The contemporary art scenario of the country is huge as its canvas is far and wide. The best way to experience it would be through the vision of those artists who have excelled in their fields of work. The documentary film ‘To Let the World In’ directed by Avijit Mukul Kishore, is one such medium to understand the ever changing world of contemporary Indian art.
This is a two-part film project that looks at a significant period in the history of contemporary Indian art, featuring the work of three generations of visual artists born over a period of half a century. The first volume features intimate conversations with Arpita Singh, Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, Vivan Sundaram, Nilima Sheikh, Nalini Malani and Sudhir Patwardhan, Ranbir Kaleka, Pushpamala N Anita Dube and Atul Dodiya along with art critic and curator Geeta Kapur. The second volume of the film features Anju Dodiya, Archana Hande, Benitha Perciyal, Sharmila Samant, Parvathi Nayar, Riyas Komu, Tushar Joag, Shilpa Gupta, Gargi Raina, Sumakshi Singh, T V Santhosh, Nataraj Sharma, Gigi Scaria, Reena Saini Kallat and Jitish Kallat.
“This film features 27 artists over a period of 30 years. It is in the context of their practice”, says filmmaker Avijit Mukul Kishore whose film is being screened for the second time in Goa, on July 19. It was first shown in December 2013 during the Goa Art and Literary Festival. During the first screening it was limited to a selected audience but now it is open for everyone and especially for students of art.
It is interesting to note that this film was a commissioned project as it was produced by Art Chennai as a component of their show ‘To Let the World In: Narrative and Beyond in Contemporary Indian Art’, curated by Chaitanya Sambrani, held in Chennai in 2012.
Through this film Anand he has tried to show the journey of contemporary art in India and how the socio-political situation of the country is reflected through their art. “In the first volume I have featured artists who are born in 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and in the second volume artists born in 1960s and so on. There is a huge awareness about art among the artists of 1990s. Due to economic liberalisation the whole ecosystem began to change. Furthermore it got complicated in 2008 with the economic meltdown”, says Kishore.
The filmmaker further mentions how political events in the country also affect its art scene. “In 1990s we had Babri Masjid demolition and in 2001 there were Gujarat riots. My documentary also features many artists from Baroda which is in Gujarat. So, there are political comments”, adds Kishore.
He is one of the independent documentary filmmakers who likes to speak about issues through his works. His earlier documentary called ‘Vertical City’ speaks about the urban re-development through slum rehabilitation project in Mumbai. “I made this film when I learnt about the issue of rehabilitation of slum dwellers from their place of stay to a place which is 30 kms away with no access to water and electricity. Even though these slums are considered to be illegal, they are made semi-legal by politicians by giving them identity cards”, explains Kishore.
Kishore who belongs to new era of filmmakers maintains that the issue of censorship is nothing new. “It has always been there. It mainly depends on who validates your work whether it is art or film. One may think that multiplexes are a better option to showcase a variety of films. But they have their own regulations or an international curator who will select your art work based on his/her point of view”, he adds.
He points out that distribution and limited space available for screening is one pressing issue that all documentary filmmakers come across.
Even the advancement of internet is of no much help in this context, he says. “Documentary films get screened for niche audience either at film festivals or special screenings. Uploading on internet is a good option and I want to upload this film ‘To Let the World In’ on the net, but here in India the connectivity is a problem. So, it is difficult to watch a film in one go. Also when I upload my film online, I am killing the revenue possibilities. Television is a good option but then documentaries are mainly shown on Doordarshan, which are national-award winning”, elaborates Kishore who is making documentary films for the past 20 years.
He also shares that there are multiplexes in metros that are dedicated to screen non-fiction and also an initiative by Films Division called FD Zone. “Films Division is making documentaries on history of filmmaking right from independence. This project called FD Zone was started two years ago where they screen independent and documentary films. There are weekly screenings in Mumbai and monthly in different parts of the country”, he shares.
The Directorate of Art and Culture in collaboration with Foundation for Indian Art and Education, Goa will be organising the screening of the documentary film “To Let the World In” on July 19 at 4 p.m. at the Lecture Hall, Sanskruti Bhavan, Patto, Panaji. The screening of the film will be followed by an interactive session with the director of the film. The programme is open to all and free of cost.