Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Artist attacked over nude paintings

An Indian artist has been assaulted in a gallery in the capital, Delhi, where he is exhibiting a number of nude paintings.
Pranava Prakash said five men barged into the gallery in the Noida district on Sunday, saying the pictures were "against Indian culture".
He said he was thrown to the floor and a number of pictures were damaged.
Hardline Hindu groups have in the past protested over art works they say offend their beliefs.
The attack also comes in the wake of an intensified debate over artistic free speech, with controversial UK writer Sir Salman Rushdie abandoning plans to attend a literary festival in Jaipur amid security concerns.
Mr Prakash told Agence France-Presse news agency: "Five guys came in on Sunday and started yelling at me, saying, 'Your paintings are against Indian culture, we cannot tolerate them'.
"They slapped me twice, threw me to the floor and then began pulling down the paintings, damaging three of my pictures."
The nude paintings in the Espace Alternative Gallery include depictions of Bollywood star Vidya Balan, Pakistani actress Veena Malik and model Poonam Pandey.
The latter painting features Ms Pandey with words written on her bosom, while Ms Malik appears with the Pakistani flag painted on her back.
Mr Prakash said: "There is a certain section of people who think they alone are the custodians of Indian culture, and anyone who disagrees with them is the enemy."
Hardline Hindu groups have protested in the past over art works they regard as offensive, including by late artist MF Husain.
Valentine's Day has also come under attack for being anti-Hindu.
Sir Salman lashed out at extremists who he said were undermining free speech after an attempt to address the Jaipur festival by video-link were abandoned amid threats of violence by Muslim hardliners opposed to his book, The Satanic Verses.
-    BBC News

Taalash raises expectations and temperature!

After helming – in various guises – a string of small, critically acclaimed motion pictures as part of his reinvention, Aamir Khan returns to the silver screen in the New Year in a form familiar to fans of his pre-Lagaan days.  Talaash – the trailer for which was released this week – sees Aamir join forced with the hottest property in Bollywood at the moment – Kareena Kapoor – and an actress who laid claim to that title not many years ago but is in need of a bit of a reinvention herself; Rani Mukherjee.  
The film has been written and directed by Reema Kagti who was rave reviews for her debut ‘Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd’ back in 2007.  Talaash is described as a psychological thriller with Aamir playing a troubled cop and at first glance the actor/producer/Bollywood darling’s time as the industry’s commercial and critical king seems set to continue; proper Bollywood joie de vivre coupled with a not-implausible narrative and well rounded characters.
‘Talaash’ releases worldwide 1st June 2012.  Click Here to watchTalaash Trailer

-  Poonam Joshi

The unsung heroes of Brick Lane at Rich Mix

Rich Mix Arts Centre in Bethnal Green – East London’s favourite spot for Brit-Asian cultural activities – has announced a new photographic exhibition honouring the long-unsung chefs of Brick Lane’s world renowned Indian curry houses.
The exhibition features a series of portraits by street photographer Jeremy Freedman, of the previously unseen faces of these award-winning chefs as well as the personal narratives of the Bengali community of Brick Lane.
The chefs featured in the exhibition will put their usual friendly rivalry aside for the exhibition’s opening night on Thursday 23 February where they will present guests with their signature dishes.
Among the chefs featured will be Abdul Tahid of Papadoms, Daras Miya of Cinnamon, Jamal Uddin of Bengal Cuisine, Mohammed Salik of Eastern Eye Balti House, Abdul Forhad of Monsoon and Rana Miah the longest serving Curry Chef on Brick Lane.
The exhibition’s photographs are featured in the forthcoming book, Spitalfields Life written by the Gentle Author, published by Saltyard Books, an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton on 1st March.
Photographer Jeremy Freedman’s ancestors were also immigrants, coming to Spitalfields from Holland in the eighteenth century. His great-great-great-great grandfather was one of the founders of Sandys Row Synagogue in 1854.
In the weeks leading up to the exhibition Rich Mix will host an online photo competition, asking people to tweet pictures that best represent their own Brick Lane curry experience.  The photos will be displayed on the Rich Mix Facebook as well as on the opening night with the winner receiving a curry-tastic prize.
Tweet your pictures to @richmixlondon or email info@richmix.org.uk .
Spitalfields Life Exhibition
The Curry Chefs of Brick Lane; Photographic portraits by Jeremy Freedman
23rd February – 29th March 2012
Rich Mix, 35 – 47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6IA

-   Vijitha Alles

Tea Master Class with Jane Pettigrew at Asia House

Thursday 09th February 2012 – 18.45 – 20.45
Join tea specialist Jane Pettigrew as she wonders through the journey of tea from leaf to cup; explore the history of tea, where everyone’s favourite tipple is grown, learn to distinguish between the myriad types of tea and of course how to make that perfect cuppa!
To book tickets, visit teamasterclass.eventbrite.com

