September 10, 2011

Use public spaces!

He took out a Givency box from his cotton bag, opened it to take out five photo albums and began to take me through his travels in the United States.
Vasanth is a nationally-recognised cinematographer but he belongs to the era of Padmarajan, Bharathan and Sethumadhavan, famed Malayalam and Tamil film directors.
So, given a camera of whatever make or size, Vasanth is bound to shoot. But the pictures are differently shot and we know why. "It's a very intuitive thing," he says.
There were a few hundred photos of the outdoors in New Orleans, New Jersey and New York.
The unsaid but evident line that ran through almost all the pictures were that they were shots of people in public spaces - in parks and zoos, avenues and beaches.
So much was happening here - buskers in the act, a music band of three entertaining people, teams of two playing a local and simple game, women sunning themselves . . .
Vasanth seemed pleased with the pictures he had taken and wondered if the material he had would make for a good photo exhibition.
That night, I chanced on a short film on BBC World. On the move of civic agencies to restrain buskers and musicians from playing in Central Park, New York.
Musicians said that the move was an infringement of their basic rights, some people said the acts could be restrained and some others, that such shows spoilt the quiet of the open spaces.
In our own neighbourhoods, Chennai Corporation has created lots of open spaces in the past few years but communities do not seem keen to make good use of them.
Whenever amateur musicians of a band seek help, I direct them to these places. The hiring fee is small, the basic facility is okay and if the acts are regular, residents are bound to sit around and enjoy the music or the theatre.
The trend set at Nageswara Rao Park in Luz and the Corporation Park in CIT Colony of holding kutcheris must inspire many others 'take over' public spaces.

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