Music, Art & Cinema

The platter of culture: the cultural variety of india

When it comes to the music and movies of India hardly any other country can ever throw a challenge, except maybe for the United States in the amount of diversity that is served on a platter here. When it comes to the context of movies and India’s so called soft power, many people may have a preconceived notion about Bollywood being the only film industry which involves a lot of larger than life elements. However in India there is a lot of cultural difference when it comes to the movies, music and even dancing forms.

Priyanka Chopra performing at 18th Annual Colors Screen Awards 2012

Photo: Wikipedia Commons


December 11, 2013 Comments disabled

Watch world movies online for free: dialogue of cultures film festival

From 1 to 14 November 2013 the 2nd Dialogue of Cultures International film festival is online. You can stream movies from Morocco, Portugal, Argentina, Philippines, Spain, Egypt, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria and Kazakhstan.

She, a Chinese, directed by Xiaolu Guo


November 6, 2013 Comments disabled

The battle to save Mutonia

Mutoid must stay. The poster was in the window of a small bookshop in my husband’s hometown Santarcangelo di Romagna, in Italy. Wandering around the pedestrianised centre, we saw the same poster in a bar, another shop, then another. It was clear something was afoot. The Mutoids have been part of Santarcangelo life for years, but never before have they been so visible. Asking around, we discovered that the Mutoids’ way of life was under threat and the people of Santarcangelo had mobilised to support them.

A scrap sculpture in the Mutoids' outdoor workshop in Northern Italy

Not every town would accept a counterculture community on its doorstep, but then Santarcangelo is not just any town. It might be a small place many kilometres from Rome or Milan, but it’s by no means a backwater. It’s home to an astonishing number of artists and writers, and frequently organises cultural events: storytelling workshops, art displays, wine tasting. Romagna hospitality is famous throughout Italy, and ‘strangers’ are readily accepted into the community. In recent years the area has attracted immigrants from China, Senegal, North Africa, Albania. In the cafe where I’m writing, a young Moroccan woman at the next table is discussing Italy’s debt situation with a young man from Senegal. They’re speaking fluent Italian. Kruder and Dorfmeister on the stereo mingles with sounds of band practice filtering out from the school across the piazza.


September 19, 2013 Comments disabled

Why it’s a big deal to see a female nadaswaram player

In South India, any wedding is incomplete without the sound of the Nadaswaram – one of the most popular wind instruments in southern India. Counted among the ‘mangala vadhyam’, or auspicious instruments, the Nadaswaram is the world’s loudest non-brass acoustic instrument (according to Wikipedia).

For centuries, the auspicious moment at weddings and other such occasions have been heralded by the sound of the nadaswaram and its accompanying percussion instruments, all played by men in spotless white dhotis and angavastrams. What a surprise it was, therefore, to see, at a recent wedding I attended, a woman playing the nadaswaram!

A female nadaswaram player is an unusual sight in India

Draped in a simple saree, she held the nadaswaram to her lips, and out came the music we have been so used to hearing. We wouldn’t even have noticed the player, so used are we to the music, if it hadn’t been for her.

A woman playing the instrument might not seem like such a big deal in this time and age, but in a patriarchal society, to play an instrument which has been the prerogative of men for ages, is indeed a big deal. It is the sort of thing that reinforces my belief in tradition, and gives some hope to our culture, that it too shall survive the passage of time and change.

Read more

Indian Marriages are a plethora of cultures

Rangoli – colourful Indian chalk paintings

What is Pujas all about

June 26, 2013 Comments disabled

What are you listening to? Our contributors share their favourite music from around the world

Last summer it seemed like Gangnam Style was everywhere. Here in Turkey the crazy dancer from Korea was on the tv, the radio, playing in the shopping mall. On Facebook I saw a Gangnam flash mob in Bishkek. My niece and nephew spent the summer holidays watching a Dutch remake which their dad decided was more child friendly.

Since music crosses borders so easily these days, it’s no surprise that many PocketCultures contributors are listening to something from another country. Others are listening to music from their own country. Read on to learn who is listening to what, and then tell us what you’re listening to.

Simona Morachioli (Italy / Germany)

Here is my obsession at the moment: Lana del Rey with “Young and Beautiful”. It is part of the Great Gatsby soundtrack (which was stunning, more stunning than the movie itself in my opinion).

Lana is American and I went to listen to her live a month ago here in Germany. She is even greater live than on radio.


June 21, 2013 2 comments

An introduction to Chinese calligraphy

The formation and development of crafting Chinese letters, Chinese calligraphy or 書法 (shū fă), is strongly connected to the history of China, both having a long and rich history. Chinese Calligraphy is one of the greatest kinds of Chinese art, showing communicating ideas as well as abstract style of words.

A fine example of Chinese calligraphy - photo credit

Calligraphy is one of the four standard abilities and subjects of the Chinese culture, along with painting (畫huà ), stringed musical instruments (琴qín) and Chinese chess (棋). Rhythm, lines, and framework are more completely symbolized in calligraphy than in the various other three abilities. Chinese calligraphy of different periods had its specific types and designs. (more…)

May 15, 2013 1 comment