Brought to you by Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Chennai & Chennai Photo Biennale

20th July – 4th August, 2019
Lalit Kala Akademi, 4 Greams Road, Chennai.
Institutional Collaborator Alkazi Foundation for the Arts
Curators  Debashree Mukherjee & Rahaab Allana
Creative Collaborator Georg Wirsching (The Wirsching Archive)  
Scenography Sudeep Chaudhuri


First displayed at Serendipity Arts Festival 2017, this exhibition showcased, for the very first time, a sampling of rare, original photographs and digital reprints of early Indian cinema from the Wirsching Archive. The exhibition, a tribute to one of the forgotten pioneers of Indian cinema, cinematographer Josef Wirsching, comprised behind-the-scenes photographs of cast and crew, production stills, and publicity images. These photographs, shot primarily on 35mm with a Leica camera between the 1920s-60s, give us unprecedented access to the aesthetic decisions, creative communities, and cross-cultural exchanges that were vital to filmmaking in late colonial India. The acclaimed production studio, Bombay Talkies, played a major role in defining the form of mainstream film in India, established by Himanshu Rai in 1934. This exhibition foregrounds the critical role of German technicians and interwar image-making practices in the history of Indian cinema, presenting some of the best-known actors and technicians from Devika Rani, Ashok Kumar and Leela Chitnis, to Jairaj, Hansa Wadkar, and Dilip Kumar.

Images from the exhibition A Cinematic Imagination at the Lalit Kala Akademi, Chennai