Documenting The Works Of Artistes Through Podcasts: Kedar Nimkar | Verve Magazine
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October 16, 2019

Documenting The Works Of Artistes Through Podcasts: Kedar Nimkar

As told to Zaral Shah. Illustration by Osheen Siva

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A philanthropic project aimed at objectively documenting the work, case studies and first principles of those in the creative world, Audiogyan is a podcast inspired by the age-old tradition of Maukhik Parampara — where knowledge is passed down from guru to shishya in an oral format. In a tête-à-tête with some significant names in the performing arts and design, Nimkar — who’s currently Head of Design at BookMyShow — is striving to build an archive of thoughts and ideas that he believes will benefit future generations.

“Despite dealing with visual mediums like art and design, I chose podcasts because I am not a great writer; making videos is expensive, time consuming and a lot of professionals are required. On the other hand, audio is simple and I had some prior experience due to my theatre background. It all began by documenting the insights, knowledge, ideologies, learnings and first principles of the experienced designers in my immediate circle. Podcasts were not a decision but a discovery. When I started this, I was only aware of few podcasts outside India, like Design Matters, 99% Invisible and Freakonomics. In India, I used to listen to SynTalk sometimes. Podcasts are a simple yet powerful medium to share information or entertain. It’s easy to record, edit and go live. I strongly believe that Indians need to develop a strong culture of documenting things which will benefit future generations. I chose to document design.”

“It all started one afternoon around June 2016. My friend Kamal Nayan and I were discussing how we can create a repository of all the learnings we had gathered from our seniors. Some sort of an AMA, blog post…anything. It was just on a whim that we thought of having conversations with fellow and senior designers, and recording them. That’s how the idea for a podcast was born.”

“Curating guests for Audiogyan — let me be clear, it’s subjective. I decide based on my personal judgement after doing some research about the person’s work. I mainly interview two types of people — designers and artists. As design is a newer profession in India, I choose interviewees based on the quality of their work and the impact their design solution has made on society. I also try and feature design professors from Industrial Design Centre (IDC), National Institute of Design (NID), Shrishti and other institutions. When it comes to artistes, it could be anyone — a writer, thinker, film-maker, musician, make-up artist, dancer, poet, story teller; anybody, who has at least over 25 years of experience. Of course, there are exceptions.”

“Almost every conversation is filled with wonderfully unknown and unexpected insights for me to grow as a designer and become a better human being. Although I don’t listen to my episodes again once they have aired live, there are a few episodes which I keep referring back to due to the nature of the conversations in them, for instance, my interviews with Ayaz Basrai, B.V. Doshi, Sunit Singh, Ramu Ramanathan, Santosh Kshirsagar.”

“When I was getting the word out about the podcast, social media was the only way I communicated. It feels good to open an Instagram account with 0 followers and, by the end of few months, have 500-plus followers that came about organically. It seems like a very small number, but I am proud that I was able to find some followers for such niche ‘gyan’. I would like to give a lot of credit to Audioboom, DesignUp and PDF (Pune Design Festival) for helping me spread the word. I also got a lot of visibility when Audiogyan was selected as one of the top 10 podcasts in India on Apple iTunes.”

“India needs a lot of good designers and a system to document case studies and design solutions which have impacted society at large — like the EVM (Electronic Voting Machine). I wish that I am able do this for a good amount of time and also inspire others enough so they continue this documentation after me. To know more about importance of design education in India, I would recommend listening to two episodes, Anirudha Joshi (IDC Professor) and Ashwini Deshpande (co-founder of Elephant Design).”

“I am happy about the fact that, irrespective of the technology curve, designers in India are trying to spot Indian problems and thinking about localised solutions. After all, a designer’s job is to solve problems. Having said that, the recent trend is personalisation; making any information, service or offering super personalised through observing behavioural patterns and running them through intelligent algorithms to serve contextually.”

“I am more keen to document first principles and ideologies rather than the person themselves. When I interviewed Rajat Kapoor, we never spoke about his journey or achievements, but rather, questions like ‘What is the importance of independent cinema? Why do we want art in life?’ Etc. There is no dearth of these ‘trip down memory lane’ type interviews — online and offline. And they revolve around someone’s early days, their inspirations, what they’re doing now, future plans and so on. I consciously stay away from it — this is one of the reasons why my questions tend to be objective and non-personal.”

Audiogyan is more like a philanthropic project. It helps me connect with like-minded people without monetisation being the ultimate goal. Some things can be non-commercial, purely for the joy of sharing, for a greater good. Maybe simply for good karma. So far, I have my bread and butter plus my passion sorted with BookMyShow. The podcast is something to give back to my designer community.”


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