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Capturing Bollywood vamps, villains

Heroes & heroines have long been adulated and applauded in B'wood, but now there's an art exhibition in Delhi, for the bad guys.

india Updated: May 30, 2003 18:36 IST

A puppet of exotic Bollywood vamp Helen, with a straw stuffed head and a diaphanous body, danced on strings beside models of guns used by gruesome villains.

Heroes and heroines have long been adulated and applauded in Bollywood, but now there's an art exhibition in Delhi especially for the bad guys.

Called "The Vamp and The Villain", the show that opened on Wednesday evening at Delhi's art haunt, the Triveni Kala Sangam, had four sets - each with different aspects of the villain-vamp equation.

One had rows and rows of glass liquor bottles, canisters and siphons, another had ceramic models of guns used by villains like, for instance, that of spine-chilling bandit Gabbar Singh in Sholay.

"The vamp and the villain have been integral to Bollywood cinema. A film without the seductive charm of the vamp and the full-throated cackle of the villain is lacking in sparkle and punch," said Sharan Apparao, head of Apparao Galleries that is organising the event.

Seductive, in a rather chuckle-able sort of way, is what the puppets of Varun Narain are.

Dressed in a red poncho, Narain manipulated an almost life size puppet of Helen, swinging its hips and arms. The puppet wore a red, embroidered bustier and micro-skirt, with sheer leggings and Narain sometimes made it "smoke" the cigarette he puffed at.

"Aren't I really voluptuous?" Narain made the puppet ask, while placing it on a Harley Davidson bike. "And don't I look really good on a bike?"

When chief guest and actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha popped up at the exhibition, Narain's Helen said: "Oooo! He doesn't look so big, does he now? But in film he really looks very big, na?"

Sinha nodded and smiled.

The tribute attempts to blend fine art with 'popular culture' by blurring and simultaneously sidestepping various artistic boundaries - photography, sculpture, textile art, puppetry, film, ceramics and the performing arts.

The others involved in the project were visual artist Kriti Arora, art historian-jewellery designer Deeksha Nath, sculptor Suresh Panicker, fashion designer Madhavi Sawhney, photographer Priya Sen and artist Deepak Bhandari.

But Sinha had one complaint: that lines between good and bad were blurring.

"Perhaps it is the global economy drive. But heroes are also playing the roles of villains and there is a distinct lack of true vamps. Now the heroines do everything."

First Published: May 30, 2003 18:35 IST