The term ‘Sunaparanta’ is of Buddhist origins. Once again, my shallow etymological knowledge came back to haunt me. Though, as merely a sampler of places, I wasn’t expected to be any more knowledgeable. I knew very well that Goa, where this arts center is located, is essentially Konkan -coated-in-Portuguese–a dual trait that now persists in its cultural gene pool. More so, even Sunaparanta’s location within Goa, Altinho, has a name that translates to ‘high’–from Portuguese. So, maybe, I shouldn’t have been all that surprised at a Pali peculiarity in an otherwise Goan universe.
And even better–post my sojourn, I used this as an opportunity to take on some strictly-amateur scholarly research on the term. I learned two Pali words, as per the Theravada branch of Buddhism, came together to form Sunaparanta– ‘Suna’ (a place) in the region of ‘Aparanta’ (where a bunch of ‘fierce and violent people’ once lived). Perhaps, this means that Sunaparanta is a place of fierce art. Or, maybe, its founders just found the name enticing. Whatever be the case, there are plenty of programmes to keep you engaged at Sunaparanta:
Sensorium: An apt name for their annual arts festival, since art is all about captivating the senses. And this year, that is being done with the theme ‘The End is Only the Beginning’--an effort to look at life’s final days as a fresh gateway. Sensorium is currently on till March 1. Its other key ingredient: displays from India’s seven top galleries. That being said, this isn’t some hoity-toity art exhibition but a hushed, unpretentious affair.
Shanghvi Salons: This is one programme Sunaparanta is particularly proud of and there’s no reason to doubt why. Their chief curator, Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi, invites creative geniuses that include the likes of Sudarshan Shetty, Jaya Bachchan, William Dalrymple and Sooni Taraporevala and indulges them in a debate leaning on the highbrow. Expect Shanghvi to unearth their creative processes and influences. The Salons are also an essential part of Sensorium, so it’s a double bonus if you go to Sunaparanta now.
Film for Thought: This programme hit home for me, as it sends me flying back to my film school days when top-notch cinema was shown to us in middling screening halls. I do not know how Sunaparanta’s screening facilities are, but I do admire its film selection–the past three showcased were Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman, Barbra Streisand’s The Prince of Tides and, a personal favourite, Andrew Niccol’s The Truman Show.
Film for Thought takes place (almost) every Wednesday at 6:30pm in the outdoor amphitheatre.
The exhibition: Let us not drift away from Sunaparanta’s most ostensible function–an exhibition space. This is what took me there. Sooni Taraporevala’s Home in the City, which included stills showcasing the proverbial journey from Bombay to Mumbai, could be seen nicely sequenced along many grey-walled galleries. Before this, they had on display, Longing, a video art show, and before that, Where the Flowers Still Grow, ace photographer, Bharat Sikka’s photo series.
In Stages: Are you between the ages of 12 and 16? Then In Stages is a great way to channel your preteen/teenage angst into creative energy. Write scripts, indulge in improvisation and learn to work from text, dance and movement, with the guidance of able instructors and facilitators. Sessions every Saturday, 3.45pm to 6.30pm (do check for seat availability).
CONTACT: +91-832-2421311; sgcfa.org