A book on Walter Kaufmann by film historian and film scholar Amrit Gangar
The Indo-German cultural symbiotic story dates back to only a decade short of a century – to 1925, and to the film The Light of Asia
(Die Leuchte Asiens
) or Prem Sanyas
. The Indian producer-actor and the German director who got together in this historic collaboration were Himanshu Rai (1892-1940) and Franz Osten (1876-1956). It eventually resulted in the establishment of Bombay Talkies, Asia’s leading film production studio, in Malad, a suburb of Mumbai. Paul Zils was yet another German who was instrumental in establishing the Indian Documentary Producers’ Association (IDPA) in Mumbai. Besides cinema, it was sangeet (music) that also historically binds Germany and India, with special reference to the composermusicologist Walter Kaufmann. Besides composing background music for some Hindi films during the early 1940s, Kaufmann helped form the Bombay Chamber Music Society, for which he gave around 50 concerts. In Mumbai, where he lived for a long time, he worked with the Hindi film producer-director Mohan Bhavnani, with whom the script-writer Willy Haas also worked.
Two books authored by Amrit Gangar, viz. Franz Osten and the Bombay Talkies: A Journey from Munich to Malad (2001) and Paul Zils and the Indian Documentary (2003) were published by the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai. The book The Music That Still Rings At Dawn, Every Dawn on Walter Kaufmann follows in the series.
Walter Kaufmann had immigrated to India in 1934. He lived and worked in Mumbai for twelve years as a composer, conductor, organizer of musical events and also as a teacher. He was only twenty-seven then. Walter Kaufmann, an ardent and intense researcher, had played over 600 concerts, composed music for Hindi feature films and documentaries produced by the Information Films of India between 1934 and 1946.
As the Director of the European Music Department of the All India Radio, Walter Kaufmann composed its signature tune that we still hear every morning. Unlike Franz Osten and Paul Zils, Walter Kaufmann’s name was not much known. The book will throw light on his contribution to Indian ethnographic, folk and classical music besides cinema.
Amrit Gangar is a Mumbai-based author, curator, film theorist and historian. He has been working in the field of cinema for the past three decades and has also worked on a number of feature films, documentaries, short films and video installations from Germany and other European and Scandinavian countries. He has curated several film events for film festivals, galleries and universities at home and abroad. For the past eight years he has been engaged with his new theoretical concept called Cinema of Prayoga and has presented it at various venues including the Tate Modern (London), Pompidou Centre (Paris), Lodz Film School (Poland), Danish Film School (Copenhagen), University of the Arts (London), York University (Toronto), Viswabharati University (Santiniketan, India), Jnanapravaha (India) and the National Centre for the Performing Arts (India).
Amrit Gangar has authored and edited several books on cinema in English and Gujarati. In 2001, he had been an artistic consultant along with Marina Abramovic on the dance-theatre production Total Masala Slammer, directed by Michael Laub and produced by the Hebbel Theatre, Berlin. He was the production executive (Mumbai chapter) on the Lars von Trier - Jorgen Leth collaboration The Five Obstructions.
Gangar has curated and presented the art of Bollywood billboard painting in some European and Scandinavian venues, along with the billboard painters from Mumbai. He has been an Indian correspondent to ARTiT, a bilingual (Japanese, English) art journal published from Tokyo, and the Film International published from Tehran, Iran. Gangar has been invited to be a juror on film festivals in India and abroad. Recently, the Government of India has appointed him as the Consultant Curator for the upcoming National Museum of India Cinema, in Mumbai. He is on the international advisory board of the journal Moving Image Review & Art Journal (MIRAJ) published from London.
Amrit Gangar was part of the ambitious musical event Classic Incantations: The German Film Orchestra Babelsberg performs A.R. Rahman during the Germany Year in India, 2011 - 2012.