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Theatre Director & Documentary Filmmaker
Documentary Filmmaker
Theoretical Physicist

Date & Time

Sun, 13 Dec 2020 Mon, 21 Dec 2020

Location (for BIC Venue, BIC Hybrid and BIC Cafe)

Bangalore International Centre
7, 4th Main Road, Domlur II Stage
Bengaluru, Karnataka 560 071 India
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+91 98865 99675 bic@bangaloreinternationalcentre.org

After the Nobel prize in Physics was announced last month, to Roger Penrose there has been a renewed interest in the work of two Indian relativists who worked on Einstein’s theory of relativity, and whose work has been both appreciated and used by other scholars in the field. This is particularly true of Prof. A K Raychaudhuri, whose work has been cited by Roger Penrose extensively.

Professors A.K. Raychaudhuri and P.C. Vaidya made early and significant contributions to Einstein’s theory of gravitation. Their work has been internationally recognised.  Both of them worked in a university, or college environment all through their career, and inspired over three generations of young students. Both Prof. Raychaudhuri and Prof. Vaidya remained relatively (pun unintended) unknown in India for their contribution to science, but were well regarded as excellent teachers. In 2005, filmmakers Sunil Shanbag and Swati Dandekar made biopics on both Prof. Raychaudhuri and Prof. Vaidya. The main purpose of these biographical films is to serve as a source of inspiration to younger generation of scientists, and to students in Indian universities and colleges.

This film screening and discussion aims not only to recall the significant contribution of both scientists and their commitment to teaching, but also to reflect upon the need to document and contextualise the work being done in the sciences in India.

These films were commissioned by The Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA)

In collaboration with The International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS)


A film on Professor AK Raychaudhuri (33 mins)

Research and script: Swati Dandekar

Directed by Sunil Shanbag


Among relativists across the world working on the problem of an expanding universe, as predicted by Einstein, was a young, still unknown, researcher in Kolkata, Amal Kumar Raychaudhuri. His seminal work showed how a complex universe which was not the same at all points, which rotated and had shearing motions, could be studied.

Raychaudhuri’s equation provided a remarkably simple way to describe these complexities, and the equation has been used by Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose and others to show that singularities are endemic to Einstein’s theory. This equation will stand firm until Einstein’s framework for gravity stands.

But Raychaudhuri’s life was a struggle to prove himself, to hold firm in the face of scepticism, and a lack of resources for research.

Though Prof AK Raychaudhuri received international recognition for his work and continued to make pioneering contributions to gravitational theory and cosmology, he remained relatively unknown outside the scientific world. The film traces the story of the man who inspired three generations of students.

Professor Vaidya

A Film on PC Vaidya (30 mins.)

Research and script: Swati Dandekar

Directed by Sunil Shanbag


Einstein’s theory of gravity is described by a set of rather complicated equations which use the mathematics of Riemannian geometry.It is very difficult to solve these equations, particularly to find solutions which describe physically interesting situations. 

But in 1942 Prahlad Chunilal Vaidya, a young mathematician, did pioneering work which did just this. The Vaidya Metric, as his seminal work came to be known, provided a solution of Einstein’s equations which apply to the gravitational field of a star which is emitting a great deal of radiation.

Vaidya’s work came at a time when few solutions of Einstein’s equation were known, and when circumstances for research were difficult in India. Vaidya’s passion for mathematics saw him engaging intensely with mathematics education in schools and universities, and inspired a grass roots popular mathematics movement in Gujarat.

This is the story of his remarkable life.


Camera: Sudheer Palsane

Sound: Suresh Rajamani

Editing: Sanjiv Shah

Music: Milind Joshi

Produced by: Chrysalis Films, Mumbai (chrysalis.films@gmail.com)


Filmmaker Swati Dandekar & Sunil Shanbag will be in conversation with Theoretical Physicist, Bala Iyer & Astrophysicist, Ajith Parameswaran on 17th Dec, 6:30pm- Register for the conversation


Sunil Shanbag

Theatre Director & Documentary Filmmaker

Sunil Shanbag is a Mumbai based theatre director, and documentary filmmaker and producer.

His film,Maihar Raag,directed by Arunabh Bhattacherjee, won the National Award for best non-fiction film in 1993. His Aamakaar, The Turtle People, directed by Surabhi Sharma, won the prestigious Ramsar MedWet Award at Ecocinema in Greece in 2004.

His films include a re-telling of the history of the Palanpuri Jain community which dominates the diamond trade in India and Europe, and “Sharing A Dream” which traces 50 years of the history of IIT Kanpur.

He works closely with contemporary dancer Astad Deboo in an ongoing project of visual documentation of his work. He has also created a visual archive in collaboration with ethnomusicologist Dr. Greg Booth of Auckland University, New Zealand, of oral histories of film musicians from Mumbai and Goa.

Swati Dandekar

Documentary Filmmaker

Swati Dandekar is documentary filmmaker from Bangalore, India, with a special interest in creating visual narratives of the living history around her; of people, places, ideas, traditions, practices, and the continuous process of change. Her most recent work is “Neeli Raag”, a feature length documentary on indigo, the natural dye, and the few surviving craftsmen who still work with it. Her past work is a series of essay films that explore the relationship between place, people, resources and the institutions that govern these. Her film “Water and a City” was widely screened in India and abroad, and is part of the curriculum for courses in water management and development studies. In addition, she has been closely involved with designing media for education. As a founder member of Vikalp Bengaluru, she has been actively screening documentary films and curating festivals in Bangalore city for over ten years.

At present, she teaches film at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore.

Ajith Parameswaran


Ajith Parameswaran is an astrophysicist at the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS), Bangalore, India where he leads the Astrophysical Relativity group. His research spans various aspects of gravitational-wave physics and astronomy. He has been a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration since 2004, and is currently a member of its Program Committee. Ajith has been a Ramanujan Fellow, a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar and the head of the Max Planck Partner Group on Astrophysical Relativity at ICTS. As a member of the team that discovered gravitational waves, he is the recipient of the 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics and the 2016 Gruber Cosmology Prize.

Bala Iyer

Theoretical Physicist

Bala Iyer is a theoretical physicist who has done pioneering work in the theoretical calculations of gravitational waves. He is currently Simons Visiting Professor at the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, TIFR, Bengaluru. He spearheaded the Indian Initiative in Gravitational-wave Observations (IndIGO) in 2009, and has since been the chairperson of this consortium. This consortium did the initial spadework for the Indian mega-science project LIGO-India. Prof. Iyer is an elected fellow of the American Physical Society and the International Society of General Relativity and Gravitation. He has been both the president and secretary of the Indian Association of General Relativity and Gravitation in the past. He is the editor-in-chief of the journal Living Reviews in Relativity and is a member of the editorial board of the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity.