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Editor's Pick

Girija Devi: The Queen and Stalwart of Thumri

This Throwback Thursday is dedicated to the legendary classical singer, Girija Devi and her rich life and legacy.



Girja Devi

One of the most important exponents of the classical Benaras Gharana of thumri, Girija Devi was born on 8 May 1929 in the rich cultural currents of Varanasi. Her father, Ramdeo Rai, a zamindar who himself used to play harmonium, wanted her to learn music and appointed a teacher for her. At the age of 6 then, Girija Devi was taking lessons from vocalist and sarangi player, Sarju Prasad Misra. Later, she would also learn under Srichand Misra of the Seniya Gharana. 

However, in those years, a high-born woman such as her indulging in the craft of music was not a suitable image to be digested by society. Her mother and grandmother had their qualms about Girija devoting herself to music, when caring for domesticity and the household was the expectations reserved for women. Only her father wanted her to carry on with her music, so he found her a husband, at the age of 15, in an already married, art-loving businessman, who promised to not put a stop to her music. 

Credit: YouTube (SurTaal)

While Madhusudan Jain, her husband, supported her, Girija Devi wasn’t allowed to perform in private mehfils held in courts and rich households. And the demands of domestic life constantly came in the way of her practice. Soon, however, Jain set up a house for her in Sarnath where she would live with her infant daughter and was visited by Srichand Misra for her lessons. Mastering the purab ang thumri, Girija Devi also learnt other sub-genres like dadra, tappa, chaiti, kajri, hori, and others.

Her first performance happened for All India Radio two years after the Independence of India when she was just 20. Then, the vocalist’s first successful public concert happened in 1951 in Ara. Later, she also gave a performance at the AIR conference in 1952. By then, Girija Devi was on the rise to become a popular performer, helping her earn through her exceptional talent.

After the death of her husband in 1975, there was a break in her music career. But a few years after the tragedy, she made a return to the stage and came to be widely recognised as an important figure for the propagation and popularization of thumri. She became a recipient of a number of prestigious awards for her contributions to the field of classical music, including the Padma Shri (1972), Padma Bhushan (1989), Padma Vibhushan (2016), and the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1977). 

Credit: YouTube (swarutsav)

Leading a life of many challenges that came in the way of her devotion to music, Girija Devi crossed them all to make a name for herself as a very important and revered figure in the field of Hindustani classical music. And at the age of 88, the vocalist breathed her last on 24 October 2017 in Kolkata.


Editor's Pick

An Artistic Reflection Of The State Of Our Environment

A Call to Action on World Environment Day by artists in India raising awareness and highlighting the menace of climate change.'



World Environment Day, climate change

Every year World Environment Day is observed on June 5th. It is a worldwide project that raises awareness about environmental issues and promotes positive action. World Environment Day provides a forum to highlight the importance of environmental conservation, sustainable practices and the critical need to protect our world. It serves as a reminder that we all have a responsibility to preserve our environment and ensure the well-being of us and our future generations. World Environment Day brings together governments, organizations, communities, and individuals worldwide to raise environmental awareness and drive collective efforts towards a greener and more sustainable future. With this, artists, musicians and creative individuals alike have composed and created videos and mini-comics that will change your perspective, highlight the intensity of climate change and render you speechless in awe. On the occasion of World Environment Day, let us have a look at our compilation.

“Matsya” by Raadhakapla Dance Company

“Matsya” is a magnificent video shot and majorly performed underwater. Raadha Kalpa performs a fusion of Indian classical dance moves underwater resembling that of a fish. The tones of her outfit contrast and merge with the ocean. The environment is serene showcasing the beauty of nature unharmed by humans. The video concept is based on the story of Matsya: Matsya, the fish, was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Matsya guided a boat to safety and rescued the first man Manu and the seven sages. The fish grew massive and battled a demon, preserving life and knowledge. Matysa is a symbol of protection, preservation, and divine intervention. The video is a beautiful ode to the story where she is one with the life around her. All coexist in Harmony. A perfect picture of what we can be when we take steps to preserve our environment.

