ugust 07 programmes

friday 3rd august

7 pm ‘Akkarmashi’ – ‘The Bastard’ a solo performance in Hindi by Lokesh Jain

Based on the autobiography of Sharan Kumar Limbale, the Dalit writer from Mahahrashtra, this is a first-person account of his struggle against poverty, deprivation, discrimination and violence. It captures the dehumanizing impact of caste oppression in Hindu society. A powerful narrative touching story of an illegitimate child, born out of an unconventional and socially immoral relationship. The writer tries to establish his identity by questioning the entire social system which perpetuates oppression and discrimination.

The autobiography with a beautiful interplay of emotions and reality, of self-struggle, traumatic contradictions, anti establishment terrorized psyche and social uncertainty is portrayed by Lokesh Jain to bring out the suppressed anger, inferiority complex and anguish of the illegitimate child in the context of the present social set up and caste system.

Lokesh Jain is a theatre artist with 17 years of intensive experience with diverse theatre forms having completed an advanced diploma course in acting under Ebrahim Alkazi. He has worked on scripting, designing and directing plays. His solo pieces have been showcased in NSDs National theatre festival. He is a founder member and creative director of Jamghat an organization of and for street children.

saturday 4th august
7 pm The Kothas of Lucknow: courtesans from the time of Wajid Ali Shah to the time of Mayawati a talk & recreation by Veena Oldenburg

The dancing and singing girls of Lucknow in the mid 1800s were the largest tax payers in the city of Lucknow. They owned property houses, orchards, manufacturing and retail establishments and even in the 1970s and 80s were still powerful. alluring, independent, bold and even wild. In conversations with Veena these  extraordinary women unveiled the secrets of the kotha, sharing with her their clandestine,  devious, and intimate ploys for survival and economic independence, challenging the very respectability of societys central pillarmarriage. Like the Geishas of Japan, they could speak keenly about contemporary politics, the law, and had connections among the local power elite and were equally well informed about the history of their city. However in their  proven involvement in the siege of Lucknow and the rising against colonial rule in 1857, these women, though patently non-combatants, were penalized for their clandestine instigation of and pecuniary assistance to the rebels. The British had deliberately muddied the truth about their kothas in order to denigrate nawabi culture, and to gobble up Awadh.
Their decline was irreversible both in British India and specially with the inherited Victorian morality of independent . Their salons for instruction in etiquette, the art of conversation, appreciation of Urdu poetry, and even the finer points of love-making disappeared. They had been the recognized preservers and performers of the high culture of the court and actively shaped the developments in Hindustani music and Kathak dance styles. Their style of entertainment was widely imitated in other Indian court cities, and their more recent influence on the Hindi films is all too patent. The popularity of Indian films rests chiefly on the songs and dances in them. The very notion of the romantic musical owes its inspiration to the style of entertainment at the kotha, and several tawaifs and their daughters, including Jaddan Bai and her later famous daughter Nargis, found work in Bombay in the budding film industry.  

Veena Talwar Oldenburg grew up tramping around in the alleys of Lucknow trying to capture the ineffable essence of this multi-layered city. She is the author of the book Lifestyle as Resistance: The Case of the Courtesans of Lucknow in Contesting Power. She tries to recreate this evening, not only with words of which she is a master but with music, a little kathak, some poetry, lots of imagination, the atmosphere and the mood of a bygone era. The audience is encouraged to come in Lakhnavi chikan kurtas, dupattas and any traces of Awadhi culture that they can get.
My bio is simple - Native of Lucknow, Professor of History at City University of New York. Taught at Columbia U and Sarah Lawrence. And books - the Making of Colonial Lucknow, Dowry Murder: The Imperial Origins of a Cultural Crime.  Now an anthology on Lucknow  "Shaame-e-Awadh". Will be in bookstores within weeks. Work in progress: "The Making of the Oriental Debauch: Musings on the Politics of Decadence in the age of Empire building."

