17 – 26 Nov 2023
Festival message by Akilesh
From 17 – 26 Nov 2023, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay’s Kalaa Utsavam – Indian Festival of Arts presents on-the-pulse explorations of culture and identity by some of India and Singapore’s best-known names in the performing arts, alongside exciting musicians and bands who have emerged in the last decade. Southeast Asia’s first Indian arts festival with a multi-genre focus will celebrate these talents as well as the power of stories and folklore in both traditional and contemporary contexts.
Through forms ranging from comedy to dance, the festival promises bold expressions of female divinity and desire as well as incisive reflections on Indian culture within cities and across the diaspora. Leading Singapore comedian Kumar will be in a new work specially commissioned by Esplanade on Indian culture in the Lion City and beyond in The Great Indian Mix – Kumar Spills the Tea. In the solo work FORBIDDEN, world-renowned contemporary kathakdancer and choreographer Aditi Mangaldas ponders the myriad ways in which women are routinely persecuted the world over just for being themselves, and the courage needed to reclaim their sexuality. Esplanade has co-commissioned FORBIDDEN together with London’s Sadlers Wells Theatre and the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai. Emerging writer Shiv Tandan explores a young man’s move from sedate Singapore to over-the-top Mumbai in the award-winning comic play Fistful of Rupees.
The festival continues to provide a stage for the next generation of artists. Making his Singapore debut, Bollywood playback singer and popular crooner Armaan Malik will regale audiences with the hits that catapulted him to superstardom like Main Rahoon Ya Na Rahoon and Pehla Pyaar; feted young music composer Sean Roldan and his band present an evening of their well-loved songs; while Carnatic 2.0 will whet the appetite of all fusion music lovers, featuring renowned musician-composer Mahesh Raghvan with violinists Nandini and Ragini Shankar from Taraana. One of India’s top indie bands, When Chai Met Toast, makes a welcome return to the festival, while Euphonic Masala from the festival’s Fusion Beats mentorship programme presents a night of wedding songs in BARAAT.
Stories and folklore have the power to transport us to realms beyond our imagination. They carry the collective wisdom, traditions, and legends of our ancestors and connect us to the roots of our shared humanity. Children aged four and above are invited to immerse themselves in the story of Four Friends and the Hunter (a Panchatantra tale) written by Aishwariyah Shanmuganathan and directed by Rani Kanna & Kalah Rajes Kannan from A K Theatre. Naga Mandala by Punyah Dance Company centres around the popular folklore of Rani and a shape-shifting snake told through bharathanatyam dance and Twin Murder in the Green Mansion, inspired by the British play, The Play That Goes Wrong will be presented by local theatre company Agam Theatre Lab, transporting audiences to worlds both familiar and fantastical.
Complementing this wide array of programmes is a line-up of free performances and activities, as well as workshops and talks. We would like to thank Principal Sponsor High Commission of India, Supporting Sponsors Fort Sanctuary, Malabar Gold & Diamonds and Suvai Foods Pte Ltd, and Mr Matthew Teng for their generous support of the festival.
As you step into Esplanade for Kalaa Utsavam, we invite you to leave the constraints of everyday life behind and surrender yourself to the transformative power of this unique celebration. We hope you open your heart and mind, and embark on a path of personal growth, artistic exploration and profound connection.
We eagerly await your arrival, ready to create memories that will linger in your hearts forever.
See you at Kalaa Utsavam!
V M Sai Akileshwar
The Esplanade Co Ltd
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