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Broken Spine

“The majority of people believe that Art should have nothing to do with politics or society or economics; what people expect from Art is something beautiful. I do believe I could use Beauty as a strategy; a strategy to pull people into the environments that I make and then let that piece of work unfold itself into many other registers.”Using beauty as a strategy the film takes us through the many registers of Malani’s work from her early drawings of Mumbai’s proletariat, working and living on the streets of Lohar Chawl, to her ambitious (4 giant screens +12 TV monitors) video installation ‘Toba Tek Singh’, a passionate denunciation of the nuclear arms race that India and Pakistan are now engaged in.Between the photocopied books that were produced from the Lohar Chawl drawings and ‘ Toba Tek Singh’, the film takes us through her collaborations in theatrical adaptations of ‘ The Job’, by Bertolt Brecht and Heiner Muller’s adaptation of ‘Medea’ for which she created room high drawings paintings and installations.

The broken spine, a recurring symbol in Malani’s work, was first used in Medea to express the dehumanizing effect of colonization. It subsequently came to stand for the conquest of the forces of Thanatos against Eros, which became an obsessive theme with Malani.


The film’s music track which weaves an ardent rendering of the Bhakti saint Kabir’s iconoclastic lyrics with snatches of jazz and contemporary music adds to the many registers of Malani’s Art.

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