Gandhigiri reaches Belgium

A mega-hit play about the life of Mahatma Gandhi will be featured at an Indian cultural fest in Antwerp.

india Updated: Oct 03, 2006 11:55 IST

Gandhigiri, an expression popularised by a recent Bollywood hit that has introduced Gandhi's ideals to the new generation, has spread as far as Belgium, thanks to Antwerp's Indian community.

Sammy! The word that broke an empire, a mega-hit play about the life of Mahatma Gandhi, will be featured as part of the grand Brussels Bozar Indian cultural festival starting this weekend.

The idea of including Sammy! was initiated by Gira Gratier, a long-time Brussels resident born in India who is the India festival's cultural adviser. After watching Sammy! in Mumbai, she worked on bringing the play to Belgium.

Gratier organised the Belgian debut of the production by securing a large amount of funds from Antwerp's Indian diamond community and convinced Bozar to include the play in its official programme.

The play has been written by Indian playwright Partap Sharma. It is a Mumbai-based Prime Time Theatre production directed by actress Lillette Dubey and has won four top Indian theatre awards this year.

The English language play will also be translated in Belgium's two national languages, French and Dutch to cater to the local audience.

Funds for the production have been provided by the Antwerp-based diamond brokerage and consultancy firm Bonas and Couzyn NV and the Antwerp Indian Association.

"Theatre is the best way to portray today's India as modern Indian theatre is world-class. Antwerp's Indian community has to be part of the Bozar festival so we are glad to be associated with 'Sammy!' It is a good visiting card for us," said Chetan Choksi, managing director of Antwerp-based diamond firm Diminco that has co-sponsored the play.

Other co-sponsors from Antwerp's Indian community are Arjav Diamonds NV, Beltaj NV, Eurostar Diamond Traders NV, Gembel European Sales NV and State Bank of India.

"Sammy! is cast in a contemporary mould and deals with a theme that can be of relevance for the world today. We sincerely believe that Sammy! would be a wonderful way to introduce young Europeans to the experience of India," said Gratier.

"This play is very inspiring and it is driving me to spend a lot of time on producing it," she continued.

The Antwerp Indian Community agreed without reservation and fuss to support and sponsor the play."

The play explores the inner conflict between the enlightened Gandhi and the young protester in South Africa.

It has toured internationally in countries ranging from the US to Malaysia and will be showing in Belgium October 26-30.

The Bozar festival will commence October 7 and is the most comprehensive showcase on Indian culture to take place in Europe since the 1980s.

Over the next four months the Palais of Beaux Arts in Brussels will witness a staggering range of shows, exhibitions, music and dance concerts on India.

The event has been organised by Fine Arts Centre in Belgium in close collaboration with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

Bozar has opted for themed weekends such as spiritual weekends and popular weekends to structure the logistically complicated, vast and diverse festival that will feature great Indian personalities such as VS Naipaul and Asha Bhosle, Zakir Hussain and Rohit Bal.

It is expected that at least 100,000 visitors from the Belgian and the surrounding European cities will visit the exhibition on Indian sculptural art that overarches the extravaganza.

Over half a million people will be directly targeted by the publicity of the festival.

First Published: Oct 03, 2006 11:55 IST