Anoushka Shankar and T M Krishna headline Esplanade's Kalaa Utsavam festival

Sitar player Anoushka Shankar (left) and Karnatik musician and scholar T M Krishna will headline concerts at the festival. PHOTOS: LAURA LEWIS,J KESHAV RAM

SINGAPORE - International music stars and homegrown collaborations headline this year's Kalaa Utsavam - Indian Festival of Arts 2022, the Esplanade's annual celebration of Indian culture.

It returns from Nov 18 to 27, and early bird tickets for E&Me members go on sale on Sept 1 while general ticket sales begin on Sept 8.

Music fans will have much to look forward to at this festival, with two Indian music stars headlining concerts this year.

Sitar player Anoushka Shankar will be playing her inimitable brand of music with homegrown symphony Orchestra of the Music Makers (OMM) under the baton of Joshua Tan.

In addition, Nadasukham - Opening Music will feature pre-eminent Karnatik musician and scholar T M Krishna in a unique collaboration with Nadaswaram artists Sheik Mahaboob and Smt Kaleeshabi Mahaboob.

Programmer V M Sai Akileshwar, 37, notes that the festival could not bring in any overseas artists for the past two years, so they are "very happy" to be able to do so in 2022.

He says: "Kalaa Utsavam is one of the few Indian arts festivals in the region that has a multi-genre focus, so presenting a set of international artists alongside Singapore artists also raises the profile of the festival on a global front."

He adds that collaborations such as Shankar's concert with OMM also gives greater exposure to local musicians.

Homegrown collaborations also feature in theatre and dance programmes.

The late Santha Bhaskar's life and times will be celebrated in Marabu - Footprints Of An Artist. This final installment of the Marabu trilogy is directed and choreographed by Bhaskar's daughter Meenakshy Bhaskar from a script by playwright Alfian Sa'at who is also the dramaturg.

Two generations of theatre practitioners also work together on Between 5 Cows And The Deep Blue Sea.

Playwright A Yagnya tells the story of Girl, the central character who is caught between traditional matchmaking customs and modern dating mores in this production directed by The Necessary Stage's Alvin Tan.

Between 5 Cows And The Deep Blue Sea, written by playwright A Yagnya, will be directed by The Necessary Stage's Alvin Tan. PHOTO: ESPLANADE - THEATRES ON THE BAY

Apsaras Arts offers an international collaboration in Arisi: Rice, a multidisciplinary production which takes as inspiration the dietary staple that unites Asia. Dance vignettes combine classic bharatanatyam with Balinese dance elements choreographed by Professor I Wayan Dibia. Acclaimed director K. Rajagopal will add film storytelling while the soundscape will include Balinese gamelan and kecak choric singing as well as music by the Singapore Chinese Orchestra.

There will be pop culture offerings too. In line with the Esplanade's PopLore programme which celebrates Singapore music throughout this year, Vasantham Live will explore the Indian pop music scene. Artists Shabir Tabare Alam and Murali Krishnan will anchor the programme, which will also feature emerging singer-songwriters from the scene.

And get ready to party with musicians Harsha Channa, The Band Walle and Joshiley Bhangra as they play the rollicking genre of bhangra in Raula - A Punjabi Night.

More lighthearted fare comes from comedian Rishi Budhrani who has built a show around his tailor father's life experiences in Can I Make You A Suit, Mate?, while families with children can look out for An Indigo Jackal, a fresh retelling of a classic fable by storyteller Kamini Ramachandran and playwright-director Grace Kalaiselvi.

Book it

What: Kalaa Utsavam - Indian Festival of Arts 2022
Where: Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, 1 Esplanade Drive
When: Nov 18 to 27, various timings
Admission: $20 to $120
Info: Esplanade website

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