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The Vision of an Artist and his Portraits: Raja Ravi Varma

Commemorating the illustrious life of Raja Ravi Varma, a brilliant painter of 19th century India, on his birth anniversary.



Raja Ravi Varma

By the time of his death in 1906, Raja Ravi Varma had earned himself a popular name as an artist and had produced an expansive body of work to record and mark his legacy for posterity. A painter for the royals and the commoners, his canvas extended from realistic portraits – of princes and dewans, and visuals of gods and goddesses– to the storytelling of Pauranic myths. The influence of his work led to an alteration and advancement in the paintings and aesthetics of the sub-continent.  

Born in the village of Kilimanoor, Kerala in 1848, Ravi Varma belonged to a royal lineage. As the story goes, it was his maternal uncle who recognised and supported his young artistic talents. It was only in 1870, when he was commissioned for a family portrait of Kizakke Palat Krishna Menon, that his professional career took off. So began the production of his illustrious oeuvre, which would, later on, award him the honour of being recognised as the father of modern Indian art. 

Adopting Oil (a medium fairly unexplored during the time) and a true-to-life realism characteristic to European academic art, he gave a new blend to the depictions of Indian sensibilities. The eyes, hands, clothes and their folds, all achieved a sense of life and motion to them. Take ‘Portrait of a Lady’ or ‘Woman Holding a Fruit’ using the play of light and shadows to make them come alive. In fact, they lend a haunting depth to the eyes of the portraits, turning them into watchful figures with a vision that looks like it is looking right at you. 

(Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Aside from that, his brushes also breathed life into mythic imagination. His realistic depictions, in sentiments and strokes, of deities and episodes from Hindu epics distinguished him even more as an artist. Shakuntala’s stance as she looks for Dushyant in his 1870 painting ‘Shakuntala’ or Ravana cutting Jatayu’s wings are among all the legends that he realistically trapped in frames. 

(Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

It was in 1894 that Ravi Varma established the first lithographic press in Mumbai to produce cheap oleographs of his paintings, with an aim for his art to reach the masses. It was because of this effort that prints of gods and mythology found a way into the homes of common people, and so did his name as an artist. And so, he is often lauded as the visionary who created and propelled the popularity of calendar art. 

Interestingly, he was joined at his press by Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, who would later go on to set up his own press and also reel India’s first motion picture. Raja Harishchandra was released in 1913, seven years after the death of Raja Ravi Varma. 

With a massive body of work, Raja Ravi Varma left behind a legacy found both in his paintings and his influence on the art and culture of the subcontinent. One of his self-portrait sketches fittingly depicts the artist, with his back turned on the viewer, as he works, engrossed, at his easel. 

(Courtesy: Google Arts and Culture)


Hasrat Jaipuri: Recall The Conductor Turned Legendary Lyricist Of Yesteryears

Let us remember a crucial part of Raj Kapoor’s dream team and look back at his zindagi’s suhana safar on his 99th Birth Anniversary.



Hazrat Jaipuri

For a song to be a hit and remembered through generations, it takes actual masterminds. Artists who work behind the screens deserve more appreciation as they’re the real lifelines for something to be worthy of so much of love and appreciation. Huge part of Raj Kapoor’s fame and success’ credit goes to the creative team that surrounded him and worked on majority of his projects – his dream team. Let’s remember an important part of the said team – Hasrat Jaipuri, on what could have been his 99th Birth Anniversary.

Born in the Pink City as Iqbal Hussain on April 15 1922, Jaipuri grew up with his grandfather. Growing up in Jaipur, he got his grounding in Urdu and Hindi from his grandfather who was a poet, too. Love is a crazy thing; it was the love of a girl named Radha that drove young Iqbal into poetry. The song from Raj Kapoor’s movie Sangam – ‘Yeh Mera Prem Patra’, is a letter he wrote to her and was later turned into a song.

Such was his intelligence and craft. To turn a love letter into an actual song by carefully weaving words and emotions together in right amount and give it appropriate emotional weight – Hasrat Jaipuria was a gifted mastermind.

