Nirupama Dutt (Art Critic, poet and journalist)
was conferred with
Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi Sanmaan
Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi
by Shri Atul Dodiya, well known artist
at Punjab Kala Bhawan
Sector 16 B, Chandigarh
on 5th April 2019
Born in 1955, in Chandigarh, to Dhanraj Dutt and Kusum Prabha Dutt, this child loved reading books and she loved more the pictures in the books.
When she grew older she would try to copy those pictures in her notebook, sketch sights that pleased her, help paint sets for the Annual Dramatics Day at her school and imagine herself as a student at the College of Art.
But in those times, parents decided what a child, especially a girl, must do.
Her mother stated sternly, “Art education is no education. Complete your graduation in English Honours and then become a lecturer.”
But the girl wanted to reach out differently to the world around her. The world of visual and performing arts and literature fascinated her. And so she negotiated: She would dutifully do her graduation as dictated, but would then study Mass Communication at University.
When she joined the Indian Express in Chandigarh some 42 years ago, the world of the arts and culture was what mattered to her. Watching artists, actors, painters and writers, interviewing them and writing about their works gave her immense joy and satisfaction.
And that is how Nirupama Dutt, Chandigarh’s homegrown journalist, author, poet and translator began her literary and artistic career that has now spanned several decades. She took the road less travelled, without regrets, and revels in the difference!
Her association with The Indian Express continued for about 20 years, during which she moved to Delhi as their National Arts Editor. She also worked with other organizations including the Tribune at Chandigarh, Women’s Feature Service, The Little Magazine and the media section of the US Embassy in Delhi. At present she is a consultant with the Chandigarh edition of the Hindustan Times. Her deep respect and appreciation for art combined with the writer and poet in her has also helped the newspaper industry find more space for art and culture in an otherwise continually shrinking space for this kind of activity, which has had its ripple effects in other publications as well.
Her contribution for the promotion, preservation and dissemination of Visual Arts in the region and beyond is immense. Over the past 40 years she has written about every significant artist with sensitivity, insight and integrity. Her insistence on visiting the work places of artists, engaging with them to understand the working of their inner thought processes and social concerns has given her a distinctive edge in formulating her opinion. She has travelled the length and breadth of the state to cover cultural events and encouraged young artists, especially women, at the nascent stage of their careers.
Nirupama Dutt has several books to her credit. Her recent works include the biography of Punjab’s Dalit icon, ‘The Ballad of Bant Singh’ and translation into English of Gulzar’s anthology of poetry, ‘Pluto’, published by HarperCollins.
Her distinctive feminist voice finds articulation in her anthologies of poetry :The Black Woman and Buri Auraton Ki Fehrist Se. Her other books include Stories of the Soil (translation of 41 stories from Punjabi, published by Penguin) Poet of the Revolution (translation of the memoirs and poetry of Lal Singh Dil by Penguin). Books edited by her include Our Voices, an anthology of SAARC poetry, and Half the Sky and Children of the Night, two collections of Pakistani short stories.
Free spirited and zestful as she has always been, she feels that her best is yet to come!
Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi feels honoured in conferring the Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi Sanmaan upon Ms. Nirupama Dutt.