From PhalkeFactory

(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
Revision as of 01:52, 19 October 2016
HansaThapliyal (Talk | contribs)

← Previous diff
Current revision
HansaThapliyal (Talk | contribs)

Line 187: Line 187:
[[Image:Rajputsphoto people of india project.jpg]] [[Image:Rajputsphoto people of india project.jpg]]
-August Sanders project many years later, in Weimar Germany, looking at portraits- was also an attempt to document the 'subjects' of Weimar Germany. the gaze was more humane? or not or what? to let the subject face the camera and composer herself and reveal herself. even the india photos were frontal.. the eyes were the saving grace or what? the famine photos- the national disgrace they represented. owith what intention were they photographed? how much does a photograph bear mark of intention? [http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/artists/1750/august-sander-german-1876-1964/]+August Sanders project many years later, in Weimar Germany, looking at portraits- was also an attempt to document the 'subjects' of Weimar Germany. the gaze was more humane? or not or what? to let the subject face the camera and composer herself and reveal herself. even the india photos were frontal.. the eyes were the saving grace or what? the famine photos- the national disgrace they represented. owith what intention were they photographed? how much does a photograph bear mark of intention? [http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/artists/1750/august-sander-german-1876-1964/] Sanders lets look, humanises the camera, by coming closer to his subjects, seeing all of them, in their surrounding, recognising what will give them human ness. But even the photographs of the Great Indian photo project that the eyes look at the camera, that studio convention, makes you not escape the eye, you are caught somewhere when you look at the images.
. .
--------------- ---------------

Current revision

To my children: the first Phalke Book


April 30, in the dark of 8.30 pm, I was born to a kathavachak's family in Trymbakeshvar. My name was to be Dhundiraj Govind Phalke.

Saraswati :

The crumpled skin of the newborn was pinko grey as the skin of a baby dhundi- elephant.

It was hoped he would grow up to have the dark allure of Govind.

If you looked far enough into the glass marbles of his eyes, you could see dancing reflections of fresh banana fronds: Phalke.


Those jewel like irises of the eyes are a family inheritance.. they were nesting behind the eyelids of the fourteen foreigners who were washed ashore at the foot of the Sahyadris.

This was a long time ago, when the feet of that ancient mountain were tickled by the young waters.

And then along came Parshuram

A righteous Ram bearing an axe.

His father Jamadagni had commanded him to kill his mother once.

She came back to life, later, but what to do with the moment when he had killed her? That memory would later make every killing much too easy for that boy, inconsequential, undemanding in comparison. Maybe that is why he thought little of making five pools of Kshatriya blood to avenge his Brahman father.

Parsuram wanted to avenge his caste by killing all the Kshatriyas in the world. He almost did so.

(His compressed telling has left my children dazed. I see fear in their eyes, and incomprehension. And I speak)


His fellow Brahmans fled the axe man in horror.


His fellow Brahmans fled from him, unwilling to share in the crime he had committed in their name. He walked alone with his axe, his body caked with blood.

His father was dead. No other Brahman was willing to perform rites for Parsuram?

That is when he came across the remains of our ancestors. I say 'remains' because they were dead of an accident at sea.


It was the waves- you remember them? Those companions of the mountains had naively brought the bodies to shore, to show them off, like the booty of the sea.

Parsuram let fire wash their bodies, readying them for change. He made them come alive again, taught them the scriptures and made brahmans out of them, brahmans who would serve him.


Parsuram was a brave man, he killed because he was angry, the Kshatriyas thought that just because they had arms while the Brahman had only the word, that they could rule the Brahman. Parsuram showed them how a Brahman can get angry.

He forced the sea to yield up a stretch of land to the new Brahmans he had made, on either side of the river Vashishthi.

Sarasvatibai writes : The stubborness of the self righteous

Dada: That is how we came to be settled in these areas as Chitpavan Konkanast Brahmans[1].

Jotirao Phule

Late evening, Sarasvatibai writes at the table. Dada is lost in thought.

Saraswati writes: The mountain lost the companionship of the sea, and grew old in her memory.

