Friday, January 13, 2012

The TOTO Awards, 2012: Results

Toto Funds the Arts (TFA) announced its eighth annual awards for young writers, photographers and musicians at a function held at Alliance Francaise de Bangalore, on Thursday, 12 January 2012.  Poet, columnist and entrepreneur Jaithirth (Jerry) Rao was the Chief Guest.

MUSIC (one award, Rs 50,000) (no. of applications: 35)

The three jurors were: poet, novelist and musician Jeet Thayil; ethnomusicologist and Western classical violinist, Chloe L. Coventry; and Samar Grewal, music editor, writer and composer for theatre productions and short films.  Arjun Ravi, well-known musician, music journalist and founder-editor of Indiecision and co-founder of India's biggest  music discovery platform, and his NH7 team created the long-list.


Eight applicants were long-listed:

Dualist Inquiry (Sahej Bakshi, New Delhi), Goddess Gagged (Krishna Jhaveri, Mumbai), Dhruv Visvanath (individual musician, New Delhi), Adam and the Fish Eyed Poets (Kishore Krishna, Chennai), Noush Like Sploosh (Anoushka Anand, Mumbai), Scribe (Mumbai), Peter Cat Recording Co. (New Delhi),
The Shakey Rays (Chennai)


Four applicants were short-listed:

Adam and the Fish Eyed Poets
Peter Cat Recording Co.
Noush Like Sploosh
Dualist Inquiry

The award went to Peter Cat Recording Co. from New Delhi.  

General Comments:

Arjun Ravi: “Having followed and being associated with TFA in the past, I must say that in my opinion, the jury this year has the toughest job of any jury in TFA history. The long-list candidates we've picked are incredibly talented artists with fantastic potential to become this country's next big indie stars.”
Jurors:  “With bands like Peter Cat Recording Company around, instances one finds oneself thoughtlessly lamenting the many platitudes of the 'Indian band sound' will surely come rarer. As most of the eight entries long-listed this year showed us, sound, whatever it may have been, is in for an overhaul in the coming years. Let these guys show the way.”

About Peter Cat, the jurors said:

“How to bell this cat called Peter? This petulant enfant blowing raspberries at us. This languid diva, weary and bored. This frenzied punk. This alchemist of noise.

“A number of questions came up while considering this band for this award. The sound: Has it been done before? Aren't they just riding a wave? The lyrics: What are they really talking about? The band itself: Are they big pretenders? Are they even in tune! The answers, which came easy to some of us on the jury and slowly to others, like one of their whimsical dirges, made the questions fade away.

“It is our humble and considered opinion that Peter Cat Recording Company is one of the most important young bands working out of India today. Their tunes hum really well, they are beguilingly simple and with an instinctive grip on songcraft, they keep the emphasis, like most good music, fixed firmly on melody and lyric despite the devices inherent to their oeuvre. They are proof that when it comes to breaking new ground, grit and conviction are as important as skill. Having scrutinized this year's entries many times over with help from the folks at NH7, we can safely say that this is quite evidently easier said than done.

“The jury hopes, with this award, to encourage Peter Cat to also take their music to other places. If we may nudge a bit: past the lazy cabaret, waltzing up the road towards the kind of vitality and elusive art that runs through songs like 'I've Got Roses', 'Don't Rape My Baby' and the undeniable live rendition of 'Love Demons', siren, harmonium and all.

CREATIVE WRITING IN KANNADA (one award, Rs 25,000) (no. of applications: 89)

The three jurors were: Vivek Shanbhag (fiction writer and editor of Deshakaala), M. S. Ashadevi (critic and teacher of Kannada literature) and critic, short-story writer and novelist K. Satyanarayana.

There was no long list.  There were three applicants on the short list.

Short List

Sushrutha Dodderi (Bangalore), Kavya P. Kadame (Hubli), Dr Kanaada Raaghava (Bangalore)

The award went to Kavya Kadame for her poetry.

Jurors general remarks:

““This year's entries came from various parts of Karnataka with diversity of themes and sharp articulation. Contrary to the common belief that the short story form in Kannada is richly vibrant and highly experimental in nature, poetry gained dominance in these entries. Even those writings that qualified for the final round were mostly from the genre of poetry—they displayed skill and maturity.
            It's a rare opportunity to read the writings of youngsters, and the Toto Award provides a sneak preview of new writings in Kannada.”
Remarks on Kavya Kadame

About Kavya’s poetry, the jurors said: ““the most fundamental marker of genuine poetry is the love of language. If language makes for the body of the text, it also becomes the voice. If novelty can be termed transformed perception, it is inevitable that language becomes its partner. The poems in this anthology draw the reader’s attention for these very reasons. The manner in which the poems cobble together ideas and forge unanticipated dimensions, determines that ‘search’ forms their core concern. The most commonly noticed ‘hurry’ to grab everything and to thereon wallow in the illusion of success is absent in these poems.  The youthfulness and spontaneity of the poems do not take away from it the dignity of emotions. The collection, therefore, heralds the arrival of a true poet.“

CREATIVE WRITING IN ENGLISH (two awards, Rs 25,000 each) (no. of applications: 178)
Supported by Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions’ Art Grant

The three jurors were: poet, short story writer, novelist and Books Editor of The Caravan, Anjum Hasan; poet and editor of Almost Island, Vivek Narayanan; and poet Sridala Swami.

