Saturday, September 24, 2016

Devadasi


I took this picture of a French Bharatanatyam dancer at Mahabalipuram in 1975. I have posted two other pictures of her, here and here:

She came to Madras to learn Bharatanatyam and assumed the name Menaka, as probably the ultimate among all the mythological seductresses.  But her real name, she 'divulged' to but a few locals, was Verushka, and she claimed to be a Russian princess. (Because of her imperial bearing, real or put-on, only some of her contemporary dancers from France especially, and Europe generally, know the real story, but in Chennai and in Delhi, I have known her to be taken very seriously, and her arangetram was performed at no less than the Chidambaram Palace at Chidambaram.)  The then French Ambassador to India came to Madras, Pondicherry and Chidambaram to see her perform.

Upon her unrelenting persistence, I took pictures for her publicity brochures for performances in Paris and other European cities, despite my sense of inexperience in taking pictures of temples, but more especially, of people at long distances.

Her pose and the setting reminded me of the Devadasis ("servants of god"), traditional temple dancers who were supposed to be serving the gods' sexual needs, but in reality ended up serving the needs of the temple priests and influential visitors to the temple. The Devadasi system was outlawed in India in 1988, so the tradition and its practitioners have almost completely disappeared.

For more information about the Devadasis, see the links below:

The blog of Dr. Avanthi Meduri, a scholar of subaltern studies, the Devadasi system and a practitioner of Indian classical dance, a friend who spent prime time with us while in Madras, at the time when she was teaching at a university at Chicago; she is currently at the University of Roehampton in UK.)

Wikipedia

Google for devadasis


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Cloud Forest


now you see it
now you don't
it's one eye-blink away
from gone

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Envy Green


Envy, that so much of mankind finds succor, comfort, justification, emancipation, and even the Beyond; definitely, positively unaware that there is no beyond, but living and dying. The other Living, plants and animals, are not even aware of bliss, not to mention their own existence, let alone beyond. Only Man among the living, is aware that he is born, and lives in countless diverse ways through an infinite variety of means which he adopts for that act, needs to believe that there is something beyond his demise. Therefore, this solace. 

Green is the color of my inability to even touch that solace, let alone live with belief in it. That Green, is my envy, my loss.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Postprandial Siesta


Mahabalipuram, 1978, after a great South Indian lunch (saappadu) at one of the several eateries during gentle winter noon, among the ancient rock sculptures and temples.

More pleasant than taking the picture was envying them.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Kashmir on Fire



In Man's history of war, peace, greed and lust for territory and whatever goes with it, a time always comes when the cause and reasoning are not only challenged, but all factual veracity is wiped out. Human tragedy in political and other arenas that he both suffers and inflicts, ceases to be within reach of comprehension, and, irony of ironies, if solutions are reached, their being right or wrong is not only ignored, but becomes meaningless.

What then, one can pertinently ask, Is History? A bunch of variable lies.

Photo-collage by me, using broken glass image by Amarjeet Singh Nagi for India Today.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Moonraker


I AM A BROKEN MOON
A MAIMED SUN
A LOST IDENTITY

I AM A PEAK
WITHOUT A MOUNTAIN
I AM AN OCEAN
WITH DRIED-UP WATERS
I AM A GOD
WITHOUT A TEMPLE

I AM I AM
A MISPLACED TIME
DISLOCATED SPACE
A FRAGMENTED LIFE

---

Moonraker was the eleventh James Bond film, made in 1979, with Roger Moore as 007. In my personal opinion, James Bond films succeeded not because of the quality of writing by Ian Fleming, which was, to say the least, less than mediocre. They succeeded, and continue to generally succeed, because of Albert Broccoli, who masterminded the production, style, brand, and severe adherence to the principles on which the first few films, starting with Dr. No, were founded.

The Bond series continues to entertain without malice or hurt, or making any serious point; a policy which it continues to hold, and which, in my opinion, is its biggest selling point. The Bond movies are also notable for great trademark music by John Barry.



Saturday, September 10, 2016

Flower Shower



This is a double exposure taken by me in 1965. When I look at it, it seems to express the essence of spring; a quiet kind of joy.

This old song from 1954, a non-film song sung by Geeta Roy, who later became Geeta Dutt, immediately came to mind when I recently re-discovered the picture. The first line means, "The breeze blows gently, causing the buds to joyfully open into flowers... "


Haule, Haule Hawa Dole, Kaliyon Ke Ghoonghat Khole
Aaja More Man Ke Raaja, Piya, Piya Papiha Bole

Haule Haule Hawa ....

Kaare, Kaare Badra Chhaye, Kaun Sandesha Laye
Sawan Suhawan Aaya, Piya Mere Tum Na Aaye

Haule Haule Hawa .....

Birhi Gagan Roye, Mere Do Nain Royen
Piya Tum Paas Nahin, Kahan Kis Desh Khoye

Ghan, Ghan Badra Gaaje, Jhan Jhan Payal Baje
Chhayi, Chhayi Haye Bahar, Tum Bin Jiya Na Laage

Haule Haule Hawa 

(See translation)

Friday, September 09, 2016

Shadow Play


shadows
cobweb-like
fill the mindscape

shapeless
unfixed in size
criss-cross events
drained of people
places, significance
unknown, nameless, unfelt

the blinding light
of exploding neurons
of millions of nerve-endings
obscures the definition
between consciousness
and dreaming
with needle-sharp
shafts of light

casting shadows of doubt
shadows of shadows
of shadows

-------------------
Bhashwati wrote:

Ah ha your new photograph looks like the cover of a thriller.  Ominous too. Casting shadows of doubt.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Hope Amidst Darkness


(1979)

if large is small in larger
then small is large in smaller

Monday, September 05, 2016

The Unique Ganesh, Lambodar


Lambodar ('heavy stomach'), without a stomach.

Dr. Krishnamurthy, former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, and before that, with the World Bank in Washington, D.C.; retired and living in Bangalore, had a unique (so I was told) Ganesh statue. One day in 1981, when I was staying in Bangalore at Taj West End, he came to my suite, bringing this statue to show me. Apart from educating me on its uniqueness, he wondered if I could make a pedestal for it in my factory. I found it difficult to design anything for it, but I came out with this solution, which satisfied him and his family.

As I post it here, I hope that those who view it would find it amusing, interesting, or, at the least, intriguing.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Devi



After I took this photograph of the daughter of a friend, I was reminded of the poster that Satyajit Ray designed for his film Devi: