Even as stalwarts like MF Husain, Jehangir Sabavala and more recently, Satyadev Dubey passed away, art and theatre rose to new highs in 2011. Shows found more funding, and extended beyond their galleries to unusual exhibit spaces. Next year looks equally promising, with new cultural hubs set to redefine performing arts. Spanking new additions to the city include a Hollywood-style Walk of Fame for film stars, a makeover for the Byculla zoo as well as an ambitious theme park on the outskirts.
2011’s most memorable1. Art attack
The art market picked up significantly for the first time following the post-recession lull. First-time events like India Art Collective, the country’s first virtual art fair and India Art Festival encouraged galleries and independent artists to display their works to a wider audience. Investments too, started pouring in. Percept introduced Percept Art to aid upcoming artists and display their works at the company’s gallery. Feroze Gujral set up Outset India, based on the renowned UK foundation, for private funding. Galleries did their bit for art lovers too. Eight venues between Colaba and Fort mutually decided to remain open for longer hours on the first Sunday and last Thursday of every month, to encourage more visitors.
2. Theatre in trouble
Arguably the city’s most buzzing venue for thespians, Prithvi Theatre downed its shutters temporarily for renovation in November, thus putting even their much-anticipated annual festival on the backburner. Then, Sanjana Kapoor announced her impending step-down as director after holding fort for almost two decades. Meanwhile, across town, the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) introduced Mumbai to handpicked plays from the British stage. They tied up with UK’s National Theatre to show recordings of plays like Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein and Anton Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard, among others.
3. End of an era
Arguably India’s most famous artist, MF Husain breathed his last in London. Expectedly, publications and several TV channels paid rich tribute to him, while also reopening several discussions on the controversial nature of some of his religious works, and whether his exile was justified. Another veteran painter and Husain’s contemporary, Jehangir Sabavala passed away this year. He was best known for his modernist style, landscapes and seascapes. Earlier this week, theatre legend Satyadev Dubey too, succumbed to a prolonged illness.
5. Events gone wild
This year, the city played host to a lot of first-time events. In October, the Comic Con saw attendance in excess of 5,000 on the first day itself. Almost an equal number of spectators turned up at a suburban school’s grounds to watch the world’s most famous skateboarding professional, Tony Hawk in action. Elsewhere, a city girl organised a flash mob with 200 others at a crowded platform at CST station.The video went viral and inspired a number of similar acts in several other cities.
6. Book festival boom
The Jaipur Literature Festival is no longer the only event of its kind. 2011 saw a whole host of similar festivals for authors, publishers and book lovers across the country. Mumbai too, played host to several literary events, most of which are slated to be annual properties. Most of them found healthy financial backing from their sponsors, and received a good response, along with attendance from top names in the industry.
Next year’s most anticipated
1. Think tank
Later next year, the BMW Guggenheim lab will arrive in Mumbai. The mobile laboratory has plans to travel to nine cities worldwide over six years, giving ideas, conducting experiments and offering solutions for contemporary urban problems. The lab will invite citizens to participate in several free programs and experiments, and will open a community center as well as public gathering space. Its findings will eventually be displayed at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
2. Theatre tour revival
Sanjana Kapoor, who will step down from her duties as director at Prithvi Theatre in April 2012, will launch her new company, Junoon, in the same year. The group is being set up with an aim to bring touring culture back to the theatre circuit. Kapoor also plans to take plays from across the country to smaller towns that may not have witnessed them before.
3. City’s own Disneyland?
Popular Bollywood producer Manmohan Shetty’s Disneyland-esque theme park on the outskirts of the city may finally take off, after three years of talks. The amusement venue will be built on a lavish budget of around R 1,500 crore. Two locations have been finalised — one at Pen and the other at Panvel. Shetty has even visited Disneyland parks across Europe and USA to check out their rides. His project is touted as the biggest amusement park in Asia.
4. Rival to Prithvi?
New mom Kiran Rao will resume work next year, once her son Azad is a little older. And one of the projects that will receive her immediate attention is a state-of-the-art cultural resort, in or around Bandra, where she lives with actor-husband Aamir Khan. The new hub will house a stage to rival Prithvi Theatre, a café and a gallery and library dedicated to Indian cinema. A dance and a music academy are also believed to be part of the project, which aims to promote good talent in the country.
5. Bollywood hits the promenade
Hollywood’s Walk of Fame is set to be replicated at the city’s own Bandstand promenade very soon. A Hindi entertainment channel came up with the idea, and has even procured necessary permissions and completed formalities. Actor Riteish Deshmukh was roped in as the channel’s representative, to get the handprints of his famous colleagues. The aim is to get 60 top stars to feature on the strip, and so far, 25 have already given their consent and created their prints.
6. Zoo revamp
Five exotic animals and eighteen new species of Indian animals will add to the attractions at the Veermata Jijabai Udyan in Byculla. The zoo’s makeover has been facing constant delays, but is finally due to kickstart. Unique features will include reptile and turtle ponds, a special bird park and even a penguin raft — the first of its kind in the country. A budget of R 150 crore has been allocated for the project, that will only see completion by 2014.