An estimated 1.5 lakh people will visit the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival this year. They'll shop, eat, take in performances, attend readings, participate in workshops, go on heritage tours and discuss new ideas. Few will realise that the 400 events offered up to them were put together by a team of volunteers, curators with regular day jobs and members of the non-profit Kala Ghoda Association. The artists are also busy putting in that extra effort which makes a performance, a 'Kala Ghoda' performance.
Behind the nine-day carnival is an even bigger circus – one that features six months of planning, sleepless nights, phones that won't stop ringing and great stories. Here are some of them...
|Closing Kala Ghoda is such an honour, says Farhan Akhtar|
Next Sunday, catch Farhan Live. Today, however, the actor-director-musician Farhan Akhtar is already a bundle of nerves.
Farhan Akhtar, who famously played a rock star in 2008's Rock On!!, is living his role in real life as well. He re-launched his band, Farhan Live, last year and has played gigs in Dubai, Delhi, Bangalore and Goa. "Somehow, we never managed a gig in Mumbai," says Akhtar of his home city.
Come February 9, that will change, making Akhtar excited, jumpy and a bundle of nerves over his debut.
Next Sunday, catch Farhan Live. Today, however, Akhtar is already a bundle of nerves
The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is…
Undoubtedly one of the coolest things Mumbai has to offer. The festival has become such a landmark event and the city is almost synonymous with the festival. Art needs to be celebrated and that is exactly what the festival does. It's a matter of great pride that we are also a part of it.
Farhan Live plays in Mumbai, finally. What kind of music can we expect?
Hey, I don't want to give that away just yet! It will most likely be one of our many set lists. Also, the mood of the audience decides a lot for us. If the people don't enjoy a certain kind of music, we won't play it. After all, we're there to entertain them. The audience should just be ready to have a great evening with us.
Considering everyone in the band has different music tastes, are there any ego hassles?
Definitely not. We are always on the same page. Look, music should evoke happiness, it should make you want to tap your feet or sway in joy. That's what we do when we jam. Laugh, have lots of fun and enjoy the process of creating music. No one is leader; we're a very tight group. There's no space for ego.
You guys are closing the festival. Are there any nerves?
Well, I didn't until you asked me this question. Now, I have cold feet. Of course, we'll be a bit nervous backstage but I know we'll pull off a good show eventually.
- Amrah Ashraf
(Farhan Live performs on February 9 at 7.45pm at the Asiatic Library Steps)
|Theatre: women get a voice|
Curtain call: Juhi Babbar explains a scene to Kajri Babbar as the two rehearse for Ji, Jaisi Aapki Marzi
Ekjute is gearing up to stage a decade- old classic play, Ji, Jaisi Aapki Marzi. The play, says director Nadira Zaheer Babbar, is far more relevant today.
In a tiny room with gym equipment stashed on one side, 12-year-old Deeksha Aggarwal and is sitting quietly, chewing on her nail. Crouched next to her is Kajri Babbar, 18, feverishly memorising her lines. These members of theatre group Ekjute are rehearsing Ji, Jaisi Aapki Marzi, four monologues about the status of women today. The play also stars Sangeeta Mody and Juhi Babbar, KGAF's theatre curator. Juhi, and the play's director and co-curator Nadira Zaheer Babbar finish rehearsals to discuss what makes the play so special.
What makes your nine-year old play still relevant today?
Nadira: Sadly, this play has become far more relevant now. The atrocities on women have increased manifold.
Juhi: When Nadiraji wrote this play in 2004, she was panned for being too harsh on men. Now look at it, everything she's written is someone's real story.
How has KGAF helped theatre in the city?
Nadira: KGAF is the pride of my city. It presents the best of art and it has put us on the global map.
Juhi: We have made sure we pay each theatre group this year, even if it's just R2,000. Theatre is a means of livelihood for some people. Even a small boost counts.
Watch Ji, Jaisi Aapki Marzi on February 8 at 8pm, NGMA
- Amrah Ashraf
|Visual art: solve the Mumbai puzzle|
Young artists: Bottom (L-R): Mansi Mehta, Mithuna Murugesh; Top row (L-R): Khyati Sheth, Hana Mehta, Aangi Shah, Nikita Khatwani
These students have put the city in the frame for a Visual Arts installation. From Sealink to local trains to street vendors, all find space in this moving mosaic.
For most of January, Mithuna Murugesh, Mansi Mehta and Khyati Sheth, students of NMIMS's Balwant Sheth School of Architecture, would reach home covered with a fine layer of sawdust or discovering "a new bruise" every other day. It's all worth it, they say, standing in a classroom containing pieces that will make up the installation Iridescence – their submission to the festival this year.
Iridescence is essentially 16 wooden frames, fused to form a canopy of 800 photos of Mumbai. There are shots of the Sealink, close-ups of local train handles, taxi licence plates, tourist spots, street vendors and local produce. Each frame has tiles that can be moved up, down or sideways to create a moving mosaic of the city. Iridescence will stand near the Copper Chimney restaurant and its one of the college's six submissions to KGAF.
Understandably, the students are thrilled. "We're so excited because we've been told that the festival sees at least 4,000 visitors per hour," says Murugesh. "We hope to be there every day after classes to watch people interact with the installation, and outline our concept to them," says Sheth.
The installation is being created at a fifth-floor Juhu workshop with a bird's-eye view of the aerodrome. "You can see the beach," Sheth says. But her eyes are fixed on the two carpenters sawing at the deodar planks for the installation. "We carried these planks up five floors," she adds. "They did not fit in the lift."
Friends Hana Mehta, Aangi Shah and Nikita Khatwani are helping out too. "We're here from 8am to 8pm. Our moms are really worried about whether we are eating properly," Sheth says.
- Mignonne Dsouza
From HT Brunch, February 2
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