The Park’s The Other Festival - 2003  
    Music. Dance. Drama. Art. You.   

    The Chinmaya Heritage Centre, Chennai  
    # 2, 13th Avenue  
    Harrington Road, Chennai 600034  

    It is a festival that came about tentatively in a city where traditional arts plays its dominant role. If it has transcended conventional wisdom and practices then surely it means that tradition can co exist with the modern - which is putting it simplistically. The fact that along with the festival, audiences too have grown and that too with a great deal of enthusiasm judging by the number of sponsors who wish to be part of this movement, is not only heartening but also in its own way a process of evolution. 
    Chitra Mahesh, THE HINDU, Friday, Dec 05, 2003
    The Other Festival, now branded by the Park group of hotels, should, I feel, be made bigger. Better advertising = more visibility = larger crowds. Appreciation: Anita, Ranvir, Devika, Indira, Satyajit, Kumar, Venkatesh, and that perky, efficient bunch of young people from Studentconcepts.. 
    Ranjith Bhaskar,, Daily Review on The Park’s THE OTHER FESTIVAL
    BEING ABSTRACT has its advantage. Everything is open to interpretation and there is pure freedom of expression. It is on these lines that the Prakriti Foundation and Arangham Trust conduct The Other Festival this year at the Park… It would seem that anything that is the other is possible under the minimalist stage at the Chinmaya Heritage Centre where all these have been playing out for the past week. And if audiences sit trapped or rapt, this is all the part of the process called art unwinding.  
    Chitra Mahesh, THE HINDU, Friday, Dec 12, 2003
    ON ZOHRA SEGAL: December 1, 2003
    A woman who symbolises the true spirit of womanhood — a woman you would be proud to be. Zohra Segal — 91-year young person who can remember long lines of poems without much trouble. It seemed rather fitting that someone like her opened The Park- Other Festival on December 1 this year at the Chinmaya Heritage Centre, Harrington Road. For now into its sixth year, it needs the gracious presence of Zohra who is a symbol of longevity and persistence. 

    Assisting her with the English recitation were Tishani Doshi and Priyamvada Purushotam, and when the 50 minutes of magic were over on popular demand Zohra went on to repeat the speech she made at Red Fort, Delhi for the 50th Anniversary of India's Independence - filled with a fervour that is unique in everyway. Hers is a performance to be remembered for posteri. 

    Chitra Mahesh, THE HINDU, Friday, Dec 05, 2003
    Zohra zaps you with her wit and wisdom. This 91-year-old thespian who “loves to flirt” is outrageous and innocent  in equal measure. 
    Lalitha Sridhar, Madras Plus, Dec.4, 2003
    Ninety plus and hilarious…she is irrepressible. Amazing. Charming. Loads of fun…There was never a dull moment with Zohra…Twelve poems later, the audience wanted more. And the chuckling grand old lady was only willing to entertain them…Zohra truly had the audience captivated. 
    Jemima Raman, CITYEXPRESS, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2003
    The quick turn of her head, a deft hand gesture, a clear voice seem to tell you she’s only pretending to be old… Zohra’s performance was a lesson in ‘gestural’ mime and verbal delivery to both actors and afficionados… She went from happy to sad to angry to resigned to winsome to naughty to…and then, whenever she smiled her famous smile, the audience beamed along. 
    Ranjith Bhaskar,, Daily Review on The Park’s THE OTHER FESTIVAL
    There were moments in the Taipei Li-Yuan Chinese Opera performance of "The Woman Who Went Mad Upon Losing Her Son", where poetry entered the sphere of dance. It was created in the never-ending gyres and spirals of Huang Yu-lin's 36-inch water-sleeves of white silk.

