Thursday, January 31, 2013

Jury Citations for Winning and Shortlisted Entries for the Toto Awards for Photography 2013

The jurors for the Toto Awards for Photography 2013 were photographer Ryan Lobo, art critic Giridhar Khasnis, and Nathaniel Gaskell, curator and creative director at Tasveer. 


We were pleased to note that a number of people are trying to think about photography in new ways – trying to uncover its capacity not only to hold a mirror up to the world, but to also comment upon, reveal and critique that world too. This is where photography is at its most powerful and we’re glad to see that the younger generation of photographers in India is working in this way.

Nikhil Patel (Winner) for 'Surface with Memories'

This series first caught the judge’s attention for its unusual and creative presentation. The work physically layers two images on top of each other to create poignant juxtapositions. Two time frames exist simultaneously and the photographer has used this device to comment on the changing urban landscape in India. The nostalgia we feel when we witness old places being transformed into new places is common in all of us, and we found this series of photographs a thoughtful lament on this process. In an age of digital technology, this project could have been easily achieved on a computer. However, the tactile nature of the collages encourages a more human reading of the photographer’s concept, emphasizing the power of a simple idea.

Niha Masih (Winner) for 'Heart of Darkness' 

We found 'Heart of Darkness' series to be evocative, powerful and disturbing with a moral centre to its expression. What we also appreciated about it is that the photographer used a literary title to describe his own work. 'Heart of Darkness' is the title of Conrad's book about a man traveling down a river looking for a monster of sorts, with all the excuses people use to reduce their own culpability. The protagonist finally finds instead a reflection of his own dark self. Conrad revealed the horror of colonialism and the dark violence that exists in human nature with his writing. This photographer has made photographs in diptych form to tell a larger story, not excluding himself/herself or our own larger responsibility and connectedness from the same story.

Shuvankur Ghosh (Jury Commendation) for 'Urban Gypsies' 

'Urban Gypsies' is a hard-hitting piece of photojournalism. The judges were impressed by the direct, honest and straight-up expose of a serious issue. Whilst contemporary photography may have moved beyond the black and white documentary genre, this series acts as a reminder that this method of image making is unmatched in its ability to encourage empathy and understanding on behalf of the viewer. The series may deal specifically with displaced people in Kolkata, but it also reveals and exposes an issue prevalent across the whole country, and on the strength of this, the judges wanted to recognize the series, and commend the photographer.

Soumita Bhattacharya (Jury Commendation) for 'Body City-scape'

The judges liked this series for the questions it seems to ask the viewer; it hints at certain narratives without completely revealing them - making it playful, ambiguous and full of possible meanings. Each staged image from the series is technically strong and whilst humorous, one gets the sense of an intellectual curious and ambitious photographer whose future projects we greatly look forward to seeing.

Jury Citations for Winning and Shortlisted Entries for the Toto Award for Music 2013

The jury for the Toto Award for Music 2013 were

1. Miti Adhikari: Veteran producer/sound-engineer with the BBC over the last three decades, he is originally from Kolkata and has worked with legendary acts such as Nirvana, Radiohead, and Pink Floyd. In recent times, he's been getting very interested in the indie music scene in India. 

2. Uday Benegal: He's the singer front man with one of the first Indian rock bands to make it to the big time in the 90s, Indus Creed. After spending some time as a performing musician in the US, he returned to form the Whirling Kalapas and is now working on new material with Indus Creed. 

Their comments on the winning and shortlisted entries for this award are below:

Adam and the Fish-eyed Poets (Winner)

1. Dark and intense but uplifting music.I would love to see and experience them live.This is more than just music, it fires on many levels.Kishore Krishna …. One of the best rock’n’roll singers I’ve heard …..anywhere.

2. These guys slam. What a great voice and style. My only complaint is that they programmed drums instead of recording a live kit, not a difficult thing to do these days. Usually that’s a big turn-off for me but I dug the material so much that I was willing to look beyond it. This is the kind of stuff that makes indie music so much fun to listen to. It’s visceral and expressive and cathartic. I love the singer as well as the rest of the band—some great ideas there—but next time record live drums, fellers. It’ll take your music to the places it’s meant to go.

Tejas Menon (Special Mention)

When I was asked to write a few lines of a notable contributor who didn’t win this year, I chose to highlight Tejas Menon’s work. I loved listening to Tejas from the moment I hit ‘play’. He has a strong and individual voice as well guitar-playing style. Tejas is still raw in parts…and that’s a good thing. Because his foundation is solid and potential limitless. The more he plays and finds his voice (he already has it but just needs to go deeper, I think), he will be able to forge his craft and a style that will truly be his own.

