
from 5 in the evening when the sun dipped below the shade above us so that we squinted as we ate badly cooked prawns; till 8.30 after which was the long drive home on the western express highway.

ainsley and shweta were 'amazed' that such a place existed- i wonder why there is only one such space that exists when the city has such a long shore line.

must post that aerial view of south mumbai.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

watch this space

apologies to my regular readers .. for some strange reason my blog had stopped working for the past three days.. but now it seems as if the problem is solved.. so watch out for more shameless exposure- in mukuls words- watch this space..

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Joanna Newsom

a harpist singer song writer on the right side of eccentric poet.. funny odd literate imagery that ranges from the everyday to the fable like - or is it the fable like everyday.

"The sight of bridges and balloons
makes calm canaries irritable;
they caw and claw all afternoon:
"Catenaries and dirigibles
brace and buoy the living-room --
a loom of metal, warp - woof - wimble."
And a thimblesworth of milky moon
can touch hearts larger than a thimble."

the jail and the city

hello everybody..
as promised here is prajna's synopsis of the thesis that won her the gold medal . so here goes..

Transforming Urban Institutions-
Case for a marriage of Arthur Road Jail, Mumbai.

The thesis began with an attempt to focus upon the apparata of a disciplinary society as insidious mechanisms of social control ; upon how some discourses1 have shaped and created meaning, systems that have gained the status of ‘truth’ and dominate how we define and organise, both ourselves and our social world.
For instance, the institutions of the family, the school, the hospital, the prison serve as such mechanisms that seek to inculcate the human being in the ‘proper’ behaviour of society. While the school defines our knowledges, the family seeks to enforce the discipline of societies, larger moral codes, right from our early childhood. These apparata-institutions act as the seat of power in a society through which operations of social ordering are executed.

If it is true that the mechanism of discipline is becoming clearer and more extensive, it is all the more urgent to discover how an entire society resists being reduced to it, what popular procedures (also miniscule and quotidian) manipulate the mechanisms of discipline and conform to them only in order to evade them (knowingly or unknowingly), and finally, what ‘ways of operating’ form the counterpart. These ‘ways of operating’ constitute the innumerable practices by means of which users reappropriate the space organized by the same apparata.
The goal thus, is to perceive and analyze the operations working within these disciplinary mechanisms and deflecting their functioning; contrary, in that the goal is not to make clearer how the violence of order is transmuted into a disciplinary technology, but rather to bring to light, and build a case for the resistive forms taken by the dispersed, and the makeshift creativity of groups or individuals already caught in the nets of ‘discipline.’

marriages in the city
‘Marriage is a ‘matrimonial form’ that not only structures a social tie- - a personal relationship between the two partners, but also fixes the complementarity of roles in the management of a household. The art of married living defines the relation that is dual in form, universal in value, and specific in its intensity and strength… The naturalness of marriage, had been broadly founded on a series of reasons: the indispensable joining of the male and female for procreation; the necessity of prolonging this conjunction, of transforming it into a stable union in order to ensure the education of the offspring; the combination of assistance, comforts and pleasures that married life can provide, with its services and its obligations; and lastly, the forming of the family as the basic unit of the city.’2

The concept of 'Marriage' in the city has evolved as a method of combining urban resources like land, infrastructure, finance by the collaboration of diverse institutions in the city giving rise to newer / mutated institutions that share a symbiotic relationship with each other to exist in the same and multiple spaces.
For e.g. a school for architectural education in Juhu, leases out its auditorium for public ceremonies on weekends and public holidays. While the additional use of the auditorium brings in finance for the school trust, it alters the functioning of the school spatially, in converse; public ceremonies are conducted on the basis of the availability of the premise rather than on an auspicious date determined by the religious calendar.

The thesis uses this concept of marriage - of completely realigning the social and economic arrangements of its subjects through the ritual of a ‘marriage ceremony’- to further assist / structure change in the urban institutions. Thus, it attempts to break the monolith of the institutions, through transformation by negotiations, rather than confrontation.
The concept of marriage also suggests ‘an event’, a celebration that needs to be acknowledged by a society that stands witness to the unison.

the urban jail
The prison, as a social institution of discipline, represents the sovereign power in its highest form. It uses the legitimacy of law to exercise its operations on its subjects for the creation of a ‘civil’ society by isolation of its deviant members thus classifying them as criminal, perverts, neurotic, madmen in need of reprogramming and evaluation.
However, the understanding of the prison has shifted in the last decade to that of an institution for correction, identifying the convict as a victim of sociological disorder and one in need of sympathy and care.
The prison so reconceptualized, however, has remained outside the spatial realm of the everyday life of cities and the people within them, making the transitions between the two, still an arduous process.

