Friday, December 27, 2013

India's mega- theatre gala casts light on social reality drama, folk traditions

 New Delhi, Dec 2013   
The rich tradition of folk in Indian theatre. social reality in drama and creative story-telling are under spoilight at  the country's biggest and the most lavish  theatre festivals— the annual Bharat Rang Mahotsav 2014 of the National School of Drama —in the Indian capital from January 4-19. The festival will  be spread out in multiple performances venues in New Delhi. 
It  will  officially open Jan 4 with a quasi folk opera —Chhaya Shakuntalam (based on Kalidasa's epic 

Abhigyan Shakuntalam) — directed by one of the heavyweights of Indian stage K.N. Panikkar. The drama school authority said "the production by the students' repertory company of NSD has been especially commissioned for the theatre festival".  In the subsequent days, plays from Karnatka, West Bengal, Mumbai, Kerala and northeastern India will hold the centrestage.          

The National School of Drama - the lone government institution for the study of theatrical arts in the country, was set up in 1959 to hone talent on the stage with a codified curriculum to bring the millennnia-old tradition of theatre in the country on par with the rest of the modern world. The school combines folk traditions, academic training, performance arts, dances and western stage formats to teach students core aspects of theatre and the arts associated with it. The school, for the last 15 years, has been hosting an annual theatre festival — inviting ensembles from across the country  — with the dual purpose to entertain and raise academic awareness about theatre. 

Announcing the  festival at a media conference in the capital Dec 27, the National School of Drama authority said "it has brought 71 productions from 17 Indian states and across the world to showcase the trends on the stage and help theatre find a more meaningful toehold for itself on the canvas of arts - in the face of a cultural invasion by cinema in the country". The tradition of theatre in India goes back to the Vedic era — when itinerant preachers and story-tellers spread the gospel of Vedas and its ensuing religion with the tradition of storytelling or "katha"- partially chanting and enacting the texts. However, historians argue that performance as a genre of expression existed during the pre-Vedic times as well.

The National School of Drama said the "festival will feature a complete kaleidoscope of various theatre styles starting from classical, modern and western to culminate into a folk panorama that will host 11 popular folk forms of theatre from the four corners of the country. Of these, nine forms will be staged for the first time. 

The foreign participants at the festival include repertories from Sri Lanka, Japan, Israel, China. Poland and Germany.      

"The Bharat Rang Mahotsav is not only about urban thaetre, but it focuses on the rural and traditional theatres as well. As a parallel featival, the National School of Drama will take a mini-showcase of six plays to  northeastern India- Imphal (the capital of Manipur) and Guwahati (the capital of Assam). The drama school has to reach out to the remote hinterland of the country as well, where theatre is still an important medium of communication," Waman Kendre, the director of the National School of Drama said. 

Explaining the drama school;s decision to send it to the northeastern region, eminent theatre personality Ratan Thiyam, chairperson of the National School of Drama said integrating theatre from all parts of the nation and taking it to the largest cross-section of the audience has been integral to the vision of NSD for the Bharat Rang Mahotsav. 

Writing about  theatre and seminars  on topics like "local and global exchanges in theatre and 'use and abuse of traditions in theatre"— will bring a motley crowd of national and 12 noted international scholars to present their papers.   

Veteran theatre personality mahesh dattani- writer and director- will release a book, "Me & My Plays" accompanied by readings. Four short films on the mobile theatre of Assam, Nautanki (a folk form), a workshop conducted by theatre scholar Grotowski and "The making of King Lear" adpated in Hindustani will be screened in a parallel theatre education segment. 
Interactions with directors and actors of the plays staged at the festival will take place every morning on the drama school premises. 

Divulging the growing popularity of festival, chairman of NSD Ratan Thiyam said he (along with the team) had to choose from 362 plays. The criteria were objectivity and quality. "Since the 1960s, Indian theatre had been trying to get its identity.The festival is the identity of Indian theatre coming up as a showcase. In India, profesisonalism in theatre has to be improved and that is why awareness is very important. We do not a national policy for theatre," Thiyam said. 

Theatre is a laboratory process  of exprimentation and hence it was important for the National School of Drama to support the process, the chairman added.

The drama school, which is in the process to setting five regional centres across the country, will retrsucture the process of the selection of productions for the  festival next year. "We are training a dedicated Bharat Rang Mahotsav team that will work round the year for the festival. We will not depend on CD or video entries- members of our advisory council will visit the destinations of the origin of th plays — both in India and outside — to assess the performances for inclusion," Waman Kendre, director of the school said. The school will add several; new modules to its curriculum, including a open script-writing course.               

