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Indian Arts on Film: seminar and screenings

What makes a successful documentary about art? What specific issues arise when translating the visual arts onto film? How far do different cultural contexts require different approaches? This seminar brings together documentary filmmakers and arts theorists from India and UK to explore these questions and discuss a range of approaches. This is followed by screenings of two films by Arun Khopkar, one on the internationally renowned Indian architect, Charles Correa, the other on three leading Indian contemporary artists.

5pm Seminar: Arun Khopkar, Partha Mitter and John Wyver in discussion, chaired by Rosie Thomas

6.30pm Drinks reception in P3 hosted by CREAM India Media Centre

7pm Screenings:

Figures of Thought (p+d Arun Khopkar, 1990, 33 mins), on Bhupen Kakar, Nalini Malani and Vivan Sundaram. Winner of Best Documentary at Athens Film Festival, USA, 1990 and Silver Lotus National Award, 1991  

Volume Zero: The Work of Charles Correa (p+d Arun Khopkar, 2008, 59 mins)  

8.40pm Q&A with filmmaker after the screenings.

The evening is run in partnership with Magic Lantern Foundation, Delhi, LSE, SOAS and Goldsmiths, as part of the Persistence Resistance Film Festival. It also forms part of the CREAM experimental media season at P3 curated by Michael Maziere.

INDIAN ARTS ON FILM – further details.


FIGURES OF THOUGHT (producer and director, Arun Khopkar) English, 33 min, 1990, India

As three artists speak about the specifics of their thematic and structural quests, what emerges is an exposition on the nature of art itself. A film about the works of Bhupen Khakhar, Nalini Malani and Vivan Sundaram, Figures of Thought, is a philosophical inquiry into the formative impulses of these artists as a reflection on art practices. Each of the artists reveals, through their own personal predicaments with their subject-matter, the inflections of form and content over each other and the emergent aesthetics of this. The film is structured to emphasize both the characteristic style of each artist as well the thematic and formal conversations between them. Winner of Best Documentary at Athens Film Festival, USA, 1990 and Silver Lotus National Award, 1991

7.40 pm VOLUME ZERO: THE WORK OF CHARLES CORREA (producer and director, Arun Khopkar) English (subtitled), 59 min, 2008, India

‘Volume Zero’ is an hour-long video on the work and ideas of Charles Correa, one of the world’s most important architects. It deals with his childhood, architectural training, formative years, and the paradigms underlying his large and complex architectural oeuvre spanning over five decades, as well as his pivotal role in addressing issues of urbanization in the Developing World. It uses first person narration by the filmmaker, combined with extended excerpts of interview with Correa, live action, stills, diagrams, animation and archival footage to open up the thought process that generate architectural space and form.


Arun Khopkar is an FTII-trained multi award-winning filmmaker, scholar and teacher, based in Mumbai, who has been making documentary and feature films for more than thirty years. His films on artists have won fifteen national and international awards, including the Golden Lotus, India’s highest national award, on three occasions. His writings include a pioneering book on the filmmaker Guru Dutt.

Partha Mitter is Emeritus Professor of Art History, University of Sussex. An internationally renowned scholar of Indian art history, his publications include Much Maligned Monsters: History of European Reactions to Indian Art (1992), Indian Art (2001) andThe Triumph of Modernism: India's Artists and the Avant-garde 1922-1947(2007).

John Wyver is Senior Research Fellow, University of Westminster, and a producer with the media company Illuminations, which he co-founded in 1982. He has produced and directed numerous arts documentaries and performance films and has won an International Emmy, a BAFTA for the Best Arts Programme and other awards. His writings include Vision On: Film, Television and the Arts, (2007).

Rosie Thomas (Chair) is Director of CREAM and Co-Director of the India Media Centre at University of Westminster. A former documentary television producer making documentaries for Channel Four, her academic research specialism is Indian cinema, on which she has written widely over the years.