friday 10th august

7 pm Steidl presents ‘Bombay Jadoo’ by Betsy Karel – Book release, talk and slide presentation

Inspired by contemporary Indian authors, Betsy Karel went to Bombay to find visual equivalents of the humanity, humor, mystery and psychological energy of these writers' stories. Unlike many photographers who are drawn to the cacophony of urban , she focused, often in an intensely personal way, on individuals going about their everyday street lives in this singular city. Patiently waiting amidst the bustle of Chor Bazaar Bombay, home to more people than the entire continent of , she captures a poignant lyricism in the familiar. As individuals transform public spaces into private places, forging islands of intimacy, she encounters the truejadoo (magic) of Bombay and its people. To accompany the photographs, the globally acclaimed author Suketu Mehta has written a companion piece about his boyhood in Bombay. The book also includes an excerpt from Ardashir Vakils Beach Boy.Betsy Karel, born in New York City in 1946, now lives in Washington, DC. She worked as a photojournalist in the 1970s and early 80s, winning awards. In 1998, after an absence of 15 years, she returned to photography to participate in The Way Home, a book and national exhibition on homelessness in . During the past nine years, Karel has made numerous trips to Mumbai, creating the images in Bombay Jadoo. Her photographs are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Yale University Art Gallery, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the John F. Kennedy Library.

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Exploring Personalities
The human mind always needs to put people into boxes and categories. But most people refuse to fit in just one category and by the very nature of what they do, refuse to be boxed. The aim of this series is to explore the wonderful multi faceted personalities who contribute in many different ways to make their work, their lives and the lives around them richer and more meaningful. One such personality is Sagari Chhabra often described as a film maker due to the 15 documentary films that she has made but equally a poet, a journalist, a writer and a passionately committed human being writing on the issues of communal violence, hunger, human and womens rights. We explore her work over the next few months. This month as a film maker with her documentar
z y film Asli Azaadi. Next month as a passionate poet and then an exploration of her work as a fiction film maker and writer.

monday 13th august

7 pm ‘ASLI AZAADI’ (True Freedom) (45 minutes) Documentary film written, directed and presented by Sagari Chhabra

Instead of the state celebrations that will take place marking the occasion of s 60th anniversary as a free nation on August 15th, see this moving oral history of some of the women who participated in this struggle. The film is infused with the music of the times and is shot at some of the sites famous for their association with this history. Meet some of the 1,500 volunteers of the Rani Jhansi regiment, the first all-womens military wing in the world. Defend until the last man and the last bullet was Netaji s evocation to his troops and the stories related by surviving members of this regiment speak of their courage and tenacity through battle, bombing raids and interrogations. Meet also some of the volunteers who participated in Mahatma Gandhi s satyagraha, described in his own words as the vindication of truth not by infliction of suffering on the opponents but on ones self. If it is to be blood that is shed, let it be our own. Meet also the women of the Bengal famine, Partition and the womens movement in contemporary . The film will be followed by a discussion with the director.  Sagari Chhabra is a writer, poet & film-director. She has written and directed fifteen documentary films and one fiction film, winning five national and international awards. Her work primarily centres around social issues;  Global Warming (United Nations World Food Day award) Now I Will Speak (on violence against women - awarded by the International Association of Women In Radio & Television & NIFA awards of excellence in production & direction)Tatva (Essence) (a fiction film about a woman in search for her identity in contemporary India, awarded a National award & selection in Indian Panorama) Hunger In The Time Of Plenty (starvation deaths at the time of food surplus), The Word and the World on Indian writers and several others. The films have been screened at festivals in Oslo, Copenhagen, Miami, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Kuala Lumpur and several other places across the world. 

thursday 16th august
7 pm “Eruption of a Volcano: Spectacle of Nature and Human Catastrophe”: a power point presentation & talk by Prof. Stephen Sparks

The Eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano on the island of Montserrat in the Eastern Caribbean started in 1995 and still continues over 12 years later. The eruption was the first since the island was colonized in 1632 and has been intensively studied as a consequence. Two-thirds of the island is now uninhabitable and over 8000 of the original population of 12000 has had to leave. The eruption is typical of the kind of volcanism that occurs where tectonic plates collide. The magma is gas-rich and very viscous making it explosive and unstable. Many people have been saved through the partnership of scientists from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, the UK Government and Montserrat Government.
Dr Sparks talks about natural disasters with an emphasis on Montserrat.

