BIAF: The world on a string

aking place across 10 venues and three weekends, the Bengaluru International Arts Festival pays tribute to the spectrum of performing arts.

The stage was set and the moon shone brightly down on the lawns at Chitrakala Parishath as the Bengaluru International Arts Festival rumbled to a start on Wednesday evening. Unfortunately for them, the rain battered down on their plans and it was with a heavy heart that the festival directors, Dr Suma Sudhindra Dr Veena Murthy Vijay, decided to shift their full-moon concert indoors.

"We were afraid nobody would come," Dr Sudhindra admitted later. To their surprise, however, the auditorium was packed to capacity, with people milling around outside hoping to hear the music. "They told me later that they make it a point to be at the inauguration," Dr Sudhindra smiled. The Bengaluru International Arts Festival had officially begun.


Taking place across 10 venues and three weekends, the Bengaluru International Arts Festival pays tribute to the spectrum of performing arts. "We have a number of international acts coming in this year, aside from big Indian names," said Dr Sudhindra, who will present a Karnatic Crossover Fusion concert with Ned McGowan, Barbara Dazkowska, Manjunath BC and Karthik Mani. Lillete Dubey will present Gauhar, her magnum opus production based on historian Vikram Sampath's My Name is Gauhar Jaan, Dr Veena's Six Passions and a Man, presented by the Samanvay Dance Company - the line up is extensive. "Including that diversity is important, we have foreign artistes and Indian ones and everything from classical dance and music to folk and fusion."

Dr. Suma Sudhindra and Dr. Veenamurthy Vijay Dr. Suma Sudhindra and Dr. Veenamurthy Vijay

A decade ago, two artistes - veena exponent Suma Sudhindra and Kuchipudi dancer and scholar Dr Veena Murthy Vijay, came together with a common cause: founding a destination arts festival in Bengaluru. "I had performed all over the world and realised that India lacked something of this nature," said Dr Sudhindra. "The idea was to project India and bring in newer collaborations, too. This has always been our goal and I think we have been able to fulfill it, too."

Curation, both directors agree, is of the essence. "We're both artistes ourlseves and that makes a difference," remarks Dr Sudhindra. "It's not just about a performance, it's about how that performance is potrayed. How do we create a serious platform for creative productions? I believe that ambience must be created, from sound to lighting."

Ramayana, by the Kalpana Dance Theatre, Malaysia, is one of the highlights of this year's festival. "The Indian epics are a part of several Asian cultures, interpreted and presented differently every time," said Dr Vijay. Kalpana Dance Theatre is a celebrated troupe and were heading to India at the time for the Ramayana Festival in Delhi - "Of course we had to bring them on board!" The Indian Music Experience, India's first museum of classical music will host a Chhau mask making demo with Sumit Kumar Mahapatra, an artist from Jharkhand. "This will be followed by a performance the next day," adds Dr Vijay.

Ten years ago, it meant entering unchartered territory. "We knew that Bengaluru was an open place but we didn't know how large that audience was. Putting together a festival with such a large showcase was going to be a challenge and we knew it." Funding proved a problem too, although Dr Sudhindra agrees that sponsorship is still an easier route than ticketing events. "The challenge for us has been in communicating - all art and performances are treated the same way, whether they're one-off events or major festivals. The challenge of communicating the bigger picture is one we continue to face. Even so, we have crossed many of these milestones and put ourselves on the map, we're grateful for that!"

What: Bengaluru International Arts Festival
When: September 6 to 25
For the full schedule and list of venues, log on to

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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