Theatre has a new idiom, says Ratan Thiyam

Modern Indian theatre is developing a indigenous vernacular of its own in the last decade, assimilating from roots performance genres —and combining it with global idioms to create a language that relates to the young legions of theatre lovers, bred on universalism, post globalisation. Stage icon Ratan Thiyam, the theatre protagonist from Manipur, says"this medley of local vernacular and the movements on the global stage" has honed the essence of Indian theatre in post-colonial times. 
Thiyam, who took over as the chairman of the National School of Drama Society, in NewDelhi, three years ago, said  he had to choose from 362 entries sent to the dramna school for its annual festival of theatre — Bharat Rang Mahotsav 2014 beginning Jan 4-19. 
"It was a tough job. But the works that found their way to the roster of the festival reflect a pronounced utilisation of traditions and pertaining art forms," Thiyam observed in an informal conversation in the capital Dec 27, 2013. 
Theatre has matured with its own language, the 65-year-old regional theatre pioneer from Manipur in northeastern India, pointed out. "It is a time when we have a new cultural space— where actors' training is becoming very important to meet the challenges of new theatre," Thiyam said. In the last three decades- theatre in India has become a "comprehensive arts exprience" featuring coventional stage formats, story-telling, traditional  body language, performances and technology in composite mosaic. "Technology has come up and it is very very speedy. This cultural space is completely new because  technology has to be juxtaposed.The process requires a fine balance between the traditional and the contemporary," Thiyam said.    
The theatre veteran believes in the democratisation of drama education — a subject that is still controlled by an apex institution in India. 
"Theatre as a subject of study and awareness should be taken to the country's heartlands and remote posts across the states— but the onus of the task depends on the state government," Thiyam said.
Furnishing examples in contrasts, Thiyam said "take the case of Gujarat... it has an industrial base and can fall back on the corporate houses to support its culture". "But the northeastern states have a different kind of structure. Do you have a single factory and large industry in the region? No...The prospect of funding and resouce for theatre (and related arts) needs to be examined in all its scopes," Thiyam said, suggesting that "the state government has  to show greater engagement with culture". 
The chairman of the National School of Drama wants to develop the "insitution as a centre for advance studies and production". "We are planning some regional units of the school. The states have to create more repertory companies where the crews must train  themselves as professionals to bring better quality of productions to the national stage". 

-Staff Writer 

--Staff Writer/    

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Famine in Bengal - Somnath Hore shows the art of suffering


By Madhusree Chatterjee 
New Delhi, Dec 26

“Quite unbeknowest to me, the wounds of the 1940s famine, the uncertainty of war, the horrors of communal riots of 1946— all that we were sinking themselves into the techniques of my drawings — the helpless around us, the neglected and the hungry,” says artist and sculptor (late) Somnath Hore in his book, “My Concept of Art”. 

The Bengal famine of 1943 — wedged between the two wars — that killed nearly three million people brought in its tumultuous wake a poignant oeuvre of art which was rooted in the mammoth human tragedy of hunger that ravaged the Bengal and eastern landmass of the sun-continent like a black scourge. The memories of the hunger lasted for several years colouring the expressions of a small bunch of realist painters from Bengal with socialist affiliations.

Somnath Hore, Chittoprasad Bhattacharya, Zainul Abedin, Gopal Ghose, Pranskinko Pal, Abani Sen, Haren Das, Sunil Jena, Atul Bose, Ramkinkar, Pradosh Dasgupta, Kamala Dasgupta, Nirode Mazumdar, Paritosh Sen, Rathin Moitra, Suvo Tagore, Gorabdhan Ash, Muralidhar Tali and Debabrata Mukhopadhyay, Rimkankar and the members of The Calcutta Group — a progressive group of artists who used the human suffering of the famine to script a new artistic language — have preserved the partially manmade disaster  in line drawings, ink sketches, water colour figure studies, etchings, linocuts, etchings, lithographs and press photographs for the posterity testifying to the fact that disasters and tragedies spur creativity to push the farthest of frontiers in terms of visual expressions by artists.

Historians say the Bengal famine of 1943 was partially manmade — the world wars had apparently triggered a shortage of foodgrain. A series of crop failures, natural conditions and blockade of food grain from Burma, then occupied by Japan, shrunk food grain reserves in Bengal, adjacent to Burma, which supplied bulk of the rice. A large quantity of “relief” grain meant for India was diverted by the erstwhile British colonialists to its garrisons in the Atlantic and to feed post-war Europe.    

