It’s time for Bandra to preen again. The magnetic suburb located at the crown of the iconic sealink is poised to draw the crowds to revel in its spirit, starting on November 14.
The biennial Celebrate Bandra Festival, in partnership with the Hindustan Times, is rolling out in its fourth year on a scale that puts it at par with the city’s popular cultural fests. “Our attempt is to keep raising the bar by innovating content. We are at our biggest this year with over 125 events across two weeks,” said Neale Murray, festival director and managing director of Fountainhead, the festival’s partnering agency.
The celebrations got off to a rather reluctant start in 2003 when Darryl D’Monte, festival chairman and convenor, almost dismissed the idea. “I was on a committee to promote Mumbai tourism and someone suggested a Bandra festival. I was hostile at first, thought they were relegating me to a single suburb, but gave it a second thought,” said D’Monte, who had originally in mind a programme in the image of the Mumbai Festival or the Kala Ghoda Festival.
D’Monte cites also author Radhika Jha’s enthusiasm for Bandra as an inspiration. “She had lived in France for many years where small towns have a tradition of celebrating their own distinctive cultures. When she moved from Delhi to Bandra, she proposed that Bandra had just the flavour for such events,” D’Monte said.
In this edition, Celebrate Bandra will present its usual line-up of music, literary, food, art, dance and theatrical events across a host of venues, including Bandra Amphitheatre, a signature venue of the festival. While stellar music performances are the festival’s mainstay, this year theatre gets a twist by means of a new venue. “We call it Theatre in the Park. We’ve got a line-up of theatre performances in this quaint park tucked away in a Bandra bylane. We’re also promoting amateur talent in a big way. The idea is to ensure something for every palate,” said Murray.
The festival is also ‘Going Green’ this year, a theme which will feature across many of its workshops. With funds collected from Celebrate Bandra 2007, the committee has sponsored a rainwater-harvesting project at Holy Family Hospital, a school bus and a solar water-heating project at a welfare society for destitute children. To work towards a plastic-free Bandra is also a prime objective.
“The festival is a celebration of not just the spirit of old Bandra but also the new, rapidly changing suburb that people find so easy to embrace,” Murray said.