    The grief that is produced over the loss of a child… is visceral, it unfolds, it peaks, falls, whirls about. It is never anything direct or linear, but an inexpressible feeling trapped in a gyration, a spiral, a water-sleeve; moments of clarity set upon waves of pure chaos. Along with the discordant musical accompaniment, the experience is something akin to being rattled and pulled out of one's own body and skin. Perhaps this is the point. At any rate, the answer lies in the Shui Hsiu, those magical water-sleev. 

    Tishani Doshi, THE HINDU, Sunday, Dec.14, 2003
    A completely unfamiliar theatrical style and language… Both the actresses sang and spoke in a musical high-sigh; hitting the high Cs and upper octaves seemed no problem to either of them.  After the performance, answering questions through an interpreter who travelled with them, the two actresses explained techniques and cleared doubts. Explaining their flexibility (and demonstrating), they said that their training started when they were 8 years old…   
    Ranjith Bhaskar,, Daily Review on The Park’s THE OTHER FESTIVAL
    Just in case the uninitiated wondered about the gliding feet and squeaky voices produced by the Li Yuan Chinese Opera theatre from Taiwan on December 2, it was made clear at the end of a beautiful, if unfamiliar, performance that it takes years and years of practice and great skill to do that...Chinese opera seems all at once abstract and full of pageantry. 
    Chitra Mahesh, THE HINDU, Friday, Dec 05, 2003
    The use of 36 inches long “water sleeves” of white silk was unique as props and to show emotions. Even though the vocals were in Mandarin, the emotions could be understood because of well modulated voices…a different 30 minute performance. 
    Savitha Suresh, CITYEXPRESS, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2003
    ON NADAKA: Dec.2, 2003
    It was a recital that displayed a genuine love for Indian classical music from the Carnatic style to the Hindustani overlaid by western strumming - voice and instrument combined to provide moments of pure melody… Singing in swaras and tiny alaps Nadaka went over a range of ragas beginning with Hamsadwani. He slipped easily into the two modes (Hindustani and Carnatic) of brief unravelling of the ragas and one could not decide which one sounded better. 
    Chitra Mahesh, THE HINDU, Friday, Dec 05, 2003
    Nadaka played on his acoustic guitar which he designed and built to adapt to the subtle tones of Indian music. He created a meditative atmosphere for people to relax. Somnath accompanied Nadaka on the tabla. 
    Savitha Suresh, CITYEXPRESS, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2003
    It was not the type of the proverbial ‘incendiary’ guitar performance that the world expects each time somebody picks up a guitar… A man seemingly committed to his music, devoted to his instrument; Nadaka comes across as a simple man. 
    Ranjith Bhaskar,, Daily Review on The Park’s THE OTHER FESTIVAL
    The depiction was a visual treat using as they did costumes that were fluorescent (the colours of blue and green to signify the birds) and that against pitch darkness, stood out with electric appeal — a kind of a fantasy setting to tales that are ancient and much known… The tales are nice, but brevity could have made the show powerful. 
    Chitra Mahesh, THE HINDU, Friday, Dec 12, 2003
    A tale of cows and owls interwoven with French moral stories, a Japanese puppetry technique and Kathakali style music. Convoluted? Creatively inspired! An ultra classy performance casting a  spell on the audience with a gloriously inventive story-telling technique. 
    Dhanya Parthasarathy, CITYEXPRESS, Dec.5, 2003
    The stage exploded in the blackness of a primeval soundscape… a powerful convergence of sound, content and superb visual imagery. In darkness, the soft lights caught the parts of the paper-and-wire costumes painted with fluorescent colours, emphasising bird shapes that touched upon fantasy…The production is clever with a dose of saucy innocence. The use of a very basic held-together-with-strings-and-tension slide (painted glass) projector to support certain fables was innovative…The only blue note was that the tempo was slack at times…  
    Ranjith Bhaskar,, Daily Review on The Park’s THE OTHER FESTIVAL
    Monologue can be riveting especially if the actor is dynamic. And Pritham Chakravarthy was… you cannot help but admire her confidence and attitude that transformed her space into a dhobi ghat — with just her conversation and saris that were the props… Vellavi alternated between the woman from a remote corner of Tamil Nadu and the city person that is Pritam. Something Pritam explained after the performance — it was Pritam telling a story of Vellavi! So you would have to accept those merging, changing lines between the personalities!  
