Saturday 15 December 2018

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TV & IT becoming cultural bridges: Karnad

 

Eminent actor and director Girish Karnad has expressed hope that television and computers would bridge a cultural gap between the cities and villages that was created by the British colonialists.

Karnad opened the third Festival of Ideas at the Dinanath Mangeshkar Natya Mandir at Kala Academy in Panaji on 8 February, in the presence of chief minister Digambar Kamat. He spoke extensively on "Colonialism and Culture".

According to Karnad, British created three colonial towns in the country - Mumbai, Kolkata and Madras. New cultural trends emerged in these towns, led by upper caste Brahmins, in the field of theatre, music, painting, dancing, architecture and even publishing literature, at the cost of existing cultural trends of the masses.

He admitted that Globalisation is the new face of colonization in the world today, but still feels that the technological advancement has now started bridging the disparities, created between cities and villages since British rule in the country.

Karnad reminded the audience the fear created about Murdochisation when Rupert Murdoch entered Indian sky with satellite television channels. Instead, regional channels of local Indian languages flourished. Similarly, computers and internet have started bringing cities and villages close to each other, by killing the distance in between.

According to Karnad, towns existed even before the British rule, but with a strong connection with villages. However, the creation of these three colonial towns disconnected itself with village culture and created its own cultural trends, throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. These three trading centres were much different from the existing towns like Delhi, Nagpur etc.

In theatres, says Karnad, the introduction of proscenium (stage at a height and distant from the audience) separated audience from the performers while the concept of selling tickets made art more of a commodity than its aesthetic value. This led to cutting off Indian theatre from it roots and making it an upper caste vocation.

He explained how much the veterans of Indian theatre personalities like Annasaheb Kirloskar, Ram Ganesh Gadkari and Khadilkar were influenced by Shakespeare and how Parsi community started producing Hindi plays on Hindu mythology, written by Muslims.

Similarly, he said, painting became a learning faculty of urban middle class, cutting it off from traditional village artisans. To find its own idiom from materialistic western painting, the modern Indian painting became spiritual, led once again by the upper middle class. Rabindranath Tagore realized this and disassociated himself from this painting trend at later stage, he added.

While dancing profession among Devdasis was leading to prostitution, Karnad pointed out that these colonial towns pulled it out by setting up dancing schools and even introducing modern trends like Bharatnatyam. However, the upper caste leaders of new dancing schools kept the traditional Devdasi artists consciously away from it.

To substantiate it, Karnad cited several dancing trends started by E Krishna Ayer and Rukmini Devi Arundale, who set up Kalakshetra and started Bharatnatyam.

In a similar fashion, Karnad feels that colonization also replaced traditional Indian architecture with European architecture. Though architects like Charles Corriea have recently tried to revive the traditional architecture to some extent, Correia was also not interested into grave-digging - digging into the past and reviving it fully. The trend of disconnecting architecture continued even after independence with former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru inviting Le Corbusier to design Chandigarh. He had specific instructions from Nehru that "it should not be influenced by any tradition of the past."

However, Karnad pointed out that technological advancement has changed the face of Indian culture, by bringing it more close to the masses. With sound coming into films, western films started speaking while Indian films started singing and dancing. The technology of recording music brought it out from four walls of the high class to the masses. Printing and publishing technology took literature to the common people.

And now it's television and computers with internet that has killed the distance between differing cultures. Though he admits that globalization has made our culture hybrid, he refuses to buy an argument that it is becoming vulgar.





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MR KARNAD,

YOU ARE RIGHT EVEN IN THIS AGE , GOA IS NOT HAVING ITS OWN TV CHANNEL.

SO DO ONE CONNECT WITH THE PEOPLE AND ALL VILLAGES.

HOW CAN THE STATE PROGRESS.

I SUPPOSE ALL WE HAVE IS SEX , DRUG AND FENI TO SELL.

VIVA GOA

 
caj , goa

Very true. I wrote in an article published in Herald on Jan 9, 2009:



"A ray of hope was kindled around the turn of the last century. There were leaders with social messages and an overall ‘Indian’ outlook. Mahatma Gandhi even had global outlook. Today, I search around just to know one social leader whose influence transcends boundaries of the state, caste and religion. But the species seems to have become extinct after the Independence. This is the real tragedy in modern India. Fortunately, possibly, things could be changing!

Now, the only social leaders are not humans but Internet and media. It is through Internet that I learnt about how the Stupas built by Buddhist and Jain monks were obliterated or changed into something else by Hindu kings. How, loot and plunder and not religious dominion were the main aims of many of the Muslim invaders.

It was also Internet, which told me that Indian Jain monks and mathematicians had inspired a series of numbers known worldwide as ‘Fibonacci Series’. Without a free Internet this might not have become possible. Through it, knowledge in fields such as medicine, science, art, environment, and history is open to its seekers for their ‘enlightenment’. And yes, in religion, too!

 
Kalidas Sawkar , Goa-India

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