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Celebrating Culture

Friday, February 05, 2016

This weekend, the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is back! The 48hrs Team speaks to the organisers, artists, chefs and musicians and tells you what to expect

The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF) is back with its 2016 edition and it’s bigger and better — that really is the best way to describe it! Apart from the live music, inspiring art, delicious food and the general revelry that has come to be associated with the KGAF, this year the organisers have tied up with the Make in India initiative, which will be held towards the end of the festival. The KGAF starts tomorrow and runs up to Sunday, February 14; while the Make in India initiative goes from February 13 to February 17 and will feature music and dance programmes, a food festival as well as visual arts installations that are inspired by the initiative’s motto of promoting Indian cultures and indigenous artforms.

Festival director Brinda Miller tells us that it is a big challenge to make the festival new and exciting each year, but the Kala Ghoda Association achieves success every year. Brinda tells us, “This year, we have Lekha Washington and Krsna Mehta doing large scale installations. We also have several mural artists this time around too. This year’s theme is Without Borders.”

Brinda also highlights what you can look forward to at this year’s Kala Ghoda festival. She tells us that this year the food festival and artisan stalls at Cross Maidan will run from February 6 to 17 in support of the Make in India initiative. “You shouldn’t miss the food festival at Cross Maidan and the Indian Classical Music recital by Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Shuba Mudgal on February 15, and the concert by Aneesh Pradhan on February 16,” she reccomends.

Here are a few top attractions that you should check out over the course of next week.

As interesting art and curios stalls are lining up at KGAF this year, there are a few that immediately caught our attention. Standing proud at Cross Maidan, Purkal Stree Shakti is an interesting stall to visit and has a colourful set of quilts, tea cosies and aprons. The curios are made by women from the foothills of the Himalayas. “We are committed to improving the welfare of women by giving them the means to make income. We train them free of cost for six months and they make these beautiful designs that we sell all around the world,” says Vipin Joshi from Purkal. Also at Cross Maidan, we are looking forward to a quirky mix of DIY kits at Skygoodies. A similar kind of stall, Sylvn Studio will be exhibiting an fascinating collection of corrugated paper frames and lamps — time for you to get some artsy décor items for your home! You can also pick up a few interestingly made garden supplies, flower pots and sculptures from Gaia Pottery to give your garden a colourful transformation. Kishore Pasari from Gaia Pottery tells us that he tries to showcase something new and different at his stalls every year. “I try to keep a variety in textures, colours, designs and art — this is exactly what makes people keep coming back to us,” he says.

The theme for this year’s visual arts, Without Borders, has been chosen to encourage free discussions and also to fuel the wave of political awareness spreading across the country. Rampart Row and Kalaghoda Parking Lot will be littered with socially-conscious installations, paintings and photographs. Even the new venue, Cross Maidan, in keeping with the festival’s collaboration with Make in India, is covered with installations that inspire the swadeshi spirit. We are excited about artist Purva Pandit’s installation Prism Pour, which is reminiscent of the magnanimous city of Mumbai. Gaurav Olge, her curator at VGC art Gallery, tells us, “I have always been intrigued by Purva’s ability to do justice to a particular hue and enchant the audience with her explorations.”

We are also looking forward to Tower of Babel ‘16 by Ami Patel and Swaroop Biswas. It is an updated version of their installation last year and it draws a parallel between the mythological tower of Babel (which signifies unity after the great floods in the Bible) and the present day scenario using masks. Ami tells us, “The endless nature of ‘wants’ creates distortions in characters and people start carving their faces differentlt than what they were originally. Therefore the new Babel seems to be built with masks and by masks.” Artist Pooza Kataria’s installation Beyond at Rampart Row sends a powerful message, urging audiences to burn the borders of culture, religion and geography around us. She tells us, “Beyond is an installation asking you to reflect beyond the metaphysical borders around you.”

This year too, KGAF will have quite an extensive range of food events, workshops and panel discussions. Take your pick from a talk on the organic local food movement, Canadian cooking with chef Curtis Pintye, a talk on the urban versus the rural farmer, the art of breadmaking, cooking with Sanjeev Kapoor and a cooking workshop by Maria Goretti.

Among the most interesting food events, Kala Ghoda will launch a cookbook, titled Flavours Of Kala Ghoda, by Nicole Mody, curator of the food events at the fest. The launch will be held on February 7 at 6pm at Cross Maidan followed by a panel discussion at the David Sassoon Library with Vir Sanghvi, Rahul Akerkar and Nicole Mody, moderated by Antoine Lewis. If you can’t make it, another panel discussion on the book will be held on February 9 at 7pm at the David Sassoon Library.

In today’s world of social media platforms, it’s important to take the perfect shot. And, most of us love sharing images of our food. Amrita Rana and Beynaz Mistry give you tips on styling food so that you get captivating shots. Amrita tells us, “The workshop will cover food plating, selecting the right kind of crockery and using props and natural light to get fresh, bright food pictures — learn how simple food can be plated beautifully.” Catch the food styling and photography workshop tomorrow at 1pm.

