november 2008 programmes

saturday 1st november
6.30 pm ‘A National Flag for India. Rituals, Nationalism and the Politics of Sentiment’ by Arundhati Virmani.Book launch by Delhi, Permanent Black 

thursday 6th  november
6.30 pm ‘DHOOSAR (BLUR)’ a film by Vaibhav Abnave

saturday 8th  november
6.30 pm   ‘Triple Percussion’ - an evening of Tabla with Arshad Khan, Pakhavaj with Kishore Gangani and Dholak with Mohammed Akbar accompanied on the Sarangi with Ehsaan Ali Khan and a short Kathak interlude with Mulla Afsar Khan

tuesday 11th november
6.30 pm ‘The Most Magnificent Palace in the East’ an illustrated talk by Anisha Shekhar Mukherji
 

wednesday 12th november
5.00 pm Book Release of Boki by Nitoo Das. Publishers: Virtual Artists Collective 

saturday 15th november  
6.30 pm ‘Violin Ragas’ a recital by Dr.Santosh Nahar  

tuesday 18th november
6.30 pm ‘ The Glory of Greek Art’ an Illustrated lecture by Dr. Bharat Gupt

tuesday 25th november
6.30 pm ‘Travel notes: The Yoginis Temples of India, In the pursuit of a mystery’ a power point presentation by Stella Dupuis

thursday 27th november
7.00 pm ‘so sweet and so cold’
poems by William Carlos Williams
OFF THE MANTLE # 19 The First City Theatre Readings

 

 

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saturday 1st november
6.30 pm ‘A National Flag for India. Rituals, Nationalism and the Politics of Sentiment’ by Arundhati Virmani.Book launch by Delhi, Permanent Black

The historiography of modern India generally emphasizes the innumerable conflicts which divide the subcontinent’s society thus suggesting a nation perpetually on the edge of collapse – a disintegration which somehow never happens. The present book revises this picture of divisions and differences, and examines the history of India as the construction of new forms of cohesion and successful cohabitation.

The flag became a powerful tool of political mobilization and organization in the 1920’s and 30’s. It was at the heart of decisive confrontations like the 1923 Nagpur flag satyagraha or the 1930-31 movement around the slogan “Up up with the National Flag, down, down with the Union Jack”. If the flag became a vital tool of a democratic political culture and language of secular nationalism, it also became the seat of contestation by the Muslim League, the Sikhs, the Indian princes or Hindu nationalists. Not all these tensions were successfully resolved.

Unearthing the complex history that lies behind the construction of a unifying political symbol – the country’s national flag – Arundhati Virmani painstakingly reveals this material object as the result of a long cultural process. Despite huge conflicts, it eventually imposed a set of values and sentiments that came to be largely shared or at least accepted by an incredibly diverse and scattered body of people.  

Arundhati Virmani was Reader in History at Delhi University until 1992, when she moved to France. Today she teaches at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales Marseille. Her publications include an essay in Past and Present, as well as two books: India 1900–1947. Un Britannique au cœur du Raj (Paris, Autrement, 2002), and Inde. Une Puissance en mutation (Paris, Documentation Française, 2001).  

thursday 6th  november
6.30 pm ‘DHOOSAR (BLUR)’ a film by Vaibhav Abnave

The film attempts to use theatrical 'improvisations' as a therapeutic as well as didactic tool to revisit some of the traumatic incidents in the lives of HIV/AIDS affected people in order to re-do, undo, rectify the undesirable consequences of human actions which can't be undone in real life.  While attempting to do so, it ‘blurs’ the porous boundaries between an actor and character, real and theatrical, fact and fiction. 

 

 

 

saturday 8th  november
6.30 pm   ‘Triple Percussion’ - an evening of Tabla with Arshad Khan, Pakhavaj with Kishore Gangani and Dholak with Mohammed Akbar accompanied on the Sarangi with Ehsaan Ali Khan and a short Kathak interlude with Mulla Afsar Khan

The Tabla ( derived from the Arabic tabl, drum) is a pair of hand drums of contrasting sizes and timbres used in Classical Hindustani Music and in the popular and religious music of North India.

