Every person who has tried their hand at any artistic pursuit will understand the pain of making hard work seem easy
In the course of working on this week’s issue, I learnt that the Italians have a word for giving the appearance that something has been done without effort, the façade of a beautiful final product that hides away all the hard work, rough drafts and sheer pain that went into creating it. Every person who has tried their hand at any artistic pursuit—even composing a quick four-line limerick—will understand this pain of making hard work seem easy. But to return to the word, it’s sprezzatura (yes, it takes some work to pronounce it, too), and it runs through many of our stories.
Author Manju Kapur, who is at the centre of this issue, would certainly relate. The 75-year-old writer of beautifully observed, grand family dramas such as Custody and most recently, The Gallery, takes time over her books, polishing and perfecting words and ideas before she is ready to publish. The book that finally appears is briskly paced, even as she tackles hard subjects of women’s choices and freedoms, and intergenerational family struggles. She is a rare kind of author in the world of publishing where sales figures, social media following, hot-button topics and youth are prized.
To get a glimpse into an artist’s process is always special and illuminating, and in this issue, it’s not just Kapur who makes time to lift the veil, in a sense, to show us that there is no such thing as an “unpopular subject” as long as one showers time, effort and love to make it relevant. A story we have this week on the slow recognition that Indian documentary film-makers have begun receiving illustrates this as well—though there is no denying that the challenges they face to get their work out seem almost insurmountable. It’s a theme we’ve tackled before in a cover story that recently won Lounge’s Uday Bhatia a Red Ink award.
We also have a review of Ruskin Bond’s new book, The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, another example of a writer who observes closely and empathetically, restricts himself to worlds that seem small but reflect the universality of experience, and creates portraits of people and places that endure. Sprezzatura, indeed.
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