All Talk and No Action Monday, February 22, 2010

This Year I finally figured out what Kala Ghoda Arts Festival has stood for, for all these years.

KGAF is a boon for Mumbai and brings out the vibrant colours that make India.

While the original plan was to squeeze in as many plays, movies and discussions as possible, finally I could manage to be at the fest only for 2 days.


KGAF 2010 had an interesting line up of activities, as expected. Short films, plays, foreign language movies, dance performances, classical music recitals and discussions on myriad subjects by experts.

However enjoyable these might be, they were only the fringe benefits.

KGAF is primarily about arts and craft, small time entrepreneurs and issues.

Artists, craftsmen, entrepreneurs, photographers, story tellers and NGOs from across the country put up their works at the festival. Through more than 100 stalls that make a show every year, various current/universal themes are brought to the audiences, inviting a healthy dialogue.

Madhubani designs, Zari work from Kolkata, cane accessories from Maharashtra, pots from Rajasthan and sarees from all over, made their way to the stalls this year.

Every year, the Festival has a theme and presents entertainment and informative sessions around it.

This year, the theme was Presence of the Past. Don't ask me to elaborate, I haven't been able to figure it out yet.

While KGAF is always known to attract huge crowds, I wasn't prepared for the masses I saw there. Every activity - be it Premchand's short stories or various dances put up by Troupes from across states, were happily lapped by audiences who just couldn't get enough of the magic.

While I absolutely regretted missing the works of Bahman Ghobadi, the talk on Food Writing by Vikram Doctor and Nilanjana Roy and Renuka Shahane's directorial debut Rita, Chanakya at Horniman Circle and a slew of short films made up for the disappointment.

Plays, short films and dances were often followed by discussions with the artists and the performers. This part was the most relished by all. One could see a very different Mumbai - people who were interested in the nuances of Premchand's writings and who could discuss the motivations of a particular short film with its director.

It felt nice to look at the audiences, many of who, turned up in crumpled clothes, with laptop bags, just out of office, not willing to miss the excitement that the festival had to offer.


Chanakya officially dethroned Double Deal as the best play I have ever seen.

Manoj Joshi and his fellow performers, put up such a strong, splendid play, that it stayed with the audiences long after everybody left the cool, scented air of the Horniman Circle.

Chanakya made me respect theatre artists like never before. Especially, because it was played right in the middle of a busy street, with honking cars zooming by and stray dogs holding a meeting of their own.

Not once during the entire 3 hour play, did I get a feeling that these artists were mouthing Sanskrit lines. The whole delivery was so fluid, that the team got a standing ovation by the end of the show.

Ofcourse, fine performances have to be backed by good writing. Bringing an epic of this scale, live to an audience, required finesse and attention to detail. Chanakya was one of the best strategists and selfless Patriots India has ever had. Sad, a lot of people only associate him with what is now bad in politics.


I got a chance to view 3 short films, selected from the Vikalp Archives. While the overall experience of watching a short movie was enjoyable, there was more to learn from the happenings off screen.

One of the movies showcased the lives of small town "sex experts" and quacks. These men, in their own way, were doing their bit to spread awareness amongst men on how and when to do it, how to meet the unbelievably high "standards" set by their partners, never once losing their self esteem. The movie trailed the lives of 4 men - a former police hawaldar, a halwai, a gymnast and an aam aadmi. Through each of their stories, the director tried to bring out what went on in each one's mind and how each represented most Indian men, in some way or the other.

While the theme was bold and the writing made a lot of people squirm, it was hilarious to see a lone, old lady, seated in the front row and laughing away at every piece of advise dispensed in the movie.

A lot of men felt uncomfortable and left within the first few minutes of the movie, while those of who stayed back didn't have much courage to face the ladies in the audience.

The movie on and off screen, really highlighted our need of having a formal Sex Education class in school !

I have decided to be a regular at all the future KGAFs.

Pity, I might have to drag along alone.

Most people I know couldn't care less about the happenings at the festival. Some who showed a passing interest, were too tired to travel all the way to town.


allthecrap said...

Well..sounds like a nice fest...gotta attend next year..if u don find anyone next year as on me for the company :)

All Talk and No Action said...

@allthecrap - Yes, a very good fest...Ok, If people do show some sense and decide to accompany me, You can still join the next year :)

ARJuna said...

You make it even more difficult for me to digest the fact that I missed the fest. I swear...I really, really wanted to visit the KGAF.
Anyways there is always the next time.

All Talk and No Action said...

ARJuna - Yes, theres always a next time...