    Chitra Mahesh, THE HINDU, Friday, Dec 12, 2003
    ‘Vellavi’ was a just straight narrative. Pritham has the knack of holding a person’s eyes for effect – when talking or in pause. Such visual interaction with the audience is rare these days. She is a good actress through her movements. Her expressions, though, seemed a wee bit contrived, and her accent, in some instances, sounded artificial and formal.  
    Ranjith Bhaskar,, Daily Review on The Park’s THE OTHER FESTIVAL
    A piece of superb solo theatre…Pritham slipped into the accent and slang as to the manner born. And all her talk glowed with the humour, the absence of self pity and that earthy shrewdness which enabled the dhobis of that time to survuve in a harsh environment. They have gone with the wind, taking their donkeys with them. But they deserve a salute. And Pritham gave them just that. 
    N. Vaidyanathan, CITYEXPRESS, Dec.11, 2003
    The solo theatre performance was just plain-talk kept simple with minimum props and sets…a realistic portrayal. 
    Savitha V., CityExpress, Dec. 6, 2003
    ON DANCERS GUILD’s “SHE SAID”: Dec.4, 2003
    “She said” showcased the girls’ dancing skills, along with few basic kalaripayattu movements that have become a prerequisite for contemporary-dance choregraphy. A strip of red cloth, a few umbrellas, a crushed newspaper, a movable square. These were the props… The music, by Kolkata band Chakravyuha, was a welcome distraction. The song ‘Ipshita’ was melodious, with rich guitar chording. 
    Ranjith Bhaskar,, Daily Review on The Park’s THE OTHER FESTIVAL
    A plethora of colours, props and sets brought with it a certain amount of intrigue…colourful costumes and tappy music. But it was not mere steps and rhythm; it was more of a dance-drama. 
    Savitha V., CITYEXPRESS, Dec.6, 2003
    ON LEE SIBLEY: Dec 5, 2003
    Being Abstract has its advantage. Everything is open to interpretation and there is pure freedom of expression… So if Lord Krishna can be a woman, then Crows and Owls can quarrel; and if something she said can find manifestation, then so can Lee Sibley's version of music or to be specific, singing! 
    Chitra Mahesh, THE HINDU, Friday, Dec 12, 2003
    A very Western classical rendition of Rabindra Sangeeth… 
    Express Features, CITYEXPRESS, Dec.11, 2003
    The high key vocals were lilting enough, but sounded just that little bit hollow. The operatic vocal inflections and scale modulations, by themselves, were fine; but was an unneccesary touch to the rich and melodious form intrinsic to Rabindra Sangeet. 
    Ranjith Bhaskar,, Daily Review on The Park’s THE OTHER FESTIVAL
    What come about on the stage was something tremendously serious and contemplative. It was made different with the production values — lighting was used to highlight the dramatic element in ways not often done here, martial arts (choreography — Rashid Ansari) came in to raise the proceedings actors who were clothed in costumes (Amal Allana) that defied normal norms, using cymbals and the digreedo (sound design-Kabir Singh) for that blended with the concept, and voices that wailed and mourned the loss of a son and a warrior. 
    Chitra Mahesh, THE HINDU, Friday, Dec 12, 2003
    Rashid Ansari’s choreography was innovative, strong and balanced, and, with his serenely wild countenance, his didgeridoo, rain stick and his katana, lent a latent, quiet menace to the proceedings on stage. Of the three Karnas, Manish Chaudhari was by far the best and the most expressive. The sound, designed by Kabir Singh, was built up around the didgeridoo and provided a sinister, dark soundscape that suited the concept. The piece was directed by Zuleikha Chaudhari… in its entirety, it was a fine and impressive production – by all definitions. Nissar certainly hit a winner here in Chennai.
    Ranjith Bhaskar,, Daily Review on The Park’s THE OTHER FESTIVAL
    Music, dance, drama, art and an entranced you…that was the effect of day five of The Other Festival had on you. The Mahabharat Project, a spectacular dance-drama project, stole the day – lock-stock-and barrel! Striking body movements, backed by intense sound track, added to the powerful effect of the show. 
    Express Features, CITYEXPRESS, Dec.11, 2003
    ON SALIM GHOUSE’s “SUFIANA”: Dec. 6, 2003
    Ghouse blitzed through the performance, supported by adept role-play by his wife Anita, and Rakesh Iyer, both of whom donned multiple roles. Backed by a strong script, the Players glided smoothly through scenes with effortless transition. 

