In any fight for the soul of a nation, culture is a battleground. In India too, as Hindutva attempts to obliterate secular, Nehruvian ideals, it has set off seismic waves that have crashed through the worlds of theatre, music, food, literature, cinema and the arena of ideas.
The Magazine section of Scroll has tried to reflect this struggle, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. We wrote, for instance, about the mental scars of the children living in Gujarat’s riot rehabilitation camps as well as the trauma of being non-vegetarian in Ahmedabad. We wrote about the fierce resistance in the verses of Dalit shahirs as well as the dowry death that gave birth to feminist street theatre in India. We wrote about the reformed poachers in an Odisha reserve who were threatening to go back to killing animals as well as the generations of migrants from Rajasthan who have sold tea in Mumbai.
In our archives, you will find stories of struggles not only political but also social and personal. The exasperation of a woman in a society that expects her to have children. The fury of a woman with vitiligo in a nation obsessed with white skin. The frustration of a mother as school WhatsApp groups crush her child’s independence.
We urge you to trawl through our sprawling archives to read the stories that resonate most with you. In the meantime, here are ten articles we think you may enjoy.
Kamayani Sharma walked into a forgotten room of the Ghalib Academy in Delhi and discovered one of the most significant corpuses of mid-century South Asian modern art gathering dust. What was this collection doing in an institution devoted to a 19th century poet? And what relationship did it have to the Indian nation? Sharma answered these and other questions in this fascinating article.
Director Sudhanva Deshpande remembered the martyred cultural icon Safdar Hashmi and the single most important street theatre performance in the history of India.
With the tenacity of a historical investigator, Sujaan Mukherjee went in search of the man who took dehumanising photographs of the Madras famine in the 19th century and found a story of heartless indifference.
Almost every married woman in her 30s is expected by society to want babies with fervour, to pine to be a mother, to conform to the ideal of a “normal” woman. Almost every one of them is asked rude questions by even complete strangers and subjected to offensive comments. What these inquisitors do not realise is that it is all about choice, Chinmayee Manjunath argued in this essay.
G Venkatasubbiah was a towering figure in the world of Kannada letters. A distinguished teacher, editor and translator, his biggest achievement though was the stewardship of a 54-year-long project that gave us an eight-volume, 9,000-page monolingual dictionary – Kannada Sahitya Parishat’s Nighanṭu. Srinath Perur met the man whose name is synonymous with Kannada lexicography.
Unlike in Ramayana, the Shurpanakha of the classical theatre arts and ancient texts of Kerala is not a cardboard vamp. She is a full-blooded being who dares to question the status quo, wrote Malini Nair – her grief, bereavement, envy, desire and anger are raucous.
Architect Smita Dalvi weighed in with an incisive article after the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh asked the director of the blockbuster Bahubali for advice on the possible architecture of the administrative complex of the new state capital Amaravati.
After roughly 100 women agitated outside the Gurgaon office of Urban Company, in what was perhaps India’s first women-led gig workers’ strike, Karishma Mehrotra met the agitators to hear how their dreams of stability and prosperity had turned into a nightmare.
Sanjukta Sharma revisited Peter Brook’s Mahabharata, which celebrated the text as not just a monolithic good-versus-evil morality tale, but as a story about ambivalent, mortal things. Brook “strips down the godly and lays bare the skeletal humanity of the text,” Sharma wrote.
For half a century, KC Paul has been tirelessly trying to convince the world that it is the Sun that revolves around the Earth, not the Earth around the Sun. A self-proclaimed scientist, he is famous for painting distinctive graffiti all over Kolkata with his astronomical declarations and the angst-filled question: “Are journalists and scientists blind?”. Devarsi Ghosh met the man to find out what makes him singular.