He is a Research Professor and Director of the Centre for Environmental and Geophysical Flows in the University of Bristol and leads their research effort in volcanology and geological fluid mechanics. His recent publications are Volcanic Activity: Frontiers and Challenges in Forecasting, Prediction, and Risk Assessment, Axisymetric collapses of granular columns. (Journal of Fluid Mechanics), Forecasting Volcanic Eruptions (Earth and Planetary Science Letters Frontiers in Earth Science Series), Periodic behavior in lava dome eruptions (Earth and Planetary Science Letters).

sunday 19th august
19 August 2007 - VISIBLE MASS: a meghadutam scrapbook

A video and live performance piece based on Kalidasa's Meghadutam
Devised by Rehaan Engineer. Featuring Shanaya Rafaat & Karan Makhija

3 Shows at 3.30 pm, 6.00 pm, 8.00 pm (Duration: 1 hour approximately

The performance will constitute a deliberately idiosyncratic interrogation of the 121 stanzas of Kalidasa's sanskrit lyric monody of parted lovers.

Within the piece, the classic text's precise triangulation of "lover / messenger / absent beloved" will be renegotiated and mapped onto the loose triangle created by the male performer / the female performer / the technology.

Important subsidiary notions that generate the situational matrix of the original text without being explicitly addressed by it - notions of selfhood and absence, of desire and dependence, of the actual v/s imagined worlds - will be examined through the personal memories of the participants as well as refracted through a series of shorter secondary texts freely plundered from the work of the contemporary American poet Jorie Graham.

A parallel process of historical excavation and re-imagining focused around the famous trial of Martin Guerre in Toulouse in January 1559 might also enter the ambit of the final performance.

Notes on writers:

Kalidasa, dramatist and epic and lyric poet, writer of Meghadutam, Shakuntala and Ritusamharam; probably lived and wrote at the close of the first millennium B.C., though a date later by much as five centuries has been assigned to him by some scholars.

Jorie Graham (b. 1950) is the author of eight collections of poetry including The Dream of the Unified Field, which won the Pultizer prize. She currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and teaches at Harvard University.

wednesday 22nd august
7 pm ‘Difficult Conversations’ – a review by Amita Virmani


Difficult conversations are the ones we dread getting into, can't get out of, and always turn out badly. This talk is based on the book "Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most" by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen. The authors working on the Harvard Negotiation Project say that in fact there are three conversations going on in every difficult discussion: the factual or "What Happened?" conversation; the feeling conversation; and the identity conversation. The identity and feeling conversation is a subtext to the overt conversation. It deals with our unspoken feelings about the topic and the threat to our sense of self that lurks beneath the surface


This evening Amita Virmani discusses the authors solutions to these problems. So if you find you tend to avoid difficult conversations then listen to how not to create permanent rifts and have conversations which result in positive outcomes.


Amita Virmani has over 25 years of experience as head of human resources with several organizations and currently works as a trainer, coach and consultant through her organization The Individual Team.


She has a Masters in Psychology from Delhi University and an MBA from McGill University in Montreal,. She recently trained as a trainer in Negotiation in Harvard University and in Difficult Conversations in the. She coaches individuals in life challenging situations, career coaching and cross cultural coaching. She also offers training in soft skill areas for managers and leaders in organizations. Amita has worked as a trainer, coach and HR consultant with several organizations as well as with individuals from various professions as clients.