The Pakhavaj is an ancient Indian barrel shaped instrument widely used as an accompaniment for music and dance performances.It has been the favoured percussion instrument for performances in the Dhrupad style of music. As with the tabla, the pakhawaj rhythms are taught by a series of mnemonic syllables known as bol.

The Dholak is another hand drum used in popular and classical music in India, Pakistan and Nepal. It has a tightly stretched membrane on either side. The left hand membrane has a special coating , a mixture of tar, clay and sand (dholak masala) which lowers and provides a well defined pitch.

Arshad Khan represents the fifth generation of his family, keeping the tradition alive by developing his own unique style. He started learning at the age of four from his uncle Ustad Rashid Mustafa Thirakwa. He combines in his playing the Delhi, Purab, Farukhabad, Ajrara, Punjab and Benaras gharanas. He is a ‘A’ grade artist with All India Radio and is on the panel of ICCR Performing Artists.

Kishore Gangani was born in a traditional musical family of the Jaipur Gharana. He started learning Phakawaj at the age of 11 from Guru Kishan Kumar and Pt. Rajendar Gangani. He has been performing with legendary artists Pt. Birju Maharaj, Pt. Rajendar Gangani, and Guru Geetanjali Lal.

Mohd. Akbar was also born into a traditional family of musicians .He started learning the Dholak at the age of 13 from Kallu Khan Sahab. He has been performing with many of the renowned musicians of India Ustad Sabri Khan Sahab, Zila Khan, Aslam Sabri, Iqbal Afzaal Sabri and many more.

Ehsaan Ali Khan was also born into a traditional musical family of the Kirana Gharana.. He began his training from his father Ustad Asif Ali Khan a renowned Sarangi Maestro. He has participated in the Shankar Lal festival, the Khajuraho festival, the Tansen festival and many others. He has also accompanied many world renowned vocalists and singers including Abida Parveen, Ahmad Hussain Mohammad Hussain and Talat Azee. He plays with electronic and fusion bands and has also learnt to play the guitar from Guru Ratan Prasanna.

Mulla Afsar Khan was initiated into Kathak dance by his father and Guru Mulla Jafar Khan of the Banaras Gharana. He later joined Kathak Kendra in Delhi under Guru Pt. Rajendra Gangani of the Jaipur Gharana. He has performed extensively in India and abroad including at the New York City Centre ,the Lincoln Centre and the Bozar Festival in Brussels.

 

tuesday 11th november
6.30 pm ‘The Most Magnificent Palace in the East’ an illustrated talk by Anisha Shekhar Mukherji
 

Three hundred and fifty years ago, the huge Red Fort of Delhi was built as the crowning jewel of the new city of Shahjahanabad, named after and established by the great Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Unrivalled in scale and imagination anywhere in the world, the Red Fort’s design had the same quality of refined luxury as the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan’s most celebrated act of patronage― with which it was also contemporary. This Fort, the epitome of the highest example of art and architecture of the Mughal Empire under Shah Jahan’s reign, was arrogantly destroyed in 1860 by the British after their victory over the last Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar. Even in its ravaged state, it evoked the epithet of ‘the most magnificent palace in the East’ by the pioneering British historian-explorer James Fergusson. 

Ironically, its image in our national consciousness today is limited to a small part of its vast red walls, briefly focused on as the site of Independence Day celebrations. Despite being one of the most recognizable symbols of Delhi and India, there is little or no understanding of the Red Fort’s unique design, which inspired art and architecture through the centuries, within and beyond the Mughal Empire. Of a greater complexity and scale  than even the Taj, the Red Fort at Delhi is now generally seen as a pale copy of its more complete predecessor, the Red Fort at Agra.  

Anisha Shekhar Mukherji will uncover the lost attributes of the unique Red Fort, the subject of her authoritative work, The Red Fort of Shahjahanabad, published by Oxford University Press in 2003. The analysis and interpretation in the book, widely recognized as the most definitive on the Red Fort, has not only been the reference for its inclusion into the World Heritage List, but has also formed the basis for current research, writing and planning policies on it by other professionals. Anisha graduated from the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi and worked on a range of architectural and conservation projects in Delhi, before going on to work on her post-graduate thesis at the De Montfort University, Leicester, U.K. as an ODA Scholar. She proposed a view beyond conventional conservation methods that focus exclusively on buildings, and instead advocated the novel concept of ‘Spatial Conservation’, which she later detailed in her book on the Red Fort, as also in her essay ‘The Changing Perception of Space’, in the book Shahjahanabad, Tradition and Colonial Change, Eds. T. Krafft and E. Ehlers, Manohar 2003. 

