Saturday, 26 November 2016

A Portrait of a Painter: Eleven Questions with Sravanthi Juluri

Internationally acclaimed painter, Sravanthi Juluri   recently launched the exhibition of her new works at Goethe Zentrum, Hyderabad, 6 November 2016. However, this time, she struck a different note.  Her creations were creatively adorned by a short play titled, "Tvameham". Derived from Sanksrit, "Tvameham" means, "I am You and You are me". 
Through this dramatic performance, she welcomed the audience into her world of colors, strokes, sounds and beauty. Sravanthi ushered her art with the affirmation that artists are not geniuses working  in recluse but human souls alive with love for the world and its people. 
 However, people are often full of questions about her work. And Sravanthi wishes to answer them through her performance. She responds to their childlike insistence  to attach meanings, labels and categories to objects born out of the deep crevices of her mind.  She does more than the needful to familiarize us with her work.  Her answers were beautifully etched out in her dramatic performance. Along with Lanka Vaishnavi who played her alter ego and her son Avish Juluri, Sravanthi put  up an unforgettable show.

In the Act: Sravanthi Juluri and Lanka Vaishnavi performing "Tvameham"  

Sravanthi's  works are popularly identified with the Abstract genre. They are startling, beautiful and complete in themselves. The gorgeous ravines and rivulets of colours, patterns seem not formless, but concrete expressions of a creative, meditative and emotionally powerful soul. Sravanthi's latest collection is based on the Nine Rasas of Bhartha Muni. They were curated by city based artist and curator, Koeli Mukherjee Ghose.  

Myriad Emotions of the Artist

Little Gem: Avish Juluri

Ecstatic as I was after her performance, I was also filled with questions. I thank Sravanthi for taking time out and answering them. 

 Eleven Questions with Sravanthi Juluri

  1. What does Art/ Painting mean to you? Is it a catharsis or an escape?

Art, for me has always been a deep rooted expression of an artist's thoughts. I always say that my paintings/creations are an extension of who I am and what I think. I never thought of my art as an escape but more like an explosion of emotions. My work had been a catharsis during my struggle with a personal turmoil; When I was fighting a long legal battle against domestic violence, I met many women who were survivors of sexual abuse, violence etc. It was a personal connection that I felt with them and my paintings at that time expressed my feelings about atrocities against women and the girl child. Each painting expressed many emotions. I used a lot of symbolism and depicted the loss of innocence in morbid situations. It left a deep rooted impact not just on me but also on my viewers. I felt these works acted as a cathartic medium not just for me but also to many women.

    2. Popularly your work has been identified with the “abstract”     genre. Do you agree with such a categorization?

Though I had been doing a lot of paintings which was very symbolic using metaphors that I connected deeply with, now I am working in the abstract form. I feel abstraction is my calling as it creates a stronger connection between the art and the artist. I agree with the categorization but would not like to limit myself.

3.  What inspires you to paint? Any artists whose works have 
      been a guideline?

Emotions! When I look back at a certain experience and the emotions that churned in me, I have a strong urge to capture it. I paint the energy that I felt when feeling these emotions. And I believe emotions cannot be contained, just like the energy they give or take from us.
I definitely feel intense energy flow through me when I see Pollock's work. I also connect with Frida Khalo's work at a very deep emotional level. 

Melting colours!

4.What other forms of art have influenced your work? Any 

favorite writer, musician, dancer?

Well, I was first introduced to the world of art through glass arts. I had my roots in glass arts, be it stained glass, glass blowing, sculpting. The vivid colors of molten glass being manipulated, still runs in my head and to a great extent still influences my style of painting. I thrive on music to create. Like I said, emotions make me create, and when I start painting I need myself to remain in the same state of mind, and to achieve that I listen to music. I would say the choice or influence of music always depends on what emotion I am expressing.

5.    What are the difficulties that you face as an artist? (social,      cultural, emotional, psychological)

An artist's life is a roller coaster ride! I should say being from a family with a creative background, I was blessed with the understanding and a need to constantly express. But I would constantly get asked questions on my choice of career, why an artist? Why not an actress like my mom? Which was quite difficult to answer when I started my career at 21. I feel there is a wider scope and acceptance for an artist today than compared to when I started. But I still feel it comes with a little stereotypical notions of the mind of an artist at times. Psychologically and emotionally it does get challenging when people tend to judge you and throw questions on the need to express as an artist. And my recent show is an answer to all the questions thrown on me by people who look at art through a key hole.

