Films & Schedules

  • When the Gods Came Down to Earth

  • Srinivas Krishna

Film and sound installation

Production Company:
Divani Films Inc.
Sherrie Johnson
Debashish Sinha
Choreographer: Janak Khendry
Director of Photography: Rhett Morita
Costume Designer: Milan Shahani
Visual Effects:Nancy Nor
Animation Art Director: Peter Nalli
Performers: Uupekha Jain, Biplob Kar, Hiroshi Miyamoto, Mala Pisharody, Rajesh Pisharody

Curated by Noah Cowan and Francisco Alvarez
Presented by the Royal Ontario Museum's Institute for Contemporary Culture in association with Future Projections

September 4 - 13
Royal Ontario Museum Bloor Street Plaza
100 Queen's Park

Film and sound installation presented day and night

Thursday September 0412:00PM The Royal Ontario Museum Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Hindu mass iconography – those eye-poppingly colourful representations of Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh and their cohorts – are the subject of Canadian filmmaker Srinivas Krishna's first major public installation project. On screens dynamically interacting with the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum, these gods literally come alive. Utilizing actors and computer-generated animation, each god engages in their own characteristic activity, based on the iconic poses captured in the zillions of cards, stickers and posters that populate South Asian shops and homes around the world. The effect is a discomfiting but spiritually moving experience for the viewer, providing an unexpected intimacy with these unique objects of contemplation.

And yet there is also something playful, almost campy, about When the Gods Came Down to Earth. These images are a kind of Indian pop art, brazen rethinks of ancient sacred concepts that only began appearing in India when printing presses became widely distributed several decades ago. They share with neon bleeding hearts and Las Vegas cruciforms a crass sincerity about faith that elicits titters from intellectuals yet has undeniable power for their devotees. Krishna's work on this project – sensual, tactile – questions that dichotomy.

This area of contested semiotics is a fertile playground for Krishna. His provocative films also ask questions about how artists might confront the sanctities of Hindu and South Asian cultural experience and the European “multicultural” response. (In fact his name, Krishna, itself is the core cultural trope in Masala, his first feature.) He even extends that conceptual playfulness to the art work's location, nestled as it is in the bosom of Daniel Liebskind's reaction to nineteenth-century bourgeois Toronto. It is as though Krishna's gods have come to earth only to ask: “Are we post-modern enough for you yet?”

Noah Cowan

Srinivas Krishna was born in Madras, India, grew up in Toronto and received an M.F.A. in cinematography from Temple University. His features have had their premieres at this Festival as well as at Cannes, Sundance and the International Film Festival of India. His films include Masala (91), Lulu (96), Forever (99) and A Tryst With Destiny (05). He has also directed dramatic and performing-arts television programmes including Burning Skin, Spicy Fusion and The Smart Woman Survival Guide.

Cadillac People's Choice Award