What were your thoughts after the show?
I liked it. The only thing I didn’t like was someone telling me to move. I liked the piece where the street was reflected in the water. I also liked Araki, the Japanese artist’s work, and I liked the tattooed pigs.
What were your first ideas when you heard the concept?
My thoughts didn’t change from the beginning. When they asked me to do this, I told them I was going to work with Bollywood; and I had already made many sculptures of bundles of labourers in the Gulf, and the way they carry their bundles when they come back home. It’s important for me (to see) how the meaning of any form of the bag changes with the person and their requirement.
Why clips from Hindi films?
Simply because it’s popular culture in our country and normal people’s entertainment is Bollywood. And it was something I could get my hands on very easily. Bags are used in Bollywood films in many ways and I thought it would be great to take clips from there.
So you watched a lot of movies?
Yes, I was supposed to watch many movies. But I didn’t. I bought some movies and gave them to my nephew and asked him to go through them. Of course I wasn’t going to watch so many 3-hour movies. I would go mad. I told him what to look for, and then I watched those and selected the clips.
How did the second film happen?
I have friends in Dubai, so I asked various sources to take me to places where these people lived. They’re working-class people. It’s sad, in many ways. Maybe Indian labourers are happier than Dubai’s labourers in various ways. They live with their families. Maybe they live on a little bit less, but they don’t feel like they’re outsiders. They’re in their own land. There, they’re isolated, they live in one room with 10 people, work hard and are not treated so well. But what excited me about them were the bundles. The way they tied their bundles, and what they bought for their families, that’s very exciting. For them, everything is in that. After two years or so, they’re coming back home with that bundle.
Why did you choose film as your medium?
The easy way out (laughs). Well, I could have made a sculpture. For that, I would have had to go to the Chanel factory and it would have been a long process. Honestly, I was very busy with my own shows, so I thought I could create this work in India without travelling much. I spoke to the curator and he liked the idea. I never hesitate to use any medium as long as you can express yourself through it.
What does your bag say about you?
My bag? I don’t know. I never thought I would be asked a question like this. Two things I like to keep in my bag are paracetamol tablets and some paper. If sometimes I’m stimulated by an idea, I can draw. Here, in this bag, let’s see. I have visiting cards, a camera and pens, some papers. And tablets.
Were there any ideas you had that you discarded?
I did think about a sculpture. My sculptures take up lots of space, so I thought maybe it wouldn’t fit. After seeing the show, I see that big works have fit in. But four artists in one room, it’s a bit cramped for me. I need more space to breathe. If you ask me, I was so happy that I was not in that room. Like that work of the faces of the two girls (Yang Fudong’s ‘My Heart was Touched Last Year’). You need quiet space to watch that.
How easy is it for an artist to create something with the inspiration already given?
It’s very tough, actually. It’s not easy to think within the frame. It’s not an easy job for an artist to do that.