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Volume 52 Number 2, December 2000

Volume 52 Number 2

2000: The Performing Arts

From the General Editor’s Desk

From Raga to Fusion: Hindustani Music
Sandeep Bagchee

The State of Classical Dance: 2000
Sunil Kothari

“We Need a House of Our Own”: The Impasse of Indian Theatre after Independence
Rustom Bharucha

The Enduring Allure of the Big Screen: A Century of Indian Cinema
Shyam Benegal

The Power of the Small Screen: Television as Purveyor of Culture
Amita Malik

Rediscovered: A Rare Portrait of Raja Rammohun Roy
Alyssa L. Langlais Dodge and Susan S. Bean

Newsletters

Book Reviews

From the General Editor's Desk
Pal, Pratapaditya
Vol. 52 No. 2, December 2000, pp. 8-9

The editor touches on the current state of institutions related to the arts in Mumbai: the NCPA, NGMA, and the Bhau Daji Lad and Prince of Wales Museum. In Mumbai's attempts at preservation of heritage, he praises the Kala Ghoda art festival and Ekjute's production of Yahudi ki Ladki which reintroduces Parsi theatre, a form that was popular in the early 20th century.

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From Raga to Fusion: Hindustani Music
Bagchee, Sandeep
Vol. 52 No. 2, December 2000, pp. 10-23 [Also in 2000: Reflections on the Arts In India edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 52 No. 2, December 2000; ISBN: 81-85026-50-5, pp. 118-131]

In the early 20th century the performance and appreciation of classical or art music was confined to temples and private patrons such as princes and zamindars. With the economic, social, and political change brought about by British rule this patronage declined, and growing nationalist sentiment brought people's patronage, and after Independence State patronage, to art music. In the 20th century new technology such as the gramophone, radio, cinema, television increased popular access to music performances and today corporate sponsorship supports many concerts. The system of musical training too has been transformed in the 20th century, with institutions and schools of music being set up and a gradual decline in the traditional one-to-one transmission of musical knowledge from guru to shishya. The writer also discusses how popular taste has led to the dominance of certain instruments or styles, and particular ragas. As far as future trends can be predicted, in the writer's opinion lighter music will continue to enjoy greater popularity and fusion forms not strictly tied to raga grammar will arise. What can be stated with certainty is that Indian art music, which has evolved over a long period of time, will continue to exist.

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The State of Classical Dance: 2000
Kothari, Sunil
Vol. 52 No. 2, December 2000, pp. 24-35 [Also in 2000: Reflections on the Arts In India edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 52 No. 2, December 2000; ISBN: 81-85026-50-5, pp. 132-143]

Classical dance, like music, was traditionally confined to the precincts of temples, or performed for princes and zamindars. Under the British, dance was stigmatized. Nationalism brought a revival of classical dance forms like Manipuri, Kathakali, Bharata Natyam, and Kathak. With Independence, the State set up Sangeet Natak Akademis which brought to the fore dance forms such as Odissi, Kuchipudi, Mohinattam, Krishnattam, Yakshagana, and Sattriya and Chhau dances. Today studying dance is popular among the young educated middle class, and while this has led to commercialization, it has also encouraged experimentation and the expression of contemporary themes and concerns through dance. However, the writer believes that greater patronage, both state and private, better infrastructure, and serious research and critical writing are urgently required, along with a spirit of innovation, if Indian dance is to recover its vigour and vitality.

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"We Need a House of Our Own": The Impasse of Indian Theatre after Independence
Bharucha, Rustom
Vol. 52 No. 2, December 2000, pp. 36-45 [Also in 2000: Reflections on the Arts In India edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 52 No. 2, December 2000; ISBN: 81-85026-50-5, pp. 144-153]

The writer discusses the lack of interaction of theatrical traditions across regions and languages, apart from select groups involved in national and zonal festivals. Independent India's landmark first Drama Seminar, organized by the Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1956, anticipated several of the problems that theatre faces today. A vast spectrum of cultural identities remain unknown outside their own circle, and there is a lack of adequate working conditions for artists - rehearsal rooms, freedom from censorship, alleviation of the entertainment tax, and above all, a theatre of one's own making it difficult to sustain serious theatre as a discipline. Even so, the writer cites examples of individuals and groups who have survived against all odds and provided models for emulation. He stresses that solidarity among theatre workers across the country is necessary for their future survival and growth.