Barely in his 20s, he flew to Mumbai, like many other youngsters to make a name of his own. Conductor during the day and a performer at Mushairas at the night – that’s how he spent his first 8 years in Mumbai. It was that one night at a Mushaira that changed his life. Impressed by his ‘Mazdoor ki laash’, Prithviraj Kapoor introduced him to Raj Kapoor which opened the doors of a lifelong friendship and a professional relation for him.

‘Jiya Beqaraar Hai’ was the beginning of Jaipuri’s legendary journey to penning down some of Bollywood’s most loved songs of all time. Along with Shailendra, Jaipuri went on to giving out some legendary songs that are loved even today.

We are in times where there are people who listen to BTS and also people who listen to Badshah and then you see even these listeners hum to the tune of Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana – this speaks of the impact; the song is loved and appreciated even after decades.

Although it is true not many remember the pen behind the lyrics. Majority of light is thrown at the visuals we all remember or the voices given to the songs. A bunch might also know the composer who birthed the tune. But give credit where it’s due – know about the lyricist who wrote these gems of songs. From simple heart touching lyrics to beautiful expressions of heartbreaks and transient happiness – Jaipuri’s lyrics have it all.

He passed away on September 17 1999, leaving us with songs like Ichak Dana Bichak Dana, Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana, Teri Pyaari Pyaari Surat, Ehsan Tera Hoga Mujh Par, Sayonara Sayonara, Badan Pe Sitare Lapete Hue etc.; they are now some of the gems that will live with us as long as the love and appreciation for Hindi music does.

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Remembering Farooq Sheikh: His Life Through Theatre, Television and Films

On his birth anniversary look back on Farooq Sheikh’s the immaculate journey as a legendary actor!



Farooq Sheikh

Farooq Sheikh was never a star; he was an actor. Yet, he was respected and known for more than just his acting career. Amidst the Bollywood lifestyle and drama, his humble nature, intelligence, and simplicity set him apart. He reached his peak in films from 1973-93 and television from 1988-2002. Furthermore, he also was active in the world of theatre and performed in productions like Tumhari Amrita (1992). In his 65 years of life, he blessed the film and television industry with some unforgettable gems!  

Farooq Sheikh was born into a family of Zamindars in 1948, in a village in Vadodara, Gujarat. Sheikh grew up in Mumbai and graduated from St. Xavier’s college. He then moved on to study law at the Siddharth College of Law, Bombay. During this time, he was introduced into the world of theatre. In fact, he also met his future wife, Roopa, who was his junior and a theatre enthusiast like him.

His Career

He did plays with IPTA (Indian People’s Theatre Association) and was hence, actively participating in the art of theatre. In his final year of college, 1973, Farooq Sheikh did his first major film role in Garam Hawa (1973). Garam Hawa narrates a tale of life during the India-Pakistan partition and proved to pave the way for a new wave in Hindi Cinema. His supporting role as the young idealistic and determined brother, Sikander, gained him some recognition.

Farooq Sheikh went on to act in several notable films which showcased his versatility. From his serious roles in films like Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977) to romantic comedies like Chashme Baddoor (1981) to a negative role in Katha (1983), his acting skills have always been impeccable.

But personally, nothing will beat his role of Nawab Sultan in Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan (1981). His character yearns for the ravishing courtesan played by Rekha, as he is completely and utterly smitten by her. In this story of passion, heartbreak, and love, you struggle to hate him for his spinelessness. And how can we ever forget the tension between the lovers in one of the most soulful ghazals ever written – In Aankhon Ki Masti Mai. The way they speak with their eyes – the yearning, the intense passion, the adoration – is truly pure talent.

Credits – YouTube (Anil Babbilwar)
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A Little Bit of Storytelling: The Life and Work of Sai Paranjpye

Take a brief glimpse at the life and work of Sai Paranjpye, an Indian filmmaker and writer, who merged mainstream and parallel cinema.



