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title is fontwala
a story about about the world of visual arts, language, fonts and technology expressed as theatre plays, digital exhibition and a documentary.
about the work

Fontwala is a story inspired by the life and work of Rajeev Prakash Khare a typographer, font designer and calligrapher of Indian scripts. He designed one of the first keyboards, The Anglo Nagari Keyboard that allowed for Indian scripts to be typed on a Latin based keyboard. Shubhra Prakash, his niece and New York based theatre artist began interviewing him in 2017 to write this story of innovation. The story has become a solo theatre play in English, an ensemble play in Hindi, a digital exhibiton and is on its way to become a documentary. All these forms pose three questions:

who is fontwala?

Rajeev Prakash Khare is a calligrapher and font design expert who founded VSOFT, one of the first software companies in the 90s to produce Indian language fonts. He started in his younger years by painting election ads on the walls of his neighborhood in Allahabad (now Prayag Raj) and through his education in Benaras Hindu University (BFA) to IIT Bombay IDC he never thought he would create a software for Hindi typing on the computer keyboard. Neither did he know then that typefaces designed by him would be used on a mass scale by publishing houses, media, film industry and government offices in India. Visit Website

a solo play (english)

written and performed by Shubhra Prakash and directed by Marcus Yi the solo play rendition of Fontwala's story has been performed both in United States and India. The solo play premiered at New York City's renowned Bowery Poetry in October 2022. Following this it was performed in Kolkata at the Apeejay Kolkata Literature Festival in Jan 2023, and at the American Center, the cultural hub of the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi India in March 2023. The latest rendition will be taking place in New York city at TheaterLab in July 2023. The performance is supported by New York State Council on the Arts and is presented by Rattapallax.

2024 January 31, San Francisco, TheMarsh

2023 July New York, TheaterLab

2023 Mar New Delhi, U.S.Embassy @ American Center

2023 Jan Kolkata, Apeejay Literary Festival, Kolkata

2022 Oct New York, Bowery Poetry

2022 March Virtual, MarshStream International Solo Festival (SF & Berkeley)

Book a solo performance

an ensemble play (hindi)

Fontwala's journey must be told in the native tongue and dialects that it was lived in. This meant realizing the story in the Hindi language with support from Bhojpuri, Boundelkhandi and Marathi languages which are all encountered by Fontwala in his journey. The Hindi rendition of the play was written by Shubhra Prakash, directed by Shubhra Prakash and Swapnil Chitransh of Swaang Ghar collective of New Delhi, India. The full ensemble play had two shows at Delhi's Akshara Theater. A calligraphy demonstration by Fontwala, Rajeev Prakash himself was conducted before the play performance.

2023 Apr New Delhi, Akshara Theatre

2023 Apr New Delhi, Akshara Theatre Poster

digital exhibition

The research, documentation while collecting the story of Fontwala inspired us to tell the story in the format of an exhibition. We have had two opportunties to do so:

Diasporic Rhizome presented 21 artists who reexamined their histories, commented on current social issues, and dreamt of new realities. The 21 participating artists in Diasporic Rhizome were selected from an open call by the following jury: Faisal Anwar, Ambika Trasi, Brendan Fernandes.

our work was exhibited in seven video screens and we held a weekly Devanagari calligraphy workshops for the attendees for the course of the month long exhibition. The exhibition was curated by Mukta Alhuwalia.

GLIMPSE OF EXHIBITION VIDEOS

click image to watch videos, use password 'typehindi'.

Note : Rajeev Prakash Khare's voiceovers are currently in Hindi language only. English dubbing and captioning yet to be added for the next iteration.

Videos covered topics such as : aesthetic of complex script, battle of conjuncts and maatras, our everyday interaction with type, the long road to typing in hindi on an english keyboard and the legacies of pioneers who carried devnagari from stone -> metal -> printing press -> digital age.

Community Engagements

Organized a youth calligraphy workshop with Fontwala Rajeev Prakash and the members of Delhi Street Art (DSA). Read about DSA here the city is their canvas.

Photos courtsey of Delhi Street Art.

press

Through the years of this process of putting Fontwala's story out there, our digital exhibitions, calligraphy demonstrations, solo and ensemble plays have garnered press from India, US and the UK.

Special coverage of our digital exhibition by Indian National Channel Doordarshan (at 6:22)
click here, if video does not load

connect

@fontwalaExperience @rajeevfontwala @indiafontwala

visit fontwala's website .