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Culture with a twist

A performing arts festival brings traditional forms of art with a contemporary touch.
Hindustan Times | By Aakriti Sawhney, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2011 12:38 AM IST

It’s “east meets west” at the three-day long performing arts festival starting in the Capital today. With a range of performances spread over different genres and style, The India ArcLight Festival gets some of the most traditional forms of music, dance and theatre with a contemporary twist.

“The idea of this festival is to get a slice of culture,” says Hindol Sengupta, the organiser of the festival. He believes that culture cannot be confined to one particular art form and should be celebrated as a confluence of different forms and styles. Explaining his point, he says, “Mahabharata is as much about music and dance as it is about writing. In the same way, we need to have a combination of variety of things to get the real taste of culture.”

With this concept, the festival brings in a medley of performances across genres. The festival opens with Sita Raina’s play Global Se Gandhi Tak. This 10-minute play takes on modern India’s politics and bureaucracy in a humourous way. “The festival has been designed to capture the diversity rooted in our tradition. We have quite an eclectic blend of performers, from the very traditional qawwali to Hindustani semi-classical to Punjabi-lounge, raagas and jazz,” says Shreya Ray, associate curator of the festival.

The festival will also see MP Shashi Tharoor and Gurcharan Das reading excerpts from their books, The Great Indian Novel and Difficulty of Being Good respectively. It will be after a gap of 21 years that Tharoor will be seen reading from his book. He even tweeted, saying, "Reading from The Great Indian Novel 21 yrs on at ArcLight Festival."

Gurcharan Das will be speaking on Mahabharat and Modern India, which will be followed by a dramatised reading of his book by Hindol Sengupta and Tathagata Chowdhury. “The dramatised reading is an interesting part and is called the Anxiety of Kansa. It is a satire on the lives and identity of Delhiites,” says Hindol. Another draw at the festival is the launch of a cultural networking site, the “It’s our effort to use the power of communication and internet-based technologies to bring a whole new audience of young listeners and viewers and corporates to culture and talent,” says Hindol.

Watch out for these performances

Louis Malle’s The Lovers
A famous French film, The Lover’s is a masterpiece by Louis Malle on human emotions. It is regarded as one of the all-time classics of world cinema.
Date: March 5
Time: 12pm

Stand-up comedy by Dhruv Mookerji
He was last seen in Mira Nair’s Namesake, where he played Tabu’s brother. Mookerji is now a well-known stand-up comedian in the country. Watch out for his theatrical comic performance.
Date: March 5
Time: 3.45pm

Band Genesis
Genesis was born out of the wedlock between Hindustani classical music and rock. The band specialises in contemporarising Indian classical ragas with rock tunes. Watch out for their experimentation with rag Maand.
Date: March 6
Time: 4pm

What: The ArcLight Festival
When: March 4 -6
Where: Alliance Française, 72, Lodhi Estate
Timings: 12pm and 8.30pm
Tel: 011-43500200
No entry tickets for the festival
NEAREST METRO STATION: Khan Market, on the Violet Line

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