Published: 28th September 2021
How DU magazine, Parcha, is on a mission to take deep cultural discussions and 'artivism' to the aam aadmi
While a large chunk of the members is students of the University of Delhi and institutions around the national capital, Dastak DU also has thespians, artists and critics
The discussions on art and culture in India still reference the past century — which is for all practical purposes is considered an age past — to talk about contemporary creations. While there are experts in every field, they hardly understand the 21st century and how things work for the youth. This is where Dastak DU, a people's cultural forum, felt the need to bring this discussion to the fore and develop a structure for art and cultural movement in India, something that, they said, has been non-existent since the 1970s. They have brought out a quarterly magazine to form a "methodology of criticising historical and contemporary cultural texts, including films, music, people, etc. and formulate a collection of critical theories that can be applied to address the problems of 21st century".
While a large chunk of the members is made up of students of the University of Delhi and institutions around the national capital, Dastak DU also has thespians, artists and critics among their number. Midhun Puthupattu, a recent graduate from DU is the current convenor of the magazine. "We are in the second quarter of the 21st century and even though there were cultural uprisings and movements happening in Delhi campuses, they are all in the last century. A lot of things have changed, art history is facing a different crisis now. But there is no theory or literature we can read or follow to address them," said Midhun, who now works with People's Dispatch. "There is something wrong with the culture of students' protests as well. All these things are reflected immediately on DU campuses. Here, everyone is interested in politics but not in any kind of organised (cultural) activity. DU has given us Imtiaz Ali and Anurag Kashyap but for the past century, we haven't had another Safdar Hashmi. Parcha is the space to start the debate for a new cultural manifesto for the 21st century India," he added.
Team Parcha said that the magazine through its "wide-ranging art and articles attempts to put forth well-polished arguments and opinions on contemporary literature, cinema, art, etc. along with concrete criticism towards the failure of the left movement in the cultural front, presenting solutions if possible and consistent and loud calls for action". "The first issue was like an introductory session and has a little bit of everything, to show how we will be addressing the debate. We did not give an open call for articles either. This was written, edited and designed entirely by the editorial board," said Midhun. "We had lectures and discussions on the topics, the debate and its course over a span of three to four days before we started work," he added.
But why can't the youth relate to a lot of the discussions by the experts? Are the perspectives dated? "It is. The students who are in colleges right now were born in the 21sr century and into a world of the internet and the literature they read is entirely different from what our so-called experts today have seen. It is legitimate problem that is often overlooked. They might try to understand, but these problems have to be mitigated by us, the youth. After five to 10 years, we hope to have a bunch of people who can write about the actual problems that the Indian culture is facing from the perspective of those from this generation," said Midhun.
But then are we to understand that there aren't any constructive cultural activities happening in India? There are but most of those are constricted to a very niche audience. "There's no point of doing that. There are several theatre productions from every college in DU but they are only performing for a select few intellectuals. How will that help? The first issue of Parcha does not use jargon so that everyone can understand the concepts. It's not meant to scare students off from deep cultural discussions but to include them in it," added the youth from Kerala.