Long List

There were 29 applicants on the long-list.  They were:

Aditi Rao, Sharanya Manivannan, , Samhita Arni, Joshua Muyiwa,  Sriya Narayanan, Amita Basu,  Kaushik Viswanath, Rohan Chhetri,   Trisha Bora, Nandan Rosario, Pali Tripathi, Meghna Srinivas, Sushumna Patel, Manasi Subramaniam,  Deeptesh Sen, Anushka Jasraj, Rishiraj Verma, Tashan Mehta, Pervin Chhapkhanawala, Adithya Pillai, Kamayani Sharma, Varsha Seshan, Tanvi Srivastava, Madhura Birdi, Praveena Shivram, Shalim M Hussain, Chanakya Vyas, Prashant Prakash, Ramneek Singh


Five applicants made it to the shortlist. They were:

Rohan Chhetri (New Delhi), Sriya Narayanan (Chennai), Ramneek Singh (Bangalore), Kaushik Viswanath (Chennai), Joshua Muyiwa (Bangalore)


The awards went to Ramneek Singh and Joshua Muyiwa. Ramneek received the award for his play The Cage of Sparrows , while Joshua won his for his 9-part poem The Photographer and the Poet.   

Jurors general remarks:

“We did not try to evaluate the entries based on any single set of criteria or prescriptions; rather, we were interested in the pieces that were able to define their own rules, be distinctive, original and confident in their vision of the world and of literature.  In this sense, we must also have been influenced by some entrants' ability to choose the best, and only the best, of their own work to send.
We considered four plays, of which one has won the TFA prize. Another was promising, but we thought it was somewhat derivative. Many of the stories allowed a random series of thoughts and observations to masquerade as short stories; more often than not, stories with potential were ruined by trite or abrupt endings. The poetry entries were promising and in another year might have fared better.”

Ramneek Singh: The Cage of Sparrows shows huge performative potential. The scenes are well-paced and the characters memorable. It was not hard to hear the Punjabi and the Hindi inflections behind the words of the dialogue. There’s a strong sense of place – of rural Punjab – and the recent history of the people. This is a sophisticated script, very absorbing as a piece of writing, but also clearly meant to be watched.”

“With stagecraft more frequently taking on the techniques of cinema, it was not surprising that the judges thought this read more like a film script than a play; this is not a bad thing and perhaps even indicates a new direction in writing for the theatre that answers a demand for something beyond the proscenium stage.”

Joshua Muyiwa: The Photographer and The Poet sequence is a fearless and ambitious piece of work. It is allusive, certainly; elusive a lot of the time, but always deeply felt, the intelligence of the poet shining through every poem. There’s a carefully choreographed progression of a relationship between two people and between the history of photography and the gaze of the poet. Not only does the poet refrain from making these ekphrases merely a series of descriptions of images, s/he also manages to sustain a difficult set of questions and propositions through nine poems.  There is something of Roland Barthes and Anne Carson in these poems.

‘By virtue of our choices we become photographers or poets’, the poet says in the last poem, with the merest hint of mischief: as these poems show, it is possible to claim the photograph through the poem and be either and both at once.

PHOTOGRAPHY (two awards of Rs 25,000 each) (no. of applications: 89)
in association with TASVEER

The three jurors were filmmaker Sumantro Ghosal, Nathaniel Gaskell, who worked for various photography galleries in the UK and Australia before joining Tasveer in 2010, and Abhishek Poddar, the inspiration behind Tasveer, which is dedicated to promoting contemporary photography.


There were 18 applicants on the long-list. They were:

Shilpa Gavane, Kannagi Khanna, Sagar Shiriskar, Adil Hasan, Chandan Gomes, Tusha Bhatia, Yogesh Chiplunkar, Indu Antony, Tanmoy Nayak, Ankit Goyal, Imran Ahmed, Kanika Sharma, Nishant Ratnakar, Ujjwal Agarwal, Siddharth S. Dharamjit, Arvind Caulagi, Ishaan Dixit, Saloni Agarwal


Four applicants made it to the short-list. They were:

Kannagi Khanna (Ahmedabad),  Adil Hasan (Gurgaon), Indu Antony (Bangalore), Ankit Goyal (Dehradun)


The awards were won by Adil Hasan (Gurgaon) and Indu Antony (Bangalore).

Jurors’ general remarks:

Commenting on the entries for the awards, the jury said, “The selection process for the Toto photography award has been an inspirational, tough and hugely enjoyable process. This year’s entries have been distinctive for their intelligent and thoughtful approach to the medium. We were happy to see that many applicants looked beyond the surface of the photograph, and used their cameras to explore and reflect on a wide range of interesting issues and events prevalent in the country today. Contemporary photography in India is going from strength to strength, and we're proud to be a part of these awards which gives promising emerging artists recognition as they begin their careers.”

Adil Hasan:  “Often a good idea remains just that; the lack of craft (or, too much of it) is an impediment to translating the idea into effective photographs. For me, this is where the TV series emphatically succeeds over several of the other entries. The pictures challenge you both as idea and as inventive expressions of it. That is why the series demands more than a cursory viewing. And, in my opinion, the top prize.”

“The TV series is a pertinent body of work which examines the intrusive
role of the television in the modern world. In these photographs the
television becomes a sinister and all-pervasive device which
infiltrates and transforms our perception and experience of urban and
domestic spaces.”

Indu Antony:  “'The Broken Strings' is a series of exceptional quality and it moves us in a way that only photography can. The camera's gaze is one of respectful sympathy, instilling the subjects with a thoughtful dignity, whilst touching us with the desperate nature of their situation. A subject such as this demands a sensitive approach and it is a rare thing to see this accomplished so well.”

"The Broken Strings" is powerful and moving. While I was riveted by the series as a set of extraordinary ‘depictions’, I found it unsettling to detach myself enough to appraise the ‘aesthetics’ of the work. By forcing an engagement that is both compelling and uncomfortable, "The Broken Strings" gets my vote as the second winner.”

TFA will invite applications for the 2013 awards in July-August 2013.


No comments: