Rounding off the year in cultural festivals is the Esplanade’s Kalaa Utsavam – Indian Festival of the Arts. Since its humble beginnings in 2002, the festival has grown to a sprawling 10 day event showcasing an exciting mix of classical and contemporary arts performances from local and international Indian artists.


Starting on 17th November, the festival opens with an explosive tale told through bharatanatyam and Javanese dance by local arts groups Apsaras Arts. For one night only, they will present Anjaneyam – Hanuman’s Ramayana, an epic 2 hour performance charting the life and adventures of monkey god Hanuman, inspired by the tales from the legendary Ramayana. In another showcase of myth meeting traditional arts, Kapila Venu (India) will be showcasing rare koodiyattam dance performances over opening weekend in Koodiyattam – Nangiarkoothu.


This year’s lineup not only focuses on traditional arts, but also features more familiar, contemporary works made accessible to audiences of all kinds. Of note would be Khwaab-Sa by The Company Theatre from India, as award-winning director Atul Kumar weaves in classical raag and contemporary dance to give an Indian spin to Shakespeare’s beloved comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Atul Kumar himself will also be delivering a workshop on 20th November, teaching attendees how to adapt Shakespeare. Even the younger audience members have something to look forward to, with Garuda – King of Birds by the Esplanade. Written by Pooja Nansi and directed by Carina Hales, the multidisciplinary show presents the entertaining adventures of the legendary bird of Hindi mythology through music and dance.


Meanwhile, one of our favourite local comediennes Sharul Channa will also be making a splash at the festival. Watch Sharul get married to herself and tackle the colourful topic of Indian weddings in her new show Sharul Weds Sharul, guaranteed to tickle your funnybone and get the laughs going throughout the entire hour. Kalaa Utsavam will also feature plenty of free programmes throughout the period, such as a film showcase from some of our foremost local Indian filmmakers, and even spoken word poetry set to acoustic guitar renditions of Bollywood tunes.   

With mythical birds and legendary gods, raga concerts and even an Indian wedding, there’s something for everyone at Kalaa Utsavam 2017, as audiences from all walks of life celebrate the best of Indian arts with the Esplanade this November.

Photos courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

Kalaa Utsavam 2017 takes place from 17th – 26th November at the Esplanade. For the full list of programmes and tickets, visit the Esplanade website here



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