Festival brings city stories

Last year, the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) Bangalore held a film festival, Urban Lens: Festival of Films and the City. The three day festival showcased films that dealt with a multitude of political, social, economic and cultural concerns in an urban landscape. This year, the second edition of the festival will be held from September 26 to 28 bringing over 35 non-fiction films, again the leitmotif being urban mores. “The festival attempts to see how the idea of the city finds cinematic expression. We will be engaging with filmmakers to see how the city influences their films and vice versa,” informs Subasri Krishnan, who is in-charge of the general programming.

Of the 35 films from filmmakers in India, South Africa, Peru, Chile, Colombia and Canada, over 20 films speak on the urban theme, but not just the physical construct but the metaphysical quality of our surroundings. Subasri notes, “When we think of ‘urban,’ we immediately think of the ‘built’ form, often relating the term to the skyline of an urban metropolis. These films go beyond this concept.”

For instance, she points out films that give ‘urban’ a whole new dimension. She describes, “Gitanjali Rao’s animated ‘Printed Rainbow is about an old lady and her cat which evocatively speaks of the loneliness synonymous with the dreariness of city life. The questions raised in the political documentary ‘Kya Hua Is Shahar Ko?’ by Deepa Dhanraj still holds relevance today. Nishtha Jain’s ‘City of Photos explores photo studios in Indian cities. ‘Memory of a Light’ by Sandhya Kumar is a visual portrait of her childhood memories. Priya Sen’s ‘Noon Day Dispensary’ is shot in a resettlement colony and is an ironic depiction of a dispensary there. Then there are films by international makers such as ‘El Olvido’ which is about the city of  Lima and ‘My Winnipeg,’ a docu-fantasia set in the town of Winnipeg. So, the festival has a wide variety of films on view.”

Apart from this, a selection from the Films Division archive curated by film director and cinematographer, Avijit Mukul Kishore will be screened. Called ‘The Visual Grammar of Nation Building,’ these films made in the first three decades after independence reflect the aspirations of a young nation.

A special screening will be held on September 26 at 7 pm featuring Patricio Guzman’s 2010 documentary ‘Nostalgia for the Light’ based on life under dictator Augusto Pinochet. The 90 minute documentary narrated by Guzman, famed for his political documentaries capturing the history and politics of Chile, includes commentary from those affected by the dictator’s reign, from astronomers to Chilean women who search for dead bodies in the Atacama Desert. Poet and filmmaker Rajula Shah’s film, ‘Sabad Nirantar’ studying the life of the poet Kabir, will be screened on September 27 at 7 pm. Both the screenings will be followed by open house discussions.

On September 28 at 6.15 pm, a public talk will be held by Rohan Shivkumar, an architect and urban designer from Mumbai and the Deputy Director of the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies. His session titled ‘Producing Images, Consuming Images – The spaces of the film industry in Mumbai’, will add to the growing conversation of the nature in which the film industry engages with public spaces.

Though the film festival is in its nascent stage, Subasri hopes it will initiate a dialogue about public spaces, real and imagined.

Some of the films that will be showcased at Urban Lens 2014

Film: Kya Hua Is Shahar Ko?

Director: Deepa Dhanraj

Date and time: September 26 at 3.25 pm

Synopsis: A political documentary based on 1984 Hindu-Muslim riots in Hyderabad. The film, released in 1986, addresses issues of the omnipresent communal conflicts, marginalisation of the Muslims as the ‘other’ community, urban poverty and analyses power struggles in the political arena.

Kya Hua Is Shehar Ko

Film: Wasted

Director: Anirban Datta

Date and time: September 26 at 11.45 am

Synopsis: In the old agrarian system, there was nothing called as waste. But now, waste has become sort of a yardstick to measure development. With the country on its way to becoming an important player in the global economic development, so is the mountain of waste it produces becoming bigger. Combined with footages from Datta’s previous films, ‘Wasted’ examines the concept of waste and recycling in India through the eyes of an easterner with a western vocabulary.


Film: Cities on Speed: Bogota Change

Director: Andreas Dalsgaard

Date and time: September 27 at 2 pm

Synopsis: The film studies how the city an explosion on the population living in urban areas can pose serious global challenges. Against this backdrop, it tells the story of two mayors Antanas Mockus and Enrique Penalosa who using unconventional methods create a peaceful city, Bogota.

