Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Frankly Yours, Milind Gunaji


A man who wears many hats – engineer, poet, writer, actor, model, photographer, and documentary-maker – Milind Gunaji's down-to-earth charm and candid confessions at a recent event succeeded in adding to his admirers.
Milind, who was in the city on Friday at the book reading session of Meghna Pant's debut novel, “One & A Half Wife”, frankly admitted to the audience that he hadn't had time to read the book beforehand. To correct the folly, Milind settled down for an informal chat with Meghna to understand the story before reading out from the novel.
While discussing the various themes of the book – fortune-tellers, recession, East vs West – Milind revealed that he could read and prepare horoscopes very well, but didn't believe in road-side fortune tellers.
I was told by one such fortune-teller that I would make a good politician. I don't want to test the accuracy of his statement by plunging into politics. I am drawn to mysticism and spirituality than the fortune-tellers with their parrots in tow,” he says.
The actor, who swears by Indian culture and family values, is also learning new age concepts like “giving space.”
My son is studying to be an engineer. We have certain ground rules, apart from that he's free to do what he wants. I don't levy my ideas on him, much as I would like to,” says the father in him.
Exchanging their ideas and tips on writing process, Milind who has penned six books, says that writing, especially poetry, is a catharsis for him.
Writing travelogues takes a little effort, but poetry is very easy. I sit with pen and paper and the words flow,” says Milind, who loves reading poems of Ga Di Madgulkar, Bahinabai Chaudhari and Ba Bha Borkar.
Milind, who's now working on the video version for his collection of poems – Man Pakhrache Hoi – quickly recited a few lines on “Mala” (attic or the loft) which is included in the collection.
He also shared his plans of tying up with Maitreyi Mass Media, and directing a movie called, “Malak” with them. It will highlight the lives of lavani artistes. Milind is also in talks with Umesh Kulkarni of Deool and Walu fame for producing his next venture.
Talking of various mediums and their synergy, Milind says that, “Strong content is a must for all. A book will sell only if it has strong story, a film will work if it has a strong script. We need good stories to make great movies, so we need good writers. A strong publishing market can infuse vigour in the filmdom,” he observed.
As a parting shot, he urged Meghna to include her mugshot on the book jacket because “ the readers are able to connect with her” and to the audience, Milind promised that he would finish reading the novel that night at his farmhouse in Khandala. That's frank Milind Gunaji for you!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Exquisite Pattachitra art. Pic courtesy: Tilak Shetty, Graphiti
All of us have, sometime or the other, seen wall paintings in Madhubani art, with their rich and eye-catching geometric designs. Now visualise this traditional folk art form in an animated film for children. Mind-boggling isn’t it?
The man behind this imagery, Tilak Shetty, director of Krish,Trish and Batliboy II, has picked popular folk-tales and brought them alive on the big screen using this medium of art.
Tilak, who was at the inauguration of the two-day Children’s Film Fest held in the city recently, confesses that he cannot draw or paint “to save his life” and hence, chose this medium because “someone has to archive and document our folk history for posterity. And, films assure you of that,” he says.
A Commerce graduate, Tilak also dabbled in computer programming before setting up his animation company, Graphiti. He reveals that it is the art that decides the stories. “We first decide on the folk art and then we start researching on the folk-tales of the region. India has around 40 cultural zones; if we pick one artistic style, we also dig out at least three stories to complement it. We have a treasure trove of arts and stories, and it’s fun to blend the two on the screen,” he shares.
The “fun” entails painstaking research on the style, understanding the particular art form’s rules, getting the edits ready, maintaining the continuity — and in case it does not produce the desired results, then starting all over again.
When he started out, Tilak knew just three art styles — Warli, Mughal miniatures and Madhubani. So, this new visual medium “fascinates” him. “I’m learning a lot in the process and am also passing on that knowledge to others. In my animation films, I include a 30-second bit about the history of the art. It is like an introduction, say of leather puppetry from Karnataka to a kid who may be in Bihar. I am using the detailing involved in that particular art to weave the stories. The trees will be drawn in a specific shape, the human figures will have clothes in that design and the props too will flaunt that typical style. If children remember the names of the designs or the regions they flourish in, I will consider my All of us have, sometime or the other, seen wall paintings in Madhubani art, with their rich and eye-catching geometric designs. Now visualise this traditional folk art form in an animated film for children. Mind-boggling isn’t it?
The man behind this imagery, Tilak Shetty, director of Krish,Trish and Batliboy II, has picked popular folk-tales and brought them alive on the big screen using this medium of art.
Tilak, who was at the inauguration of the two-day Children’s Film Fest held in the city recently, confesses that he cannot draw or paint “to save his life” and hence, chose this medium because “someone has to archive and document our folk history for posterity. And, films assure you of that,” he says.
A Commerce graduate, Tilak also dabbled in computer programming before setting up his animation company, Graphiti. He reveals that it is the art that decides the stories. “We first decide on the folk art and then we start researching on the folk-tales of the region. India has around 40 cultural zones; if we pick one artistic style, we also dig out at least three stories to complement it. We have a treasure trove of arts and stories, and it’s fun to blend the two on the screen,” he shares.
The “fun” entails painstaking research on the style, understanding the particular art form’s rules, getting the edits ready, maintaining the continuity — and in case it does not produce the desired results, then starting all over again.
When he started out, Tilak knew just three art styles — Warli, Mughal miniatures and Madhubani. So, this new visual medium “fascinates” him. “I’m learning a lot in the process and am also passing on that knowledge to others. In my animation films, I include a 30-second bit about the history of the art. It is like an introduction, say of leather puppetry from Karnataka to a kid who may be in Bihar. I am using the detailing involved in that particular art to weave the stories. The trees will be drawn in a specific shape, the human figures will have clothes in that design and the props too will flaunt that typical style. If children remember the names of the designs or the regions they flourish in, I will consider my work as successful,” he concludes.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The House for the Houses