Sai Paranjpye

A prolific writer and filmmaker, who, over the many decades of her life, has managed to merge the distinct lines between mainstream and parallel cinema, Sai Paranjpye stands tall amongst the many legendary figures of Indian Cinema. Her body of work has not only been a focal point for addressing critical social issues but also paved a path for later generations of filmmakers to include ideas of social and cultural relevance in their work. Indeed, it is a point of fact that Paranjpye’s work was also a contributing factor to the perpetuation of regional Indian cinema at the time, helping it not only gain recognition in mainstream circles but also flourish without compromising on its core themes and philosophy.

Born, in 1938, to a Russian father and an Indian mother, Paranjpye’s parents divorced shortly after her birth and she was raised in her maternal grandfather’s household, R.P. Paranjpye, a noted mathematician and educationist who served as India’s High Commissioner in Australia from 1944 to 1947. It was a fortunate turn of fate that Paranjpye was born to a family who were already involved in the world of cinema. Her mother, Shakuntala Paranjpye, was a renowned actress in her own right, working alongside the likes of celebrated filmmakers such as V. Shantaram. Paranjpye’s uncle, Achyut Ranade, was also a noted filmmaker in the ’40s and ’50s and he played a crucial role in nurturing Paranjpye’s passion for storytelling and filmmaking. As a child, she would often visit her uncle’s house who would share stories with her, conveying them in the format of a screenplay. This would mark her first exposure to the world of cinema and the wonders of storytelling.

Amit Paranjape on Twitter: "Happy 82nd birthday to the amazing Sai Paranjpye!… "
Credit: Google Images (Sai Paranjpye)

Beginning her career as an announcer at All India Radio (AIR), Paranjpye would soon go on to get involved with the Children’s Program at AIR.

Over a gradual period of time Paranjpye has written and directed numerous plays, for adults and children alike, in both English and other regional languages. Her directorial debut came with ‘The Little Tea Shop’, a movie released directly to television in 1972. It went on to win the Asian Broadcasting Union Award at Teheran. Eight years later, she released her first feature film, ‘Sparsh’, which was critically acclaimed and won numerous awards, including the National Film Award. Following that, she went on to direct the comedies ‘Chashme Buddoor’ and ‘Katha’. Paranjpye’s other works include ‘Angootha Chhap’ (1988), a film aimed at the National Literacy Mission, ‘Disha’ (1990), which discussed the issue that immigrant workers faced in the country and ‘Chaka Chak’ (2005), a movie that was aimed at raising awareness about the myriad environmental issues we face.

Sai Paranjpye's Sparsh (1980): Rethinking education for the differently abled
Credit: Google Images (A still from Paranjpye’s film, ‘Sparsh‘)

Paranjpye’s most noted work was, perhaps, her 1993 documentary, titled ‘Choodiyan’, which examined the anti-liquor agitation in a village in Maharashtra. ‘Choodiyan’ was awarded the National Award for Best Film on Social Issues. Additionally, Paranpye released ‘Suee’, a documentary which explores the lives of drug users, touching on the treatment, care and community support that they receive. ‘Suee’ was aired on Doordashan in December of 2009, as part of its campaign to raise awareness about AIDS.  In 2006, Paranjpye was awarded the Padma Bhushan, in recognition of her immense contribution to Indian Cinema.

Paranjpye’s lifetime has borne witness to an extensive body of work, one that is marked by the idea of delivering meaningful ideas and content in the format of entertaining cinema and also creating a culture of an audience that is aware about the relevant socio-cultural issues that we face as a society. 

Through her work, Sai Paranjpye has cultured an idea of meaningful storytelling, one that is punctuated by her own strength and core ideas but also a larger idea of doing better, of being better as a collective.

Sai Paranjpye on her memoir A Patchwork Quilt:'I guess I was born with a grin'
Credit: Google Images (Sai Paranjpye)
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Figures Etched In Stone: The Life and Work of Sudarshan Sahoo

Look back at the life and philosophy of Sudarshan Sahoo, a celebrated sculptor from Odisha and a recent recipient of the Padma Vibhushan.



