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A note on the issue: The art of the interview

B.N. Goswamy spent more than 50 years studying Indian art and miniatures, changing the way these were perceived by the world

If one is a journalist, barely a day passes without doing an interview. Talking to people and asking the right questions is the first requirement of the job. Though journalists talk to people almost every day, some interviews are more memorable than others and usually for two reasons—they have either been awful interviews where the subject refused to be drawn or was distracted and one still has to file 800 words, or the interview has been a seamless, insightful conversation where the interviewee approached the meeting with as much seriousness as the journalist. These are the interviews that write themselves, that stay in your mind, and, as a reader, the ones you enjoy most and probably bookmark.

Legendary art historian and educator B.N. Goswamy’s interview to Lounge, a few weeks after the publication of his last book, The Indian Cat, and some weeks before his death last week, easily slips into the second category of interviews that give you a glimpse of the person’s warmth and geniality as well as their deep expertise. Goswamy, who quit the Indian Administrative Service in the late 1950s and taught himself to be an art historian, spent more than 50 years studying Indian art and miniatures, changing the way these were perceived by the world. 

Under Goswamy’s gaze, the focus turned from the “school” of painting, which meant it was identified by the king who patronised it or the region where the art originated, to tracking down the nameless artists who produced these stylised, detailed works. For him, as the interview shows, the individual mattered, whether the person was on the end of a telephone in this century or a painter from 500 years ago.

Other good interviews that have yielded great reads this week include a story on the future of payments with just the tap of a ring on your finger, a feature on a new, four-week-long theatre festival in Hyderabad, and a piece on the trend of designers loaning clothes to celebrities. We also have reviews of books, films, shows and music to put on your list of things to do in the week ahead.

Write to the Lounge editor at shalini.umachandran@htlive.com 

@shalinimb

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