Anisha works selectively as a conservation consultant, architectural historian and an independent researcher. She also teaches as visiting faculty at the School of Planning and Architecture. Her work is guided by the conviction that history has as much to do with the present as the past, and that the well-being of crafts-people is as important as the conservation of the monuments and artifacts that are a testimony to their crafts-skills.   

wednesday 12th november
5.00 pm Book Release of Boki by Nitoo Das. Publishers: Virtual Artists Collective 

                                    Boki, Nitoo Das’ first poetry collection, plays around with given grammars, words and voices. With the skill of a ventriloquist, she gives language to several personae in her dramatic monologues and her soundscapes create a sensory world with words that slip and slide into each other. Das’ painterly eye captures precise and stark visual images that make us look at the ordinary with fresh eyes. Boki--a word that means nothing in English, but in “Doiboki”, the poem it’s in, it stands for a shouted syllable, a taunt, a song, a deconstruction of someone’s name…A ‘nonsense’ word that brings so much from its two syllables is surely what poetry is about--the creation of image from sound. To bok in Assamese, Das’ first language, means to mutter/speak meaninglessly and repetitively. The Sanskrit word, Vak, from which this irreverent Assamese derivative takes its origins, means Speech. And Nitoo Das’ Boki speaks in an explosion of images in which she demonstrates an uncanny ability to create poems that surprise us, hold us and move us.  

Boki will be released by teacher, critic, novelist and poet, GJV Prasad and will be followed by readings from the collection by Nitoo Das.  

Nitoo Das is a Senior Lecturer of English at Indraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi. She was born in Guwahati, but came to Delhi for her higher studies and decided to stay on and learn various survival skills in this ancient city. She runs a blog that began as an experiment over three years ago while working on a research project on poetry as hypertext. Her interests include fractals, caricatures, comic books, horror films, and studies of online communities. Boki is her first collection.

  

saturday 15th november  
6.30 pm ‘Violin Ragas’ a recital by Dr.Santosh Nahar  

 The violin, an obvious import from the West, has been adopted and used effectively in both North Indian and South Indian Music. It has been a secondary instrument and was brought into South Indian classical music towards the end of the eighteenth century. It was played alongside the vina or other principal instruments, but in the late twentieth century its performers have taken it to dizzying new heights. The violin is played differently by the Indian artist who sits cross legged with the end of the Violin resting on his right foot. The most refined technique of the Violin is found in the South Indian Music. 

Dr. Santosh Kumar Nahar comes from a  family of traditional Musicians, the Mishra Gharana of Bhagalpur. His Guru was his father Prof. Prahlad Prasad Mishra himself a vocalist and Director, Institute of Music in Patna. He got vocal training from his uncles as well as his brothers. His violin Guru was Shri T. M. Patnaik. 

He is a ‘Top’ Grade Violin Artist of All Indian Radio and is known for the unique blend of melody, fluency and purity in the presentation of Raag. He has played the violin in many music conferences in India and has received awards in AIR music competitions and from the U. P. Sangeet Natak Academy

 

tuesday 18th november
6.30 pm ‘ The Glory of Greek Art’ an Illustrated lecture by Dr. Bharat Gupt

Some of the most influential masterpieces of the western world were created around 500 BCE in Ancient Greece. The Charioteer of Delphi portrayed here is one of the most important sculptures of period. It exemplifies ‘the balance between stylized geometric representation and idealized realism, thus capturing the moment in history when western civilization leaped forward to define its own foundations that braced it for the next few millennia’. The story of Greek civilization is an amazing continuity from the earliest Cycladic period of 5000 BC, through the Minoan civilization (ending 2000 BC), the Homeric (circa 1200 BC), to the archaic period, the classical age of Perikles and the later Christian period.

