Conversations with cultural icons | Deccan Herald

Conversations with cultural icons | Deccan Herald

Journalist, author and art consultant Alka Raghuvanshi was working on a book called A Moment in Time with the Legends of Indian Arts when she passed away in May last year.

A compilation of Raghuvanshi’s interactions with cultural icons like MF Hussain, Manjit Bawa, Krishen Khanna, J. Swaminathan, Satish Gujral and others, many of these interviews were done when she was an art editor with two leading dailies.

In a poignant tribute, Manisha Gawande, the youngest of Raghuvanshi’s siblings, took on the task of the designing and editing of the book and readying it for publication.

“The project was extremely close to my sister’s heart, and the conversations with the featured artists are intimate and informative since she knew most of them personally,” said Gawande. “Despite the challenging nature of the endeavor, she felt a responsibility to record the journeys of these maestros for future generations.”

“Many artists featured in the book like MS Subbulakshmi, MF Hussain and Pandit Jasraj are no longer alive. However, people like Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Balamurali Krishna and Krishen Khanna, who are still with us, have appreciated Alka’s endeavor.”

For Gawande, the book was a huge responsibility and an emotionally draining experience.

“This historical compilation of artists of this era in a single book is a valuable effort,” said Gawande. “Alka was so invested in this book that she used to have long discussions with my father, a journalist, and other artists to gain insights for this book.”

The book launch was held on Raghuvanshi’s first death anniversary on May 26 at the Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, Delhi. Senior members of the art fraternity and friends and well-wishers of Raghuvanshi like Raja Radha Reddy, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Sharon Lowen and Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar were present at the event. The evening was an amalgamation of several art forms, dance, music, painting and even a fashion presentation of clothes designed by Raghuvanshi.

“In the book, we have a sensitive portrayal of the lives of 26 of the most prominent artists of the last century who represented the greatness of our culture,” said Odissi exponent Sharon Lowen. “This book brings them into the collective consciousness. This is what we call the intangible culture of our country.”

A Moment in Time with the Legends of Indian Arts by Alka Raghuvanshi is published by Shubhi Books and priced at Rs 2,495.

(The author is a lifestyle, celebrity, and travel feature writer who has worked in a senior capacity with leading publishing houses.)