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Gayathri Prabhu - book author

Gayathri Prabhu is the author of four novels and a memoir: 'Vetaal and Vikram' (HarperCollins, 2019), 'If I Had to Tell It Again' (HarperCollins, 2017), 'The Untitled' (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, 2016), 'Birdswim Fishfly' (Rupa, 2006) and Maya (Indialog, 2003). She presently teaches literary studies at the Manipal Centre for Humanities.

Gayathri Prabhu is the author of books: If I Had to Tell It Again, Vetaal and Vikram: Riddles of the Undead, The Untitled, Maya, Birdswim, Fishfly, Shadow Craft: Visual Aesthetics of Black and White Hindi Cinema

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01
Sixty-six years of a lifetime gone. There would be no funeral. He had donated his body to the local medical college. It was part of his script, his fantasy about death. He would show his hospital donation certificate to anyone who came to our house. No rituals for me, he would announce. To his mind there was some justice in being cut up by medical students. He had wanted to be a doctor. There is his corpse, lying on the floor, people constantly milling around, talking about his untimely, unfortunate death, while I stare at everyone in dry-eyed annoyance. He had always been a popular man, much loved, generous to a fault to his neighbours, even if angry towards his own family. I just want him gone from the house. When the van from the morgue comes to pick him up, everyone urges us to touch his feet, to ask for his blessings. It is expected from children of dead parents. Everyone watches us. You first, an old man points to me, my father s first-born. I bend down, my fingers touch his feet. In my mind the words form, loud and distinct I forgive you.
02
'This riddle can end in two ways: speech and defeat, or silence and death.' Vetaal and Vikram is a playful retelling of one of India's most celebrated cycles of stories. The narrative of King Vikram and the Vetaal is located within the Kathasaritsagara, an eleventh-century Sanskrit text. The Vetaal who is neither living nor dead is a consummate storyteller, and Vikram is a listener who can neither speak nor stay silent. Together they are destined to walk a labyrinth of stories in the course of a moonless night in a cremation ground. In 1870, eleven of the Vetaal's stories were adapted to English by the famed scholar-explorer Richard Francis Burton who tailored them to his audience's gothic taste. Vetaal and Vikram is a contemporary response that includes Burton within its storytelling folds. Fantastical and delightful, this retelling dissolves the lines between speaker and listener, desire and duty, life and death.
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Novel set in contemporary India. by author of prize-winning book, Maya
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The years between Indian independence (1947) and the dominance of colour cinema (early 1960s) saw the emergence and fruition of a distinct, confident, and nuanced black and white aesthetic in Hindi mainstream cinema. Shadow Craft is an ardent and immersive study of cinematic craftings that emblematise the oeuvres of Kamal Amrohi, Raj Kapoor, Nutan, Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt, and Abrar Alvi. Films such as Aag (1948), Mahal (1949), Seema (1955), Pyaasa (1957), Sujata (1959), Kagaz Ke Phool (1959), Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962), Bandini (1963) remain formative to the visual psyche of generations of South Asian viewers. This enduring visual language demonstrates a minutely attuned and sympathetic camera, evocative pools of shadow, affect-rich atmospheric composition, and the visual autonomy of performance.
With seventy five rare and curated images from the archives, Shadow Craft offers for the first time a consolidated and intimate journey through this pioneering black and white cinema aesthetic at its most expressive and climactic moment.