A night stroll on the almost deserted 18th June Road was quite a revelation. What we had missed out during the hustle-bustle filled mornings, popped up in our consciousness, beckoning a closer inspection on the dimly-lit road.
No, it wasn't an apparition, nor was it a road block, but a house. A typical Goan house with red roofs, large windows and since the curtains were parted, we could also spot the altar. It quite fitted the description of what we had seen earlier in the day – a museum dedicated to houses of Goa.

House Watch
Having decided to skip beaches, temples and other touristy sights of Goa on this trip, we headed to Tordo, Salvador -do- Mundo in Bardez taluka. A red structure shaped like a ship was our destination.
The Houses of Goa Museum isn't your typical museum; in fact it's warm, welcoming and cozy like your own home. The polite and warm receptionist, on learning that we were not architects, offered us discounts on the entry tickets (Rs 50 for one instead of Rs 100).
The museum, built by architect, Gerard Da Cunha, is a haven for academicians – practising, architects, students of architecture, heritage activists and planners – and not laypersons. The explanation sounded daunting because we were a couple enamoured of houses with tiled roofs, balconies (balcaos as they are called in Portuguese), and old grannies sitting in their swaying armchair with their knitting paraphernalia.

Around the House
But, we needn't have worried. After slipping off our shoes, we climbed up the cylindrical stairs to enter the first level. Lights were switched on and the pictures, most of them sketches and illustrations by the late Goan social cartoonist, Mario Miranda, stood out. One section of the first floor described the chronology of the world architecture, while the second section described the USP of the museum – a quest to find out what the houses were like before the advent of the Portuguese and if they were the result of Indo-Western fusion.
We also got to see the finest examples of this fusion in the personality profile section. Seven families, including Miranda's, have been interviewed, the structure of their heritage Casa (house in Portuguese) described in detail in the pencil plan by the cartoonist. Thus we could count the number of windows in Miranda's ancestral house in Loutolim, and express wonder that the infantry of the Deshprabhu family stayed in Deshprabhu House in Kudal.
The next level described the material used in constructing the houses, the columns and the furniture. The shape of most of the furniture, has its origin in Europe, but the motifs were often Indian. We had fun spotting the motif of the coastal fruit, cashewnut, in the designs of the furniture, loaned to the museum.
Since both Hindus and Christians lived under the Portuguese rule, we got a glimpse of their religious practices. The museum has an altar, which is found in the homes of Christian families, while there is also a Hindu Devghar.

The Museum

The third level, also the attic, told us that while the importance of Tulsi plant diminished in the rest of the country, it actually flourished under the Portuguese rule. Many Hindu families in Goa have gaily painted Tulsi vrindavans in their gardens, perhaps that was their way of holding on fiercely to their Hindu identity when they were ruled by the Portuguese. The practise exists even today – Tulsi vrindavans outside the house tell us that a Hindu family stays there, while Christian families erect Cross before their house.

Citylights

That night in Panjim, we tried to test our knowledge of old houses by identifying columns from raj angans, cabides and window pelmets. As the game progressed, we realised that the old style is now giving way to crowded apartments. Will any museum tell us what the future of the old houses is going to be?







The cabide was used as a peg to hang coats, jackets and hats
 The hands hold pictures and mirrors