When you were born, we performed the same rites as when your father was born. I was made to lie on my back, as your Ajji lay once. A brahman untied the knots in the house, echoing your movements in my womb, where you were loosening yourself from the coiled mattresses that kept you in my waters. My waters broke loose and like a young turtle suddenly let into the deep, you swam your way out. He must have been small in there, like you were small, like the soft, fresh walnut kernel if you broke open the shell.

Dada: What did we write last?


Nasik, April 30th, 8.30 pm Charting the child’s horoscope the father foretells that he will deal in something white...


White? My father told stories by an oil lamp, with a white sheet hanging behind him. I sometimes think that this is reason why I have always loved shadows. white shadows?

(The tin moon is sending reflections dancing into the room. The couple goes at the window to stare at Babaraya's eyes. Larger than his parents, each eye looks like a world unto itself, with concentric islands floating on oceans, each speckled island in its turn becoming a speckled ocean to an island within. )


It is the year of my birth. And far away from Trymbakeshwar, an artist is being born, the artist who I feel is the father of my imagination. In Travancore Diwan Madhav Rao is watching his protegee, Raja Ravi Varma, paint.

The 22 year old Ravi Varma is working on the canvas of his first commission, a portrait of a upper class nuclear family from Trivandrum. The group of five are looking back at the painter. The woman is all clothes, and a small face. The young Ravi Varma has spent the time reserved for her carefully delineating the folds of her clothes. The littlest boy is pushing himself further into his mother's lap. The other two boys stand between their parents, staring at the painter.

Ravi Varma's eye shies before the eye of the patriarch- the dark skinned, bearded man, the head of the Khizakkepat Palat Family , least innocent in the group sitting before the artist, his eyes most tired, most knowing. His gaze seems to consider the painter standing before him. Ravi Varma has spent a large time trying to 'capture' that which arrests him about this man, and failing. That vitally alive being, that expanse of brown skin remain frustratingly outside the grasp of his brush. What he paints is flat brown canvas, nothing compared to the contoured body that sits before him, just beyond that canvas. Ravi Varma is confining himself to that which he knows better- the ornamentation he has learnt from his uncle. He deftly paints a single pearl in the patriarch's ears, and is reassured by the perfect gleam. He then tries to make pearls of those eyes. He carefully works on the patriarch's mother of pearl eyes and places on them, like inlay work, the beads of those dark, shining irises, crowned with the deepest gem of the pupil.

Like a necklace that speaks on the neck of a woman, those eyes are suddenly his, the painters', the portrait has comes alive. More confident now, the young man paints, and soon, the middle child's irises show the fear of a little animal that is caught, the oldest one's are opened up like the eternally startled doe of Shakuntala(the painter likes that). And the woman's face, guileless as a child, her gaze blinder than everyone else's as she faces the painter. The gaze of a creature dulled by her unexpected exit from the confines of her routines, into this sunlight, facing a young good looking man, being asked to be still, sitting around her family.

If Ravi Varma's own family were to be painted, a galaxy of artists would come alive- a poet mother, a painter uncle, a sibling immersed in music, the other two showing the promise at painting.

Ravi Varma faces the frustration of having to make the world out of a thick piece of cloth. I bring a cloth alive too. But I always feel that his was the greater skill, dependent on one person, his brush and his mind.

The patuas near the temple at Kalighat made rapid multiple paintings. The quickness required of them to make enough sale hastened their stroke, maybe kept the brushes more wet. Those wet brushes would confidently, rapidly make life upon those scrolls of paper. Kalighat paintings. But the lithographic machines were coming to change all that. [2]

