Hansa Thapliyal and Jayachandra Varma

Archival and Museum Fellowships

Grant Period: One year

Hansa is a filmmaker, writer and teacher based in Bangalore. While in FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) where she trained as a filmmaker, she worked extensively on the histories of technologies that predated cinema. She also worked for over ten years on the filmmaker Kamal Swaroop’s Phalke project focusing on the children of Phalke and of a childhood spent in a studio. This experience in early technologies, children and theatre crafts attracted Hansa to Surabhi, a 150 year old family-run theatre company based in Hyderabad that perform, travel, work and live together. Working mainly with puranic tales, the troupe make their own hand- painted backdrops, props, costumes and mechanic devices that create ‘magic’ on stage.

This fellowship gives Hansa the opportunity to collaborate with Jayachandra Varma, one of the younger members of the Surabhi Natak Mandali who has been a lead actor, singer and director of the company. Together, they will work on a project that demonstrates how stage craft is rooted in scientific processes. For this project, Hansa and Jayachandra will bring down 15 children from Surabhi to the VITM in Bangalore where the children will perform a short scene that is set in Ghatotkacha and Hidimba’s cave. They have chosen this particular scene as it will give the children ample opportunity to display their skills in creating special effects and ‘magic’ in their performance.

This presentation will be followed by a workshop led by young members of Surabhi for the audience, which will then be followed by a talk by Dr Gautam Dayal, an educator in the field of science and technology. Dr Dayal will lead both the actors (the children from Surabhi) and the audience (children from local schools in Bangalore) through the museum and de-construct the ‘magic’ in the performance, by explaining how it is actually based on scientific principles. Through the entire fellowship period, Hansa will also make a few small youtube films that will demonstrate ‘art in science’ and ‘science in art.’

The outcomes will include a mini lecture demonstration production in the VITM, Bangalore, followed by a workshop led by young members of Surabhi for an audience in Bangalore; short youtube videos made with children about science in their theatre. The Fellows’ deliverables to IFA with the final report will be process images, audio/video recordings, and texts and publication, if any.

This fellowship is made possible with support from Tata Trusts.