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HT Kala Ghoda Arts Festival: A heritage walk brings poems and history to life

The trail, packed to its capacity of 70 people, headed from the David Sassoon library towards Rhythm House and the Knesset Eliyahoo synagogue

mumbai Updated: Feb 13, 2017 10:50 IST
Soma Das
Participants watch actors during the HT Kala Ghoda Arts Festival heritage walk on Sunday.
Participants watch actors during the HT Kala Ghoda Arts Festival heritage walk on Sunday.(Kunal Patil/T)

A unique heritage walk on Sunday saw six performers enact poems from Arun Kolatkar’s Kala Ghoda series. The event, called Poetry in Motion, was organised as part of the Fox Life heritage walks section of the HT Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.

The first character to make an appearance was Pi-dog, the all-seeing dog who claims to be a descendant of imported British foxhounds. Another was David Sassoon, the philanthropist and trader, who narrated his journey from Baghdad to Bombay.

The walk also featured poet Nissim Ezekiel narrating his attachment to the city. Performance poet Eloise Stevens led the cast, bringing to life characters ranging from a masseuse to an idli seller.

The trail, packed to its capacity of 70 people, headed from the David Sassoon library towards Rhythm House and the Knesset Eliyahoo synagogue. Along the way, Pi-dog spoke about the history of Wayside Inn, an erstwhile haunt of city poets and intellectuals.

The walk was conceptualised by Kruti Garg, curator of heritage walks section. “The idea was to depict history through characters who make the precinct come alive,” Garg said. “The myriad characters offer several perspectives to help the audience experience history in an innovative way.” She added that since this was the festival’s final walk, she thought it would be a fitting way to round things up.

Stevens, who moved to Mumbai from the UK a year ago, said she had been fascinated by Kolatkar’s poems for a while and decided to experiment with the form. “I thought of walking to the places evoked in his poems and helping the audience visualise the characters. It required a lot of improvisation as the walk and performances were held at public places,” said Stevens. She adding that it took three months of rehearsals to get the act right.

Ajuna Sharawat, 32, an entrepreneur from Colaba attended three heritage walks this year, but found this one the quirkiest. “The walks transport to you to a different era. This one was entertaining. While the other walks focused on theoretical aspects of history, this walk enabled people to experience it.”

Dr Vijaylakshmi Mathrudev, 43, a GP from Vile Parle, liked the format too. “There was a lot of attention to detail and the characters were well-etched,” she said.

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