Blek (Special Mention)

One of the best 3 piece bands in India… Punk attitude with electronic textures… Recalls the best British-bands of the 90’s…”

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jury Citations for Winning and Shortlisted Entries for the Toto Award for Creative Writing (Kannada) 2013

The jurors for the Toto Award 2013 for Creative Writing (Kannada) were well-known writer M.S. Sriram and renowned critic S.R. Vijayashankara.

Below are their comments on the winning and shortlisted entries for the award: 

D.M. Kurke Prashanth (Winner) for his short fiction
The richness of narration tilted the balance towards the final winner. The author has a message to convey, through a fairly simple story. S/he seems to have the innate art of storytelling. There is a good measure of humour, pathos and liveliness and a positive attitude the writing. The story is about a newsreader in a radio station whose voice reminds an old couple about their own son who is away. The relationship that evolves between the newsreader and the family as the story unfolds and the human emotions that are dealt with are interesting and humane. As the writer continues on this literary journey we believe that s/he will also develop the skill of being less explicit, more subtle and also greatly artistic in approach.

Shwetha G.N. (Jury Commendation) for her short fiction

The writer has picked up complex themes and tried to weave them into relevant stories – a larger phenomenon that would affect the immediate. This is something that needs to be seen in full manifestation. S/he seems to believe that fiction could be written with a premeditated conclusion, an act of message giving. We expect this writer to mature into someone using his/her skills to greater artistic purpose.

Smitha Makalli (Jury Commendation) for her poems

The writer's poems have a certain lyrical quality; they examine complex relationships and have good imagery. We feel optimistic that s/he will master the grammar and craft of poetry as s/he matures.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Jury Citations for the Winning and Shortlisted Entries for the Toto Awards for Creative Writing (English) 2013

The jurors for the Toto Awards 2013 for Creative Writing (English) were poet, writer and editor Anjum Katyal; poet and novelist Jerry Pinto; and literary and theatre critic and commentator Devina Dutt.
Below are their comments on the winning and shortlisted entries for these awards: 
Swetanshu Bora (Winner) for his play ‘Pagdi’
  1. This is a powerful piece in its direct, understated tone. The choice of first person narrative to describe an emotional rite of passage works well. The language is simple, taut, very verbal in its rhythms and pauses, which suits the monologue form. Yet it is also descriptive, with sudden strong images. An emotional piece, without being sentimental or maudlin. The character of the protagonist is fully fleshed, believable, very human.
  2. Pagdi, starts off with a tremendous visual of an open suitcase with several neatly folded turbans. Serving as predominant image and metaphor, the turbans become a point of convergence as well as silent backdrop for the many painfully delicate, emotional cross currents that rush through this deceptively spare play. This is a narrative of change which spans generations, cities and even different times of recent Indian history all of which are told with sensitivity but without ever hitting a false note or lapsing into everyday sentimentality. The depictions of change in small towns are peppered with the minutiae of a specific community, a device which is not overused and therefore the story is completely universal in the telling. Since nothing seems forced or manipulated there is no question of compassion fatigue setting in either even when we begin to sense what the play is really about. I was also struck by the way in which the narrator alternates between alienation and empathy while talking about his father and even in his description of the politics of the genocide. The portrait of the father demonstrates the measure of the writer. Balancing contradictory and competing emotions in a style where hyper naturalism is delicately inflected with surrealism, this is an impressive piece of writing.
  3. Pagdi has the potential to become an intriguing and interesting play. It has a relentless honesty, and is the theatrical version of a bildungsroman in which growth is telescoped through political tragedy.
Aditi Rao (Winner) for her series of poems
  1. Poignant and yet controlled, full of loss and yearning, full of powerful images, unexpected word combinations. There is a maturity and confidence in the use of language, repetition, desi words, whimsy. The poems here are quite varied in terms of subject matter, from what read like love poems to political comment.”
  2. The poems have been crafted with a sense of travel, places, identity and shifting interior landscapes which emerge from a well judged idea for each poem. This is poetry which is dense enough to carry the weight of many worlds and many disciplines and also resonant enough to give us an experience and nature of what it is to travel through those worlds. The poems are fluid and often seem to me to be describing a point of departure for the poet who is sometimes a survivor and sometimes a traveller, with the gift of observation and a knowledge of stillness that can turn sharply from the outside to a study of his inner world. I enjoyed the poet’s surprising turns and use of language. There are worlds within worlds in these poems and a very natural out flowing quality to the descriptive capacities of the poet and her instinct for making poetry. 
  3. The poetry here is assured but is also adventurous. The author is capable of transmuting the intensely personal into the public and the universal. It is an interesting voice and we should like to hear more of it.
Kaushik Viswanath (Jury Commendation) for his short stories
  1. Interestingly tongue-in-cheek both in style and content. Stories that spin into the surreal. A good ear for the spoken word, leading to authentic sounding dialogue. Whacky humour. Holds your attention. Stories are paced well, with a tight structure.
  2. The writing is assured with a particularly developed ability to sustain a very acute sense of satire and a barely contained very observant eye for the ludicrous. The fact that the writer is able to maintain this approach and use the devices available to such writing through quite disparate forms of fiction is commendable.
  3. The voice here is an extraordinary one: by turns lyrical and bawdy, angry and surreal.
Afrah Shafiq (Jury Commendation) for her poems
  1. Direct, emotional, vulnerable. The triptych prose poem is painfully stark and raw. The language is tight, muscular.
  2. Confessional, sensitive and open, these pieces use surface simplicity to alert us to the fragile but irrefutable truthfulness of experiences that the writer has made his or her business. There is also a fine, distilled quality about the poems, especially Today was a Sunday with nothing to do. The emotional ache and its setting is instantly recognised as a real experience. I think this is writing where the writer decides to abandon the usual safety measures and I see that as a plus point. Although this means that the poems sometimes come dangerously close to wallowing in what seems like an unstoppable and elaborate emotional feast, they pull back just in time too. It is a well judged excursion therefore and brings us close to emotional strains we might not have experienced otherwise. 
  3. The local, the specific, the indigenous, the homemade, the savage, the bizarre all find space in this sampler.
Dion D’Souza (Jury Commendation) for his poems
  1. Many of the poems are responses to, or inspired by, works of literature, art, which is unusual and interesting. Sensitive, thoughtful, thought-out. Others are on ordinary, unremarkable occurences, but written with a sense of rhythm and perceptiveness that find a depth in them, that give them meaning beyond the banal.
  2. A poet with a developed sense of the craft, capable of finding his or her reasons for making poetry and constructing meaning from diverse influences which include other works of art. There is a very clear sense of an individual identity and slightly remote involvement in these poems which keeps changing in each poem.
  3. The inspirations here are diverse: mythology, history, the news, all transformed through a gaze that is ironic and engaged at the same time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jerry Pinto Reading and Book Launch