Sudarshan Sahoo

Stone sculptures have been a hallmark of Odisha’s cultural and artistic traditions and, for the longest time, Sudarshan Sahoo, a celebrated sculptor, has not only been contributing remarkable sculpted pieces to the traditional craft but has also been taking immense pains to keep it alive and engaging for the new generation of artists. It is, indeed, an unfortunate truth that, sometimes, the perseverance and work put in by artists is gone unnoticed. In attempting to achieve that recognition for their creative pieces alone, most creators do not get recognized for the actual effort behind the artistic work. That tremendous unrecognized effort and work is what Sahoo is attempting to get supported and nurtured.

Born in 1939, in Puri, Sahoo was always enamoured with the temples in his city. The city and its architecture, both, served as inspirations to him. When he first decided to try his hands in it, he began with carving miniature temples out of stone. His mother and brother were among the first people to see his work and, seeing the potential in him, they encouraged him. That was the first step into him becoming the artist he is today. Later, he trained under master sculptors, Bhubaneswar Mohapatra and Kunia Moharana, to further polish his latent skill.

Sudarshan Art And Craft Village Of Puri - Best In Odisha
Credits: Sudarshan Art and Craft

There is in Sahoo an urgency to create artistic pieces, not for himself, but for posterity. He recognizes that an artist, whether it be a sculptor or a painter, never truly creates for themself but for others and the upcoming generations. However, it is not with the intent of mere recognition that Sahoo creates his sculptures. For him, engaging with anything artistic should be for the sole purpose of creating. In doing so, an artist, according to him, attains liberty.

It is a philosophy that has served him well. The recipient of numerous awards, Sahoo received the National Award for Stone Carving in 1981, at the age of 42. Seven years later, in 1988, he was awarded the Padma Shri and, in 2003, the Shilp Guru Award. Just this year, on the 72nd Republic Day, Sahoo was among the seven individuals who were named as recipients of the Padma Vibhushan.

Credit: Sudarshan Art and Craft (Sudarshan Sahoo receiving the Padma Shri Award in 1988)

This recognition has not come without significant effort and accomplishments. Sahoo is renowned for his work on a global scale, with him being a frequent visitor to other countries for showcasing his work. Indeed, a sculpted panel of his was installed in 1978 in Atami, Japan. Additionally, a stone panel based around the life of Buddha was installed in Milton Keynes, London, in 1980. However, his most lauded accomplishment, ironic as it may seem, is not his sculptures but the establishment of Sudarshan Crafts Museum, in 1977, and later, the Sudarshan Arts and Crafts Village in 1991.

A project supported by the Government of Odisha, the Sudarshan Arts and Crafts Village is an institution, following the Gurukul system of learning, aimed at preserving the traditional craft of sculpting in Odisha and training future craftsmen in creating sculptures with wood, stone and fibreglass. The institution provides its craftsmen with all the facilities, including a free of cost boarding facility, needed to bring about a wholesome environment for them to pursue the craft.

For Sahoo, this is something close to his heart. It represents the act of preserving and perpetuating his passion and craft for the future generations to see, appreciate and honor.

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Levelling Fields: Looking Towards An Equal Future

On this Women’s Day, we take a look at some incredible women who are juggling, defying socio-cultural barriers and saving the world.



Women's day

The world we knew a while ago no longer exists. It is now a new normal that we follow, where we are careful about standing a little too close to others, where every day is another opportunity for us to catch a disease we have become all too familiar with. In light of the pandemic that has hit the world and our gradual recovery from it, our attempts to rebuild the world must take into consideration the opportunities that are being presented. We have to ask ourselves whether these opportunities are truly equal, whether we are including women into the decisions we make, the decisions that will go on to influence the future we live in. An equal future, where women are equally in positions of power and leadership, is what the focus should be on.  