6. Besides the romantic dimension, art has a commercial function. Could you let us know about the present market demand for art by Indian artists?

A Stunning piece by Sravanthi

Today, there is a bigger platform for Indian artists on the global front and it is not limited to the artists who work with a particular genre that, for example, showcases Indian deities or rustic Indian scenarios anymore. We are gaining 
appreciation and market for works that are different and expresses something unique.

  7. You have based your work on Bharatamuni’s nava-rasa. Which one of the Rasas was the most difficult to realize on the canvas?

I felt  that each Rasa had its own significance and challenge. As in my performance, each Rasa had a narration from the Ancient Hindu scriptures and at the same time connecting its significance to the present day incidences was a challenge to create, it also required me  to put myself in that space to be able to pour down my emotion in creating a painting that depicts these dialogues and emotions. Disgust was an emotion that was particularly challenging as we spoke to Lord Shiva, the aftermath of death, decomposing bodies, self realization and that death is evident, natural calamities and war killing people, and for me being a deeply spiritual person, death is viewed through a very different perceptive. 

8.  Art for art sake or art for society’s sake? 

Art for the sake of connecting within!

       9. Which is more influential in your work: Emotions or                        Technique?

Emotions play the highest role. But my technique is the test! Manipulating liters of paint requires lot of skill.

 10.    Any suggestion to budding women artists?

Follow your heart and gut instinct! I believed in myself, my creations and stood firmly by my faith. I never gave in to the words of people that I needed to change my genre. Dare yourself!

11.    What are your future art goals?

Honestly? Paint till the world runs out of color! But on a serious note, I am working on expressing strong spirituality based on ancient Indian texts that people can connect with in simple forms through my work. 

When Ashen Emotions Flow! 

When the Mountains Echoed Literature: Ooty Literary Festival, 2016

This year, the hills of Ooty echoed voices of poets and writers who gathered to celebrate the first Ooty Literary festival. The two day festival was conducted on September 16th and 17th at the charming, warm and very Gothic, Nilgiri Library.

Ms Sajidabanu Iqbal, Former Teacher, Laidlaw Memorial College, Ooty, shares with us her experiences: 

Ms Sajidabano Iqbal, Laidlaw Memorial College, Ooty

Becoming a member of the Nilgiri Library has opened new horizons for me in every direction. I have met people and had experiences which would not have been possible for me otherwise.
The building is very old and is a heritage site. It is beautifully preserved and well maintained. The reading room, especially, is just pure pleasure for anyone who likes to read. There are huge windows that provide warmth and light to the place. They have the best brown leather arm chairs that are wonderful to curl up in. It is an oasis of calm and quiet in today’s noisy world. My only regret is that I do not spend enough time there.

We have a monthly Book Club meeting every second Saturday and the Book of the Month can range from very technical and high-brow books like 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' to 'Alice in Wonder land ' or  'The Jungle Book'. We have our share of home grown authors and poets who may launch a book here. We have Tanya Mendonza, the local poetess. We also have Col. Vinod with his book, 'Blue Jeans to Olive Greens'. We have Dr. Chabbra who has made an extensive study on the Todas of the Nilgiris. He has lived with them,  learnt their language and studied their customs and beliefs. He has also studied the Nilgiri biosphere and has discovered a rare Rhododendron.  We have a lady who has written a fascinating book about the kolar gold fields who was filled with regret  that Kolar has now become a ghost town after the gold reserves were depleted. She is also a reporter  who has written about surrogacy. There was Shibu Kochery who has written about hydroelectric power is the Himalayas and now we have our own Dilip James who has recently launched "NeoClassical Physics or Quantum mechanics?"

