"Tambu Talkies" through the eyes of a researcher & photographer duo
By Sahar Adil | Published: January 25 2010
Shirley Baraham and Amit Madheshiya unveil their photographic research documentation of the Tambu Cinemas of Maharashtra, "Tambu Talkies" at ITC Gardenia
Shirley Abraham and Amit Madeshiya are in the city for a photo presentation of their work, Tambu Talkies on the Tambu Cinemas of Maharashtra. They will be unveiling their collection on 25th January at the ITC Gardenia.
This researcher and photographer duo have been studying and photographing the Tambu Cinemas that travel along the religious jatras in Maharashtra. This project focuses on a unique system of film projection and reception––the Tambu talkies or the tent cinemas.Abraham and Madheshiya are recipients of the Sony World Photography Award, Photojournalism and Documentary- Arts and Entertainment Category. Cannes, March 2009 and the Grand Prize, Humanity Photo Award, Entertainment Category, China, 2009 for their work under this project. His visuals capture the audience profile, the ingenious projection systems, the innovative advertising strategies and, most importantly, the sheer magic of the Tambu talkies that draws hundreds of people to the jatra every year. MyBangalore spoke to Shirley via e-mail on the project and what their future plans are.
MyBangalore: How did you become interested in the Tambu Talkies?
Shirley Abraham : We have been interested in the study of film history through exhibition - exploring how it localises larger chronicles of history. We were locating unconventional and sometimes less formally organised systems of exhibition, nomadic companies which deliver the experience of cinema away from sophisticated theatres. Through the course of this enquiry pursued out of sheer interest, we met an owner of one of the tent cinema companies who is based out of Mumbai. We undertook a field trip with him, and were fascinated to see this homegrown yet organised system of exhibition and reception, and the sheer ingenuity and passion- both of the exhibitors and patrons that has sustained it for more than six decades. Preliminary observations led us back to popular accounts of Indian cinema, to explore how these tent cinemas had been represented. We realised they had remained marginalised from mainstream accounts of the evolution of cinema in India. We then began excavating not just historical developments in this timeline, but also started to develop an exhaustive research projects exploring numerous strands in this captivating yet untold story.
When did you first start documenting this?
Shirley: We made our first field trip in January 2008. However, we were investing our own resources then, and through learning’s in course of disparate field work and some interviews, were drafting a proposal for a research grant. After we received the Arts Research and Documentation grant from the India Foundation for the Arts for 2008-09, we were able to pursue organised, comprehensive research starting Dec 2008.
Do you think you will develop this further as a documentary?
Shirley: We’re now in process of working on a book and a documentary film as tangible outcomes of the project.
As a researcher and writer, is there anything else you are working on right now?
Shirley: I do take up writing or research work occasionally, but increasingly it is all centered around writing about and presenting the tent cinemas project to reach as many audiences and readers as possible. It is only too fulfilling to be working on this project every single day, for about two years now.