‘Colours of Absence’ is a film based on the life and work of Jehangir Sabavala directed by Arun Khopkar. Khopkar is a film-maker and writer deeply engaged with the work of other artists. He shared his thoughts on the elusive nature of art-making and the aesthetic experience of his craft. The film provides yet another perspective on the exhibition “Unpacking the Studio: Celebrating the Jehangir Sabavala Bequest”.
The filmmaker was in conversation with cultural theorist and curator of ‘Unpacking the Studio’ Ranjit Hoskote post the screening of the film.
Arun Khopkar is an award winning filmmaker based in Mumbai who has directed two feature and several non-feature films that have won awards globally. He is also a three time recipient of the Golden Lotus, the highest National Film Award for his short films. He is also an engaged film scholar, teaching theory and practices at academic institutes and has contributed theoretical papers about film aesthetics amongst other subjects to both national and international journals. His book on Guru Dutt in Marathi has won a National Award for the best book on cinema. A graduate in film direction from FTII, in 1974, Arun Khopkar’s short films are outstanding examples of interaction between cinema and the other art forms. Khopkar’s varied interests in music, art, dance, poetry and architecture amongst others find a cinematic expression in his films. His films do not simply “document” the art forms and the individual artist’s work in the same but rather as he says, “Common to all my films on art is an effort to use the language of cinema -variable lighting, lensing, camera movements and the rhythm of montage- to bring out those aspects of my themes, which are not on the surface.
Ranjit Hoskote is a cultural theorist, curator and poet based in Mumbai. He is the author of 30 books, including a biography of Jehangir Sabavala, Pilgrim, Exile, Sorcerer (Eminence Designs, 1998), and numerous monographs, among them The Complicit Observer: The Art of Sudhir Patwardhan (Eminence Designs, 2004), Zinny & Maidagan: Compartment/ Das Abteil (Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt/ Walther König, 2010), and Atul Dodiya (Prestel, 2014). With Nancy Adajania, he is co-author of The Dialogues Series (Popular, 2011), an unfolding programme of conversations with artists. With Maria Hlavajova, he is editor of Future Publics: A Critical Reader in Contemporary Art (BAK/Valiz, 2015).
Hoskote curated India’s first-ever national pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2011), co-curated the 7th Gwangju Biennale (2008), and was co-convenor of Documents, Constellations, Prospects (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2013). His exhibitions include Bombay: Labyrinth/ Laboratory (Japan Foundation, Tokyo, 2001), a mid-career retrospective of Atul Dodiya; Jehangir Sabavala, a lifetime retrospective (NGMA Mumbai & Delhi, 2005-2006); Unpacking the Studio: Celebrating the Jehangir Sabavala Bequest (CSMVS/ JNAF, 2015), and No Parsi is an Island (with Nancy Adajania; NGMA Mumbai, 2013 & NGMA Delhi, 2016).