Cities on Speed

Film: Dear Mandela

Director: Dara Kell

Date and time: September 27 at 12 noon

Synopsis: The film is shot against the landscape of poverty in South Africa and is a fascinating story of the country coming of age. Three ‘young lions’, when they learn of the Government’s plan to ‘eradicate the slums,’ rise from the shacks to take on the Government. But even as they challenge the Slums Act all the way to the Constitutional Court, they learn of the sacrifices that come with leadership.

Dear Mandela

Film: Tracing Bylanes

Director: Surabhi Sharma

Date and time: September 28 at 2.30 pm

Synopsis: ‘When does a city become a city?’ With this question in her mind, Surabhi Sharma went about chronicling the history, sights and sounds of the city of Chandigarh in ‘Tracing Bylanes.’ The 15 minute documentary tells the story of the city which was born out of Partition, and built by Le Corbusier and how after 60 years, it struggles to retain its iconic character.

Tracing Bylanes

First published in The New Indian Express on September 13, 2014

Categories: Articles- New Indian Express, Culture, Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swiss films come to Bangalore

With the ‘Swiss Film Week’, taking place until September 1, the Swiss Consulate in Bangalore looks forward to celebrate a century of German teaching in India. Around six films — 4 fiction films and two documentaries — will be showcased at the festival at Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan. Rolf Frei, the consul general throws more light on the idea behind the screening as he says, “In Switzerland, we have four official languages; the most widely spoken one is German. The films we have chosen are films made by renowned Swiss filmmakers. By showcasing these films, which are in German, we aim to acquaint the people with our cinema culture.”

The festival will kickstart with a screening of ‘More than Honey,’ a documentary by Markus Imhoof, which was the country’s nomination for the ‘Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film’ in 2013. ‘More than Honey’ examines the causes for the dwindling population of bees across the world. In the course of 91 minutes, it captures insights from a Swiss beekeeper living on an alp, a brain researcher in Berlin, a pollen trader in China and more, documenting their lives.

Frei is confident that the festival will receive a good response and is eager to reach out to more people around the country after the screening in Bangalore. “We want to take the festival to five other cities. We are yet to finalise the details.”

The films

Film: Die Standesbeamtin (Will you marry us?) by Micha Lewinsky

Duration: 90 min

Screening: August 30, 8 pm

A civil registrar, Rahel Hubli has long given up on finding the ‘love of her life.’ But her outlook is set to change when her childhood friend, Ben, suddenly shows up. Love soon blooms between them. The movie, released in 2009, packs in humor, music and romance as Rahel tries to circumvent a marriage proposal from Ben as she is already married.


Film: Der Kreis (The Circle) by Stefan Haupt

Duration: 101 min

Screening: August 31, 6 pm

Released in February this year, the story is set in Zurich of 1958 at the underground organisation, Der Kreis which pioneered gay emancipation across Europe. The protagonist Ernst Ostertag, a young teacher falls in love with Robi Rapp, a German cabaret artist. Torn between his bourgeois existence and his love for Robi, Ernst joins Der Kreis and witnesses the rise and fall of the organisation.


Film: Der Verdingbub (The Foster Boy) by Markus Imboden

Duration: 108 min

Screening: August 31, 8 pm

A 2011 film, it is the story of Max, a 12-year old orphan who goes to work with a farmer, Bosiger. But here, Max, instead of finding a loving home, gets treated like a workhorse and is constantly humiliated and abused by the farmer’s son, Jacob. When his teacher stands up against the brutality, it only makes matters worse for Max at home. The only saving grace for him is his friendship with Berteli, who was also taken on to work at the farm. The story continues as he dreams of living in a fantasy world with Berteli in Argentina, where everything is hunky dory and where even hayforks are made of silver.

Film: Vaters Garten – Die Liebe meiner Eltern (Father´s green – The love of my parents) by Peter Liechti

Duration: 93 min

Screening: September 1, 6 pm

The film examines the strained relationship between the director and his parents. For decades, they avoided meeting each other as much as possible. The film follows a re-encounter years later between them. In the process, Peter understands more about their individual personalities,  their marriage and the love they have for each other which helped them sustain the bond for 62 years.


