India, from the land of the Kama Sutra to the land of sexual ignorance

This was originally posted on Firstpost.com. “Kissing doesn’t lead to pregnancy,” said model Diandra Soares, after her exit from the reality tv show Bigg Boss, reminding many that ours was once the nation of the Kama Sutra and is now that of “sexpert” Mahinder Watsa’s column. Soares was presumably being sarcastic, but the idea that someone would think kissing causes babies doesn’t seem entirely impossible in India. For a country whose population can barely be contained within its boundaries, it’s alarming to realise how little India knows about sex. The general assumption is that everything one needs to know about … Continue reading India, from the land of the Kama Sutra to the land of sexual ignorance

Art: Amrita Sher-Gil and Lionel Wendt

My review of In Dialogue: Amrita Sher-Gil and Lionel Wendt is up at Mumbai Boss.  We can debate how realistic these artists’ visions were and the potentially uncomfortable politics embedded in the work of two people rooted in privilege who moulded their subjects to embody a certain worldview, but that would be missing the most powerful aspect of Sher-Gil and Wendt’s art: their determination to find beauty in themselves and the world around them. It’s in the fragments of Sher-Gil’s self-portraits that the difference between Wendt’s and her gaze becomes evident. Both used their art to work out issues of identity. … Continue reading Art: Amrita Sher-Gil and Lionel Wendt

Art: Noise Life by Desire Machine Collective

It’s been a while since I wrote about an art show and while writing a review of DMC’s Noise Life had me tearing my hair for a bit, I have missed writing about art. The review was first published on Mumbai Boss. Here’s an excerpt: Beyond the sonic force field created by the projection, the video and the floor installation (made of speakers), Noise Life has two objects: a table and a cabinet. The well-used and unremarkable table emits the rhythmic clicking of a typewriter at work. From the cabinet, you hear the high-pitched squeal of a dot matrix printer from … Continue reading Art: Noise Life by Desire Machine Collective

Links: Fictional Elysium and real Mumbai

Long time, no update. So here we go. These pieces are from last month. Travelling in Mumbai, the one thing you keep seeing are hoardings and a lot of them are for fancy real estate. All these hoardings sell us one basic idea: we’ll give you an artificial world that will keep out the real one. Then I saw the trailer of Elysium. Et voila: “People have asked me if I think this is what will happen in 140 years, but this isn’t science fiction. This is today. This is now,” said Blomkamp in an interview to the British newspaper … Continue reading Links: Fictional Elysium and real Mumbai

Links: On bar dancers and travelling with disabilities

These are the two non-filmy pieces I’ve done of late, which is why they’ve been clubbed together. One was a piece on the issues faced by those with physical disabilities who are travelling through Indian airports. It’s worth keeping in mind that there are ways to do security checks that don’t involve forcing a person to strip and remove their artificial limbs. Aikara’s artificial leg, which she describes as her “lifeline”, is a sophisticated piece of equipment. “It looks a lot like my own leg from the outside,” described Aikara. Taking the prosthesis off is painstaking, both physically and emotionally. … Continue reading Links: On bar dancers and travelling with disabilities

Wallpaper: On Reena Kallat’s ZegnArt installation at Bhau Daji Lad Museum

In the May issue of Wallpaper*, there’s a piece I’d written a while back about artist Reena Kallat and the installation that she’s put up at Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai. This public art piece is actually commissioned by ZegnArt, which is the fashion brand Ermenegildo Zegna’s cultural activity arm. When I met Reena to talk about the work, she was in frantic mode. The installation was going to be rigged up on the facade of the museum in a couple of days, would they need cranes, what are the measurements, should we have noodles for lunch… the questions … Continue reading Wallpaper: On Reena Kallat’s ZegnArt installation at Bhau Daji Lad Museum