    The script was well written, with society, politics and life finding their way into the lines. The repartees though, were mostly clichéd, and sometimes, stale. The scenarios were placed intelligently, without insulting the sensibilities of the audience. 

    Ranjith Bhaskar,, Daily Review on The Park’s THE OTHER FESTIVAL
    Illusion and reality – the story of Salim Ghouse is one that seems destined to slide between both.
    Brahmma Raju, Madras Plus, Dec. 13, 2003
    Sufiana was full of witticisms…The production was quite the family affair, with Ghouse in the lead, his wife Anita Salim and their son who was “the official promter” and Rakesh Iyer. 
    Susan Muthalaly, CITYEXPRESS, Dec. 8, 2003
    Supported by a brilliant begum (his real life one too) in Anita Salim, Ghouse strode the stage in total control with one scene seamlessly running into another… Ghouse is a performer of dauntless energy and the high voltage performance made the proscenium crackle - from the moment the dark stage, built up to a charged silence, was split open to reveal the mullah on his back, to the precisely executed martial arts finale. 
    Kausalaya Santhanam, THE HINDU, Friday, Dec.8, 2003
    ON MAYA K RAO: Dec. 7, 2003
    When Maya K. Rao came on stage on the final day of The Other Festival, many in the packed hall were stunned or taken aback — by her incorrigible sense of dressing (costume — Varun Sardana), her deep, throaty voice that told stories of her past and of events in the country, the funky style of music (Ashim Ghosh) that had a bit of rap, a bit of rock and a bit of melody and the clever use of graphics and images (Mimansa Sahay) video (Surajit Sarkar)… A Deeper Fried Jam —comprising dance, music, theatre and video was something that blended a bit of old world charm with contemporary sounds… Maya has evolved a style that imitates the cabaret of Helen (in her words) and the energy of rock artistes of another world. 

    But it was difficult to slot her and that could be because she represented the true spirit of The Other Festival — not to be qualified, quantified or analyse. 

    Chitra Mahesh, THE HINDU, Friday, Dec 12, 2003
    She sang, danced and created moods…Maya K Rao captured her audience from the very first act. It was music, dance, theatre and a play of technology.
    SV, CITYEXPRESS, Dec. 9, 2003
    The performance (can I call it a blues-rock cabaret, Maya?), delivered through multiple media, rocked on different levels… Music was the backbone of this production. Ashim ably backed Maya through the many facets of this production…He collaborated with Maya to bring the sound to her act. Maya is an excellent singer herself…with her bluesy tone and clear pitching, it was Maya’s night all the way.  Maya sang. Maya moved. Maya rocked. Maya grooved. We, the smug audience, lapped it up. We loved it. 
    Ranjith Bhaskar,, Daily Review on The Park’s THE OTHER FESTIVAL


    What is The Other Festival?   
    • The Other Festival   • 2003   
    • Organizers Speak on The Other Festival   • 2003 
    • Sponsors Speak on The Other Festival   • 2003  
    • Photo Gallery   • 2003