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The Enduring Allure of the Big Screen: A Century of Indian Cinema
Benegal, Shyam
Vol. 52 No. 2, December 2000, pp. 46-59 [Also in 2000: Reflections on the Arts In India edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 52 No. 2, December 2000; ISBN: 81-85026-50-5, pp. 154-167]

In 1896 the first film was screened in Bombay, and today India is the largest producer of full-length fiction features in the world. In the 20th century commercial Hindi cinema has evolved a unique narrative structure and has an incredible hold on people not only in India, but in the South Asia region. Films in regional languages also cater to wide audiences. Parallel to these, socially relevant and art films continue to be made; however, the new cinema has not had the kind of influence on society that popular cinema has. Given the rapid developments in electronic technology, the new millennium offers exciting possibilities and new defining moments are bound to appear in the world of cinema.

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The Power of the Small Screen: Television as Purveyor of Culture
Malik, Amita
Vol. 52 No. 2, December 2000, pp. 60-69 [Also in 2000: Reflections on the Arts In India edited by Pratapaditya Pal; Vol. 52 No. 2, December 2000; ISBN: 81-85026-50-5, pp. 168-177]

In less than four decades television has become the principal source of information and entertainment for people in India. The writer describes the early years of Doordarshan, the developments with the coming of satellite channels, and government policies on broadcasting. She calls for further opening up in both national and international terms and improvement in Doordarshan's technical standards so that Indian television can compete on equal footing with international channels.

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Rediscovered: A Rare Portrait of Raja Rammohun Roy
Dodge, Alyssa L. Langlais and Bean, Susan S.
Vol. 52 No. 2, December 2000, pp. 70-74
A rare portrait of the eminent religious and social reformer Raja Rammohan Roy (1776-1833) was acquired by the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, in 1998. Perhaps the most important work by a known American artist of an Indian subject, the portrait was painted from life by Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860) in 1833 and completed just a month before Rammohan Roy's death. The writers describe the relationship between artist and subject and discuss the significance of the portrait.
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Newsletters
Vol. 52 No. 2, December 2000, pp. 75-86
Kavita Singh reports on the recent NGMA controversy in New Delhi, where bureaucracy clashed with freedom of expression over a painting by Surendran Nair; while over at the NGMA in Mumbai, Monisha Ahmed writes about an exhibition which looks at the development of Mumbai's contemporary movement, and a series of events featuring Haku Shah, the founder of Shilpa Gram; John Siudmak catches the travelling exhibition 'Human and Divine: 2000 Years of Indian Sculpture' in London. He also reports on the British Museum's event celebrating Gandharan scholar Francine Tissot, and two auctions of Indian art; Shehbaz H. Safrani writes about Dialectica Gallery in New York and its recent exhibition of Theyyam photographs by Pepita Seth, the Edwin Binney Collection exhibition of Indian art, and an exhibition of Tibetan art to mark the Dalai Lama's 65th birthday.
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Book Reviews
Vol. 52 No. 2, December 2000, pp. 87-94

Art from Thailand edited by Robert L. Brown, and Studies in Southeast Asian Art: Essays in Honor of Stanley J. O'Connor edited by Nora A. Taylor, reviewed by Hiram W. Woodward Jr.; From Mustard Fields to Disco Lights: Folk Music and Musical Instruments of Punjab by Alka Pande, reviewed by Surjeet Singh; Contemporary Architecture in the Arab States: Renaissance of a Region by Udo Kultermann, reviewed by Farooq Ameen.

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