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Edinburgh Festivals: Highlights – what you want to see?

Edinburgh Festivals: Highlights – what you want to see?

August 5 2016

What are the Asian highlights in Edinburgh this year?

IT’S THAT time of year when many creative folks pack their bags and head for Edinburgh.

Yes, today sees the start of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which officially ends on August 29.

Whether it’s established world-renowned artists or an unknown who totally blows you away, Edinburgh’s a place of discovery and learning for anyone interested or involved the creative arts scene.


As usual, we’ve scoured the programme, talked to our contacts and rounded up a few things from not just the fringe, but also the Edinburgh International Festival, the slightly glitzier bigger sister of the fringe and held at the same time.

There’s also the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which starts next Saturday (August 13) and also finishes up on August 29. It’s one of the largest festival of its kind with over 800 authors.

So let’s get started with the real standout shows – and there are a couple from India that look worth checking out.

There are two plays and the first, “Quli: Dilon ka Shahzaada” (pictured) starts this evening and has a run of five nights in all.

Both plays are produced by the same Qadir Ali Bagi Theatre Foundation from India.

The first play has already enjoyed much acclaim, and has been peformed in Canada, France, Turkey and the US.

It tells the story of a 17th century legend – Prince Quli Qutub Shah is a poet prince and he falls for Bhagmati, a Hindu girl and their love breaks the religious and cultural norms of the time and sets the city of Hyderabad on a quite different path.

Starting next week is the premiere of “1857: Turrebaz Khan”. This is a historical drama set during the First War of Indian Independence (as it is referred to in India, known more colloquially in Britain, as ‘the Indian Mutiny’).

Turrebaz Khan

Based on a real life soldier, Turrebaz Khan, and warrior for Independence, it depicts his final few hours in the hands of a captor who is on the other side of the argument.

The company, run by husband and wife duo from Bengalaru (Bangalore), Mohammad Ali Bag and Noor, are also bringing ‘Turrebaz Khan’ to the Nehru Centre in London for Thursday, August 18.

Mohammad Ali Bag told The Deccan Herald: “What I attempt in my productions is to give my audience an experience of total theatre — dance, music, performance, literature, poetry, painting, and sculpture.”

Another Indian who will be treading the boards of a sort is Vir Das* – the comedian/actor is bringing his “Vir Das: The Unbelievable Dishonest Indian” for a two stint run. One of India’s best known comedians, you can expect him to cover growing up in India, studying in America, world politics, sex – and drug addiction – but it’s all not all true 😉

Some of Britain’s best known Asian comedians are expected to line up for “The BBC Asian Comedy Network Comedy Night”. It’s only on for one night on Sunday, August 21.

Tamasha, one of Britain’s leading theatre companies which develops Asian-themed productions has helped produce “Split/Mixed” which is about Eddy, a British-born Rwandan who returns to his parents’ land but is plagued by the same recurring questions. Ery Nzaramba is Eddy and he was in Peter Brooks’ production of “The Mahabharata” last year, which was at The Young Vic.

If you’re intrigued by the form that is verbatim theatre, here’s an unusual and arresting application of it, as real refugees take on stage personas to describe their journeys and difficulties as they crossed land and sea to be in Britain from such countries as Eritrea, Afghanistan, Somalia and Albania. “Dear Home Office” plays from August 22 for six lunchtimes.

Vir Das

Somewhat wearing his heart on his sleeve will be Joe Sellman-Leava’s “Labels”. It tells a story of migration, prejudice and discrimination and is also an examination of multi-cultural Britain. Already much acclaimed, “Labels” plays in the afternoons from today and for the much of the festival with a mid-programme break.

One of this country’s best known artistic figures, choreographer and dancer Akram Khan takes his pioneering work adapted specially for children to the Edinburgh International Festival.

Last year, “Chotto Desh” travelled the country and played to packed houses of youngsters, often getting their first taste of a dance show.

Also part of the dance attractions in Edinburgh is “Hari Ho Gati Meri” (‘Let my salvation be in the Supreme’). Gauri Diwaker is a celebrated Kathak dancer from India and she presents two interlocking pieces, “Resonance” and “Shadows of Each Other”. Both are based are on the eternal call of Hindu God, Krishna, and his association with the flute and the great love of his life, Radha. It is performed over three days with more than one showing.

Whiteout” is a dance show that explores bi-racial relationships and is informed by the real life experiences of acclaimed choreographer Natasha Gilmore. She looks at the issues and challenges of rasing mixed-race children but not with a heavy hand as six dancers of versatile styles produce an original work.

India Flamenco” is no stranger to the fest – this year, the performance will begin in a traditional format of Bharatanatyam with a graceful female dancer as is the norm but then it will be interrupted by Flamenco and from thereon in nothing will be the same. It plays a series dates beginning today from the evenings.

Joe Sellman-Leava in Labels

Triveni: An Indian Classical Trio” sees three musicians collaborate in a special concert. Prabhat Rao provides the vocals, Drupad Mistry is on the sarod, while Pulkit Sharma plays the tabla. The three are making a return to the festival and are playing only two nights.

Over at the book festival, there are several authors that may catch your eye at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Among the authors appearing are: Anjan Sundaram (from the New York Times) Tahmina Anam, Kamila Shamsie, Anjali Joseph, Sara Khan, Bidisha and Rohan Gunatillakke, Zaffar Kunial.

Perhaps of particular interest will be ‘The British Betrayal of India‘ with Walter Reid. He argues that Britain’s colonial hold over the sub-continent was much worse than it looked, especially as the curtain began to draw on the 200-year-old Empire. An acclaimed military and political historian, Reid claims Britain plunged India into a chaos of a deeper reckoning than has been widely accepted or recognised – when it left in 1947 and the consequences continue to reverberate to the present day. This talk is at 11am on Wednesday, August 17.

Shamsie will join Razi Ahmed, the founding director of the Lahore Literary Festival to talk about the reach and nature of free speech in Pakistan. The talk, ‘Understanding Pakistan Today‘ takes place on Sunday, August 21 in the evening.

*We will have a separate comedy preview – see our comedy preview here on tomorrow!

August 5-6; 8-11
Quli: Dilon ka Shahzaada

1857:Turrebaz Khan
August 12 & 13

Vir Das
August 20-28

BBC Asian Network Comedy Night Special
August 21

‘Split/Mixed’ with Tamasha
August 7&8

Aug 5-15; 17-29

‘Dear Home Office’
August 22-28

‘Chotto Desh’
August 13-14

‘Hari Ho Gati Meri’
August 25-28 (different times, check listing below)

‘India Flamenco’
August 5-9; 11-16; 18-23; 25-28

‘Triveni: An Indian Classical trio’
August 11-13< a href="" target="_blank">

For author/events at Edinburgh International Book Festival (August 13-29) here:

For Edinburgh International Festival August 5-29:

For Edinburgh Fringe Festival:

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture


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