Posts Tagged ‘Performance


Route2Festival, a revolution underway

150222 Route2Festival Flyer2

Some might call it a “revolution”, others an “experiment” or a “beautiful initiative”.

Whatever it was, we loved it!

150222 Route2Festival PorgramWho had the idea first? Who took the first step? Who knows, who cares.

They were a bunch of friends, they had a dream and they made it happen.

150222 Sougata Roy C

 “Traditional to modern. Experimental to post-modern”

The whole experience rested on 4 solid pillars:

eco-friendly // collective // experimental // non-profit

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And – of course – a wonderful selection of artists and performers.

(Both on-stage and in the audience actually)

150222 Sougata Roy C.4 Day 2 of the festival began peacefully with a morning raga performed by Sougata Roy Chowdhury – eminent sarod player – Subhajyoti Guha on tablas and Hania on tampura. 150222 Sougata Roy C.3 Although the strong sun wasn’t very good for the instruments, they played beautifully and set up the bar high for the upcoming artists. 150222 Edith1 150222 Babli After this first performance, festival-goers had time to relax and discover the place: Babli farm, also an experimental initiative located at the edge of what remained of the “Choupahari Jungle”, near Santiniketan. Organic farming, guest-house and canteen, it is NOT-A-RESORT. 150222 Resting area1 Route2Festival’s team worked very hard to accommodate the place the best way possible for the festival-goers and one of their best ideas was this semi-underground resting place. We felt at home and among friends. But that’s maybe because we were!150222 Kaushik's magic1Rest, board-games, make-up and… Kaushik’s magic tricks which let us all bouche née, speechless. By the way Kaushik, we are still trying to figure out how you did it!! 150222 Kaushik's magic6 150222 Make up1 Young parents will have to admit, another great idea the hosts had was the “kids corner”. Quite unusual in India, well thought, the little ones had a blast and we had a break. 150222 Kids corner2

150222 Monami NandiThe program went on with a dance performance by Monami Nandi along with Titas Sen and Anshuman dey. Interesting mix of traditional and contemporary performance. 150222 Monami Nandi12Monami reminded us of those devi who ornament Konarak Sun temple’s bas reliefs, great sensuality and a hint of kinkiness. 150222 Monami Nandi' 150222 Audience Blue stageMoved to the “Blue arena”, the audience could attend to Krishnakali, a performance by Alternative Living Theatre. Little too dark and experimental for some, an interesting and unexpected experience in any case. 150222 Alternative Living theatre5And there she came, Parvati Baul, singer, painter and storyteller from West Bengal. 150222 Parvati BaulBorn as Mousumi Pairal in a traditional bengali family, she was not intended to become a Baul, a wanderer, a mad-woman. Trained as a hindustani singer and dancer, Parvati crossed path with Phulmala Dashi, a woman Baul singer, while she was studying in Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan. She embraced the Baul‘s living tradition with all her soul. 150222 Parvati Baul8A high-pitched voice, an incredible energy, an unbelievable long hair and very strange psychedelic background. She put a spell on us all and set the mood for a frenzied evening. 10911264_1615618482002459_5703698536301150669_oNice little surprise of this festival: Printed Rainbow by Gitanjali Rao, a beautiful and dreamy animation movie who captivated the audience from 2 to 92 years old. 150222 Gitanjali Rao5The organizers had planned another screening but, due to the presence of very young souls, they cancelled the second movie. Anyway, it was time to head back to the Green stage for another incredible performance. 150222 Sound2 150222 Nathoo Lal Solanki9Believe it or not, the first time I crossed path with Nathu Lal Solanki was 8 years ago in a small apartment of a residential area in New Delhi. The tenant was almost evicted for him place after this master drummer from Rajasthan shaked the edifice’s walls with his powerful beat. 150222 Nathoo Lal Solanki6The Nagara player – traditional drum from Rajasthan – came with the vocalist Chugge Khan and both were accompanied for the first time by the bengali sarangi player, Debashish Haldar. 150222 Nathoo Lal Solanki12And the magic worked! The young and not-so-young got up and dance. The bengali ladies forgot all propriety and shaked their… saris. Vibrant. 150222 Nathoo Lal Solanki Dance2As usual, it’s not easy to pass on the atmosphere using still images and words.

As usual, the best happens off-stage, behind the scene. Unexpected encounters, bonding, fusion… Seeds are thrown and new opportunities might arise. 150222 Parvati Baul&Nathoo Lal Solanki1And on a complete different registre, Jazzeando kept us up and dancing. A french drummer, an north-indian key-board performer and a new-yorker vocalist who got together in West-Bengal to share a common passion for latin-jazz. 150222 Jazzeando1The night was still young, but some of us even younger. We had to head home even before  the lights and sound were off and festival-goers found the way back to their tents and bungalows for a good night of sleep among the trees. 150222 Jazzeando3

So, after this wonderful first experiment, what’s next?


