For the dissemination of Bishar Blues, a film on music and deeply spiritual everyday life of the fakirs of Bengal. The project will use the film to pen a dialogue between the misunderstood and mistrusted fakirs and the larger community in rural West Bengal, and stimulate discussion on marginal cultures through a seminar/screening in Kolkata.
For the innovative dissemination of an archive of recordings, photographs, footage and books relating to biraha (songs of separation). Ten musical camps will be organised in rural West Bengal, Assam and Bangladesh, apart from presentations/performances in cities. The camps will give different communities of musicians wider exposure to the songs from their region as well as similar and related songs from other regions.
For preparatory research towards a novel about the caste wars waged by the Nadar community in Tirunelveli and Madurai districts in Tamil Nadu during the 19th and 20th centuries. Based on an examination of archived police, court and other documents of the colonial administration, the novel will transform factual history into an emotionally ‘true’ portrait of these turbulent times in the life of the Nadar community, which in turn fed into the larger Indian struggle for independence.
For research towards a novel on the rise and fall of Carnatic music as a dynamic social form from the mid-1920s to the end of the 1960s. The researcher will consult archival material on the lives of Carnatic musicians and the technical innovations made within the music during this period; interview performers and critics who were associated with this phase of the music; and consult scholars working on Carnatic music. The project will also lead to English translations of selected memoirs written by Carnatic musicians, which will be useful for the novel but can also be more widely disseminated.
For research towards two novels––in Bengali and English––on the journey of a refugee colony to urbanity in post-partition Calcutta. Envisaged as a border-crossing genre, the proposed novels will explore the interface between ethnography, history, memoir and fiction. Dwelling on the texture of the ordinary and familial history to construct an archive of pain, anguish and hope, the novels are expected to challenge nostalgic accounts of the afterlife of the Bengal partition.
For the production of Bishar Blues, a film on the fakirs of Bengal, examining their music and their deeply spiritual everyday life as a living practice of radical syncretism. Bishar, the deviant branch of Islam practised largely by the lower castes, does not sacralise the Shariat, and its history in Bengal is replete with the assimilation of Buddhist, Tantric and Vaishnavite traditions and practices. In a context where Islam is increasingly under attack from different quarters, the film seeks to open up a crucial debate on secularism.
For the editing, designing and printing of Tamasha: Ek Rangadi Gamat, a book in Marathi on the Tamasha folk theatre form. The book––one of the outcomes of an IFA-supported documentation project––will contain about 250 photographs accompanied by text that describes the different forms of Tamasha prevalent in Maharashtra as well as the lifestyles of its performers.
For digital photography and annotation of 5,500 miniature paintings largely from the Jaina traditions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The paintings, ranging from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century, form an eclectic and unique collection. to facilitate research on the materials. The project will improve scholarly access to the miniature paintings and facilitate preservation of the original materials.
For the making of a film on Surabhi, a 120-year old travelling theatre company from Andhra Pradesh. Envisaged as a journey with the repertory company, the film, titled Mayabazar, will examine the everyday activities of these travelling actors and their families, rehearsals, exercises, the staging of the plays based on the epics and the puranas, the audience, sets, make-up and costume design. The film will also explore the traces of Parsi theatre, silent cinema from the Phalke era and the paintings of Ravi Verma in the design of the theatre company’s sets and costumes.
For the making of a film exploring the cultural history of Tibetan Buddhism in Sikkim through the sacred dance theatre of Chham. The film will examine this ritual dance as it shapes and is shaped by its religious and cultural contexts, as well as the mutations in its traditional meanings through modernity and education. Titled The Listener’s Tale, the film seeks to be a witness to the contradictions and counter-forces that sustain this ancient art practice, the plurality of meanings it generates, and the active dialogue between the consciousness of the performers of Chham and its spectators.