With this in mind, on this Women’s Day, we take a look at some incredible women who have defied deep rooted socio-economic and cultural barriers to establish themselves in a field that are predominantly male oriented, who are not only pushing against societal and cultural barriers but also working tirelessly to make the world, we live in, a safer place.  

Dr. Priya Abraham, Director, National Institute of Virology, Pune

Apart from vaccine, research on drugs should be expedited - The Week

Director of the National Institute of Virology, Pune, the leading national institute that tests for the novel coronavirus, Dr. Priya Abraham is the mind behind leaps we have taken, as a country, in fighting against the disease. Dr. Abraham and her team were the ones who successfully isolated the SARS CoV-2 virus in India on March 9th, 2020, making the country the fifth one to do so. As she explains, for the layman, isolating a virus presents numerous opportunities in helping understand the nature of a virus, what drugs it is susceptible to and, most importantly, in the development of future vaccines. The coronavirus, as explained by her, is difficult to propagate in regular culture tests. Working tirelessly and testing over a thousand samples in the lab, Dr. Abraham and her team were responsible for providing the basis for others to further develop vaccines for the disease.

Dr. Renu Swarup, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India

Renu Swarup - Wikipedia

Dr. Renu Swarup, Secretary, Government of India, heading the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, is an important leading figure in the current atmosphere. Under her leadership, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) is overseeing the development and commercialization of vaccines in the country. The importance of having a large basket of vaccines available is what Dr. Swarup puts emphasis on. Each indigenious vaccine for the coronavirus, due to being developed by different platforms, has its own set of challenges and benefits. Thus, it is important to have multiple vaccines, being developed and passed through clinical trials, in order to pick the best among the lot. Dr. Swarup, overseeing the efforts of the DBT, plays a crucial role in helping the country prepare and select a remedial course of action in fighting COVID-19.

Dr. Nivedita Gupta, Senior Scientist, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)

We're far from the peak': ICMR expert on COVID19 - The Kashmir Monitor

Dr. Nivedita Gupta, a Senior Scientist at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), plays a, somewhat, dual role of science and management in the national effort to combat COVID-19. Initially, a small team of scientists at the ICMR came together to create a network of laboratories in the country for the easy identification and diagnosis of viral infections. Dr. Gupta was the one who led this project. At the outset, they set up 15 labs that came equipped with state of the art technology and specialities that dealt with molecular virology. After the COVID-19 outbreak in December of 2019, Dr. Gupta has, since January of 2020, gone on to set up over 500 laboratories and counting, in order to improve India’s diagnostic capacity for the testing and treatment of COVID-19. She and her team are the ones who serve as the backbone for those who are trying to help develop an end to the disease.

Dr. Sumathy K., Head of Research and Development, Bharat Biotech

Management team - Bharat Biotech - Leading Biotech Company

Head of Research and Development at Bharat Biotech, Dr. Sumathy K. is one of the core members of the team who developed Covaxin, India’s first indigenously developed and mass produced vaccine. This, in fact, is not the first time that Dr. Sumathy K. has been responsible for the development of vaccines for dangerous viral infections. Indeed, she was the mind behind the development of the vaccines for Chikungunya and Zika for the company. It is, indeed, a tremendous achievement, in terms of the development of Covaxin, as this is the first time that an Indian based biotechnological company has been able to pace itself and kept up with the strides of the giant pharmaceutical companies of the West. Dr. Sumathy K.’s efforts, bolstered by the efforts of those researching and testing the coronavirus strain, is the first step into recovering the life we had before the pandemic began.

Dr. Nita Patel, Senior Director, Novavax

Nothing is impossible,' says lab ace Nita Patel | Science

Dr. Nita Patel, currently a Senior Director for the vaccine development programme at Novavax, is another such individual who is heading the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. Under her guidance and leadership, the team, responsible for the development of a vaccine for coronavirus, at Novavax has been able to produce a vaccine, NVX-CoV2373, that is tested for 89.3 percent efficacy in its third phase of clinical trials. The vaccine could be cleared in the US as early as May. Dr. Patel’s efforts in the development and the clinical trials of a vaccine, that could make our new normal a safer place to live, must be recognized. Rising from rural poverty in India, Dr. Patel has come a long way and is driven to make the world around her a little safer.

