June 16 2015
Leicester celebrates its South Asian cultural heritage with an expanded multi-arts 10-day festival…
OFTEN regarded as the capital of Asian culture outside of London, Leicester will very much live up to its reputation as it hosts one of the largest multi-arts ethnic festivals in the UK.
‘An Indian Summer’ will consist of some 80 different events spread across 10-days, starting from Friday (June 19) and can be experienced at as many as 20 different venues across the city.
First started in 2011, it has been growing in size and stature ever since and this year will represent the most ambitious to date.
As well as film, music, drama, dance and talks, to name just a few, there will be an array of activities for all the family, including many workshops and an added attraction will be the many food stalls and shops taking up temporary residence in the cultural quarter of the city (between The Curve Theatre and The Phoenix). Some events will be free.
Jiten Anand, director of An Indian Summer, told www.asianculturevulture.com: “We have got about 80 events on and instead of cramming it into one weekend, we have it two this year.
“Also, it’s not just the cultural quarter, we have the cricket ground, High Cross Shopping Centre and the train station involved this year.”
The festival will culminate in a grand finale on Sunday, June 28, with “Common Tongue” taking to the stage at the prestigious Curve Theatre.
Last year’s hugely popular finale event, “Tabla with a difference” was held at The Phoenix, a smaller space, so it’s a sign of the festival’s increasing pull.
“This is going to be the biggest show we’ve done – The Curve holds about 280 seats.”
Headlining will be Bandish Project, a Mumbai based band that was among the first performers at An Indian Summer, returns with its unique fusion sound, mixing the classical sound of tabla with House, Drum N Bass, and Dub Step, among others.
“We wanted to take things up a notch after last year,” said Anand, “and attract more people. I am really looking forward to that – there are going to be some exciting guests too.”
Among the other attractions will be the hugely successful drama, “Blood”, a Tamasha production, which has been touring the country and visits The Curve next Friday (June 26).
About a cross-cultural romance, it has been hailed as one of the dramas that defines the multi-cultural currents of today’s Britain.
For Anand, another top level attraction will be the day of films linking India and Uganda through LGBT stories.
Anand explained: “There is a close story between Uganda and Asians, especially after 1972 (and expulsion of the Asian community, with many finding refuge in Britain).
“But in terms of programming we wanted to push boundaries and challenge preconceptions.
“We want to educate people about Indian culture and art in a way that is not often expressed.”
In a special pre-event, Terry Mardi, producer and multimedia champion, will talk to India’s most powerful independent film producer, Guneet Monga tomorrow (Wednesday, June 17) at The Phoenix, at 7.30pm. The talk will be followed by a screening of Mardi’s popular and Community Channel’s first ever drama series, PREMature.
Part of the festival overlaps with Leicester Writes (June 25-28), which promotes local authors and is the brainchild of Farhana Shaikh, the founder of Dahlia Publishing and The Asian Writer.
Jiten has taken over role the played by his brother last year. Bipin was one of the founding members of An Indian Summer, along with the festival’s creative director G Sian, and Pritesh Varia.
“We’re all Leicester-born and bred and when we started we were doing this for the local community, now we’re looking at it from a national and international scale.”
He felt that An Indian Summer was part of an ongoing debate and would encourage young people to talk about their Asian cultural heritage and how they should manage it, in what is a mostly a minority environment.
“I am hugely interested in any culture, and so are my colleagues.
“We love exploring culture and art as passions and hobbies and particularly Indian culture in Western countries.
“There are now third and fourth generations here and we’re going to see more and more of this (cultural activity) over the next decade, and we like to think we’re paving the way to start new conversations and get beyond and talk about subjects that have been hidden.”
The organisers behind An Indian Summer are already looking ahead and are nothing if not ambitious and imaginative.
“We’d like it to be a month-long festival, and it could start in Leicester and then it could tour and go around the country.
“A great headline act would be an artist like Anoushka Shankar with Radiohead – one of the best classical artists playing with arguably one of the best bands that have existed in the western world.
“That would be a celebration of culture, it doesn’t matter what age, ethnicity or background you are, we just want to put on events that everyone can enjoy together.”
• An Indian Summer opens with the public launch at 12pm on Friday, June 19, in Jubilee Square.
Selected highlights only for full programme
‘Botown’ – Bollywood big band at Y Theatre, 7 East Street, City Centre, Leicester LE1 6EY from 8pm, Saturday, June 20 (£12.50-£15).
‘Origins’ – Theatre and puppet show about man and nature at Attenborough Arts Centre, Lancaster Rd, Leicester LE1 7HA Saturday, June 21, 3pm (pay what you decide)
‘Labryrinth’ – Dance, Sonia Sabri and Ash Mukherjee with musical score by Sarvar Sabri at The Curve, Rutland Street, Leicester, LE1 1SB from 7.45pm, Tuesday, June 23 (£10-£14)
‘Blood’ – play, The Curve, Friday, June 26 and Saturday, June 27 7.45pm (£12 on door)
‘Bejewelled Cabaret‘ – Talulah Blue presents a showcase of performers with live music and elegant dancers and magical animations of Lotte Reiniger at Midas 8pm Friday, at Midas Bar, Yeoman Street, LE1 1UT at 8pm, Friday, June 26 (£12 on door).
‘Common Tongue‘ – multimedia show/concert, Curve, Sunday, June 28, from 8.30pm (£6-£10)
‘Gattu’ – A family-friendly story about a young boy in India who dreams of flying a kite higher than the mysterious black one, ‘Kali’, Saturday, June 20 and Sunday, June 21 12pm-1.30pm (£5-7) at Phoenix, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG
India and Uganda Revisited on Saturday, June 20 at Phoenix.
All-day pass costs £12 ‘Transindia’ – A documentary about Hijras in India 2pm-2.30pm.‘Call Me Kuchu’ – about the situation of gay men in Uganda where homosexuality is outlawed..from 2.45pm, 87 mins. Followed by a panel discussion at 5pm.
‘Qissa‘ – A Tale of A Lonely Ghost – Anup Singh’s award winning tale set in the midst of Partition and family strife after a fourth daughter is born to the same family. 6.15pm (109 mins)
‘Heaven & Earth’ – Musician Hetain Patel responds to a recording of Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri’s Darbar concert of 2012 at Phoenix Cube.
Talks – Events (except ‘Modi Project’) in association with Leicester Writes (June 25th-28th)
‘An Audience with Bali Rai’, author of the critically acclaimed ‘Unarranged Marriage’ and in 2010, his novel ‘Rani and Sukh’ become a set GCSE text at the Courtyard Suite, Phoenix Square, 1.30pm-2.30pm, Saturday, June 27.
‘Blood’ – play post show discussion at Phoenix with playwright, Emteaz Hussain, 11.30am, Sunday, June 28.
Nikesh Shukla – author of ‘Meatspace’ talks about writing and the joy and perils of social media for the writer, at at Phoenix, 1.30pm, Sunday, June 28.
‘Project Modi’ – Does India’s new prime minister Narendra Modi represent a real departure from India’s traditionally secular (in name anyway) politics or is his election based on economic development and the digital revolution spreading across all of India? De Montford University lecturer Vimal Patel leads the debate, at Seminar Curve Room, 4.30pm-6pm, Saturday, June 26.
‘In Conversation Hetain Patel’ with an Indian Summer Festival creative director, G Sian, exploring what it means to be Indian, cultural, creative, and possibly even Spider-Man…at Phoenix Courtyard Suite, 3pm, Sunday June 28.
An Indian Summer hits Leicester (2014)