Dr.Gupt will present an illustrated talk showing the range of Greek art objects, from 5000 BC to the present day works of modern Greeks.

Dr. Bharat Gupt is a graduate of St. Stephen's College, Delhi, and The University of Toronto and a Ph. D. from The University of Baroda. He is an Associate Professor in English at the College of Vocational Studies of the University of Delhi, is a classicist, theatre theorist, sitar and surbahar player, musicologist, cultural analyst and newspaper columnist. He is trained in both, Western and traditional Indian educational systems. He was awarded the McLuhan Fellowship by the University of Toronto, and the Senior Onasis Fellowship to research in Greece on classical Greek theatre. He has lectured extensively at Universities in India, North America, Europe, and Greece. His published books include: Dramatic Concepts Greek and Indian (1994), Natyasastra, Chapter 28: Ancient Scales of Indian Music (1996), India: A Cultural Decline or Revival (in press).He has lectured on Indian religious art symbols at the Siena University and represented Hinduism at a United Nations colloquium at Delphi, Greece.

 

tuesday 25th november
6.30 pm ‘Travel notes: The Yoginis Temples of India, In the pursuit of a mystery’ a power point presentation by Stella Dupuis

A yogini is the female origin of a practicing male yogi: having a steadfast mind cultivating transcendence through Yoga. Tantric scholars however have written about yoginis as independent, outspoken women with a gracefulness of spirit. She is the sacred feminine force made incarnate, an enlightened, passionate, spiritual woman with deep insight.

In some branches of tantra yoga, ten wisdom goddesses (or dakinis) serve as models for a yogini's disposition and behavior. In several Tantric cults, the term refers to an initiated female sexual partner, who may take part in tantric rituals.

In the mythological context, the word yogini may indicate an associate or attendant of Durga. Starting with 8 yoginis emanating from the body of Durga,in the battles with the forces of inhumanity the number increased to sixty four in later texts. All these yoginis represented forces of vegetation and fertility, illness and death, Yoga and magic.

All yoginis are worshipped collectively and together, each one is enshrined in an individual position in a circular temple open to the sky. There are 4 major temples (of the 64 yoginis) two in Orissa and two in Madhya Pradesh. The iconographies of the yogini images in the four yogini temples are not uniform. In Hirapur yogini temple, all yogini images are with their vahanas (vehicles) and in standing posture. In Ranipur-Jharial temple the yogini images are in dancing posture. In Bhedaghat temple yogini images are seated.

This power point presentation is based on notes collected during journeys made by Stella Dupuis in the pursuit of the mystery of the Yoginis.

Stella Dupuis is a Swiss novelist born in Panama. She studied marketing and advertising in Switzerland and Sweden before launching a successful business career in Latin America and Europe.  Since becoming a writer five years ago she has published three novels in Spanish and English.  In her work she depicts a yearning for a spiritual destiny that transcends blind commitment, stereotypes, or religious fanaticism. For many years Stella has also been teaching Yoga and meditation in many countries. She is the author of  Memoria de viento, Madrid 2003; (English version USA 2005, In the wake of the wind); La Puerta de Jade, Madrid 2006; Teli-Ka Mandir, Madrid 2006; (English version USA 2006).

thursday 27th november
7.00 pm ‘so sweet and so cold’
poems by William Carlos Williams
OFF THE MANTLE # 19 The First City Theatre Readings


 William Carlos Williams "wanted to write a poem/ that you would understand./ ... But you got to try hard -" Often considered one of the most characteristically American poets of the 20th Century, he was also a paediatrician though according to his biographer, "he worked harder at being a writer than he did at being a physician." Sometimes aligned with the Imagist movement's style and principles, Williams is perhaps more strongly associated with the American Modernist movement in literature. He saw his poetic project as a distinctly American one; he sought to renew language through the fresh, raw idiom that grew out of America's cultural and social heterogeneity, at the same time freeing it from what he saw as the worn-out language of British and European culture. Williams tried to invent an entirely fresh form, an American form of poetry whose subject matter was centered on everyday circumstances of life and the lives of common people. The First City Theatre Foundation presents 'so sweet and so cold' - a reading of selected poems from the William Carlos Williams anthology.