Theatre Jam: Nagara Chitra - Shivajinagar
Duration: 00:16:29; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 306.497; Saturation: 0.009; Lightness: 0.399; Volume: 0.426; Cuts per Minute: 10.493; Words per Minute: 39.001
Nagara Chitra literally means city/town pictures. This was an activity organised as part of October Jam, a month-long celebration of the first anniversary of Theatre Jam, a symbolic occupation of public spaces in the city meant to encourage diverse performance-based art exchange and collaboration. Theatre Jam was initiated by Maraa: http://maraa.in/
We sent out an open call to photographers to snapshot two vibrant markets in the city. The chosen markets were Shivajainagar/Russell market and Ulsoor Market, the former being a Muslim dominated market and area, the latter a devout Hindu market and area. Both are really old markets and continue to function as hubs of older commercial activity. There are also signifiers of other kinds of cultures existing in the city.
Conversations between visual artists and shopkeepers happened while the former were walking through markets, identifying good frames and shooting them. Once the shooting was done, Maraa spent some money identifying clean pictures, printing them on Matt paper and displaying them. Interestingly, the display took the pictures back to the markets, but not to the same shops where the pictures were taken. If we took a picture of a flower shop, we would then walk to other nearby shops and basically pretend to stop over and inspect the photos.
Sooner rather than later, a crowd would gather, including the shopkeeper, who was curious to see familiar faces and familiar environs. There was happiness that "photographers" have chosen their part of town. Or anxiety that some grey/"illegal" activities are being exposed by elite journalists doing exposes. Or suspicions of intra-colonisations in which photographs are weapons that expose this "ugliness" and contrast it with the new beauties of the city like malls, flyovers, tall buildings, etc. There were others who were sure that we were on some foreign-funded project, and some wanted a cut from this mythical project fund!
We had great discussions on the city's character, invisible cities living inside Bangalore, visual art, and aesthetics of the city in visual terms. A fantastic experience and hopefully, a valuable documentation of both markets, much ignored in the Bangalore of today.
A busy tea shop somewhere in Russell Market. This part of town really comes alive at this time of the day, especially in this market. This is one of the countless tea/snack shops in the area. Interesting blue feel to this section.
Ekta and myself (Ram) from Maraa are putting up pictures at this shop. We were denied permission from a couple of other tea shops before we came here. At the time of denying us access, these shopkeepers were most enigmatic. No reasons. They showed curiosity only in looking at the photos, not in what we wanted to do with them. We stuck some really awesome photos here. Pro-LTTE groups portraying Sonia Gandhi as a killer of Tamils, for refusing to kick up a ruckus about the Sri Lankan genocide.
Russell Market , Bangalore
ekta: aur log ayenge yeh sab photograph dekh kar (you'll get more customers when they see these photographs)
Girl: Don't kill the Tamils.
Boy: There's a message there.
Girl: Don't kill the Tamils. How many more Tamils will you kill.
Girl: Get the footage of them watching it.
yeh dekh.. yeh paan wala, baju.... yeh dekh.. pushpa market.... oh! bohot danger wale ki photo hai, post-Mortem wale ki. (look at this, this is the paan wala next door.... and this.. pushpa market... oh! very dangerous man's photo this is... the post Mortem guy ....)
poste-mortem wale ki photo pakad li (they've got the post-mortem guys photo...)
yeh dekh... sajid ... (look at this one... sajid)
People take an interest in the photos. One person asks, 'Do you want to show the green city as the black city!!!' We try and convince him that it has nothing to do with green. It's about the city, and we love this part of the city.
Others slowly find spaces within the market which are accepting and allow these odd photos to be put up. They are familiar in terms of immediate space, but strange in terms of their conceptual motivations.
An Australian friend who accompanied us on this, thinks about whether this is relevant in his country and wonders what the scene is with his markets.
Shopkeepers see us with cameras and want to be shot, sometimes with our photos in the background.
yeh jo yahan photo laga rahe ho iska matlab kya hai? (this, what you are doing? what is the meaning behind this?)
itne saare log aate jaate, itni tarhan tarham ki dukane hain. itni rangeen sadken, itni alag alag deewaren hain (there is this traffic of so many people, such variety of shops, such colourful roads, such different walls)
green city ko black city bana diya bolke dikhana chahte hain (so you're showing that green city has been turned into black city)
nahin nahin yeh toh hum bata nahin rehe hain... mein toh pasand karta..(no no, this is not what we are saying... infact i like ....)
bata nahin rahe, dikha rahe hain.. (not saying but showing it.)
aapko aisa lag raha hai ( this is what you may think)
yeh use mat karo aap, app yeh road per laga te hain.. koi galat samajh lega... (don't use this one... you will put this on the road, someone may not like it)
achaa hai (this one's good)
teeno anaa hai (i want the one with all three)
teeno aana hai... yeh hum aapko kal aake dega. aaj ke liye teen yahaa pe hum lagayenge (the one with all three.... this we will come tomorrow and give it to you.... for today, we will put up three photos here)
theek hai bhaiya... inka dhayaan rakhena. shaam ko aa ke woh phtograph aapko dega. (ok bhaiya then. take care of these, tomorrow evening we will come and give you the others.)
...wahan ka hai woh...(this is from that area)
wahan ka nahin... hum bolein kahan ka hai woh...(its not from there, i'll tell you where this is from)
yeh bus stand ke saamne.....(this is in front of the bus stand...)
(from the back) iska fayeda kya hai... (what is the significance of this?)
yeh bust stand ke saamne woh baaju woh gali mein ghuske woh wahaan ka... nahin barabar... (this is... opposite the bus stand, there is a small gully that goes in... its from there.... am i right?)
aapko kuch pasand aaya? kuch bhi nahin haan? (did you like any f them? none?)
lagao konsa woh... dilip kumar ka hai... haan yeh lagoa... lagao madame yeh... yeh acha hai na lagao (put one that one, the one with dilip kumar... put it up madam)
lagao akram da, kya akram da...(akram da, put it up akram da)
lagao madam woh (put it up madam)
ishi liye toh phayeda hai ki yeh sab log shivajinagar mein hi rehte hain na.., aap log bhi (this is the main incentive that all the people in the photos live around here in Shivajinagar itself)
what did he say? none of them? he doesn't want any of them?
matlab kya hai yeh rakhne ka? (why are you keeping these here?)
aap bataiye (why do you think?)
matlab yeh hota... yeh dekhte rehte hain na aap shivajinagar mein posters... (the reason can be.... you keep seeing these posters here no, in shivajinagar...)
that guy gave his card and all... supposed to call him
toh logo ko acha laga ya... (so did people like the photographs or...)
acha laga tabhi toh ye puch raha hai, yeh kya hai yeh kya hai? nahin toh yahan se chale jaate. (they liked it that is why they ask again and again what this is about. otherwise they would just walk away)