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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Sunday Long Reads: Hindi cinema melodies, Gandhi, the Partition, bats, and more

Here are some must-reads from the week

New Delhi |
Updated: October 5, 2021 11:39:31 am
songs, Hindi songs, Hindi cinema, Bollywood, songs that define India, Indian songs, stories told through songs, movies, films, eye 2021, sunday eye, indian express newsA celebration of India through Hindi cinema melodies. (Illustration: Suvajit Dey)

75 top songs from Hindi cinema that shaped our lives and history

The story of India will be incomplete without its songs – the background score to our lives. Be it the anguish of KL Saigal, when he crooned Jab dil hi toot gaya (Shahjehan, 1946) in his nasal voice, perhaps the most significant break-up song of the last century or our sudden belief in gold dust and green fields when we heard Mere desh ki dharti (Upkar, 1959) ringing out of our transistors. We were companions in misery with Guru Dutt when he lamented Ye duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai (Pyaasa, 1957). And we will always look up to poet-lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi for asking a tough question “Jinhe naaz hai Hind par woh kahan hain (Where are those who are proud of India)?” amid the failure of socialism.

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When Gandhi failed to stop the Partition

GANDHI Gandhi with Lord and Lady Mountbatten in the spring of 1947

If the past is a prologue, the Rashtrapati Bhavan sets a unique historical context for the partition of India and the nation’s subsequent journey. Ironically, its inauguration in 1931 as Viceroy’s House coincided with the roundtable conferences which formed the basis of the devolution of power carried out through the Government of India Act of 1935.

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Vampire Academy: Bats are not always bad news

bats Sustained flight has made bats the second most successful family of mammals (after rodents) (Photo Credit: Ranjit Lal)

At the moment, they are probably the most vilified animal in the world, thanks to their connection with the coronavirus. But hey, let’s remember one thing: Bats did not seek us out with the desire to infect us with the virus. We poked our noses into their business (harvested their number two, which we call guano) and slid our surgical needles into them for “research”. So what can you expect?

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‘Drawings have a beautiful open-endedness that allows us to pose urgent questions’: Jitish Kallat

Sunday Eye “There are often certain images or references that resonate with you over the years,” Jitish Kallat said. (Source: Jitish Kallat Studio)

In the online platform South South’s inaugural curatorial exhibition ‘I Draw, Therefore I Think’ you bring together over 60 artists from across the world. Could you share the thought behind using (British naturalist) Charles Darwin’s 1837 sketch Tree of Life as a curatorial prompt?

There are often certain images or references that resonate with you over the years. The Darwin sketch of the phylogenetic tree was one such drawing that has been of interest to me for over a decade. When I was invited to curate the inaugural curatorial project for South South, somehow, my attention was drawn towards this drawing from one of his early ‘transmutation notebooks’. This speculative drawing is presented as the inaugural ‘prompt’ to think about the process of drawing, as well as placing the question of ‘evolution’ at the centre of inquiry.

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All the light we cannot see

suvir saran illustration Level Playing Field: Rather than crying or feeling lost, let’s acknowledge the pain and absorb the best from each moment (Illustration: Suvir Saran)

Pain has no GPS location. It doesn’t belong to one joint of the body, one malady or one human being. It is universal; it is a rainbow that changes its face, its nuance, its tragedy and its infliction as it goes from home to home, from people to people, and across the regions of the world. Pain makes us citizens of a global village without borders, regardless of racial or religious divides. Pain forces us to realise that black, white, brown, beige – whatever colour we might be – we are all connected.

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Barah by Barah frames an affecting portrait of an ancient holy town in transition

sunday eye, shubhra gupta A still from Gaurav Madan’s film Barah by Barah

The first thing that strikes you about Barah by Barah, set in Varanasi, is its tremendous lived-in feel. The spaces that the film inhabits we have seen before — the narrow gullies that lead to the Manikarnika Ghat with the ever-burning pyres, the banks of the Ganga which is home to those who have traditionally made a living off the dead, the sellers of the wood, the pandits who preside over the rituals for the departed soul, the barbers who shave the heads of the men of the deceased’s family. What director Gaurav Madan does, through the story he co-wrote with his long-time collaborator Sunny Lahiri, is to give us a fresh perspective on this holiest of towns, through the eyes of the “death photographer”, a man who takes photographs of the dead, as a keepsake and an eternal memory.

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Kalkokkho, a Bengali existential horror around COVID-19, is set to premiere at the 26th Busan International Film Festival

Stills from the film Kalkokkho (House of Time).

When COVID-19 restricted her at home, a fear-gripped Sarmistha Maiti, 41, one half of the director duo of Kalkokkho (House of Time), observed, for the first time, that her little daughter would talk to “megh bhai” (brother cloud). Loneliness was scarier. “It was the longing for belonging…my biggest lesson was ‘how to deal with my own self’,” she says.

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