Majlis Culture Fellowship was conceived as a peer support initiative. In each term five fellowships were awarded to mid-career artists and researchers as seed money for their ongoing interests. There were five cycles of the fellowship between 1999 and 2007 amounting to support to 25 projects.

The advisory board of the programme comprised of theatre director Anuradha Kapur; filmmaker Girish Kasravalli, playwright and journalist Gowri Ramnarayan, artist and poet Gulmmohammed Sheikh, women’s studies scholar Jasodhara Bagchi, literature scholar Mitra Mukherjee Parikh, author Shanta Gokhale and film historian Suresh Chhabria. Around 80% of the fellowship projects had grown beyond the scope of the fellowship and culminated in full scale productions or publications over time. Many of these projects have influenced the contemporary practices in a substantial manner.

Narendra Shrimali, Baroda / Music Archive project
A project to catalogue and annotate the personal collection of 7000 records and related literature (song books, opera books, scripts, publicity material, press cuttings etc.) of songs from modern urban theatre in the early 20th century and early talkies in the western region of India.
Publication: MUSIC OF THEATRE AND HINDI CINEMA: a Discographical Study with Particular Reference to the Theatre of Western India, 2001, Faculty of Performing Arts, M. S. University of Baroda.
Sabitri Heisnam, Imphal / Theatre Training project
The eminent actress conducted an extensive theatre laboratory on technique of breathing with her theatre group Kalakshetra. Through the yearlong workshops a performance piece, on the lives of Sita and Marilyn Monroe was evolved.
Production: DEATH OF TWO WOMEN, 2001; play by Kalakhestra, Manipur.
Shai Heredia & Shaina Anand, Mumbai / Documentation and book project
The fellows proposed to write two parallel narratives on their common experience of traveling with a film crew for five months across the breadth of India - for A Tryst with the People of India, a television series by Saeed Akhtar Mirza, on occasion of the 50th anniversary of independence.
Shikha Jingan, Delhi / Music research-documentary film project
Mirasans of Punjab are the women from the Muslim community who sing songs for their Sikh patrons at weddings and other life cycle rituals. Though they also perform for the birth and death rituals of their patron families they are popular for the genre of ‘Sithni’ or songs of light banter and abuse directed towards the grooms family during the weddings. Shikha’s research on this dwindling phenomenon in the Malwa region resulted in a documentary film produced by IGNCA.
Production: BORN TO SING, documentary film, 44 minutes, 2004
Rashmi Doraiswamy, Delhi / Film study project
A study on the evolution of Hindi film narratives from the post-Independence period to the 1990s. The study resulted in several scholarly articles such as - ‘The Allegorical Imagination in Hindi Film Series’, ‘The IPTA-effect in Hindi Cinema’ and ‘Tribute to Balraj Sahani’.
Publication: GURU DUTT: Through Light and Shade; the legends of Indian cinema series, Wisdom Tree, 2008
Ayisha Abraham, Bangalore / Found Footage project
The artists found old super 8 films and unedited footage dated back to 1940s lying around in plastic bags in the abandoned house of her neighbour in Bangalore – Tom D'aguiar, the amateur filmmaker. Long interaction with the nonagenarian and careful restoration of the super 8 prints led to the production of two films, that can be broadly categorised as found footage films. ‘It looks at how technology is domesticated and improvised with, as imagination and desires evolve with the many shifts witnessed in the modern world’.
Production: Straight 8, 2005. I Saw a God Dance, 2012
Jayant Rajaram Pawar, Mumbai / Fiction Writing project
The proposal was for a novel on the lives of the workers in Bombay through the decline of the textile industry in the last decades of the 20th century – following an ill-strategised workers’ strike under the maverick leader Datta Samant.
Production: Marathi play Adhantar, later adopted as screenplay for City of Gold, 2010.
Meghnath & Biju Topo, Ranchi / Video Activism project
The fellows are part of Akhra, a resource centre for tribal culture in Jharkhand. During the fellowship they produced video resource material for Akhara.
Production: Development Flows from the Barrel of a Gun, documentary, 2001. Documentation of one of the last Chhau dance groups in the region.
Nandita Bhavnani, Bombay / Research Project
The effect of partition on the Sindhi-Hindu community that is spread over India, Pakistan and UAE – their lived-in culture, language and notion of homeland.
Publication: The Making of Exile, Westland, 2014
Sindhnamah, The Hecar Foundation, 2018
A. V. Narayanan, Trichur / Theatre research project
Revived the iconic Kutiyattam play Naganandam (performed after the gap of 45 years) under the guidance of octogenarian guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar and prepared a production manual for the students of Kutiyattam.
Production: Performance of NAGANANDAM in Trichur
Pushpamala N., Bangalore / Video Art project
Pushpamala proposed to work with hand written recipe books, possessed by her immediate family, as found material and develop a more public narrative out of them. The resultant video art work is a playful and ironic look at the modern Indian family as it imagined itself soon after independence.