The thesis takes up the case of Arthur Road Jail, Mumbai, thus instituted in the outskirts of the city of Bombay (1926). The northward development of the city engulfing the jail in its centre, along with the evolved criminological and penal studies, have given the Arthur Road Jail a new context, providing basis for its urgent transformation as an institution in the city.

the marriage proposal
The thesis proposes the marriage of the Arthur Road Jail to a production unit using the notion of ‘work’ as a two way tool in the marriage –
one as a disciplinary mechanism - to inculcate the ‘right way of life’ by participation in processes of production, through a fixed timetable,
and the other in the form of manual labour - to produce commodities that would bring in revenue to activate other programs in the prison, now being carried out by NGOs from across the city.

The ‘marriage ceremony’ of the prison and the production house occurs in the public space - an ‘event’ vouching for their unison; while the new interface consciously attempts the reconciliation of the prison with the city around it.

architectural design
The design intervention proposes a new programmatic wall that moderates its starkness as a divisive wall to that of a massive backdrop to the public space, released along the most important edge of the site. The public space is enlivened with the new programs of the prison - the library, the canteen, the exhibition, the courthouse, all of which have their own narratives for the urban jail, supplied by the attached work units of the press, the kitchen and the tool box on the inner side of the magnificent security wall.
These new programs for the city, thus, become the multiple entry points into the prison, physical and programmatic, allowing for a new relationship to emerge between the urban jail and the city.

The thesis is an attempt to reconceptualise the institution of the urban jail, by marrying it to a production unit, such that through its produced commodities, it becomes a part of the everyday events of the city.

1 Discourse, according to Foucault, refers to ‘ways of constituting knowledge, together with the social practices, forms of subjectivity and power relations - They are more than ways of thinking and producing meaning. They constitute the ‘nature’ of the body, unconscious and conscious mind and emotional life of the subjects they seek to govern…’
2 Foucault, The Care of the Self, 1990.

kaena- la prophetie

sunday morning films can be so sleep inducing. this one more than others.. animation that looked like a video game, predictable characters that spoke out of the 'easy handbook for hollywood dialogue writers', a story line that was about two intertwined universes and variously shaped species and the usual armageddon about world ending.. the heroine 'kaena' saves the day by being sucked into a blue globe while slimy black worms look on.

think i will watch 'ajantrik' today so i will have something more interesting to talk about here.

i find it strange that i now look for events to record here than look at recording events here.

her royal highness prajna rao

meet prajna rao.. our new youth icon- in spite of her unfortunate tendency to vote for silly looking boys on 'indian idol' - today won the 'Charles Correa Gold Medal' for best thesis in Mumbai.

once upon a time a student of mine.. today she scales the heights of fame, fortune and power- while we who knew her once gaze up at the sky and say "is it a bird (hot chick)? is it a plane (surface)? no its supergirl! - or as ninad's book on bedtime stories for a politically correct world would say 'SUPERPERSON!!"

Four years in a row now krvia wins the award...

congratulations manoj (her guide) and of course my wishes to her royal highness too..

meanwhile.. rao- could you please send me the synopsis and an image of the thesis.
.. i will post it on my blog and tell everyone in the world how wonderful a project it was.

and in 'indian idol' news.. as prajna is 'in', prajakta is 'out'.

Friday, February 11, 2005

pazz and jop 2004

on my annual hunt for new music to listen to- since i am rather tired of the hip-hop scene that is all over the charts, the pazz and jop poll is one of my favorite guides. the music is often quirky, strange and if nothing else - always interesting. this time though (like i think two years back) a hip hop album tops the poll. i don't think i am going to venture into that territory and most of the others i already have.. like brian wilson's 'smile' or loretta lynn's 'van lear rose'- both of which i was not too taken by.

the pazz and jop poll by the way is an annual compilation of favorite albums and singles chosen by critics from all over the us carried out by 'The Village Voice' newspaper, one of my favorite reads on the net with its strident leftist alternative stance and interesting writers like 'the dean of rock critics' - Robert Christgau.

Here is a link to this years Pazz and Jop Poll

Inspirational quote: "Rappers are supposed to project self-important, manly aggression. If we want nerdy defensive boasts, we've already got the Internet."

Keith Harris
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


this post just for bahaar.. great friend of mine for ages now.. terrific person and completely adorable.
here is a link to the web site of her and her brother kaif's architecture and interior design firm..

Faquih and Associates

Monday, February 07, 2005

'the hours'

all that sadness..
not the sadness of sudden trauma- that too-
but more the sadness of just plain living.
within all of us.

The Hours on the IMDB

the amazing benefits of the slum rehabilitation agency to the city



once upon a time there was a playground just off the heavy traffic of akurli road in kandivili east. that was before it was declared 'encroached upon' by the sra and some local thug with the right connections (note balasaheb directing the debacle in the name board.)

today its a really tall very ugly building in the middle of a extremely dense street. now where will the shiv senas shahka goondas get their daily workout i wonder.. too bad they did not think this through before shamelessly giving away an open space to the builders lobby.

part of a survey that i am carrying out for Citispace.

you should see some of the other so called playgrounds that have been returned to the city - the purported benefit of the scheme for the 'greater common good'. small little strips where there were once gardens and/or well maintained jogging tracks, etc which can be accessed only from the sale component that the builder gets to sell in exchange for housing the poor people.

ridiculous this blatant corruption.
feel like walking around holding a placard about it...

