A few days before he was invited to perform at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival this year, a friend asked musician Nikhil D’Souza why he had never performed there until now. “No one ever approached me,” he said.
This year, he got a call from the organisers inviting him, and said yes. “I’m excited for sure,” said D’Souza, who defines his music as pop/alternative with folk influences, and who has sung for Bollywood films including Aisha and Cocktail.
“I’ve always wanted to play at Kala Ghoda.” D’Souza, 31, will be playing a set comprising mostly original material of the alterative-rock, alternative-folk variety, with a few Bollywood numbers thrown in. He is among a musical lineup at Kala Ghoda that includes a dazzling array of talents, encompassing a range of genres and musical modes. “We’re very excited by the line-up,” said Arpana Gvalani, 40, co-curator of the music section. “From the 19-year-olds to the 60-year-olds, everyone on the committee has liked the selection.” The headlining artist this time, whose perfor mance will cap the festival finale on February 9, is actor-directorsinger Farhan Akhtar.
Other performers will include tabla virtuoso Anuradha Pal who will be the opening act, with her band Recharge; music director Amit Trivedi; Indian Idol finalist Poorvi Koutish and bands such as Filter Coffee. “Kala Ghoda is probably one of the most important festivals in the country,” said Shriram Sampath, 30, flautist and music producer of Filter Coffee. “It has a legacy and some of the best performances in the city happen here.” The duo of Sampath and Swarupa Ananth, 27, a percussionist and music producer, whose ‘ethnotronic’ style of music blends classical folk and electronic sounds, has been working on a new set that they will play at the festival.
“It’s the perfect place to play it,” said Ananth. “We are super excited to be playing here.” I n t e r n at i o n a l a c t s w i l l include Georgia Ruth, a Welsh singer and harpist; and Laura Cor tese and the Acoustic Project, a female trio whose repertoire covers original compositions and country and Celtic music. Outstation Indian acts will include Sufi-rock group Rock Veda, and brothers Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan, best known for their particular brand of Hindustani classical and fusion music. “I’ve gone to the festival multiple times as a fan, and the transition to curator has been thrilling,” says Shibani Kumar, a dentist and co-curator of the section. “I love music and I love the festival, and it’s been a crazy ride.”