Like the Partition of India in 1947, the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 the civil wars worldwide and great World Wars have influenced several generations of artists to represent personal and collective trauma on their canvas— (and an array of related visual mediums) — the famine of Bengal touched the then masters of modern Indian expressionism like Nandalal Bose and Jamini Roy and the Socialist painters alike. Nandalal Bose, known for his lurical renderings of Indian mythology, painted “Lord Shiva as a beggar” to portray the horrors of the famine.     

The art was distinctive in style – marked by a characteristic clarity of lines, expression and details that ferreted the out the emotional angst of the victims and survivors of the famine. The strokes were firm — and the studies of human figures were mostly anatomical to the minute structure of bones, skins and skeletal framework of the subjects. Village was the pre-occupation of artists like Somenath Hore, Zainul Abedin and Chittoprasad, who travelled around the Bengal countryside sketching the famine for Communist publications.

A recent exhibition of famine art by “Somnath Hore: Exclusive Works From the Collection of Chandana Hore”  in the capital brought a collection of line drawings, ink sketches, etchings and lithographs that the artist created — as a direct response to the famine of 1943 and later in recollection of the deprivation and the horror that the famine left behind. The works reflected the wide economic disparities between the rich and the poor in the countryside, hungry human begins and ravaged bodies of both animal and man, laid to waste by suffering.  Scholars say Hore’s art “is directly inspired by the great hunger and Tebhaga peasants’ revolt that swept through Bengal and the chain of political events that rolled in its wake”.

Hore was Socialist in his political ideology and spent the last decades of his life in Shantiniketan — where he taught — but mostly sculpted in the green countryside inhabited by people of ethnic origins, living on the economic margins.

“Every art work is political in the sense that it offers a perspective — direct and indirect — on social relations,” says Robert Atkins. Hore identified with the social movements around him — to express them on canvas. In a way, his work becomes documentary, recording events that shaped Bengal politics for the future.

“Not every artist creates art to capture the beauty around him, for the allure of fame and money or to cleanse his soul, but to process his need for catharsis. Perhaps, this was also one of the reasons that attracted Hore towards print-making as the act of making lithographs — is a brutal medium which metaphorically corresponds to his experience of attrition of existence,” says Chandana Hore, artist Somnath Hore’s daughter.            

The exhibition tried to present Hore’s process of artistic growth in phases — while his early work was correct in academic details drawn with meticulousness, his later works became more complex and nuanced because of his engagement with Picasso when he was experimenting with Cubism— in a strange contrast primitive and childlike.  He does away with the intricate details of the figure and concentrates on the body in fluid shapes. His figures and landscapes are characterized by a melancholia — a residue of the memories of hunger, humiliations of man, conflicts and sufferings.

Famine and politics were interlinked in Bengal and in the rest of the country as well. In 1943-1944, Hore met Chittoprasad Bhattacharya on his famine coverage trail. Chittoprasad was recording famine on his sketchpad and notebook in Midnapore while Hore was in Chittagong in undivided Bangladesh. Chittoprasad unlike Hore — was more journalistic in his pictorial documentation of the famine.  

A solo exhibition of famine painter Chittoprasad’s art in the national capital of India in 2011 presented an overview of the artist’s complete oeuvre of work — drawings and etchings of the Bengal and scrapbook illustrations for children.  The Delhi Art Gallery that hosted the show released a set of fuve books on Chittoprasad’s art researched by Sanjoy Kumar Mallik. The publications included a reproduction of the surviving copy of the “Hungry Bengal”— an illustrated and textual account of the famine, which was blacklisted by the British imperialists. Nearly 5,000 copies of the famine picture book priced at Rs 3 were burnt.             

The book, made of 22 drawings in black and white, with accounts of the famine in Midnapore remains an irrevocable chronicle of the hunger and the widespread deaths in Midnapore. Records say in 1943, Chittoprasad set out on a walking tour of Midnapore, carrying in his string bag “flattened rice, jaggery, paper, ink and pen”. He sketched almost everything he saw— and despatched in a first-person interactive style of reportage that was new to Bengali publications of the era. His drawings were stark, detailed and minimal — recording life as it flowed without food in the kitchens and on roads. The figures were bare — a medley of lines, skins and skeletal cages that subsisted on rare supplies of rice on their platter.

