ARCUREA features multiple exhibitions covering diverse aspects of cinema. These curated displays highlight projects like Madhusree Dutta’s Project Cinema City, Anuja Ghosalkar’s anecdotes of her grandfather, a makeup artist, and a sound-booth featuring oral histories from NFDC-NFAI archives. Together they exhibit the wealth of archival resources on Indian cinema and innovative methods to share this knowledge. Through multimedia presentations, ARCUREA broadens its scope beyond film screenings and discussions, aiming to engage audiences with expanded  experiences.

Project Cinema City

An invigorating exhibition of 19 reimagined date-calendars by various artists under Project Cinema City. Project Cinema City was an art project on public culture. The project propagated free access to public culture material. It sought to renegotiate the process of iconization of images in the public domain through the 20th century.

Curated by Madhusree Dutta, filmmaker, author and curator.

Madhusree Dutta, a filmmaker and curator, specialises in documentary practices, urbanology, interdisciplinary archiving, and public culture. She founded Majlis, a Mumbai-based centre for rights discourse and art initiatives, serving as director from 1998 to 2016. Additionally, she was the artistic director of the Academy of the Arts of the World in Cologne, Germany, from 2018 to 2021. Dutta has curated numerous cultural projects, including Expression, India’s first festival on feminist arts, and Culture@WSF for the World Social Forum. Notable among her curatorial endeavours is Project Cinema City: Research Art and Documentary Practices (2009-2013), a multi-disciplinary project premiered at Berlinale in 2010. Her significant curations for the Academy of the Arts of the World (Akademie der Künste der Welt) include Copy It: only for those who have sinned – stolen or copied books (2019), and Film-Work (2020). Dutta has served on juries for international film festivals such as Berlinale Shorts and IDSFFK. She has authored several books on cinema, including dates.sites: Bombay Mumbai (2012) and Project Cinema City (co-edited) (2014); Fake Hybrid Sites Palimpsest: essays on leakages (2022) and How to Make Female Action Heroes (2023).

Listen, The Photos Speak

Photos and stories of my grandfather- a make-up artist in the Bombay film industry from 1948-1995

In 2007, Anuja recorded the stories of her maternal grandfather, Ram Tipnis, the oldest living Hindi cinema make-up artist at the time. He recounted experiences from his father’s travelling theatre company, his trips abroad, and the many stories of his life as a make-up artist from 1948 to 1995. The anecdotes are enlivened by trophies and memorabilia such as a hanging figurine of Dharmendra in Jugnu, black-and-white photographs with Dilip Kumar at Filmistan Studio, and working stills from Shammi Kapoor’s films, as he was Kapoor’s personal make-up artist for 20 years. This exhibition is an embodiment of Anuja’s desire to gain insight into her legacy, and record the memories of a much-forgotten technician, whose remarkable tales could hopefully, someday, become part of Indian film history.

Curated by Anuja Ghosalkar, actor, writer, and director.

Anuja Ghosalkar is the founder of Drama Queen, a Documentary Theatre company, in India since 2015. Her multi-disciplinary practice extends the idea of theatre to create audacious work, with a focus on little histories, archival lapses and blurring the hierarchies between audience and performer. Critical to her performance making and pedagogy are iterations around form and process, modes of media, sites, technologies and narratives on gender and intimacy. Her performances, lectures, workshops have been programmed by University of Oxford, Hong Kong University, University of Cambridge, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Sophiensale, Museum of Art and Photography, Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, National Centre for Biological Sciences, among others. As visiting faculty at many art institutes, she leads practice-based pedagogy and has written on film and performance for Forum Modernes Theater, Routledge, Outlook India, Nang Magazine.

Photos courtesy: Personal collection of Nayana Ghosalkar.

The Quondam Phone

by Moumita Roy and Sukanta Majumdar

In 1874, Alexander Graham Bell and Clarence Blake constructed the direct ancestor of the telephone – the ear phonautograph. It produced tracings of sound on a sheet of smoked glass. After speaking, users could immediately see the tracings of their speech.

A telephone is not only a communication device; it makes the sound, an ephemeral material, somehow tangible by bringing it so close to us.    

The quondam phone takes us to the voices of the pioneering film artists who have contributed to the growth and development of cinema in India. The user can dial a number and hear them talking from the past. The audio interviews used to create the experience are done under the oral history project, a part of National Film Archive of India (NFDC-NFAI) research programme, and are more than four decades old. 

Technical collaboration with Baijayanta Roy, Somen Biswas