The Kala Ghoda razzmatazz


The 17th edition of the annual Kala Ghoda festival saw dozens of events, grand installations and diverse stalls, offering large doses of fun and culture to the thousands who flocked to this small but iconic precinct in South Mumbai over nine days. Disha Shetty reports.

The magic of Kala Ghoda, the annual festival that brings the streets of South Mumbai alive, is such that Mumbai residents are treated to street art, literature, workshops, panel discussions, open air music concerts and dance performances – all for free. Held between February 6 and 14 this year, for most Mumbai residents, attending the festival is a ritual they follow just as they would celebrate Christmas or Diwali.

Many firsts this year
What took the festival to another level this year was the tie-up with the central government’s ‘Make in India’ programme. A first in the history of Kala Ghoda was that it was inaugurated by the Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who said at the inauguration, “The team of Kala Ghoda and the people of Mumbai are grateful to the government who considered Kala Ghoda as a correct platform and we are honoured to be a part of Make in India as that is what the festival is about, Indian arts, culture, food and celebration!”

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan performs at Kala Ghoda

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan performs at Kala Ghoda

The festival saw the likes of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasiya, Shubha Mudgal and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, leaving the audience members spellbound. The book Kala Ghoda – Celebrating Mumbai’s Art District by Abha Narain Lamba, about the iconic history of the Kala Ghoda Association and the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival was launched at the start of the festival.

Quirky installations
What has always attracted visitors to the festival are the art installations which are always quirky, thought provoking and innovative. Over the years, Kala Ghoda festival has had a huge role in introducing Mumbai residents, who are always in a rush to reach somewhere, to the world of art, culture and heritage. The theme for the festival this year was ‘Crossing the Threshold’ (Seemaprabhava). The crowds admired the installations, clicked selfies around them and some went back with food for thought. The departure from the usual this year was that the Cross Maidan that normally hosts music and dance events also played host to 25 food stalls and 20 artisanal stalls. This was as a part of the ‘Make In India’ tie-up. So while the music and dance events continued, the Maidan also turned into a food lover’s paradise. Open air, food and entertainment – all in one place. What more could one want?

An eclectic art installation called ‘Cutting Chai’

An eclectic art installation called ‘Cutting Chai’

Closing with a bang
While the entire festival was packed with activities like a panel discussion on organic food to workshops in theatre and film screenings, the closing of the festival was no less interesting. The final weekend saw Vir Das’ Alien Chutney take to the stage as the audience crowded around the Asiatic library steps, and delivered a comedy rock musical that had everyone in splits.
The festival came to a wonderful end on Valentine’s Day with a nearly two-hour long concert by Ayushman Khurrana. The versatile actor/singer had the audience on their feet, dancing to his Punjabi folk tunes. He entertained the audience with anecdotes from his time as a budding actor in Mumbai and even spoke about his memorable journey and his love for his hometown, Chandigarh.
The festival ended on an upbeat mode as the focus shifted to the Make in India week.

Disha Shetty is a young journalist who likes travelling and writing.