The red hibiscus had become dark scraps of red on their green leaves, the white flowers made of sholapeth, were swelling with the water they had grown in. The sudden rain had made everyone run helter skelter at the Kali temple market. His own people had had to run with their paintings, or days of their labour would have been washed away. Chandi stood by the doorway of his hut, staring at the rain as it slopped loudly into the puddles it had already made. He looked down at the paintings in his hand and saw that they were, destroyed. Sati’s hair had had made havoc- the sootblack from their oil wicks that was her flowing swathe of hair, had trickled in black rivulets and spread in small ponds onto Shiva now, breaking open the outlines in grey, the sparingly used blue, the white bulk the women had kept in so carefully. The red lips were smudged shapeless by water. The turmeric yellow of the paper had got the pox. There was no repairing it, this bundle they had made, multiples of the same painting, was dead labour. Lost .Chandi began the struggle of accepting the pain and trying to forget it. It was a small time later, when he turned to put a lighted lamp, that Chandi saw her again- the printed kali that Kartikeya had brought him from one of his trips to the fancier part of town. He said they were selling these by the dozen, by eighty times that, all over the city. Kali, Shiva, Ganpati - the white man was minting money with the gods he made fun of. He was making a thousand prints at one go with his new machine, Kartikeya had said. Maybe Kartikeya exaggerated, but maybe, he was right. The lithograph print lay in the small space where the wall had leaned back to keep a few things. Chandi had looked at it much too often anyway since it had arrived, his every glance a comparison with his own Bhairavi. Continuous as the long hair of a beauty was the stroke with which his wet brush saw the Mother on the paper, before the women coloured her in. Large and wet her fish eyes carried pink waters of rage. Blue ran out from her head in all directions to make her furious hair. And her tongue was just extra long enough to disguise its imitation of little Mita who ran in their lane in the late October light. Their own Mother Kali chose to face her devotee and in her large, encompassing rather than seeing eyes, you could look and bow your head in a reflex of existence. And yet the grey blue dye of the print was not something he could take his eyes off. They seemed to enter the paper like poison, and change every particle they stepped on. The yellows were stuck to the reds, the greys to the blues like the shadows of demons in marriage. Every skull on Kali’s neck had twin colour in the hollows of its eyes. The paper stank of the evil that had made it. Everywhere on the lith print were pieces of small lines, like some fried preparation of thin rice powder. What wretched uneven lines. miserly in its making like the white man. yet when a white man came by, could you look away? Chandi felt a sudden sharp disgust for the orange-vermilion he would joyously let down from Kali's mouth like she had opened out another bale of her hair. Kartikeya had warned him that if these prints came into the Kalighat area, and it was only a matter of time, they were doomed... that they were becoming available everywhere. That some Bengalis had gone to study at the white men's feet to learn how you can make fish eggs for a painting, millions at one hatching...in machine mirrors that caught the images and threw them out like vomit. They were everywhere, you had to have these new gods if you wanted to sell anything, on corners of cloth, on packs of rice, on soap and powder, everything..

Mohenbabu whose skin was smooth and soft and woman like golden,would spend days with Jameela, this side of the city. He was said to have a mansion on the other side of the river, and somewhere inside that mansion lived a shadow of a wife. Mohenbabu who caught his dhoti end just so and placed those delicate feet into his chappals with the studied nonchalance of one who is pretending to be poor. Therefore that reeking extra smile. Chandi tried to conjure Mohanbabu's fey delicacy in his head, his keenness to sit on the buggy with Jameela in public. Chandi tried to imagine it clearly enough to be able to paint it, to get back to work.

As he began to draw the outlines of Mohenbabu in his buggy, the lithographed Kali which lay behind his back, in the wall alcove, hovered in the centre of his forhead. Chandi shook his head: so human an apparition, inhuman dream, like on a long night of indigestion?

Image:Shiva kalighat painting1.jpg 19th century kalighat painting


so when do these become unsentimental images,structure, from the hands of a bright man who paints? many art school histories later, Kali is painted again. I remember the famous lithographic print from Calcutta from 1870 or so, a different product of an art school, from the beginnings of colonial art schools in India. That print was one of the early transfers of an cultural imagination, into the technological language of the coloniser. The visual language of the coloniser inevitably entered, the lines were restrained, not like the wet curves of the patua brush on Kali. The excesses were of dyes. Blue Kali, white eyes, yellow red orange of the shamshaan, the lith stone gave thin strokes of texture of the whole. The gruesome of the blood spurt was the nature of the pleasure of this image.. Kali of the funeral spaces. ( check- was it litho- photos of gods) Many post colonial years later, here is the ambition of an individual idiom.

