DIAF 2018: Artists from 20 countries to come together at this cultural festival in Delhi
Dancers from South Korea, a drum opera from China and a rhythmic ensemble along with artist Akram Khan from India will all come together at the historic Purana Qila, this Saturday. This is just the beginning of the 10-day cultural extravaganza, Delhi International Arts Festival, in the Capital.
The 12th edition of this festival will have about 1,000 artists from 20 countries perform in 92 events to be held at 20 venues across the city. Some of the artists travelling to Delhi for the festival from abroad, also have an Indian connect, and are elated to come here to perform. Anindita Neogy, a US-based Kathak dancer, says, “I did my college from Delhi University, and during my college days while travelling to Mandi House for Kathak classes, I was always fascinated to see the DIAF posters. And now that I will be part of the festival as a soloist; it’s a unique opportunity for me. Such platforms help dancers like us to create a harmonious balance between fusion and pure approaches, and also helps us to share the work of both ends of the world. For example, this year I will present Lasya — which is a sitar piece by Anoushka Shankar — which will depict the carefree attitude of a girl in a bucolic surrounding. Such fusion Indian music with a touch of contemporary Kathak elevates the Indian art to a different altitude in global settings.”
But, ensuring all these acts come together without any hindrance isn’t an easy task for the organisers. Prathibha Prahlad, founder and festival director, says, “I almost gave up last year and even announced so,” talking about the point when she decided to discontinue the festival. But, she goes on to share what inspired her to bounce back: “After a couple of months, apart from the hundreds of messages and mails, I got a post card diligently handwritten. It was an 80-year-old lady who showered praises on me and said that I had changed the entire cultural landscape of Delhi. She blessed me and said that however difficult it was, I should continue for the future generations of Indians would benefit from this festival that reaffirmed their cultural identity. Many friends came forward and offered help and coaxed me into continuing this.”
Having overcome most major issues the festival director still feels that it’s “difficult” to invite artists from Pakistan, to be part of this grand global fest. Prahlad confesses, “We had a Pakistani theatre group perform in DIAF in 2016. But, the leader of the group gave a press conference the day before their performance which had political overtones. We have always maintained that we are a cultural festival and that we don’t recognize boundaries and are above politics. I have said that borders are artificial barricades between countries and peoples. India welcomed and supported Pakistani artistes. In fact, Pakistani artistes had a huge market in India. But, they do not welcome us with the same affection as we do them. I really want the Pakistani regime to realise that India sustains their country emotionally, fiscally and culturally. It is important for them to have good ties with India, not just us. There is huge deficit of trust and sadness in the manner Pakistan has conducted itself, more so recently. It is difficult in these circumstances to invite artistes from Pakistan.”