It is important to realize that the efforts of these women all feed into each other. Research and Diagnosis, Treatment and, finally, Management are all important aspects in the battle against COVID-19. Now more than ever, we must recognize the importance of levelling the field for women in all fields, in the hopes of building a world that is truly equal for us all. After all, without these women doing what they do, we would still be faced with the very real possibility of being stuck in the bleak reality that hit us two years ago.

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SHORT FILMS3 years ago

The Red Typewriter : A Touching Love Story by Navaldeep Singh

Dilbaro, Saloni Rai, Cover, Raazi, Alia Bhatt
MUSIC3 years ago

‘Dilbaro’ From ‘Raazi Mellifluously Sung by Saloni Rai

Meri Maa, Musical, Short Film, Tarannum Mallik, Abhinay, Mother's Day
SHORT FILMS3 years ago

‘Meri Maa’ : A Musical Short Film Ft. Tarannum & Abhinay

Meri Maa ki Beti, Niharika Mishra, Poetry, Maa
POETRY3 years ago

‘Meri Maa Ki Beti’ : A Poetic Portrayal by Niharika Mishra

Call Center Ke Call Boy Ki Kahani, Rakesh Tiwari, Tafreeh Peshkash, Poetry
POETRY3 years ago

‘Call Center Ke Call Boy Ki Kahani’ by Rakesh Tiwari

Kajender Srivastava, Jawaab, Poetry, Poem
POETRY3 years ago

‘Jawaab’ : A Poetic Awakening by Kajender Srivastava

Tribute to Avicii, Indian Dancers, Avicii, Amit K Samania, Prakrati Kushwaha
DANCE3 years ago

Tribute to Avicii By Indian Dancers Amit K Samania & Prakrati Kushwaha

Varun Agarwal, Million Dollar Company, Anu Aunty

From Failing in Engineering to Co-Founding a Million-Dollar Company : Varun Agarwal

Dum Dum Dumroo, Sanaya Irani, Anil Charanjeett, Akash Goila
SHORT FILMS3 years ago

Dum Dum Dumroo : Think Before You Judge

Manpreet Toor's Laung Laachi
DANCE3 years ago

Manpreet Toor’s Magnificent Dance on “Laung Laachi” is Mesmerizing

MUSIC3 years ago

Mashup of ‘Treat You Better’ & ‘Mann Bharrya’ in Melodious Voice of Semal and Bharti

Aksh Baghla
MUSIC3 years ago

Dil Diyan Gallan in Euphonious Voice of Akash Baghla

Ankit Kholia

Reminiscing Classics In Ankit Kholia’s Mellifluous Voice

Sang Hoon Tere

Sang Hoon Tere : Bhuvan Bam’s Original Single

Aranya Johar
POETRY3 years ago

“Why be biased to complexions?” Aranya Johar Questions the Society

MUSIC3 years ago

Acoustic Version of Tere Mere Song by Dhvani Bhanushali

SHORT FILMS3 years ago

Tere Jaisa Yaar Kahan : A Tale of Two Best Friends

MUSIC3 years ago

“Naino Se”: An Orginal Composition by Pushpendra Barman

Tere Mere by Saloni Rai
MUSIC4 years ago

‘Tere Mere’ Female Cover by a Young Singer from Haryana, Saloni Rai

Every Skin Glows : Sejal Kumar
EDITOR'S PICK4 years ago

Don’t Judge People on Skin Colour, Every Skin Glows : Sejal Kumar

Knox Artiste
MUSIC4 years ago

14 Songs on 1 Beat Ft. Knox Artiste

EDITOR'S PICK4 years ago

De Taali Nehraji Ft Ashish Nehra: Breakfast With Champions

POETRY4 years ago

To India: With Love by Aranya Johar


Shiamak Davar’s Choreography of Despacito Ft. Justin Bieber