The high-light last year was the Lit Fest . It was the first one I ever attended but it gave me a real high. I have never been so pumped up.
The unique memento presented to all the participants
    We had been planning  it for a year but suddenly on that day there was a  bundh because of the Cauvery  water disputes.  But nothing could stop it.  The hall was overflowing with literature lovers, and a CCTV covered the event under a Shamiana  for those who could not get in. There was a food count serving snacks,  drinks and meals.
           The event itself was meticulously  organised. There were school children from  Lawrence school, Lovedale  issuing identity cards and a cute book mark of Toda embroidery. The Todas and the Kotas, native tribes of the Nilgiris were there to welcome us with their traditional dances and music. There was a welcome speech by our president Geetha Srinivasan, granddaughter of C.P. Ramaswamy  lyer and wife of our distinguished Physicist, M.R. Srinivasan.
Beautiful Book marks

C.S Lakshmi and Ms Arundhati

C.S.Lakshmi, Ms Madhavi and Col. Vinod

A Session in the Fest

Then the session began.  We had authors, publishers, poets, translators and children’s  authors. You name it and they had it!
But the two people who completely captivated me were C.S. Lakshmi  who writes under the name of Ambai in Tamil and  M.T. Vasudevan Nair,  who writes in Malyalam and was honored with a lifetime achievement award. Both these authors have translations available in English. Both have published in there teens and held us spell bound with their anecdotes  and remembrances.   Mr. Vasudevan is 88 and was really impressive.
   Ambai has an oral history archive in Pune called ‘Sparrow’.  She believes that women’s histories journals, poems, stories even if written were not accorded the importance it deserved. And many stories have perished with them. She came across a journal of a great aunt and was told that all her other journals and work was cremated  with her.
         She is an inspiration.  So much spirit and an activity and just throbbing with life. She explained how women have always been changing history. She cited the example of the dog who is not allowed in the kitchen but would have only his tail and hind legs outside to appeared as if obeying but is making his own rules. She lived in a repressive society of Chennai in the sixties, but did her own thing.

Just to stand in the same space as these people is to feel the ecstasy. To be touched in some way by their greatness is to be enveloped in the fragrance of incense in a shrine.

To know more about the festival, visit:


Friday, 11 November 2016

Our Beating Hearts are the Only Time Keepers: A Poem by Juveria

                      In Search of the Authentic Self

I have never connected with a book quite in the way that I did with Orhan Pamuk's 'The Black Book'.  One question that keeps popping up throughout is, "Can a person ever be his/her own self?"  
The book also says that "the life we live, is someone else's dream." That line resonated with me just as much as the original question.

This poem was written at a time when my mind was riddled with thoughts on whether I'll ever get to live the life I want to live. I started to write this poem in order to figure this out,  instead, it took its own path, and  ended up trying to convince me that whether or not we are being our own selves, we certainly are living lives that were probably yearned for by other people. And, even now, I do not have the answer to those questions. My interpretation changes with every reading of the book, and, for some reason I still find a certain solace in it. 

Our beating hearts are the only time keepers

Call me out from the dungeons I’ve created
The walls do not have space left anymore.
Every micromile is covered in ink
And I think I’m starting to repeat
Yes, I just invented a scale of measurement
I’ve lost track of those you gave to me
Lost between all the words on these walls.

“Time flies,” they say, “and, life- it keeps moving”
Our beating hearts are the only time keepers
Not the sun, not the clocks, not the smiles
On people who matter most.
Everything has been recycled.
And offered at our faces
Every sunrise takes us back
To some other sunrise in the past,
All clouds and pink skies
And air so fresh, it cuts our lungs.

Or, for someone else, down someplace else,
It takes them back to the first light
After a  night of a memory stained…
With blood and broken dreams.

And when you see those smiles,
Time stops still, like its giving you a moment
To admire this love that you feel.
Everything has patterns.
Everything stays true to maps and directions
Every moment you live
Has been prized out from someone else’s memory.
Live it gently.
Save it, yet, for some other deluded human being.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Reimagining Love: A Creative Response to William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116

QLC presents a Discussion play inspired by William Shakespeare's Sonnet 116, "Let Me not to the Marriage of True Minds." The Sonnet celebrates the ideal nature of true love. But what does love mean to Us-the Google generation who simply "click" and "touch" their way through life. 
Is it really possible to love someone without "altering" one's affection?
Isn't Love all about uncertainty and confusion?
What is self-Love?
This little play talks about it all.
Hope you like it!

