A Feast of Celebration

To commemorate 50 years of creating, curating and nurturing the performing arts, the NCPA is celebrating the philosophy of ‘adding art’ in daily life through its ADD ART Festival. In other words, it is doing what it has always done – only bigger, better and in a way that is completely unmissable. By Reshma O. Pathare

The last fifty years have seen the NCPA go from strength to strength. Apart from presenting exceptional performances by veteran national and international artistes, the NCPA has also nurtured important cultural festivals like NCPA Bandish (Indian music), Nakshatra Dance Festival (Indian dance), Artie’s Festival India (Western classical music), among many others.

The legacy lives on

In 2006, the NCPA launched the Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI) – India’s first professional orchestra that has opened up vistas for appreciation and tutelage in Western classical music. Incidentally, the SOI was the dream- child of NCPA’s present Chairman, Mr. Khushroo N. Suntook, whose limitless dedication to nurturing all forms of arts has held the NCPA in great stead till date.

The co-founder of the institution, Dr. Jamshed Bhabha too was famously determined to see the NCPA flourish. In spite of funds falling short many times, and, encountering tremendous problems – like the fire that destroyed the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre just when it was nearing completion – Dr. Bhabha soldiered on with a smile on his lips and fire in his spirit. His passion was nurtured by his strength of purpose. He used to say, “If the cause is good, the means will follow.” It is this wholehearted commitment by its founders and subsequent torchbearers that has enabled the NCPA to reach a level where today, it hosts more than 700 performances and events in genres like Indian and international music, dance, theatre, film, and photography.

The performing arts of any region have represented the pinnacle of human expression, and require talent, inspiration, passion and discipline. When all of this is manifested on stage, it provides something invaluable and intangible – a bridge, perhaps, to a higher state of being. Art is not only important, it is essential if we are to thrive instead of just survive. To highlight this, the NCPA is reinforcing and celebrating its core philosophy of ‘adding art’ to daily life, through its upcoming NCPA ADD ART Festival, to be held from 29th November to 1st December, with an opening night gala on 28th November.

The golden jubilee

The festival seeks to leverage itself as a springboard for change. Hence, apart from celebrating the rich legacy of the NCPA, the ADD ART Festival will also usher in a new era of creativity, strive to generate an increased awareness about what the NCPA stands for, and welcome a broader range of audiences. To this end, the festival will incorporate a gamut of performances, screenings and experiences to help people bask in all that the NCPA has to offer. It will cover a gamut of performance arts from classical to contemporary, across genres like theatre, music, dance, film screenings, etc.

From memorable performances by superstar exponents at indoor venues to open-air performances, art installations, and food stalls in the outdoor areas, guests can expect to be spoilt for choice. The line-up will include the best of national and international talent. In addition to large format performances, there will be multiple workshops and masterclasses by experts, lecture-demonstrations, spoken word, interactive sessions and programmes for children. The structure of the ADD ART festival has been designed in a way that guests can spend an entire day partaking in the cultural and culinary delights the festival has to offer.

The line-up

The opening ceremony on 28th November starts with an evening performance by the SOI, which has created a festive programme on the lines of the New Year’s Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic. The concert will include chorus members from all over India to participate in an all-inclusive national event.

The first day of the festival – 29th November – will see performances by stand-up comedy superstar Zakir Khan, American-Cuban jazz virtuoso Arturo Sandoval and, among other presentations, a dance collaboration between Mallika Sarabhai and Astad Deboo. The second day of the festival will see performances by Igudesman & Joo, the duo of classical musicians that combines comedy with classical music and a series of dance appreciation workshops conducted by the likes of Mandakini Trivedi (Mohiniattam), Jhelum Paranjape (Odissi), Kalamandalam Gopalakrishnan (Kathakali), among others.

The last day of the festival will see an array of mega-powered performances that will combine Indian classical music and dance in presentations throughout the day. Aptly called Morn to Dusk, this series of presentations is not to be missed and will include performances by illustrious maestros like Zakir Hussain and Rashid Khan, and some spectacular collaborations, most notably between Shiv Kumar Sharma and Hariprasad Chaurasia, and between Birju Maharaj and Ajoy Chakrabarty. The festival will end with The Manganiyar Seduction, a production that The New York Times has called ‘rapturous’ and ‘jaw-dropping’, that combines the vibrant music of the Manganiyars with the aesthetics of the red-light district of Amsterdam.

So, come and soak in the vibe of brilliant artistes, get enthralled by wonderful performances, luxuriate in the rich heritage of our past, and experience first-hand what the future beholds. There cannot be a better way to add some art to your life.

The NCPA ADD ART Festival will be held from 29th November to 1st December at various venues at the NCPA, with an opening night gala on 28th November at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre.

This piece was originally published by the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai, in the November 2019 issue of ON Stage – their monthly arts magazine.