Siempre que te pregunto

Que cuando, como y donde

Tu siempre me respondes

Quizas, quizas, quizas

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Long live Route2Festival!

10273203_1600909590140015_6731538105881015550_o To learn more about Route2Festival and some of the artists mentioned above: – Route2Festival: – Sougata Roy Chowdhury: – Parvati Baul: – Gitanjali Rao: – Nathu Lal Solanki: – Jazzeando:


রক্তকরবী (The Red Brush)


“Annabelle, aren’t you afraid of the Yaksha City?”



The Yaksha City: behind a pasteboard décors lies a fearsome place whose King – Raja – stands unrevealed behind an invisible net.

The Yaksha City: scenery of Raktakarabi, Tagore’s roughly symbolic drama about the deplorable aspects of modern life, the slavery of work and the conflicts between Power and Liberty.

The Poets’ biggest failure in the western world. Some will say the English translation – by Tagore himself – could not transcribe the Bengali reality. “The problem, hard to avoid, is that the Englished Tagore is not the same as the Bengali Rabindranath” (Sisir Kumar Ghose, 1986)*



“There is the inevitable King again, though there is here no Queen; but there are numerous functionaries like the Governor, Assistant Governor, Deputy Governor, Doctor, Professor, Headman, Wrestler, etc… The soul of the play, whoever, is the girl Nandini, the challenge of virgin beauty to the world of the male” (K. R. Srinavasa, 1987)*





What decided Salil Sahani to tackle the adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s ununderstood Raktakarabi? Is it precisely this universal truth so anchored in the Bengali scenery? Or is it his admiration for the beautiful and pure Nandini, renamed Annabel for the occasion? What we do know is that Salil wanted its work to reflect a wider reality. Fe found its lead actors wandering in the alleys of Visva Bharati University, and the cast happened to reflect Santiniketan’s cosmopolitness.



“Here in this Yaksha City, there are foremen, headmen, there are diggers and scholars, like myself, there are guards, executioners and undertakers, all goes well. But Annabelle… Annabelle is out of element. She is a tuned up lyre in the midst of the clamour of the market place.”



The King’s voice is American – Drrramatically Hollywoodian I should say! –, the Antiquarian offers an authentic British accent, the Professeur has this typically quavering French tone and Annabel, beloved Annabel, has the fairness of a Polish beauty. The remaining actors come from all over India, Goa, Kashmir, Nagaland or Visva Bharati’s 50th Battalion.



“Yaksha City is a place under an eclipse. The shadow demon of the gold mine has devoured it. It is neither whole itself nor does it allow any one else to remain whole.”



“Annabel, do you know, even the Creator made you wonderful behind your mare beauty? I want to snatch you out to grab you into my fist, but I can’t hold you. I want to examine you, scrutinize you.   If I can’t, I’ want to crash you.”



“I told you, Annabelle. You won’t see the wounds from the outside.”



“Working as a labourer is necessary for the survival, again it is necessary to forget. Without wine how will we forget all this?”



“I am 69 W / 1994, came here seventeen years ago. I was a human being there, in my village. Here I am playing the role of a number in a gambling. Gambling continues over us.”



Are you hungry?
Are you sick?
Are you begging for a break?



Are you sweet?
Are you fresh?
Are you strung up by the wrists?







Did Salil succeed in redeem Tagore’s Drama? In spite of the general good-will, some rather cheap elements in the scenery, the costumes and make-up, a slapdash coup de pinceau, a poorly-imaginative lightening-job, beginners’ acting maladresses… globally the lack of attention in details and the evident last minute rush are to be deplored. However the task was of scale and the event without a doubt an acclaimed and inspiring Première in Santiniketan. It certainly will mark the débuts of the town’s new Art Center, SSVAD – Santiniketan Society of Visual Art and Design – inaugurated last November. Moreover there was some truly great moments: Annabelle dismayed watching the screened shadows of her beloved camarades, the sweltering scene of drunk diggers spaced-out to the sound of Radiohead’s We Suck Young Blood, and the Red Brush itself, as another character, replacing Tagore’s Red Oleanders.



All quotes come from Salil Sahani’s translation of  Raktakarabi from Rabindranath Tagore




SSVAD – Santiniketan Society of Visual Art and Design



* “The Unrecognized Work of Tagore as Translator: An Assessment of Red Oleanders”, Basudeb Chakraborti, University of Kalyani, India