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D’art-supermarket of talents

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Naressa Coutinho tells you why this is a-must read when madness gets a whole new dimension with Madness Mandali.

When I asked them why they’d call themselves Madness Mandali, they thought all their efforts to explain would go in vain, but sitting there with this bunch of art-toons, was in all honesty nothing but a madness mandali. While we indulged in mindless banter, their successful enthralling skills had me believe Benny, one of their team members, when he said “we take rubbish, make some more gangue, and it evolves into something ingenious.” Well that’s exactly how Madness Mandali made their glorious entrance early this year. Take a listen as Paras Sharma, Joel Cohelo, Satish, Eben, Benny and Yorik jabber on.

“It was a culmination of professed ideologies of professors that ignited this fire; the regret of incomplete projects that could have enlightened many more; the restrictions on creative expressions; the meeting up of likeminded people at The Wall Project with a minimum of planning and maximum execution. Our core multihued team of artists, poets, graphic designers, musicians has set the stage for channelising the hesitant talents in our country that need an outlet. This confluence across borders gives vent for creativity, the essence of our being. It’s like a weekend thing or more like a movement. Nobody’s going to ask you to leave your job. So far our projects include a visual poetry book and very soon a unique music project.

In India freedom for the creative arts is a rare sight where only a few make it big. Creativity in India comes at a price. With the compartmental functioning of art galleries, halls and even walls needing government authorisation, most artists would shy away. So madness mandali will make an effort to showcase talents with least possible formalities. Take the example of the self funded photography project of Alliance Française’s Bonjour Mumbai spread across marine drive for all to appreciate. What about that noteworthy installation artist, Anish Kapoor who has specimens of his artistry all over the world except in India. Can we only harbor statues of Maywati, Shivaji Chattrapati and the like? Of course we have the Kala Ghoda festivals and college feasts that give art its podium but is it feasible for all? Our Bandra talao in New York would tell a different story of open art galleries, a tête-à-tête and melting pot of cultures.

As the mouthpiece of the youth we’d like to express our desire for a physical space to express our ideas, hurl-up brainstorms like Caferati’s poetry reading sessions. Nowadays, the only hangouts are the malls and coffee shops. Where are those little corners, sidewalks where we could put up a gig and show off our creativity? Everything lies in the hands of some authority. Most of the art exhibitions happen in town when the suburbs have plenty of empty walls and space. Being a part of The Wall project is great because though unlike overseas where a wall gets painted overnight and graffiti is appreciated, here in India these walls get spit and peed on.

Our project on visual project legitimizes our existence because even blogs go waste with the attention shifting to celebrity bloggers. This illustrative poetry book is just a microcosm of our creative side and an inch towards our greater goal. This compilation required poets from all over India to send in 3 of their best poems, and the chosen poems would be handed to artists to deliver expressionist paintings that would be imprinted on the minds of readers. It’s a platform where already published poets like Annie Zaidi feature in the same book as the lesser-known budding poets. We had our doubts about the feasibility of the book, with all pricy publishing houses, but the self publishing Cinnamon press has had us relieved. So we designed our own manuscripts, pay only for printing which complements our ‘print on demand’ concept, thus minimising loss and cutting out retailer charges which will be given to the artists themselves. Copyrights of each artist is retained which we ensure in a contract. It’s basically low cost entertainment. We avoid plagiarism, maintaining originality, with a colloquial tint simultaneously respecting religious, political and community sentiments.”

So do we really roam with labels in India saying ‘damn the arts’? Madness mandali is all set to resurrect the Dead poet’s society and other forms of artistic expression. Most of these artists after significant pieces still find themselves known less than some second rate actress who is yet to make her début. Can the gen-next stand out like these young artists?

Behind the scenes

Five years down the line we see Aditya Thackeray banning our book. Then we would definitely make it to the front page of the newspapers. Lol! Mumbai Inc.


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