A lot of people come to the Kala Ghoda Art Festival in the evening. A lot of people don’t know what they are missing. And it might be a good idea to not be one of that lot of people!
I was lucky. Having signed up for a morning workshop, I ended up in town bright and early and just in time to watch the festivities being set up. I’ve just spent the entire day in that single lane bordered by Elphinston college, Jehangir Art Gallery, Bombay Natural History society and Rhythm House.
When you watch a stage being set up, when you see banners being unfurled and get an inadvertent sneak preview of what lies beneath the slick show at the end, it gives you a different perspective. It makes you feel a part of the show. This is also the first time I was a participant in any of the events, insofar having been a silent observer (and admirer) of the art shows and music events only. Yes, after all these years as a visitor, I finally feel like a part of the Kala Ghoda Art Festival!
Some quick initial impressions:
- Last year’s lemon-and-chillis motif has given way to a bunch of apples hanging in the very same spot.
- Spray-painted cars, hand-inscribed cars and what’s that – a furry car?!
- The statue of a black horse is not there any more but I did spot a kala ghoda at Kala Ghoda!
- Plenty of stalls hawking wares commonly classified under the general banner of ‘handicrafts’ but also jostling for space with some genuinely funky, interesting exhibits. An out-of-towner friend thought this was a ‘mela‘!
- A very big, very prominent, very loud stall for a heavily advertised beauty product at the very entrance makes for a sharp contrast from the ‘art’ feel of the place. But well, commercialization must go hand in hand with art in order for it to be viable, one supposes.
- The tight-rope walkers got into an argument with the owner of one of the food stalls who wanted to set up chairs and tables in the same space. In his opinion, ‘these people came and ruined business’. One wonders what happens to the additional inflow from the visitors flocking to these events. It is the Kala Ghoda ART Festival after all, not the Kala Ghoda FOOD Festival, right? The real kick in the teeth was his parting shot of “I’ve paid money for this. You haven’t so get lost”. No guesses as to whose side the security guards took.
- A lot of foreigners this time. South Mumbai’s lanes are usually dotted with tourists but the Festival appears to have gone onto another scale and attracting plenty of international attention this time round.
- Some stalls representing NGOs, volunteers for various causes walking around ‘educating’ and inducting people into their causes and some installations with social messages gives this time’s KGAF a very social message-y feel.
Mela meets Social Awareness and they both get a lift from Commercial Sponsors to go to the Arty Party. You’re all invited!!!