Credits – Youtube( Raadhakalpa Dance Company )

“Indian Rivers” by TaraanaVeVo

The next composition is from the channel Taraana VEVO titled “Indian Rivers”. Harmonies from the violin fill our souls as our violinists play at the banks of a river, both in melodious bliss and in harmony with tranquil nature. The music is in tandem with the course of the river, the gush of the rapids matches the violin’s quick music, which then flows down to the serene calm waters where soft ethereal music accompanies. The tunes are jovial and uplifting, with Indian Classical beats paired with the violin. It is a melodious ode to the Indian Rivers.

Credits : Youtube( TaraanaVEVO )

Instagram artist –  Rohan Chakravarty

Third in our compilation is the Instagram page @green_humour run by Rohan Chakravarty. He is an Indian Cartoonist, Illustrator and Wildlife Buff. Creator of Green Humour. Comic strip columns with The Hindu, Roundglass, and Gocomics. The creator makes mini comic strips illustrating the effect of climate change and environmental degradation with touches of humour, much like satire or social commentary.
Although the strips may be animated and funny, they send a very hard-hitting message. They are a voice for those who can’t speak about how the environmental changes are affecting them. The posts are apt and will make one ponder how climate change affects them and their ecosystem.

Credits: Instagram (Rohan Chakravarty @green_humour)
Credits: Instagram (Rohan Chakravarty @green_humour)

“WADE- An Indian Short Film” by Short of the Week.

Last, on our compilation list today is the short film “Wade- an Indian Short Film”. The 10-minute movie is a form of animation and follows a storyline of a post-apocalyptic present-day Kolkata. The world illustrated in the film is that of a post-climate change and follows the life of climate-change refugees who have to throw themselves against all odds to survive each day. With themes of supernatural elements, man vs nature, and survival of the fittest. The movie showcases what can be our very near future if we do not take corrective measures. In the film, we see humans versus animals and the adversity through which both have to survive, even if it means killing one of your own or the other. The film paints a very realistic picture of our world if we do not take the proper steps toward a more sustainable future

Credits : Youtube( Short of the Week )

Climate Change is looming over our planet and posing a grave threat to ecosystems, communities, and future generations. We are witnessing rising global temperatures as greenhouse gas emissions continue, drastic weather events, rising sea levels, biodiversity loss and extreme escalation in natural disasters. Climate change undermines livelihoods, increases poverty, and amplifies social and economic inequalities. As we saw in the compilation above, being one with our environment will lead us to a more sustainable and harmonious coexistence with nature. Immediate action is required to minimise and adapt to its impacts. We can do so only if we start recognizing the gravity of this menace and working together so that we can protect our planet and ensure a sustainable future for everybody.

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Editor's Pick

Nargis: A Star Who Never Lost Her Shine

In the pre-internet era, staying relevant as an actor was challenging, but Nargis left an indelible impression on audiences.



Nargis, Throwback Thursday, Actress, Legendary actress

Old Bollywood, a time when actors lived and breathed acting as an art form. A time that dazzled generations worldwide with its beautiful storylines, acting and soundtrack. It was truly the Golden Era of Bollywood. Fueled by new talents and powerful female actors this era of Bollywood set a benchmark for generations to come. On the global level, it showcased how well-versed India truly is in all spheres of life including arts. And obviously, any talk of the Golden Era of Bollywood is incomplete without Nargis, the soul of Old Bollywood.

Early Life

Born on 1st June 1929, to Abdul Rashid who was originally a wealthy Punjabi Hindu who converted to Islam and Jaddanbai Hussain a Hindustani Classical Singer, Nargis named Fatima Rashid at birth was a star in the making. It was Jaddanbai Hussain who introduced young Fatima to the world of cinema. She encouraged her to embark on her acting journey that would soon leave us all awe-struck.

Bagging her first role as a child artist in the movie “Talash-E-Haq” in 1935 she started unleashing her potential as a star slowly but surely. It was after her debut that she became Nargis from Fatima, a Persian word which means Narcissus, the daffodil flower. Popularly referred to as ‘Baby Nargis’, this was the beginning of a long journey through which Nargis opened doors for more women and diversified the ways in which women are portrayed.

