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Růžena Kamath

  • Given name:
    Růžena
  • Last name:
    Kamath
  • Profession:
    Cultural ManagerTranslator
  • Introduction:

    Růžena Kamath – originally from Czechoslovakia – has lived in Bombay since the late 1940s. There, she acted as a link between the artist Chittaprosad and his Prague friends.

    Word Count: 28

  • Signature Image:
    Book cover of Indické Bajky a Pohádky by Běla Tišlerová, illustrated by Chittaprosad, Státní Nakladatelství, Prague 1959 (Photo: Simone Wille, 2017).
  • Content:

    Růžena Kamath migrated from Czechoslovakia via London to Bombay. She lived in Bombay from the late 1940s and was active on many levels, organising events for the India Czechoslovak cultural society and translating texts from Czech into English. She also seems to have been fairly close to the Bombay-based artist Chittaprosad, helping him in a variety of ways and acting as a link between him and his Czechoslovak friends in Prague.
    Chittaprosad, who had gained considerable fame and recognition as an artist working for the Communist Party of India (CPI), illustrating and reporting on the devastating and deadly impact of the Bengal famine in 1943 and 1944, was unable to carry this recognition into the post-partition era. His dissociation from the CPI in 1948 was followed by his almost total neglect by India’s post-independence art world, which spurred him to build a network that stretched beyond national boundaries (Wille 2019). By tapping into an international solidarity that was formed around socialist ideals, Chittaprosad established friendships with a number of individuals from postwar Prague/Czechoslovakia who actively supported his career from then on. As a consequence, his work was shown in exhibitions around Czechoslovakia, though perhaps more important were his regular contributions to the journals Nový Orient and New Orient Bimonthly, both published by the Oriental Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, for which he received payment. His commission to illustrate a book published by Běla Tišlerová titled Indické Bajky a Pohádky resulted from an earlier collaboration between the author and the artist around the same topic, published in Nový Orient in 1957 (Wille 2020). It is unclear at what precise point Růžena Kamath met the artist in Bombay but, according to letters exchanged between Chittaprosad and Kamath, the earliest connection possibly dates back to the late 1950s. It can be gathered from these personal exchanges that Kamath helped the artist with a variety of problems – financial, medical, personal and professional – and the two also discussed in some detail the English translation of Tišlerová’s book (Wille 2019, 2020). Some of these exchanges therefore reveal that Růžena Kamath acted as an intermediary between Chittaprosad and his Prague friends, enabling and facilitating intercultural contacts.
    Růžena Kamath’s role as an active supporter of Czechoslovak-Indian bilateral cultural matters deserves acknowledgement not least because of her subordinate role in accounts about her husband, Narayan Kamath, also known as Prof. N. R. Kamath, an educator and chemical engineer. When the couple met in London in 1939 and married in 1942, it is said to have been Růžena’s initiative to promote the move to India, despite her husband receiving many attractive professional offers in the UK.

    Word Count: 442

  • Media:
    Book cover and imprint of Indian Fables and Fairy Tales by Bela Tislerova, translated from the Czech by Růžena Kamath, illustrated by Chittaprosad, IBH Publishing Company, Bombay, 1969 (Photo: Simone Wille, 2017).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Wille, Simone. “A Transnational Socialist Solidarity: Chittaprosad’s Prague Connection.” Modernism in Migration, special issue of Stedelijk Studies, no. 9, Fall 2019, n.p., https://stedelijkstudies.com/journal/a-transnational-socialist-solidarity-chittaprosads-prague-connection/. Accessed 15 March 2021.

    Wille, Simone. “Chittaprosad’s Linocut Prints at the National Gallery Prague: Understanding Indo-Czech cultural Relations in the Postwar Era.” Bulletin of the National Gallery Prague, vol. 30, 2020, pp. 6–21, https://ngp-prod.brainz.cz/storage/3403/NGBULL2020_web.pdf. Accessed 15 March 2021.

    Word Count: 66

  • Author:
    Simone Wille
  • Exile:

    London, UK (1942–1948); Bombay, India (1948–?).

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    Scheme 6, 29 Road No. 1, Sion, Bombay (now Mumbai).

  • Metropolis:
    Bombay
  • Simone Wille. "Růžena Kamath." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/2951/object/5138-12041440, last modified: 08-09-2021.
  • Khelaghar
    Theatre

    The friendship between František Salaba and Chittaprosad Bhattacharya (1915–1978), that developed in the 1950s, was based on their common enthusiasm for theater and puppet plays.

    Word Count: 25

    Photograph by M. Krása, as inscribed on the back, we see Chittaprosad in the middle and M. F. Husain on the left outside Ruby Terrace animating puppets, Bombay, n.d. (Courtesy of Mrs. Helena Bonušová and the Krása family).
    Bombay