“In my art work, I represent the tradition of moralists and political reformers. To save people means to save art itself. The activity of an artist means the active denial of death,” Chittoprasad said about his “artistic mission during the famine”. The most striking feature about Chittoprasad’s studies of human figures during the famine “was the pain in the human eyes that gave faces a haunted look”. “Chittoprasad may be known for his work on famine, but the extensiveness of his work is surprising. He was always willing to experiment and remained oblivious to the demands of the market,” Ashish Anand of the Delhi Art Gallery says.   

Both Chittoprasad and Somnath Hore owe their zeal to chronicle the Bengal famine to a pioneering modernist Zainul Abedin.  The young artist, who was one of the founders of the Bangladesh  Shilpakala Academy (in present-day Bangladesh) , took to the streets of Kolkata soon after graduating from Government Art College – and documented the distressed on city streets in dry brushstrokes on light coloured paper. Eighteen of his dry sketches remain with his family and the rest across the Pakistan, Kolkata and Bangladesh. Abedin used a combination of illustration technique and sketching to capture the human figures – it later extended into a linocut and dry point composition.

Critics say “his art is now rarely seen”. A publication “Darkening Days” on the famine in 1944 carried 11 of his sketches.  A book, “A Matter of Conscience— Artists Bear Witness to the Great Bengal Famine of 1943”, says “a publication, “Bengal Painters’ Testimony” published on the occasion of the Eight Annual All India Students’ Federation Conference in 1944 reproduced 30 works around the theme of famine – some by artists like Asitkumar Haldar, J.P Gangopadhyay, Indra Dugar and Adinath Mukhopadhyay. Artist Muralidhar Tali interpreted the famine in the city of Kolkata as “muscled men losing their sinews and surrounded by swarms of hungry women and children”.

Author Nikhil Sarkar of “A Matter of Conscience…” says “Bengal does not have a permanent gallery for its art, nor does it have a proper archive of manuscripts and printed material. If there had been any of these, there might have been evidence to prove that just as the famine gripped Bengal, so had almost every single conscientious Bengali artist been stirred by the famine of 1943.”           

