Cynthia ke Sapne / The Dreams of Cynthia by Pallavi Paul

Screening and discussion: Pallavi Paul and Ranjani Mazumdar

8 September 2018


The three-channel video installation, Cynthia Ke Sapne / The Dreams of Cynthia (2017) chases the inner life of its primary protagonist. Cynthia is at once imagined as a literary character, a measure of time, a form of experience and a landscape. She also bears witness to the lives of two people – an executioner and a trans-artist whose lives are intertwined within a small town in North India and with each other through an informal history of labour, violence and death.


In conversation with a contemporary Hindi poem of the same name by poet Anish Ahluwalia, the work levitates on the surface of language, identity and memory. Freed from the imperatives of producing experience as evidence Cynthia uses poetry as atmosphere. At once an accidental encounter and a long-deferred meeting, she invites you to a world where nothing is to be found out, but much is to be discovered. Another name for the moon, Cynthia is sometimes spotted outside the window as stories of a city slowly tumble in.



Pallavi Paul’s practice is about speculating on the stake of poetry in the contemporary. She works primarily with video and the installation form to test the contours of fantasy, resistance, politics and history. The idea is to think about the relationships between truth-making and world-making. Paul is also pursuing a PhD at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her work has been shown at the AV festival in Newcastle, Contour Biennial, Tate Modern (project space), The Garage Rotterdam, Cinema Zuid, Close Up Cinema, Open Source Festival, Edinburgh Art Festival, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Whitechapel Gallery, KHOJ International Artists’ Association. Her films have screened at Experimenta, TENT, Beirut Art Centre, Mumbai Film Festival, 100 years of Experimentation in Film and Video (organized by Films Division).


Ranjani Mazumdar is Professor of Cinema Studies at the School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her publications focus on urban cultures, popular cinema, gender and the cinematic city. She is the author of Bombay Cinema: An Archive of the City (2007) and co-editor with Neepa Majumdar of the forthcoming Wiley Blackwell Companion to Indian Cinema. She also works as a documentary filmmaker and her productions include Delhi Diary 2001 and The Power of the Image (co-directed). Her current research focuses on globalization and film culture, and the intersection of technology, travel, design and colour in 1960s Bombay cinema.