Time and again, between snarling at traffic and coughing at pollution, you recognise that Bengaluru is quite the beautiful city. Harbouring the dreams of eight million people on its congested earth, the city’s spaces are crammed with its living culture and the regular throb of the memories it creates. The India Foundation for the Arts’ Project 560 aims to celebrate just that and in the next four months, its six grantees will be infusing the iconic spaces of the city with arts of different sorts. We take a look at the stories that have inspired the spaces and the people who will be working in them.
For Mangala N, her favourite haunt Vidyarthi Bhavan was always destined to be ‘the’ space. A student of Kannada literature, Mangala says, “From the lore of its iconic Friday holiday to the fact that the greats of Bengaluru’s thinkers and writers used to sit hunched over these tables to discuss matters – this Basavanagudi hideout is synonymous to old Bengaluru. My performance will take a trip into their world. Had Gundappa been alive and travelled from his Malleswaram home to VB today, what would he have done? What would he have discussed?”
Take Sethurao Ramnatha, for instance. Once a student of the legendary BV Karanth, Ramnatha will be transforming the space of Karanth’s now deserted home in Girinagar. He says, “I have been Karanth’s student for seven years and his house is empty now. I will try to create Karanth in his natural habitat — so that the space becomes him. I am now looking for an actor to portray his role in a theatre performance.”
Being a poetess, Pratibha Nandakumar is drawn to cafes with an intrinsic pull. The word weaver says, “I have performed many a time at cafes in Europe, but in this city, the chai café is a different deal. I will take a look at these urban waterholes, with ironic names like ‘Brahmanara Coffee Bar’ and organise a poetry reading of a different sort.”
Joining in this league is Bharatanatyam danseuse Anuradha Venkataraman. A familiar name in the city’s cultural circuit, Anuradha was intrigued by the Bengaluru museum’s section dedicated to wars. She says, “What is the significance of war in the time and space that we are inhabiting now? There is an inherent dichotomy in the inevitability of war and the wreck it causes that resonates in the chaos of city living. I will be dancing with two others and two actors will join in the performance at the museum.”