Sunday, February 06, 2005

john and mary's new lic flat

john and mary bought a new flat in lic- two lanes away from ours and one lane away from his. it was good to meet them again after such a long time. we spent some time in the flat wondering what kind of work it is going to take to make it habitable for the both of them and joanna- which is basically- new floor, new windows, new bathroom and upgraded kitchen.

there is something so nice about flats in lic. though on the fourth floor without having a lift, the unusual configuration of the rooms makes for terribly interesting living patterns. like that strange half room that works like a bridge piece in the building or the floor to 7' windows with lower ventilators, or that niched wall which makes alternate storage in adjoining rooms. must try and get some plans to show my fourth year kids.

istvan banyai

in the college library discovered this book of illustrations.
istvan banyai is the illustrators name.

play back

tsunami relief yesterday took the form of a tv show where 23 playback singers under the title of 'singers association of india' sang like indian idol contestants and we voted for them- the money supposedly going to the prime ministers fund for relief. dont know how much relief it provided but the show was fun.

i was truly amazed at the talent that most of them had- it was good to see.
the hot chicks did their item numbers sunidhi chouhan and shreya ghoshal(jaadoo hain from 'jism') -both previous winners of another tv talent hunt; along with richa sharma who did that 'maahi ve' song (does anyone know which film it is from?) the boys sang their gently soft uplifting songs with sonu nigam's title track fron 'kal ho na ho' which is really very nice. but for me kailash kher's 'allah ke bande' was the killer.

meanwhile in other 'indian idol' news- yahoo! that painter babu ravinder ravi is out and prajakta is still around- though i am not so hot on her anymore. abhijeet on the other hand.. and the saga continues and i am still hooked.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


bhansalis 'small' follow up to devdas is anything but. i have a feeling matters concerning scale are absolutely of no concern to him. an intimate story of a deaf blind girl and her relationship with her teacher get blown to cinemascope proportions with high melodrama and opulent staging. theatrical, rich, stylized and carefully detailed. Cleansed of all grittiness and dirt, the emotions are 'pure'- like an abstraction of the mood- saturated- joy, pleasure, sadness, pride, wistfulness, longing, further emphasized by the liquid light around all the characters.

sometimes though the characters seemed to be too small for the setting. like the towering bachchan squeezing his larger than life self into the body of the alcoholic teacher suffering from alzheimers. the persona often broke through, and surprisingly most of the time did not matter. in fact it was sometimes a relief to see amitabh in such a splendid space rather than the teacher he was supposed to be.

and somewhere in there is bhansali the film student referencing 'the remains of the day' to 'the age of innocence' to kieslowski's 'blue' to chaplin. His own eclecticism moderates them all into that uniquely effective vision. i fall for it every time. i cried and cried. beautiful film.

this is a must see for all kinds of reasons, not least the presentation of relationships that do not fall easily into the moral and amoral categories we so easily subscribe to -the jealousies, insecurities and longings of the characters that are not necessarily the 'right' way to feel but are perhaps the 'real'- if any such reality exists on planet bhansali.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

classical novice notes

having decided a year or so back that i had to try to understand and be able to appreciate western classical music i finally took the plunge a few months back. under the tutelage of radio announcer mukul (and a copy of 'classical music for idiots), i have started listening to stuff from here and there on my car deck as i am driving and before i sleep while i am reading. i have of course been feeling very guilty about this intermittently for merely hearing and not listening- but what the hell- i am trying!

anyways.. for the record, for the time being the following judgments apply.

bach- brandenburg concertos and orchestral suites- the concertos were very pretty and extremely interesting but the suites i found boring, concerto for two violins and two other violin concertos- all very enjoyable.

beethoven- some piano concerto- 'emperor' or something like that, symphony no 5.. loud loud pompous stuffy, right now i think the classical music equivalent of 'queen'. (blasphemy?) symphony no 9- with the last movement where all those people start to sing- scary

mozart - two symphonies 21, 24 and the requiem- the symphonies did not do anything for me but the requiem plays every night now for the past three

tchaikovsky's violin concerto- love all the distorted tempos and stuff.. it is going round in my head as i type.

mendelssohn - violin concerto- heard it only once so far but was bobbing my head all the way form andheri to borivili

mahler- 1st symphony - the first piece of music that i liked with a strange cuckoo sound and the nursery rhyme refrain.

some schubert too that i dont know enough of

some other things also i heard like some dances by dvorak, 'can-can' by somebody and some vivaldi..cant say anything about all of them cus, i don't know why, i just cant.

meanwhile there is this this opera 'carmen' that has been waiting to be heard near the cd player in my room.. but i am too scared to.. all those strange voices!

kuntal and nandita (from left to right)

Kuntal and Nandita at their Mumbai Central apartment, before we went out for dinner at Swati Snacks. Sweet Photo, no? though she says she looks like Aamir Khan in it (without a moustache)