Stardom & Love

It was only in 1943, with Mehboob Khan’s “Taqdeer” that she received her big break as an actress. Merely 14 by age, Nargis’ acting received much appreciation from Filmindia. With the musical drama film “Aag”, Nargis first made contact with Raj Kapoor, a pair that became the quintessential representation of Old Bollywood, the same way Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol are for Bollywood today. The pair continued to star in many more films following “Aag”, such as “Barsaat”, “Shree 420”, “Chori Chori”, “Anhonee”, “Aah”, etc. including the critically acclaimed drama “Andaz”.

After working on so many projects together, it was only natural for sparks to fly between the two co-stars. The two began a long-term affair that ended with heartbreak. Nargis ended things given Raj Kapoor’s refusal to leave his wife for her. 

Although she faced a few professional setbacks with some of her films not doing so well at the box office such as “Bewafa”, she always jumped back with much more vigour than before. With roles ranging from a village belle in “Barsaat” to an outspoken female lawyer in “Awaara”, Nargis proved herself to be a dynamic actress. And her role as Radha in the film “Mother India” only cemented this notion further.

Her role in “Mother India” helped her win the Filmfare Award for Best Actress in 1958. She also became the first Indian to receive the Best Actress award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the present-day Czech Republic. It was on the sets of “Mother India” did Nargis finally found her one true love, Sunil Dutt who saved her life when a fire broke out on the set.

Legacy & Afterword

With her acting skills, she pulled the door wide open for all future female actors to enter and thrive in the field. She never shied away from trying out different roles, a spirit that will definitely help an actor move forward in their career. After finding her true love she chose to relish it and put her acting career on the back burner. But a passion for art as beautiful as acting rarely dies out so soon. Hence, Nargis combined her love to help people with her passion for acting and came up with ‘Ajanta Arts Cultural Troupe’ along with her husband Sunil Dutt. The troupe comprised leading actors and singers who performed for Indian soldiers stationed at remote frontiers.

She was also the first patron of the Spastics Society of India. Her charitable works truly knew no bounds. Her sad demise at the age of 51 after battling pancreatic cancer left a huge void in the hearts of Bollywood fans all over the world. Her dying desire to watch her son Sanjay Dutt star on the silver screen couldn’t be fulfilled at the time of her death. So, when Sanjay Dutt’s first movie “Rocky” was released just mere days after her death, a seat was left empty in her honour at its premiere. A true icon, Nargis breezed through her life by loving humanity and being a force to be reckoned with.

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Editor's Pick

The Daughter from a Wishing Tree: Tales of Womanhood

Revisit many Indian mythologies with a more holistic perspective that focuses a lot more on women with Sudha Murty’s “The Daughter from a Wishing Tree”



Sudha Murty, Infosys, RK Narayanmurty

For centuries women have been treated as passive participants in a world dominated by men. Even the media doesn’t hesitate to promote this notion of women being silent characters all their life. Because of this, it was relatively hard for women to break away from these stereotypes. And show the world how truly independent they actually are. Even in Indian mythology, many times women are just forgotten or their portrayal is marginalised. It is time we revisit these classic Indian mythologies with a fresh and holistic perspective. And Sudha Murty with her book, “The Daughter from a Wishing Tree: Unusual Tales about Women in Mythology” helps us do just that.

The Daughter from a Wishing Tree: A Closer Look

“The Daughter from a Wishing Tree” by Sudha Murty contains stories about women in Indian Mythology who are often overlooked and forgotten. Each tale focuses on one such woman whose contribution is trivialised and her role marginalised in Indian mythology. This collection celebrates the different roles of women in Indian myths. It highlights how big and important of a role women have played for centuries.

As someone who is rather well-versed in Indian culture and mythology, this book seems to be something that is right up Murty’s alley. With an engaging storytelling technique, Murty managed to showcase the resilience, strength and wisdom of each character aptly. The diversity in the stories is what makes them stand out from other mythology books focusing on solo characters. From well-known figures like Draupadi and Savitri to lesser-known heroines like Anasuya and Madhavi. This book offers a rich tapestry of stories that highlight the multifaceted roles that women played in ancient Indian mythology.

She breaks away from the stereotypical ways in which women are usually portrayed in mythological books. And further goes on to ensure that the strength and independence of each woman are well-highlighted. She draws a good parallel between the challenges faced by women in today’s generation and those faced by women in the mythological realm. Through this, she ensures that the readers critically reflect on themes of women’s empowerment and gender equality.