Film: Die Schwarzen Brüder (The Black Brothers) by Xavier Koller

Duration: 98 min

Screening: September 1, 8 pm

Die Schwarzen Brüder (The Black Brothers) is a poignant story of a young boy, Georgio, who is forced to work as a chimney-sweep in Milan. Saddened by his misfortune and the abject condition he is living in, he forms a community – ‘Black Brothers’. Together, they defend themselves against the attacks of street urchins called Die Wolfe. The film traces Georgio’s struggle in Milan and his escape back to Switzerland.

First published in The New Indian Express on August 28, 2014

Categories: Articles- New Indian Express, Culture, Events, Music & Dance, Theatre and Art | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Of music that transcends various genres; here’s DJ Funkagenda, the DJ who takes life one day at a time

Funkagenda aka Adam Walder

Funkagenda aka Adam Walder

UK-based music producer and DJ Funkagenda’s music doesn’t belong to one genre. There’s a bit of house, techno, progressive, dubstep, drum and bass– it is ‘dance music,’ something that every music lover can enjoy. After a performance in Mumbai, he was in Bangalore on August 17 as part of the Vh1 Supersonic Club Night tour. “My set was something different — something with bigger builds and drops,” he says about his gig and goes on to talk more about his music in general.

Over the span of his music career, which began when he was 20 years old, he has collaborated with many renowned artistes like Fatboy Slim, Black Eyed Peas (for the album ‘The E.N.D.’), Basement Jaxx, Moby, and Dirty Vegas. And then there are the festivals and clubs he has played at across the globe. He recalls an interesting experience when he was in India a few years ago. He says, “Once after a show, I had gone to bed and was sleeping soundly when I was woken up by a knocking sound. I answered the door, and it was two guys who had been at my show. They had snuck into the hotel, found my room and wanted me sign posters and take pictures.”

Funkagenda aka Adam Walder had always been musically inclined. His favourite memory from his childhood days was when he would watch his grandfather work on a few backing tracks. His musician grandfather, along with his dad, was his biggest musical influence. He reminisces, “Once during the music sessions, when my granddad went out of the room, I started playing the notes. When he heard me play, he exclaimed, ‘Wow, was that you? You should start playing.’ That Christmas he got me a keyboard and the next thing I knew I was completely immersed in it and learnt to play other musical instruments too.”

As a young boy, he played as a keyboard player in various rock and jazz bands and a bass player in a folk band. But it wasn’t until he started making dance music that he really knew what he wanted to do with his life. “I love the energy of the dance floor and the way the music moves people,” he opines.

His original mix, ‘One day at a time’ is his personal favourite as it was written at a time when his life went through an upheaval. He recounts, “I used to have an alcohol problem when I was younger. When I moved out to the states, I was homesick. Moreover with all the changes that were happening in the music industry then, I began to doubt myself and where I was. It was a really difficult time and I started seeing a counselor about it. And then there was this moment when I just said to myself, ‘I’m not going to drink again’. And literally the day after that, I wrote ‘One Day At A Time’. It was a turning point in my life.”

Funkagenda has already completed two shows in London and Lithuania. After the India tour, he will be jetting to Los Angeles for quick shows in Orlando and Houston, before driving up to the ‘Burning Man’, a week long event held in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada. He adds, “I am also currently working on an album, so that’s the main thing on my plate right now. I also have a lot of exciting tours coming up.”

Published in The New Indian Express on August 16, 2014.

Categories: Articles- New Indian Express, Culture, Events, Interviews, Music & Dance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Art Exhibition at NGMA Bangalore

How’s your Sunday looking?

If you are free on Sunday, you like art and you are in Bangalore, here’s something you can do.

NGMA (National Gallery of Modern Art), Bengaluru is holding an art exhibition titled “Amrita Sher-Gil: The Passionate Quest”. The exhibition is curated by Yashodhara Dalmia, an art historian and independent curator based in New Delhi. After the inauguration, which will take place today, March 30 at 5 pm, the exhibition will be on view till April 30, 2014.

Here’s a glimpse of what is in store at the exhibition:


Watch this space for more updates.

Categories: Events | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: