Ashish Avikunthak, an archaeologist and a professor of film at the University of Rhode Island, sat down to discuss with Ozy’s Sanjena Sathian “what he sees as India’s rapidly deteriorating cultural history, his artistic mission to save as much of it as possible and his affinity for the supernatural.”
Avikunthak spoke about his desire to capture what he can of India’s cultural history and of his enthusiasm for the supernatural. His film, “Kalkimanthankatha: The Churning of Kalki,” was influenced by Samuel Beckett and is about the slow wait for the final incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu.
Noting the loss of hundreds of local languages in India, Avikunthak laments that there is no true equivalent in, say, English, for what is a much larger cultural experience.
This religious and spiritual understanding is still vernacular. If you want to go to a temple, you don’t do English songs. You go to a temple, you wear a dhoti, you wear a sari. If you want to understand the past in India, if you really want to experience what India was, say, 100 years ago, 200 years ago, the only way, the only syringe hole, is spiritual, is religious.
Perhaps that is a little of what I have been seeking in my own travels, without fully realizing it.