With a simple and evocative writing style, she paints a vivid picture for her readers to visualise and understand her words better. Some consider her writing to be too simple. In reality, it actually highlights her forwards thinking skills surrounding the matter of versatility of the audience she has in mind while penning down her thoughts.  


“The Daughter from a Wishing Tree” is truly a compelling and inspiring collection of myths. It gives the women of Indian mythology the spotlight they truly deserved. The book reflects Murty’s commitment to women’s empowerment really well. It is a must-read for those interested in Indian mythology and women’s narrative.  

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Vistas of Bharat : Indian Culture

Indian Food As A Cultural Artefact

From Rajma Chawal to Thanda Kulfi, let us have a tasteful and delightful conversation on the role of cuisines in India.'



Indian food, Indian culture

An amalgamation of its distinct culture and traditions, food is just as important a component of the unity and diversity of India. Food in India is a dance of delicacy, a celebration of tastes, textures, and colours that are an integrated outcome of various regional and cultural influences. Each state, culture and religion in India has collectively made their unique cuisines a symbol of cohesion, generosity, acceptance, comfort, solidarity and most importantly hospitality.

Reasons for Diversity in Indian Delicacies

The food of the various regions of India is carefully crafted to suit the resident of the region. For example, the locals of Rajasthan consume chilli or spicy food to ensure that their internal body temperature is at par with the external temperature. This is done to maintain homeostasis and protect themselves from illnesses caused by fluctuations between internal and external temperature. The same goes for the regions of south India. Whereas the majority of regions of north India have a predominance of gravies since a lot of whole grains and lentils are cultivated in the region. And thus, that became the staple for the ancestors of the north. The coastal regions have a predominance of seafood as their main ingredient. This is because it is readily available. And fishing was and still is a primary source of income for those living in the coastal areas.

Hence what was once a source of readily accessible nutrition for our ancestors in the various regions of India, has now been passed down for decades and ingrained itself as the “Regional Delicacies” and “Festival Specials” and most importantly embedded itself in Indian culture. This is also why food serves as a method by which a person can reconnect with their heritage and cultural identity which is an integral part of one’s uniqueness of personality.

Traditional dishes, methods of cooking, recipes, and special ingredients differ for each person, family, culture and region. But one fact remains the same, all these are very carefully guarded secrets in many Indian families. And are passed down from generation to generation.

Are All Indian Dishes Truly Indian?

Many of the dishes that we know today to be “the pictorial representation of Indian cuisine” actually didn’t originate in India. A few of them are as follows:

  1. The Quintessential North & Goan Pride: Gulab Jamun, Biryani, Kulfi, Samosa, Jalebi & Vindaloo

Could we ever think of Diwali without Gulab Jamun? Christmas without Vindaloo? And Eid without Biryani and Kulfi? And especially our sham ki chai (translation: evening tea) without a Samosa? From Persia, through the Mughals, we were introduced to Kulfi, Biryani, Gulab Jamun, Samosa, Jalebi and Vindaloo

  1. The Southern Indian Belle: Tamarind

An integral ingredient for a lot of dishes including Rasam and our favourite Puliyogre. From Madagascar, through African and Arab trades, we received tamarind. Across India Tamarind sweets too are very popular a delicacy among children and adults alike.

  1. The White Queen of South India: Idli

The ideal breakfast cake, from Indonesia we received the delicate rice cake we know now as Idli. It has now become an integral part of the dietary regime of South India. A symbol of home and comfort for many.

  1. The Adaptable & Nutritious King of North India: Rajma:

Had a bad day? Have a bowl of Rajma Chawal, a comfort that is loved across generations. From the new world – Central Mexico and Guatemala we were introduced to what we know today as the comfort food of India, Rajma or also known as red kidney beans.

India has always been a multifaceted nation. And this just further reinforces it. Through the centuries of the rich history of invasions, dynasties, rulers and heritage that shaped India into what it is today, so has the food which is a representation of the diversity and acceptance of India.