Toto Funds the Arts
in association with
The British Council Library

is pleased to invite you to a reading-cum-launch of

Jerry Pinto’s Em and the Big Hoom

He will be in conversation with writer and critic Arul Mani

Date and Time: Friday, 1 February 2013, 6.30 p.m.
Venue:  The British Library, Prestige Takt, 23 Kasturba Road Cross, Bangalore

Em and the Big Hoom (Aleph) may be Jerry Pinto’s first novel but it is by no means his first book. He is the editor of The Greatest Show on Earth, an anthology of writing about Bollywood, and Reflected in Water: Writings about Goa. He is the co-editor, with Naresh Fernandes of Bombay Meri Jaan: Writings about Mumbai, and with Arundhati Subramaniam, of Confronting Love, an anthology of love poems by Indian poets writing in English, and with Rachel Dwyer of Beyond Bollywood, a collection of essays. He is also the author of Asylum, a collection of poems; and of Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb, for which he won the National Award for the Best Writing on Cinema in 2006. He worked with Leela Naidu on her autobiography, Leela; A Patchwork LifeWhen Crows are White is the first graphic novel on which he has collaborated with Garima Gupta.

About Em and the Big Hoom

“a profoundly moving book”–– Amitav Ghosh

“A rare, brilliant book, one that is wonderfully different from any other that I have read coming out of India”–– Kiran Desai   

 “No one since James Joyce and Arundhati Roy has been better able to capture the bewilderment of a child and his mother in a mad, mad world. No one since Sophocles and Sigmund Freud has been able to postulate that madness might be the very stuff of maternity. No one since Sylvia Plath and Mark Haddon has been able to make us cringe viscerally at the sadness of the mind.”–– The Deccan Chronicle

“Dom Moraes once told me that when he asked the English poet Stephen Spender for advice, the latter replied, "Go suffer, and sing." One can't help but sense the great suffering that obviously underlies this book. And, through it, rise the bright, sweet, heart-breaking notes of Pinto's song.” –– India Today

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Winners of the Toto Awards 2013

On January 19 the winners of the Toto for 2013 were revealed at the Toto Awards function in Bangalore. They are: 

Creative Writing (English)

Aditi Rao (Delhi)
Swetanshu Bora (Bangalore)

Creative Writing (Kannada)

