Serendipity Arts Festival: Serving Art With Sun, Sand & Good Times
Serendipity Arts Festival opens on 15 December and wraps up on 22 December in Goa.
Serendipity Arts Festival opens on 15 December and wraps up on 22 December in Goa.(Photo Courtesy: Sahar Zaman)

Serendipity Arts Festival: Serving Art With Sun, Sand & Good Times

Starting this weekend, a multi-discipline, multi-performance show begins in a place known for sun, sand and good times. Which makes us wonder why no one thought of it before because what better place could there be than the dreamy beaches of Goa to feast your senses?

Yes, that’s what the Serendipity Arts Festival which opens on 15 December and wraps up on 22 December hopes to achieve. Interestingly, this 3rd Edition of the festival will also mark the 175th anniversary of Panaji, the city.

You may ask what’s special about this festival. Most people don’t need a reason to fly to Goa but SAF (as the festival is popularly known as) ensures that you get to see Goa in a whole new light. To make the arts accessible without being intimidating or elitist is what SAF founder Sunil Kant Munjal aims to bring through his Festival.

“Our vision is that the Serendipity Arts Festival becomes a catalyst for change — for artists, the community, the public and the country, impacting daily life and ultimately changing the way we interact and respond to creativity and the arts across demographics,” he said.

(Photo Courtesy: Sahar Zaman)

So what can you expect to see at the Festival? Picture this: SAF boasts of having well-established curators and experts for each discipline being showcased in this Festival, which means that visitors can hope to see the best that each category has to offer. These curators are like the expert crew of Captain Munjal helping him dock this ship in Goa with great elan.

Musician Sneha Khanwalkar, who is setting up a sound museum in Goa, promises to offer the combination of some rustic sounds picked up by her discerning ear. Co-curator and Tabla soloist Aneesh Pradhan will bring together a never-before-heard performance of qawwals, Baul and Manganiars focusing on the songs of nature.

A much-awaited session is the redefining of the popular music game we have all grown up with. Aneesh calls it the ‘Bandish-Antakshari’ which will have 8 vocalists perform popular film-songs based only on Khayal and Thumri-Dadra.

Star artist and international phenomenon Subodh Gupta dons the hat of the curator for the arts project at SAF. He has decided to call it ‘My Colour in Your Plate’ with 11 international artists including Sophie Calle (France), Paul McCarthy (US) and Phyllida Barlow (UK). He aims to use colour in a political context, in the backdrop of 19th century Old Goa Medical College as the location.

Given Subodh’s fixation with food and plate and utensils in his own art practice, the surprise in this show lies in how he will direct other established artists to fit in his vision.

Environmentalist and photographer Ravi Agarwal has addressed a pivotal concern in today’s world—is photography dead in a post truth world of photoshopped imagery which is creating a parallel alt-reality of its own?

Ravi feels this is where the photograph remerges as a reassertion of identity and uniqueness. As a crusader for the environment, Ravi will also take you through guided walks in Panjim, surrounded by wetlands, beaches and forests, showcasing the city’s unique flora and fauna that add to its green character.

(Photo Courtesy: Sahar Zaman)

A refreshing change in revisiting the role of theatre in our lives, the curators, Atul Kumar and Arundhati Nag have decided to take performances to a few private hallmark homes of Goa. This is called ‘Theatre At Home’ with a view that if people aren’t going to watch theatre, let’s take the performances to their homes.

In Dance, curator and Bharatnatyam exponent Leela Samson will bring the Chavittu Natakam to the shores of Goa. This dance drama has a significant place in India’s maritime art history which is an unusual mix of Indian and Western elements.

The Chavittu Natakam is better understood as the Stamping Dance, a form introduced to us by the Portuguese in our coastal areas in the 16th century.

The big surprise for a SAF visitor is how food will be showcased, not as a means of sustenance, but as an art form. The food experience built for you will focus on local produce and regional flavours. The celebrity curators Odette Mascarenhas and Chef Rahul Akerkar will recreate a Goan marketplace to celebrate the integral role of spices in Indian cuisine. Of course, Goa is the ideal place for that as the Portuguese came here primarily as spice traders.

(Sahar Zaman is a political newscaster, arts journalist and curator.)

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