The KGAF has something intriguing, especially if you love a cup of coffee — The Science of Coffee with Emanuele Bargelli. On February 10, Italian Emanuele Bargelli, who comes to KGAF 2016 through the Italian Embassy Cultural Centre – Mumbai Section or Istituto Italiano di Cultura (IIC), will take you through the science behind the finished product. It is a journey that begins with the plants and seeds, and goes all the way to production and the art and design involved in the coffee industry. He tells us, “The focus will be on three Italian methods used to obtain a cup of coffee: mocha (from the Yemen city, Mokha), Napoletana (from the city of Naples) and Espresso (from the word ‘fast’, which comes from the Piedmont region in Italy).”

Who doesn’t love baking delicious tiny treats? That’s why Wisk, South Mumbai’s newest destination for baking classes, is running a couple of workshops at this year’s KGAF. Learn the art of chocolate decoration on at 5pm February 10 and how to make a topsy-turvy cake on February 12. Poornima Sharma, head of marketing, Wisk by Cakesmiths, tells us, “At the Wisk workshop, people can expect to learn interesting techniques including chocolate tempering, design, optical illusions and fondant behind these arts.”

And, if you want to transform the way you eat, Masterchef India finalist Karishma Sakhrani, will give you a few tips and tricks on eating happy and healthy. Catch her workshop on February 14 at 4pm at Westside. Speaking about what you can expect at her workshop, Karishma says, “I will be showcasing my all-time favourite dessert, which captures the essence of a hazelnut cappuccino in a pot of mousse! You can also expect some unsolicited advice on eating healthy and working out!”

Music has always been a very exciting aspect of the KGAF each year. And, this year will see performances by Dee Wood + Emily Karpilk + Becky Kilabuk. Dee Woods, a musician based in Mumbai, will be accompanied by Emily Karpik and Becky Kilabuk — well-known throat singers from Canada. There is also a performance by Sandhya Sharma, an Indian vocalist who integrates Indian classical vocals with world music.

One of the most awaited performances that this year’s festival features will be that of world-famous Sarod maestro, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan accompanied by his sons, Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan. “Festivals like Kala Ghoda let unique talents come together and enjoy the universal language of music and fine arts. I look forward to performing at KGAF!” Ustad Amjad Ali Khan tells us. We also spoke to Ayaan, who tells us, “This festival has been so special for us all these years and once again, I look forward to performing here for the music lovers of Mumbai!” Make sure to catch the performance at Cross Maidan on February 7 from 6.15pm onwards.

Another significant msuic event this year features a performance by NGO Trinayani’s music band, ‘Pehli Baarish’, a band composed of disabled and non-disabled artists. Pehli Baarish, who otherwise perform at unconventional venues such as old-age homes, hospitals and rehabilitation centres will be performing at Cross Maidan on February 11. Their show starts at 6pm. Ritka Sahni, founder and trustee of the NGO Trinayani, says, “We are passionate about spreading awareness about disability issues among non-disabled persons and creating meaningful employment opportunities for those with disabilities.”

For all those looking forward to grooving to a few peppy Bollywood numbers, well-known VJ, musician and actor, Luke Kenny will be performing a set of Bollywood songs, but with a rock-and-roll twist. Catch his show at 8pm on February 7. “This year’s theme, Breaking Barriers, fits perfectly with what I do as an artiste,” Luke tells us. “Through my music, I always draw my audience into the performance so that they’re part of the music experience being played out on stage,” he adds. But that’s not all that KGAF 2016 has to offer. On the last day, February 14, catch two live concerts by iconic Bollywood performers Clinton Cerejo and Ayushmann Khurrana at Asiatic Library from 6.15pm onwards.

If you’re confused about what to see this year, festival director Brinda Miller points out a few events that you shouldn’t miss.

Book launch
February 6, 6pm at Cross Maidan

‘Kala Ghoda – Celebrating Mumbai’s Art District’ by Abha Narain Lamba. The book highlights the history of the Kala Ghoda Association as well as the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.

Architectural exhibition
February 6, from 11am to 6pm at NGMA

The State of Architecture — an architecture exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), curated by Rahul Mehrotra, Ranjit Hoskote and Kaiwan Mehta.

Book launch
February 7, 6pm at Cross Maidan

‘Flavours of Kala Ghoda’ by Nicole Mody is a recipe book that will include chefs’ secrets from around the Art District.

Music concert
February 7, 6pm at Cross Maidan

The much-awaited concert features a performance by headliners Ustad Amjad Ali Khan with sons Ayaan and Amaan at Cross Maidan.

Grand Finale
February 14, 8.30pm at Asiatic Library

The grand finale of this year’s KGAF will be hosted by singer and actor Ayushman Khurana on the steps of the Asiatic Library in Fort.

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