Production: RASHTRIY KHEER DESIY SALAD, 2001, Video Art
Show: Newark Museum –India, Public Spaces Private Spaces
Surabhi Sharma, Bangalore / Documentary project
The project proposed to engage with - Indian post offices: the largest postal system in the world, postman: the most adored and accessible of the public servants, postal stamps which bears the names of lost, forgotten or estranged destinations and a system which bears tale tell marks of the colonial past.
Vaidehi, Manipal / Play Writing project
Proposed a theatre script based on the lives of Kamladevi, a freedom fighter, educationist and patron of traditional craft; and Kusuma, a pioneer in the field of public health.
Vidya Kamat, Mumbai / Cultural Study project
Study and documentation of roadside shrines which are simultaneously sites of land holding tactics, centres of hybrid faiths, spots of communal territorialization, signs of interpolated migrant culture and bearer of transient street aesthetics. More than 107 shrines belonging to Hindu, Buddhists, Muslim, and Christian communities were documented in the fellowship period. Many of these shrines were demolished during the period of study, which was also documented as part of the ongoing observation.
Output: Critical essays in art journals and workshops
Vipin Vijay, Trivandram / Research for film
SEVENS FOOTBALL, played mainly in the north of Kerala, is a specific version of the game and often dismissed by the official football associations and their franchises for being a low brow sport. The game is known for its highly aggressive masculinity and cultish appeal. Vipin Vijay proposed to research this high pitched gendered performance towards a film project.
Abir Bazaz, Delhi / Research project
Abir proposed to research the trends in Kashmiri literature in the post-1990s, concentrating on the generation of authors who had come of age during the phase of intense political turbulence, public violence and state crack down.
Gautam Majumdar, Delhi / Theatre and Light project
Practice based research project on use of light in the traditional community spaces and their potentials for light design in proscenium theatre.
Production: Light installation-performance of Tagore’s BISARJAN with a theatre group in Patna
Pankaj Rishi Kumar, Mumbai / Research & Documentary film
The film is a journey into the sweet science of boxing being practiced by two Indian women. The film unfolds with them as they wrestle with their day to day existence of being a boxer and the conflicts that surround them. While one of the boxers, is facing hardships to become a champion, the other struggles with the limitations of her own body and the need to prove that she too can box like her brother. Using cinema verité style the film is shot over a period of two and a half years.
Production: PUNCHES n PONYTAILS, 74 mins, 2008
Renee Colvom Lulam, Shilong / Literary Research project
Documentation of folk stories from various communities in a few districts of North Eastern states. Her approach was to collate the oral literature and its histories by documenting the ritual proceedings in various youth dormitories – where the youth receive instructions, knowledge, and legacy through stories and directives from the village elders.
Tushar Joag, Mumbai / Visual Art project
A series of appliances were proposed as strategies of bodily manoeuvring for the commuters in the overcrowded trains in Mumbai. The appliances / objects posses the characteristics of art practice of fetish and political discourse of irony.
Show: WILLING SUSPENSION, 2005, Gallery Chemould Presscot Road
Archana Hande, Mumbai / Visual Art project
wwwdotarrangeyourownmarriage is an interventionist project into the alliance marriage industry in India. The site is a spoof and an art work and a website and a rights discourse and a case study and a popular culture production and…
Show: 3rd Guangzhou Triennial, China, 2008
Ranjit Kandalgaonkar, Aditya Potluri, Saurabh Vaidya, Mumbai / Urban Study project
It was a composite project covering urban planning, public culture and visual art. The project developed some multi-disciplinary maps of localities in Mumbai to represent the simultaneous narratives of the sites. The cartographic maps are layered with social and cultural observations and visual footnotes, making the works an interface of history and geography.
Report: Urban Geographies: Mapping Personal Histories; Mumbai Reader 2007; UDRI
Show: Urban Similes Transforming Cities, Project 88, 2007
http: anewplacetogo.com/GENTRICITY/index.html
Merajur Rahman Baruha, Guwahati / Documentary project
Mobile Theater (Bhramyman) is an unique theatre company culture that begun in the 1960s in Assam. The touring companies travel, in a group of average 120 people, through towns and villages carrying their own stages, equipment, generators and even the auditoriums in trucks. They pitch their tents in open space and erect a makeshift auditorium with a seating capacity upto 2000-2500 and two identical stages for making quick change of scenes. The standard run of a play is 210 nights per year.
Production: PAGEANT IN PAINTED SCENES, 59 minutes, 2008, documentary film.
Sabeena Gadhihoke, Delhi / Archive Study Project
This project sought to map the cultural histories of photography in the first three decades of independence of India by investigating three different kinds of photographic collections - an official archive, a personal family album and the collection of a well known studio in Delhi.
Status: Part of a larger study and a book.
Sushma Veerappa, Bangalore / Documentary Film project
The project engaged with a specific public culture in the Kannada speaking urban centres. Deceased superstar Shanker Nag had iconised the character of the auto rickshaw driver in his film ‘Auto Raja’ in 1982. Even two decades after his death his image in Auto Raja avatar is hailed like a cult deity by the real life auto rickshaw drivers.
Production: NODI SWAMY NAAVU IRODU HEEGE (Kannada) LOOK SIR, THIS IS HOW WE LIVE, 67 minutes, 2013, documentary film