The city’s biggest arts festival - the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is back. Akhil Sood gives us a sneak peek into the festival and tells you what to expect at the 2013 edition.

It’s that time of the year again; the annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival will once again witness the finest arts and crafts fiesta in the city.
Change is the theme for Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2013Built around the theme  'change', the festival will be held from the 2nd to the 10th of February, and will rake in various streams of the arts, from literature, music, theatre, cinema, dance and more. In addition to the performances, of course, there are heritage walks, stalls, workshops, and tons of food to keep you company. One of the workshops we're looking forward is the Mediterranean cuisine workshop conducted by by Thomas Zacharias from the kitchens of Olive Bar & KitchenIt's all about Appetite for Change at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.

The incredible range of activities, stalls, and performances form the core of the festival and spills into select other areas in the city. While it’s hard to pick, judging by the enormous quantity and quality on show, some of the highlights from the 2013 edition of the festival include an elaborate Mohini-Attam, Kathakali, and Bharata-Natyam performance choreographed by Jayashree Nair and a freestyle football routine by Baldevsinh Chauhan, titled “Why So Serious?” incorporating various props, and other dance performances include a judicious mix of both classical and contemporary forms.

Music performances featuring the inimitable Usha Uthup, among others, talks by renowned writers and intellectuals about notable and pertinent subjects, workshops, theatrical presentations, and so much more. What’s more, each stream of art comes with an individual theme around which the programming revolves, allowing you to pick and choose events based on what your individual interests.

But then again, voices of dissent only serve to encourage the festival organisers to improve the facilities each year; Pankhuri Upadhyay, a law student who’s been a loyal patron of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival for the past three years, speaks about things that didn’t quite work last year: “It got extremely crowded and parking was a big issue. There was a queue of 50 people just waiting to get to each stall.”

Another thing that was singularly disheartening was the inflated cost of everything sold at the event. Pankhuri put this down to the exorbitant prices artists themselves are charged to showcase their works at the festival.

Variety was another issue. “While there were a number of stalls, a lot of them were selling similar things,” she added “There were at least five or six stalls close to each other selling paintings that looked and felt very similar in style and appearance.”

Achint Rao [name changed], a dancer, performed at the festival last year, and she gushes about the facilities that were provided to the performers, from the mirrors, the green room, the food and even the bathrooms. However, she also agrees that the sheer volume of visitors became a problem, as also the lack of orderliness. The aisles weren’t active during musical performances, while people were jumping across the stairwell, leading to a borderline-stampede situation and a very uncomfortable viewing and listening experience. “If there was a nominal fee for Rs5 or10, it might stop people from behaving like lunatics,” she laughs.

Crowd control is required

Ultimately, though, the festival, serves as a great platform for hundreds of budding artists in the city, as well as gives us great insight into the latent cultural potential of the country. It’s an educational eye-opener for most folks. What’s more? People walk in to have fun, see something new and return with a sense of pride in their city as well as have a jolly good time in the bargain.

 For complete details of the festival, click here.

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