This many years later painter, seeks his ambition in water, his Kali has a tall, firm, even hard body made of water softened colour on a paper with texture. body, haunches. Dugs for breasts: one like the nib of a pen, the other a lean heart, that iconic shape that has filled up our popular visual language for years now. She could write with her breast, on her knee, Kali is, that second hand could scratch her feet. The paper reals its white in a spire over those dugs. The stomach is a more generous triangle, still with the mendicancy of paper, but with a curve. A pendulum, it hangs from the torso. Kali as a ghantaaghar. In case we think we have discovered that shape in his work, the painter puts it on her thigh, in her palm, a small clock house, she, the much larger clock, outside of it, instead of a head- a different completion of image. From that neck springs the old fountain of pleasure, Kali's joyful blood. It is a joy that springs out ( clocks have springs too ) in every telling.

A seperate file, in which are assorted papers of Empire, with still a loose hand of intent that has gathered these and no other, together.

Colonel Longhand, Gwalior, 1870.

It has been a hard time since that cruel summer of 1857 when we lost many fine men and their innocent families to the perfidious intent of subjects who we had served, as well as we possibly could, in our sacred duty as rulers.

I have heard a retired general, a survivor of that time, tell me that that summer, like never before, he felt the malign character of this land, the dust storms that whips its giant Gangetic bowl, the millions of people like ants, crawling about in that bowl, but unlike those ants, with no sense of a whole, no disciplined serving out of a duty in a life time. "Vermin" the venerable had said: However we might try to temper our language with our own sense of decency, and the occasional sweetness of an encounter with some native serving in the cantonement, the truth must be faced, for better discharge of our own functions." And in essence, I agree. In this strange country crawling with almost as many languages as seditious people, we are a small group of white men, who have to rule, we have to do it with utmost alertness, with all the superiority that technology can give to us.

We should only welcome then the great photographic project called "People of India", even if it feels like we are being made to dive into the sea, before we have even tested the waters thereof.

With this project has come into our orbit this winning galaxy of young stars called photographers. Often young officers on early deputations to this country, these young men have in the most, all displayed an outgoing personality and a single mindedness of purpose, which are, I believe, a result of the particular demands of their profession.

I believe it is essential that all of us who are working with some thought, in Her Majesty's Service, in the honeycombs of the barracks spread all over the country, should know something of the technological apparatus that serves them. Unfortunately, sometimes, the very age that gives us wisdom and seniority often keeps us blind to the the particular skills of the younger generation. I believe we cannot afford to do so any more, if the skills of these men are to be deployed in any way by us, if we believe we are indeed sincere in our services.

I have befriended to this end for a while, a young man, W. W. Hooper, who had come in on the 7th Madras Cavalry. He has very kindly tried to explain the workings of his machinery to this old fuddy called moi. I venture to explain therefore, hoping that my layman's language might enable the process of understanding. I hope, where I err, it will be from the enthusiasm of the unexperienced and will therefore be forgiven

Without further ado, the process

The photographer first clears a frame- empties it of all visible signs, often using a black cloth to shut out the obtruding landscape even, before he sets up his apparatus.

He plasters his wet plates on one wall of a Lilliputian dark room and in front of it, on a clamp, fixes the fan of an accordion.

The subject, who I might venture to ironically name 'a Seditious Possibility', or 'a Subversive Element' in the guise of man, is seated before this box that the natives call a 'camera', since it looks so much like its eponymous room, the native 'kamara'. (Indeed a distressing tendency has been noticed by the author among the men in the barracks to pick up such words from the native tongue and integrate them into the Queen's language. He hopes this piece might bring this distressing habit into relief and therefore help to stem it before it corrupts what is most surely our own,our language. )

The subject is seated before this mini room and asked to stare into its windows. As the subject sits quietly facing that glass, first entry into that darkness, something in him is stilled. The fiercest Gond warrior becomes tentative in that moment of gazing. The mini room then pulls an image of the subject into those dark interiors, where the wet plate is waiting for both, the image and the intrepid photographer.

