In a special programme highlighting the positive contributions of Kalaa Utsavam, one of the longest running festivals of Indian arts in the world, Singaporean and international artists and aficionados spoke endearingly, reminiscing about their own special connection and everything else the festival has achieved in 20 years.
Director of Kalakshetra Foundation, an institution on Bharatanatyam dance and Gandharvaveda, Hari Padman, calls participating in Kalaa Utsavam, “an unforgettable experience”. Hari Padman had played Lord Hanuman in a spellbinding Apsaras Arts production Anjaneyam in the 2017 edition of the festival.
Gushes celebrated Kathak dancer and choreographer Aditi Mangaldas, who was a performer at the first Kalaa Utsavam in 2002, and has returned many times since, “A connection has been built over 20 years. I remember that in 2002, they had the faith in us to put us on this wonderful platform.”
"The festival has emerged as a torch-bearer for Indian arts and culture and an aspirational platform for budding artists. It has also been pivotal in providing young Singaporean artists an opportunity to launch their careers as well. “When we see local arts groups putting up their dream projects on the biggest stage and it comes alive in that space, it is a very gratifying moment,” said Rajeswari Ramachandran, who has led the Kalaa Utsavam team at Esplanade for the past 15 years.
Aravinth Kumarasamy, Creative Head & Managing Director, Apsaras Arts, who has helmed productions like Anjenayam, concurs as he says, “Co-producing or Kalaa Utsavam has enabled Apsaras Arts to become an international player in this industry.”
Well known pianist Anil Srinivasan, who has performed five times at Kalaa Utsavam over the years, says an opportunity to present new work at the coveted festival is like winning an international award.
Hosted by one of the most well known Indian Singaporean presenters, GT Mani, in addition to the above, the programme features Indian Ocean band members Amit Kilam and Nikhil Rao, Gayathri Sriram of Shrutilaya, Chitra Krishnakumar – Soorya Singapore, Karishma Khanna – Teamwork Productions, Nawaz Mirajkar, Temple of Fine Arts, Jayaprema, Rhythms Aesthetic Society, Sharul Channa, Stand-up Comedian, Somasekharan, Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society, Joash Edelstein, Groove Factory, Renu Suresh, Temple of Fine Arts, Rani and Kalah, AK Theatre. Atul Kumar, The Company Theatre and the US based dancer choreographers, Mythili Prakash.
Watch - Celebrating 20 years of Kalaa Utsavam here.