Sunday, December 22, 2013

100 years of Indian cinema reinterpreted in artistic rendering


 Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, Dec 2013

 Cinema and conventional visual arts are inextricably twined. The former is an extension of the latter in which the visuals become moving images of story-telling within a stipulated time-frame and celluloid format.
In India, the interplay between cinema and the arts spill beyond the obvious – from the shots behind the lens, concepts to the art of the cinema and the peripheral world of posters, advertisement billboards, lobby cards, film publications and the accessories that make cinema a complete arts experience.
The year 2013 has been significant to Indian cinema – for it completed 100 years of boom on screen. Tributes to the unique “money-spinning” world of the celluloid have been pouring throughout the year — and as the year caps to a chilly close, yet another “visual tribute” emerges from the repertoire of Art Heritage Gallery and the curatorial archives of Rahaab Allana. Allana, a young curator, manages Ebrahim Alkazi Foundation of Arts with his family.
Ebrahim Alkazi (curator Rahaab Allana’s  grandfather) was one of the most influential figures on the Indian stage (as the former director of the National School of Drama). He engaged with the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group early in his career in 1940s — and later founded the Art Heritage Gallery at the Triveni Kala Sangam in 1977 with wife Roshan Alkazi—a legacy that his descendants carries forward.               
An exhibition in two parts, “Filmi Jagat: Contemporary Art Work Inspired by Bollywood” and “Filmy Jagat — A Cinema Archive” curated by Rahaab Allana, at the Art Heritage and the Shreedharani Gallery in the capital has interpreted the journey of India cinema in the context of “kitsch and memorabilia art” using a combination of cinema related souvenirs and visual translations of milestones and the movements in cinema – in conceptual compositions by artists. It is based on a scrapbook, “Filmi Jagat”— a pre-Independence era picture book supposedly compiled by one Mangaldas V. Lohania – a cinema lover in the 1930s.    
As the young curator was “wee confused” about the antiquity of the picture book— a common leisure activity among the movie-goers of the black and white era — he moved cinema scholars Debashri Mukherjee and Kaushik Bhaumik to date the book. The book was dated to the pre-Independence era between 1930s-1940s.
“It was super-exciting because the scrapbook showed six movies that don’t exist anymore as film reels. I commissioned them to write essays on Indian cinema,” Allana told this writer. Some of these movies that no longer exists include — Apna Nagariya (1940), Duniya Kya Hain (1938), Kunwara Baap (1942) and Tasveer (1943).        
The scrapbook archive is made of 90 frames – of single images, collages and published objects. The curator has made a 10-minute documentary on the “turning of the pages of the scrapbook to reveal its content”.   
The works — acrylic on canvas renditions, mixed media, oil, installation, ceramics, photographs, serigraphy and digital art — freeze the “watersheds” of moviedom from the days of the silent cinema, black and white talkie narratives, colourful romance, historical epics, actions, new-age cinema, budget movies and “upscale” multiplex stories — inspired by the photographs from the scrapbook and the general mood of Bombay talkies that it conveys.  
Dated between 1950s and 1980s — this debris of modern pictures comprises an essential sub-culture of photography that had mass appeal –several of which were transferred into large film posters.  
One of the highlights of “Filmi Jagat” is a folio of 20 movie billboard photographs, “Culture of the Street”, shot by M.F. Husain in Chennai.  Husain, soon after relocating to Mumbai from Madhya Pradesh, made a living as a billboard painter — painting new movie releases in large poster-style still portrait formats. He used photographs (movie stills) as his templates for the billboards. Most of his later works like — “Mughal-e-Azam” and “Gajagamini” were inspired by his billboard painting days in Bollywood.   
Beginning 1920s, film studios across the country hired painters, photographers, sketch artists, lettering specialists and billboard printers to make banners and other display articles which were crowded and strangely inter-textual. These image montages and collages — transgressed the notions of good and bad aesthetic taste in their attempt to highlight the stars as well as the stories in succinct forms.
Baburao Painter, an stage painter-turned-film director, was the first to use posters and painted cinema displays that soon grew into a distinct oeuvre of graphic art – of a commercial nature. Artists like S.M. Pandit – of the Raj Kapoor-Nargis “Barsaat” poster fame, D.B. Neroy and R.V. Mulgaonkar, Vaman Mistry, Gopal Kamble, D.R. Bhonsle, J.P. Singhal and Ram Kumar Sharma made a name for themselves with their realistic “portraitures” on movie posters.          
The art of painting movie displays logged to the digital and photographic arts in the 1980s when the tradition of painting movie stills made way to photographs. Photographer Dhiraj Chawla shot to limelight with his cult poster of actress Zeenat Aman in the movie, “Satyam Shivam Sundaram”.       
The curator said “the idea for the exhibition germinated with the Alkazi Collection — by studying the histories of photographs via the perspectives of a collector. You begin to question the representatives of mainstreams in art practises...”
“By mainstream, I mean understanding art from a historical point of view –when material published and looked at by a historian suddenly come to the conscience of the public and rouses certain amount of consciousness about practises — and it has to do in the right contemporary contexts,” Allana explained.
The curator “initially began collecting images of cinema”. “I was generally interested in the images of romance on screen. I liked the way in which early film depicted passionate embrace of lovers. There was a stylised sentimentality —like the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma which had western influence- a hybrid notion of the traditional Indian style and the coming of the Victorian art. When the two mix, they come to represent the popular Indian art,” Allana said.
The exhibition has unearthed several rare black and white Hindi movie stills from the archives — like snapshots from “Narsi Bhagat” a religious movie by Vijay Bhatt made in 1940,  “Adalat” (1958), Chori Chori (1956), Kal Hamara Hain (1959), Ek Saal (1957), Andaaz (1949), Aaap ki Kasam (1974), Dus Lakh (1966),  Dafa 302 (1975),  Nazneen (1951), Guest House (1959), Nasherwan-e-Adil (1957) and Boyfriend (1961).               
Allana said he was curious about the way “the human body was depicted”. He collected film stills in the oeuvre of romance.
The staged photographs of the late 19th century presented an array of captured emotions, Allana said. “They were represented in idealised forms – as often seen in the works of Shahpor N. Bhedwar and Jahangir Tarapor. They were manifestations of feigned affection. Films like ‘Jawaani ka Hawa’ and ‘Jhoola’present significant images of how the posed images created a sensational effect,” the curator explained. The staged “images of subtle romantic love” of the early 20th century changed to “brazen erotic imageries” in the 1980s when love became “aggressive” and “bold”. - providing a  backdrop to the cultural collision of ethnicity and sexuality in a beautiful idyll which can be regarded as a visual sensitivity - derivative of a colonial past.        
 Allana said, he put "the word out and people brought him material ranging from lobby cards, show cards, film scripts and song books with lyrics- which viewers carried to the theatre to hum along with the songs on the screen".
The scrapbook which arrived in the process “became interesting” because it presented a sub-culture of cinema”, Allana pointed out. The “creator” had been “pasting things from magazines and creating montages”. “All this was important part of modernisation – depicting the high and low forms of art overlaying practise- inscribing material with personal equations, the curator said, pointing to the “core” of the exposition.

