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One More Loyolite in Malayalam Cinema

babithgeorgeBabith George (1993 SSLC) enters Malayalam films as music director. Babith has composed songs and the background score for Dracula 2012.

Watch and listen to his song “Paarijaatha Pookkal” here (via YouTube).

And then, read about him in The Hindu.

Hat tip: Benoy Ittyavirah (1993 SSLC)

 

 

Let us march a-singing

Let us march a-singing

May 2012 was the Loyola music season.

First off the block was Jishnu Dasgupta (1996 ISC), of the Bangalore-based band Swarathma. Their second album Topiwalleh was released in early May. Catch the title track. Or hear them live on their multi-city tour.

George Peter (1989) then came with “One: The Unity Song”. The music video is on YouTube and was hyped for featuring an ensemble of singers, film stars and other celebrities.

The new sensation, however, is Siddharth Kumar (2005), who brought us “Paloma”, modelled on Kolaveri. Must hear! His band, the Chennai-based Jack, Johnnie and the Ol’ Monk have come out with an album titled Crystal Moon. That’s Siddharth on the left, playing the keyboard.

Enjoy!

An Artful Update

Time flies. So do celebrities.

Here’s a quick update on celebrity Loyolites I’ve interviewed for this blog. The thing about celebrities is that they are repeatedly in the news. Still, in case you missed…

Photo courtesy: viia page on Facebook

VIVEK KARUNAKARAN
Three years ago, I interviewed fashion designer Vivek Karunakaran (1998). Then, he was in the news for being selected to the GenNext round of Lakme India Fashion Week. In 2008, he was back at LIFW, and Westside had contracted to sell his designer line. By 2009, he was on Day 1 at LIFW. And now, with Asal (2010), a Tamil movie starrring Ajith Kumar, Vivek has become a costume designer in filmdom. Vidya Balan, on the cover of Verve magazine (February 2010), wears a Vivek design. Vivek has also styled for Vikram.

SANTOSH SIVAN
Santosh Sivan (1976) was interviewed on this blog just ahead of the release of Before the Rains, an American production set in colonial Kerala. His next film Tahaan (2008), set in Kashmir, was shown at various international film festivals. Like his earlier children’s films, this one too picked up a couple of awards. This year, Santosh Sivan will mark his debut as actor. He has played the lead role, of painter Raja Ravi Varma, in Lenin Rajendran’s film Makaramanju.

JISHNU DASGUPTA
Last month, Jishnu Dasgupta’s (1996) Swarathma won the Best Band of the Year award at the JD Rock Awards 2010. Their debut album “Swarathma” has sold 4,200 copies, and they recently composed songs for Suvarna News TV channel. They tour the country quite a bit and so, if you live in one of India’s metros, you can catch them easily.

Hat tip: Deepak Madhusoodanan (1996)

One Rocking Loyolite: Jishnu Dasgupta

One Rocking Loyolite: Jishnu Dasgupta

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Was Loyola really different?

In the 1980s, a popular claim was that Loyola School was different from other schools. Whenever a Loyolite was quizzed by friends or relatives as to why his school did not secure ranks in the public exam, he would typically reply: schools like Holy Angels’ Convent prepare students for the public examination; Loyola’s emphasis is on extra-curricular activities, and not merely acquisition of textbook knowledge.

How true was this claim?

Those who claimed so (including me) had limited information about other schools in Trivandrum, to make an honest and thorough comparison. If we were tested on this–say, if asked to list out the extra-curricular activities in any three city schools–all of us would have failed. But ignorance did not prevent us from asserting that Loyola was different because of its extra-curricular thrust.

I believe that we students were parroting the words of our teachers and parents. Their own belief was probably rooted in knowledge of other schools (via neighbours, colleagues or relatives). But it is also probable that they took cue from the Jesuits who ran Loyola and cultivated an image of a “different” school.

The Jesuits were not being dishonest. Loyola did have several platforms for literary and artistic activities inside and outside the classroom. There were a weekly period called “Literary Association”, a youth festival, the wallpaper LENS, debates or quizzes each term, and so on. The school also encouraged students to participate in inter-school competitions. In addition, there were squads for cleaning classrooms, social service and similar non-literary or non-artistic work.The Jesuits and the teachers put in a lot of effort to organise these activities in the school. None will question their sincerity or doubt their dedication.

But was Loyola different?