Of Snooker and Male Bonding

Ishy Din is not your average Oxbridge-educated playwright. He’s a 43-year-old Middlesbrough taxi driver who started jotting down thoughts inspired by his customers. He never expected much to come of it. ‘But then Tamasha theatre company gave me an opportunity to develop my work,’ he says, ‘so  I moved to London and attended workshops.  I knew no one so I’d return to my hostel at night and continue working on the script.’
Snookered, Din’s debut play, is set in a snooker hall in an unnamed Northern town. Four Pakistani Muslim boys have met to shoot some pool, swap affectionate expletives, knock back some drinks and remember their dead friend. As tongues loosen, tensions rise and secrets are revealed, the joshing turns nasty. The result is raw, sad and visceral.
‘I’d always wanted to write something about friends getting drunk together,’ says Din, ‘because it was the type of thing I did.’

Over a break in rehearsals, Din and his director, Iqbal Khan, are discussing why men find it so hard to be honest with themselves and why really truthful descriptions of blokes – especially Asian ones – are so hard to find in theatre, film and television.
‘I wanted to show the camaraderie, the wit, the cruelty and the oneupmanship we have, whether playing pool or driving a car,’ says Din, a father of three. ‘My characters are boys trying to become men. It’s about finding your place in modern British society. But underlying all that is a vulnerability. Men can’t admit things to themselves or each other. The play is very Northern in that respect.’
‘Male friendship can be pretty extreme in terms of language and opinions,’ agrees Khan. ‘Maybe it’s a response to the growing strength of women but men these days want to appear very fair. But in private they are as unfair, cruel, funny and as obsessed with sex as women are. We find it entertaining to dramatise those appetites among women but we’re not quite so comfortable doing that in a male context, unless you are Neil LaBute or Patrick Marber.’
Tamasha is an Asian company; Khan’s family comes from Pakistan; Din’s from Kashmir. Din – who has been awarded a bursary by Manchester’s Royal Exchange, yet sees himself as an outsider from British theatre culture – is quick to point out that his gobby, earthy characters are men first and Asian second. Yet while they encounter universal pressures, some of these are specific to Asian communities.
‘Shame is a big thing among Asians and a lot of the boys are dealing with shame in a big way,’ says Khan. ‘One of the characters can’t admit he is having IVF. The specifics for these boys are religion, the pressures of family and the pressures of the tribe. What is your loyalty to the tribe? Or is it better to leave and strike out?’
Din always wanted to confound expectations of what a play about Asian men would be like. He says he owes his punchy, untempered dialogue to the fact he had no idea how people were supposed to speak in plays and wrote what he heard.
‘And I didn’t want to fall into the cliché of arranged marriages,’ he says. ‘I didn’t want to go: oh look, this character is going to become a terrorist. Because these subjects are just highlights to sell newspapers. They might be entertaining and simple but they are nothing like the truth. The truth is often more dangerous and exciting.’
‘Because of the times we live in, to represent Asians on TV the way this play does would be dangerous,’ says Khan. ‘It would be an enormous risk because the play doesn’t necessarily give a positive view. The boys say ugly things. Ishy is not uncritical of them. To see four Muslim boys getting hammered is a very radical thing to put in a dramatic context. There is a fear of upsetting, of giving offence.’
Both Khan and Din agree that ‘representing’ ethnic minorities is fraught with difficulty. Characters from ethnic backgrounds often can’t just be themselves, they have to stand for something. Define yourself as an Asian theatre company and people expect a certain aesthetic ‘fingerprint’.
Khan’s own career is varied: he started at Leicester Haymarket and most recently directed Antony Sher in Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass.
‘It’s slightly easier in theatre,’ he explains. ‘Take the example of a film such as East Is East. It was great but, in my view, it softened the truth of the play [Khan revived Ayub Khan-Din’s original 1996 comedy at  Birmingham Rep in 2009]. To my mind there hasn’t been anything more radical than My Beautiful Laundrette in British film.’
Both Khan and Din are equally  cautious about the term ‘Asian theatre’. ‘I just see it all as theatre,’ says Din. ‘It [the term] is a necessary evil,’ says Khan. ‘It’s been necessary to advocate for Asian work – although it feels as though a certain kind of work is still not encouraged. But my life as a theatre director is to just  get a script and the best actors and do it as well as I can. What’s  wonderful about theatre is that you don’t have to cast types and you can allow people into a story that goes beyond their superficial exterior and appearance.’
Snookered’s British tour starts at Oldham Coliseum on February 2.  www.tamasha.org.uk
- Claire Allfree/METRO