D.M. Kurke Prashanth (Bangalore)


Niha Masih (Delhi)
Nikhil H. Patel (Surat)


Adam & the Fish Eyed Poets (Chennai)

Short Films

Anoop Sathyan (Thrissur)
Raam Reddy (Bangalore)

Toto Funds the Arts congratulates all the winners!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Toto Awards 2013 Function

The biggest day on TFA's calendar is approaching! The ninth Toto Awards function will be held on January 19, 7 p.m. at the Alliance Francaise, Thimmaiah Road, Vasanth Nagar, Bangalore. Awards will be given in creative writing, photography, music and short film. The work of the shortlisted contestants and winners will be presented at the event. Everyone is invited!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Shortlists for the Toto Awards 2013

Toto Funds the Arts is pleased to announce the short lists for the Toto Awards 2013. The work of the award winners and the short-listed candidates will be presented at the awards function on 19 January, 2013 in Bangalore.

Creative Writing (English)

Aditi Rao (Delhi)
Afrah Shafiq (Mumbai)
Dion D’Souza (Mumbai)
Kaushik Viswanath (Chennai)
Swetanshu Bora (Bangalore)

Creative Writing (Kannada)

D.M. Kurke Prashanth (Bangalore)
Shwetha G.N. (Mysore)
Smitha Makalli (Shimoga)


Niha Masih (Delhi)
Nikhil H. Patel (Surat)
Shuvankur Ghosh (Kolkata)
Soumita Bhattacharya (Gurgaon)


Adam & the Fish Eyed Poets (Chennai)
Blek (Mumbai)
Tejas Menon (Pune)

Short Films

Anoop Sathyan (Thrissur)
Anusha Nandakumar (Pune)
Diksha Grover (Delhi)
Raam Reddy (Bangalore)
Yashaswini B.R. (Bangalore)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Two–Day Fiction-Writing Workshop with Jerry Pinto

Two–Day Fiction-Writing Workshop 
Saturday, 2 February and Sunday, 3 February 2013

Toto Funds the Arts, in association with British Council Library, Bangalore, is pleased to announce a two-day fiction writing workshop which will be conducted by Jerry Pinto.

Venue: British Library, Prestige Takt, 23 Kasturba Road Cross (Opposite Visvesvaraiah Industrial and Technological Museum), Bangalore
Dates: Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 February 2013
Time:  10.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on both days
Fee:  Rs 1,800 inclusive of lunch, tea/coffee and refreshments

Note to applicants (between 18 and 35 years):
Since we can accommodate a limited number of participants, we will have to necessarily screen applicants. Please email ONE sample of your writing, which could be an excerpt from a work of fiction or non-fiction, of around 500 words, to (with a copy to by January 15 at the latest to help us choose the participants.

About the workshop:
Jerry Pinto has been taking creative writing workshops for several years now and offers a workshop that is responsive to the needs of the participants. It will take them to the place where they should begin and give them the toolkit with which to start. He will introduce them to creative writing, give them the basics (people, plot, place and form), and set exercises which he will analyse in detail, besides providing enough time to clear doubts and answer questions.

About the facilitator:
JERRY PINTO is the author of the widely praised Em and the Big Hoom (Aleph Book Company), his first novel but by no means his first book. He is the editor of The Greatest Show on Earth (Penguin), an anthology of writing about Bollywood. He has also edited Reflected in Water: Writings about Goa (Penguin). He is the co-editor, with Naresh Fernandes of Bombay Meri Jaan; Writings about Mumbai (Penguin) and with Arundhathi Subramaniam, of Confronting Love (Penguin), an anthology of love poems by Indian poets writing in English. He is also the author of Asylum (Allied), a collection of poems; and of Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb (Penguin) for which he won the National Award for the Best Writing on Cinema, in 2006. He worked with Leela Naidu on her autobiography, Leela: A Patchwork Life (Penguin). He has written a book for children: A Bear for Felicia (Puffin) and celebrated Bollywood’s poster art in Bollywood Posters (Thames & Hudson). He has co-edited, with Rachel Dwyer, a collection of essays, Beyond Bollywood (Oxford University Press). When Crows are White (Scholastic) is the first graphic novel on which he has collaborated with Garima Gupta.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Vivek Shanbhag Book Release

You are invited to the release of Vivek Shanbhag's 'Ghachar Ghochar', a collection of short stories. The author will be in discussion with writer Suketu Mehta and critic H.S. Raghavendra Rao. Venue: Suchitra Film Society, Banashankari II Stage, Bangalore. Date & Time: Sunday, January 6, 2013, 5.30 p.m. Join us for coffee at 5 p.m.