Sunday, October 13th – 7 pm
Bird & Beckett Litquake Event
at the Vogue Theatre

Mohin’s Horses: South Asian
Oral Literature, Theatre,
Poetry, Music, Film

whittington_mohin_1117poster (2)Sunday, October 13th, 7:00 pm
at the Vogue Theatre
3290 Sacramento Street, at Presidio

Bird & Beckett, in association
with Litquake, presents:

Mohin’s Horses: South Asian Oral Literature, Poetry & Music” 

We’ve put together an exciting program of poetry, theatre, music and film for the opening weekend of Litquake that will feature:

— Playwright Ranjon Ghosal performing a 30-minute segment of his full-length one-man play based on Rabindranath Tagore’s crucial speech titled “The Crisis of Civilisation”, which Tagore delivered just months before his death at age 83.  ranjon ghoshalThe play takes a look at Tagore’s life work and these pivotal thoughts expressed eloquently at the very end, in 1941, as the world teetered on the brink of chaos and collapse.  Tagore saw the problem of the modern world clearly, as the colonization of the mind.

Ranjon Ghosal has traveled from his home in Bangalore in the South Indian state of Karnataka for this event and for a performance of the complete play in the East Bay later the same week.

— Sri Lankan Poetry in Tamil and in English Translation.  In anticipation of a forthcoming anthology from Penguin India, we’ll read poems in Tamil and in English translation rendered by local Tamil scholar Rebecca Whittington.  Editor Kannan M. will be arriving in the Bay Area a few days after our event to present the material at UC Berkeley and other universities around the country before returning to his home in Pondicherry, where he’s a researcher in contemporary Tamil culture.

— Two short music documentaries:
“Endless Journey: The Story of Baul Singer Subal Das”
“Mohiner Ghoraghuli Remembers Gautam Chattopadhyay” 

Baul singer Subal Da

Baul singer Subal Da

The Baul tradition dates back to the 15th century in the east Indian region we now think of as Bengal and Bangladesh.  Bauls are nonmaterialistic wandering mystics, with an oral tradition of storytelling and song that is vast in its cosmology and syncretic in its sources.  One immediately thinks of the Rastafarians of Jamaica when encountering these individuals, though their direct tradition reaches back much farther, or is at least more easily traced.  Tagore in his work was influenced by the Bauls, though he took some their concepts in a much more Western-oriented direction.  Ladly Mukherjee’s 25-minute film “The Endless Journey” is a profile of of one such Baul singer, Subal Das. 

Gautam Chadttopadhyay

Gautam Chadttopadhyay

Bishu Chatterjee’s 11-minute film “Mohiner Ghoraguli Remembers Gautam Chattopadhyay” looks at a musician, songwriter and filmmaker who is now a legendary forefather of much that has happened in Bengali indie rock music in the past couple of decades.  Gautam, with his brothers Pradip and Bishu and their cousin Ranjon Ghosal, were the core of the band Mohiner Ghoraguli (“Mohin’s Horses,” so named from a poem by mid-20th century East Bengali writer Jibonananda Das) — and it was Gautam who was the charismatic and visionary center of the band.  He’s thought of now as a sort of Dylan of his time and era, and did significant work in film and theatre as well as music.  Read about a recent gathering at Kolkata’s Jadavpur University to plumb the significance of Mohiner Ghoraguli by clicking here.

— Live Performance by Bengal & Beyond.  Bassist and composer/songwriter Bishu Chatterjee leads this band, which features renowned Bengal and Beyond-2Carnatic saxophone player Prasant Radhakrishnan as well as drummer Bryan Bowman and vocalist Sharmila Guha.  At once highlighting and merging American jazz, South Indian classical music and the Bengali folk-rock tradition that sprang from the work of Mohiner Ghoraguli in 1970s Kolkata, this band plays an intriguing and rich blend of music that transcends any expectations you might have.  Undoubtedly, Ranjon Ghosal will be enticed to join with his cousin Bishu and Bishu’s colleagues on stage for this performance.