Those who studied in other schools can tell us whether such activities were common in their schools or, as we believed, unique to Loyola. My guess is that various schools had different extra-curricular activities. If English elocution was a prestigious event in Loyola, it might have been kathaprasangam in school x and mohiniyattom in school y. Accordingly, Loyola fared reasonably well in the state ICSE schools’ meet (where the events were similar to what Loyola hosted), but rarely made a mark in the state SSLC schools’ youth festival. If Loyola was different, it was in the kind of activities that the school hosted.

Loyola of the 1980s was different from other schools also in terms of facilities. Loyola had better infrastructure than other schools. Well-equipped classrooms (good desks and benches), different courts for various sports and games, sporting equipment, sound systems, closed auditiorium–few schools in Trivandrum could boast all of these. The infrastructure helped in hosting a range of extra-curricular activities and strengthened the popular claim.

We had the hardware, but was Loyola different in terms of the software?

Look at the approach, for instance. If the popular claim is to be believed, the activities should have been co-curricular, if not part of the curriculum in this school. But at Loyola, every activity was called “extra-curricular”, i.e. beyond the curriculum, as if the curriculum did not demand any such activity.

In the few cases that art formed part of the curriculum, it was taught unimaginatively. There was a weekly music class (till around class 7). There was a weekly painting class (in the lower classes of the junior school, if I remember correctly). And there was a weekly moral science class (till standard 10). For a school that believed it was different, there was hardly anything different in the way Loyola treated such subjects or activity.

We got many platforms to sing, but Loyola did not teach us how to sing, or what music was. I doubt whether any Loyolite learnt music at Loyola, despite ritually chanting songs every week for seven years. All of us could have been exposed to different genres of music, right? (In these days of CDs, mp3 downloads and an audio-visual room, is it too much to expect Loyola to have music appreciation classes?)

Yes, we could paint in the annual youth festival, but were we taught how to paint? I am not expecting Loyola to make every child a Picasso, but at least: (a) tell us why this Picasso chap is great; and (b) show us a few tricks and techniques to draw. Pick up a basic book on drawing and you will realise the opportunities missed.

Some of you will argue that the situation was the same in other schools. Maybe. But that is exactly what I am asking: was Loyola really different?

LA Fest: History, Their Stories

LA Fest 2007 will be held next week. How did this inter-school arts festival organised by +2 students of Loyola, begin?

The story is recounted in ’10 Years of LA Fest’, a souvenir brought out in 2005. On page 2, under the heading ‘The Rising’ it says:

In November 1996, Vivek Krishnan, Harish K., Rahul Warrier and their 12 standard classmates pleaded with the class teacher: Madam, we need a break from the grind of textbooks and classes; let’s organise an inter-school arts festival.

The idea gathered momentum among students. But somebody had to get the green signal from the Principal Fr. Mani Manimala.

One afternoon, as the school bell rang, the teacher surrounded by students egging her on told Fr. Mani, “The students have been saying that they want to organise a festival for schools in the city.” The Principal, full of energy but looking stern as ever, replied, “If you are ready to take full responsibility, go ahead.”

The students who overheard this were ecstatic. The teacher who had bravely conveyed the proposal could not back out. Her students would ensure that, year after year.

The last page of the souvenir reveals who the teacher is.

LA Fest claims to be ‘an all-student affair’. But the invisible hand of 12 standard class teacher Deepa Pillai (DP) has been there in every fest since 1996. Her passion for anonymity forced us to delete her name in ‘The Rising’ (page 2). But we have the last laugh.

Every year, the school magazine’s LA Fest report captures the excitement of the fest. But I would argue that these reports do not capture the fest well. I have heard that within 2-3 days of the concluding ceremony, the student volunteers sit and critically look at their work in organising the fest. The LA Fest, in fact, ends only after that group session.

But such wonderful spirit of learning does not make its way to the school magazine. Instead, we get reports that are too self-congratulatory in tone, with each successive batch rushing to claim that they organised ‘the best LA Fest ever’. I see this whitewashing as emblematic of modern Loyola, where a culture of advertising and hype prevails. But more about that another day.

For now, best wishes to LA Fest 2007. And brothers, please write a fair report for the school mag. Or as you say in Loyola these days, the ‘best report ever’.

BONUS! Download ’10 Years of LA Fest‘ (.pdf; 0.4 MB)