The real battle takes place in that iodised darkness. The quicksilver image, evasive creature has to be trapped , fixed into that glass plate rapidly, delicately, with an unerring tackle, a rapid roll on the floor, where she tries, with that sly guile which is her truest nature, to escape in a sudden flurry of black dust that she tries to throw over everything. If she is able to do so, then it is all over, the battle of her capture is lost in a black dust of the nature of that same duststorm which choked everything in sight in those two months of May and June, in 1857.

It is not easy. The image is a slippery creature, not surprising when you think of who it is a exact reflection of- extremely slippery people. Ramoshis, Kolis, Santhals, Jats, Gujjars, long considered incapable of any civilised mediation, are slowly, incredibly being pinned down to these pieces of glass, and before long will enjoy the tranquil order that inhabits the botanists' shelves back home- where the Hibiscus rosa sinesus, the Rattus norvegicus, and the Rana Tigrina, co -exist, quiet and known, labelled, seperated, and file-ified in the generous bowers of our Majesty's laboratories.

Image:Kota women 1870.jpg

Image:Rajputsphoto people of india project.jpg

August Sanders project many years later, in Weimar Germany, looking at portraits- was also an attempt to document the 'subjects' of Weimar Germany. the gaze was more humane? or not or what? to let the subject face the camera and composer herself and reveal herself. even the india photos were frontal.. the eyes were the saving grace or what? the famine photos- the national disgrace they represented. owith what intention were they photographed? how much does a photograph bear mark of intention? [3] Sanders lets look, humanises the camera, by coming closer to his subjects, seeing all of them, in their surrounding, recognising what will give them human ness. But even the photographs of the Great Indian photo project that the eyes look at the camera, that studio convention, makes you not escape the eye, you are caught somewhere when you look at the images. .


An enormous eye in the black sky pursues the criminal through space and to the bottom of the sea, where it devours him after taking the form of a fish. Multiple eyes nevertheless multiply under the waves.

Image:Eye under water.JPG

I'm holding my son in my arms/ sweating after nightmares/ small me/ fingers in his mouth/ his other fist clenched in my hair small me/ sweating after nightmares.

Michael Ondtaaje

indian folk tales being collected and published by european women collecting stories told by their ayah and khidmatgar [4]

"The collection of current Indian folk-tales has been the work of the last quarter of a century, a work, even after what has been achieved, still in its initial stages. The credit of having begun the process is due to Miss Frere, who, while her father was Governor of the Bombay Presidency, took down from the lips of her ayah, Anna de Souza, one of a Lingaet family from Goa who had been Christian for three generations, the tales she afterwards published with Mr. Murray in 1868, under the title, "Old Deccan Days, or, Indian Fairy Legends current in Southern India, collected from oral tradition by M. Frere, with an introduction and notes by Sir Bartle Frere. " Her example was followed by Miss Stokes in her Indian Fairy Tales (London, Ellis & White, 1880), who took down her tales from two ayahs and a Khitmatgar, all of them Bengalese—the ayahs Hindus, and the man a Mohammedan. Mr. Ralston introduced the volume with some remarks which dealt too much with sun-myths for present-day taste. Another collection from Bengal was that of Lal Behari Day, a Hindu gentleman, in his Folk-Tales of Bengal (London, Macmillan, 1883). The Panjab and the Kashmir then had their turn: Mrs. Steel collected, and Captain (now Major) Temple edited and annotated, their Wideawake Stories (London, Trubner, 1884), stories capitally told and admirably annotated. Captain Temple increased the value of this collection by a remarkable analysis of all the incidents contained in the two hundred Indian folk-tales collected up to this date. It is not too much to say that this analysis marks an onward step in the scientific study of the folk-tale: there is such a thing, derided as it may be. I have throughout the Notes been able to draw attention to Indian parallels by a simple reference to Major Temple's Analysis."

Personal tools