The show runs at Art Heritage Gallery in New Delhi till January 21, 2014

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Poetry of truth soothes India’s lifestyle angst


Madhusree Chatterjee

New Delhi, Nov 2, 2011 (IANS) A genre of realistic poetry in English is seeking the unbridled literary creativity and beauty of the medium to beat the lifestyle angst - and connect to spirituality, politics and roots in India’s growing modern jungles.
The internet is India’s new poetry workshop. Over a dozen portals dedicated to young poetry helps budding writers post their poetry to readers. The writers vary in profile - from the young college student under pressure to the harassed professional.
English poetry in India made a milestone journey in the first few decades of the 20th century when an early generation of Indo-Anglian poets, with exposure to foreign education and life, documented their Indian experience in realistic verses. It moved away from the ornamental sonnets of love and pining - a legacy of a bygone Wordsworthian ethos that reigned in the greater part of 19th century poetry.
The two World Wars and the struggle for i ndependence influenced the sensibilities of modern Indo-Anglian poets, colouring the verse with a measure of aggression and a personalised angst. And also a sense of freedom.
“Poetry helps me reconnect to my roots in Malabar… it marks a return to my carefree childhood days,” poet and novelist Anita Nair, whose debut anthology “Malabar Minds” conjures up the magic of the land to which she owes her allegiance, told IANS.
Nair says she deals “with the sensuous existence that she identifies with Malabar - and of youth and human emotions”.
The poems read like travelogues following the landscapes and mindscapes of a turf where life flows like lazy afternoons - in the odd toddy vends and on the beaches, in the midst of nature, buses and everyday concerns.
For young Dalit feminist poet Meena Kandaswamy from Tamil Nadu, poetry is a tool of rebellion against the system and the “oppression that young Dalit women still face in contemporary India”.
“You have to accept my poetry as it is. It is the only language I know,” Kandaswamy says of her poetry laced with sexual innuendos and spiritual imageries.
Kandaswamy, often hailed as one of the fieriest petrels of the new Indian poetry, reinterprets characters like Draupadi, Sita or Kannagi as rebels “who refuse to collude with patriarchy”.
According to poet Ranjit Hoskote, “In Kandaswamy’s poetry (in the anthology ‘Ms Militancy’), there is an element of self-dramatisation… a result of an acute self-consciousness of having to address the pressures of perception that attend poets, women
and poets, who happen to be women”.
Hoskote’s poetry, on the other hand, threads itself to a personal element which draws from spirituality and the genres of art that he explores in his dual life as an independent art critic and curator.
He started publishing poetry in the 1990s and has translated works of several foreign and Indian language poets.
Late poet Agha Shahid Ali had observed: “Hoskote wants to discover language as one would a new chemical in a laboratory experiment.”
“This sense of linguistic play, usually missing from sub-continental poetry in English, is abundant in Hoskote’s work,” said Ali, a renowned Kashmiri poet who began to publish in the 1970s and used his poetry to chronicle accounts of personal events and sometimes political.
One of his long poems, “Kashmir Without a Post Office”, acclaimed worldwide, gathers material from the 1990 uprising in the valley and its violent political consequences.
The generation of 20th century modern pioneers, which includes legends like Rabindranath Tagore and Michael Madhusudan Dutt, came to be best represented later by Sarojini Naidu, Toru Dutt, Nissim Ezikiel, P. Lal, Jayant Mahapatra and Dom Moraes.
Since then, every generation has witnessed a new wave of poetry. While the 1960s and 1970s were characterised by poetry of rebellion, the decades between 1980s and 2000 have seen love - of a bolder kind - and new oppression return to the creative space.
John Oliver Perry, a former emeritus professor of English in the US, who conducted regular studies in India in 1971, notes “that unlike a poet in English-dominant cultures, an Indian English poet stretches his or her linguistic resources (and those of his indigenous readers) far beyond what is enlisted in their common everyday life”.

Madhusree Chatterjee was a senior editor of arts/culture and literature in IANS