Parramasala 2014: Indian Link’s top picks

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It’s a largely home-grown affair at this year’s festival, write KOMAL UTSAV JAGAD and RAJNI ANAND LUTHRA

Kanjoos, an adaptation of Moliere’s The Miser directed by Saba Zaidi Abdi

The South Asian arts festival in Parramatta, in its fifth year, was launched in late August by Premier of NSW Mike Baird.

“Parramasala celebrates the contributions made by NSW’s Indian and South Asian communities,” the Premier said at the event, adding, “It also reinforces Australia’s friendship with India and South Asia”.

To be held from 17 to 19 October, the list of acts to be featured this year was released on the occasion.

At first look the program appears rather subdued, with only a few acts direct from overseas, none of them A-list. Instead, it is crammed with home-grown talent, many of them new to the scene.

Nevertheless, this is a blessing in disguise. Let’s take this as an opportunity to allow our own arts practitioners to strut their stuff. Hurrah for Parramasala, for providing them this opportunity: too many of our performers struggle to even get a foot in at the mainstream arena.

And last year, even Shah Rukh Khan, a serendipitous Parramasala act, could not save the festival, so poorly were the overseas acts picked. The meagre showing then led to murmurings earlier this year that the festival might be scrapped entirely.

So this time round, it’s pretty much a community affair. Even Parramatta Mayor John Chedid described it as “a festival of the people and for the people”.

The launch itself was a community affair, held at a Harris Park restaurant and sponsored by a local spice shop. An interesting move, considering the more high-profile launches in previous years. But then again, this year the festival extends to neighbouring Harris Park, giving its ‘Eat Street’ some much-deserved prominence. And certainly it is Harris Park that is the hub of much Indian, if not South Asian, activity in this city.

Some events worth waiting for include the musical acts Eastern Empire, Bridge and Its People and DouDoumba; belly dancer Shiva and crooner Priyanka (Pri Pri).

The film festival also has some must-see listings, including the heart-warming Her Inner Song by Indu Balachandran, Oonagh Sherrard’s Ashok Roy Story, Ashish Avikunthak’s Rati Chakravyuh, Shefong Chung’s From Border to Border, and Indian Aussies: Terms and Conditions Apply by our very own Anupam Sharma, who is also Ambassador for Parramasala this year.

Speaking at the launch, Festival Chairman Hari Harinath sent a message out to the community: “An activity of this nature needs the support not only of the government, but also of the people who live in the area, and of businesses who operate in the area,” he said.

He could not have been more right. It’s now up to the South Asian community to show that they support the venture. We need to get out there and back our performers, so that, indeed, we may continue to have a Parramasala.

L to R: Parramatta Mayor John Chedid, Parramasala Chairman Hari Harinathand, Festival ambassador Anupam Sharma, and Premier Mike Baird light a lamp to officially launch the festival

 

Indian Link’s top ten picks, in no particular order:

1. The Yard Shaun Parker and Company’s National Dance Award winner and Helpmann nominee, this dance theatre is inspired by Lord of the Flies and features multicultural schoolboys from Western Sydney

2. L-FRESH The Lion If you haven’t heard him already, go check out our very own hip hop star who is creating waves through his music, positive attitude, and message for today’s youth

3. Kanjoos An Indian adaptation of Moliere’s The Miser, this play is directed by Saba Zaidi Abdi

4. ParramaSLAM Now this is a unique event where Poetry Slam meets Mushaira!

5. Diva Divine Opera singer Heather Lee presents the life of her own great aunt, an opera singer who toured India in the 1890s

6. ByOb Bring your own Bollywood Join this photographic endeavour to become part of a Bollywood fillum poster

7. Chindian Diaries An exhibition of stories of people with mixed Chinese and Indian heritage

8. Chants of love Marvel at the high-energy qawwals of Sufi devotional music from around South Asia

9. Masala Markets An upmarket Meena Bazaar with outdoor food, the markets at Prince Alfred Park are bigger this year (don’t miss the masala tea at Chai Temple)

10. Food carts Can’t wait for the street-hawker style food carts. Bring on the raidiwallahs!

 

For more details visit www.parramasala.com

 

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