Sunil Janah’s Photographing India reminded me of Dziga Vertov’s Man With A Movie Camera. The photographer protagonist in the Russian avantgarde filmmaker’s iconic documentary is constantly on the move—shooting on the road; in the mines; at the dam; inside a factory; by the sea; in a park; or in a playground. Cranking his camera, he goes around tirelessly documenting the lives of Russia’s men and women, and the rhythm of its cities. Similarities between the film and Janah’s work just don’t end here.
Even after 66 years of Independence, it is difficult to imagine an India devoid of rules governing what can or cannot be publicly or creatively expressed, a scenario that could be described, for want of a better descriptive palate, as an agonizingly prevalent and multifaceted ‘culture of censorship’.
The back cover often plays an important role in the reader’s journey from picking up the book from a stack to making it to its last page. It’s so important that many a book and blog have been written for helping writers and publishers write the perfect back page, or ‘creating a killer back cover.’
Niraja Gopal Jayal’s Citizenship and Its Discontents: An Indian History presents what she variously calls a history of ideas, a genealogy, or a biography of citizenship in India. Standing as the proxy for ‘the Indian people’, citizenship is the tragic protagonist of her story. Every story of citizenship is, necessarily, also a story of the state.