                                                      ACT I Scene I

Juveria, Srinidhi and Hari priya, students of R.B.V.R.R Women's college just completed their English Class. They walk towards the canteen and begin to discuss over Love and other ideas

J: What is love?
H: Looks like the lesson got to you.
S: Well, she’s not alone. But, J, I thought Shakespeare answered that question for us well enough..
Dramatically, reading from her book.
      “Love- A marriage of true minds,
        Which alters not when it alteration finds.
J: So, love doesn’t change? Ever?
H: (slightly sarcastically, referring her book)
      “O no, it is an ever fixed mark”
S: (with a deep sigh) Eternal, unchanging, perfect.
J: Seems impertinent to disagree with the Bard;
    But, love is not an ever fixed mark!
    Out of pride or ignorance, I do not know,
    You say you are impervious to the final blow!
S: But, haven’t you felt it?
   The unshakeable power of true love
   whose purity transcends time!
J: Love itself is transitory!
   People change, and so do emotions
   But change doesn’t dilute
   The power of love.
H:True it is, J,
  That people change
 And so, why depend on people
 And their fickle feelings,
 When true love resides
 Deep inside of you-for you?
S: Well, the Bard did say,
    “ The course of true love…
S, J, H:
     “Never ran smooth.”
S: Is it true love we are looking for, then?
J: Yes.
True love that learns us,
To smile, and be mirthful in its full bloom.
H: That teaches us to clearly see
The flaws that reside inside of us.
And yet, love, still, accepting, allowing…
S: Love that lives beyond the grave.
That doth every hurdle brave
Whose power does you enrich
Old power each soul once cherished.
I swear upon my maker’s word
Such old love does still exist.

H: (Insistently) Inside of us.
    For us.
J: (Shaking her head) In the moment.
S: (Reading from her book)
“……It is an ever fixed mark
  That looks on tempests and is never shaken
  It is the star to every wandering bark.”
J: Love is not a lighthouse!
  Love is the tempest itself!
 A tempest where you lose yourself
But love will always find you.
Love is always looking out for you
If only you are looking out for love.

H: Look for love within yourself.
J: Stay with love in this moment.
S: Look for love in this moment;
    Stay with it forever.
S: (Going back to her book)
    “It is the star to every wandering bark
     Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.”

H: Love your own company,
You’ll know your own true worth
Content with yourself, content with the world.

S: (Reading)
 “Love is not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
  With his bending sickle’s compass come.
  Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks
  But bears it out even to the edge of doom.”
(dreamily) True love endures, though death may loom.

J: Nothing is forever.
Your love will die with you
And with time,
Because time cannot encase
The flow of love
Within a stagnant pond
Love, is a waterfall
It may run dry,
Doesn’t mean it wasn’t real,
Or magnificent.

H: Or so said the Bard:
“Love looks not with eyes
But with the mind,
And therefore, is wing’d cupid
Painted blind”
If only we could turn
The eyes of the mind
Upon ourselves.
And learn to love, however flawed,
Our own precious selves.

S: It would get so lonesome.
H: Not if your love your own company.
(S and H look at J)
(J doesn’t have an opinion on this, so she shrugs.)
J: Don’t go through life
With a mind so blind.
Trust your beloved,
But not your love.
It is a feeling; it’s not divine.
Because we are mere mortals
With our helpless flaws
Edged deep into our bones,
We’ll one day feel a little less love
Which will never revise the fact
That is was once, true love.

H: Said Charlie Chaplin:
“As I began to love myself
I refused to go on
Living in the past
And worrying about the future.
Now, I only live for the moment.
Where everything is happening.
Today, I live each day,
Day by day,
And I call it

S:  Speak low if you speak love
Love goes by haps,
Some cupid kills with arrows,
Some with traps.
Love is like a child
That longs for everything it can come by
Love sought is good, but given unsought is better
When in eternal lines to LOVE thou grow’st
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

(playback sound): “If this be error and upon me proved…”
(S, J, H shaking their heads, fingers raised)

I will not be sworn, but may love transform me into an oyster

                                               ~THE END~

Written by Juveria, Srinidhi and Hari Priya
Core Idea: Jhilam Chattaraj