Indian Food As A Metaphor

However, while food is important in Indian culture, food pictures and the use of food as a metaphor have had a large effect on postmodern society. The authors utilise food and eating as a metaphor for memory, emotions, narrative history, relationships, power, consumption, cultural concerns, acceptance, resistance, and culture preservation. The culinary analogies contained within are a clear reflection of the Indian culture that is known for its political and social disintegration, postcolonial hybridity, and patriarchal oppression.


A crucial factor in determining cultures and identities is everyday cuisine, which frequently differs among countries. Food is a vital component of Indian culture and a source of national pride and identity for the populace. Indian food is diverse and incredibly rich, reflecting the nation’s multicultural background and pluralistic spirit. We must recognise the importance of food as a cultural and social symbol. And we must also seek to preserve and promote India’s culinary heritage.

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Editor's Pick

Ramankutty Nair: A Legend of Kathakali

Ramankutty Nair, a true legend of Kathakali charmed many an audience with his mesmerising performances. Let’s take a glimpse at his life.



Ramankutty Nair, Kathakali, Dancer, Legacy, Legend

Dance, in Indian Culture, is an art form that is forever associated with expressing oneself. Painting and sketching sometimes involve doing portraits of people making it lose the aspect of self-expression. If not entirely at least a little bit. But when it comes to dance it is clearly visible when one is dancing from their heart and when one is holding back. It is visible when one is trying just to make do and attain perfection by copying others. And when one is thriving while dancing to the beat of their heart’s tune. Dance reveals it all. For the most part of the history of dance, dance has been primarily associated with women. But there is a long list of graceful dancers who are actually men. And one such dancer was Ramankutty Nair.

Ramankutty Nair: A Glimpse of His Life

Unlike many legends, Ramankutty Nair wasn’t born into a family that had a background in Kathakali. Born in 1925 in Kerala, his life would have probably been very different had Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon not cast such an impression on him. Known for playing a pivotal role in the history of Kathakali, Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon was a resident tutor at Olappamanna Mana. He enjoyed a well-deserved major presence in the cultural scene of the village. Later becoming Ramankutty Nair’s teacher he taught him everything he knew about the art. Thus, making sure Ramankutty Nair was ready with the right techniques to master the art of Kathakali.

Ramankutty Nair practised tirelessly to ensure that his art form was honed beyond perfection. Once he honed those skills there was no turning back for him. He was an active artist till the age of 85. This means he has graced his audience with different roles over the course of his career. Some of his notable roles include Ravana in plays like ‘Thoranayudham’ and ‘Ravanolbhavam’, Narakasura in ‘Narakasuravadham’, Duryodhana in ‘Uttaraswayamvaram’, Hanuman in ‘Kalyanasaugandhikam’, ‘Thoranayudham’, and ‘Lavanasuravadham’, Keechaka in ‘Keechakavadham’, Dharmaputra in ‘Kirmeeravadham’, and Arjuna in ‘Kalakeyavadham’.

Credited with introducing Ashtakalasam, a captivating dance of bliss of Balabhadra and Krishna in the play Subhadraharanam, Ramankutty Nair also made changes to the aaharya aspect of abhinaya which involved make-up, costume and utensils that are needed for the performance, by basing it on Ravi Varma’s painting. 

Kerala Kalamandalam is where Ramankutty Nair perfected his art and later went on to shape many new talents. Just like his own revered guru Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon, he was known to be a perfectionist who demanded only excellence from his students.  He later retired as the principal of Kerala Kalamandalam in 1985.


Winning the most coveted award Padma Bhushan, he also achieved many other accolades in his course as an artist for his indelible contribution to the Indian culture. Penning down his autobiography “Thiranottam“, he left an unforgettable impression on the minds of dancers and lovers of dance all over the world. The Kutty trio that he was part of which also included, chenda maestro Krishnankutty Poduval and maddalam maestro Appukkutty Poduaval, gave the audience many masterpieces worthy performances. Leaving us at the age of 87 in 2013, he ensured his legacy never died. He did so by pouring his heart and soul into teaching the future generation of Kathakali dancers.

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Music5 years ago

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Music5 years ago

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Music6 years ago

“Naino Se”: An Orginal Composition by Pushpendra Barman

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Music6 years ago

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