Silver screen magic through art: Annapurna Madipadiga's exhibition 'Chitram' in Delhi
Discover the connection between Indian cinema and art at this exhibition featuring works that pay tribute to film industry’s legends
The genius filmmaker Satyajit Ray had mentioned: ‘Cinema’s characteristic forte is its ability to capture and communicate the intimacies of the human mind’. Indian cinema is an industry that boasts a diverse range of riveting and visually striking films. In an attempt to focus on cinema by means of art, and to highlight the contributions of Indian film stars to the country’s cinematic history, Annapurna Madipadiga has curated an exhibition titled Chitram—inaugurated by filmmaker Muzzafar Ali on April 21 at the Art Magnum Gallery, and will continue till June 3.
Annapurna points out that many artists begin their careers as poster artists, noting the connection between the practices in cinema and art. The curator explains, “There is a close yet distinct connection between cinema and art practices, much like with MF Husain. Many of my colleagues hail from villages where they began their journey creating posters, and ultimately went on to become art directors. The celebration of this relationship is precisely what inspired me to create this exhibition, offering a different dimension to the medium.”
An artistic tribute
At Chitram, 27 artists have showcased about 45 works each from different regions. Giving an insight into conceptualising this exhibition, Annapurna shares, “I read extensively on the inception of cinema and researched Indian cinema from there, then began listing artists who had created works related to cinema themes.” For instance, works by the talented artist from Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh, A Rajeswara Rao—Bhag Basanti Bhag and Never Die Ever Again—reflect on how his style and practice are closely tied to cinema. Annapurna says, “Rao’s paintings possess an essence that makes one feel like they are witnessing a scene from a film.” Other works—Mera Naam Joker by Mehul Rathod, Mr India by Pulkit Prajapati, etc.,—on display here bring the magic of the silver screen alive.
Parvathi Nayar’s Rain Song series—it took her six months to complete—“is entirely done with pencil on gesso-coated wooden panels”. Nayar adds, “Water has been a thread in my art—just as the rain song that has been a staple of Indian movies, especially Hindi films. Raj Kapoor and Nargis, in Shree 420, epitomise this original form of the rain song, which balances out the poverty of the characters with the utopian construct of man- woman in harmony with nature.”
Nostalgia and memories
Rao talks about how the character James Bond influenced his works. “I grew up watching Bond movies in Telugu. The impact has been so strong that the images always come back.” Delving deep into his medium, Rao shares, “Acrylic on acrylic sheet is reverse painting just like the traditional Tanjore paintings.”A segment in this exhibition is dedicated to the first women of Indian cinema, while there’s another space that celebrates comedians, heroes, and heroines of Indian cinema. Annapurna concludes, “The Hashtag#Collective from Chennai showcased the first women comedian, choreographer, and stuntwoman of Indian cinema, who paved the way for others to follow. For instance, Bhanumathi Ramakrishna was a director, writer, singer, music director, and actor. Nargis was just as popular as Raj Kapoor then and even now, with Mother India. Nadia [she is called Fearless Nadia] was the first stuntwoman who did fabulous stunts on screen that even the men wouldn’t dare to do.” Overall, this exhibition is nothing short of a walk down Indian cinema’s memory lane.