Blockbuster draws at this year's Indian festival of arts

Blockbuster draws at this year's Indian festival of arts
Festival highlights: Dance-theatre production Angkor - Dance Of The Apsaras.

Best-selling Indian authors Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi, known for their sharp, fast and page-turning novels, are headlining Esplanade's popular Indian Festival of the Arts - Kalaa Utsavam.

Both are former bankers who graduated from India's top business schools before making the transition to writing.

Their books are more Bollywood than Booker and their inclusion in the festival line-up this year is a refreshing shift, one which is a nod to the changing face of India.

It also shows how the festival is adding on more popular elements in its programme.

Last year, a joint concert between Indian and Pakistani bands Indian Ocean and Strings was a highlight. The Esplanade said these two offerings with a twist are meant to appeal to a wider audience.

Into its 12th edition, this festival, which has featured literary authors such as historian William Dalrymple and editor and novelist Tarun Tejpal in previous line-ups, has significantly expanded on its dance and music elements by bringing in cutting-edge theatre and music acts.

With 64 ticketed and non-ticketed performances this year, up from 60 last year, there is plenty to choose from.

Ms Sarita Alurkar-Sriram, 46, a marketing professional and a regular festivalgoer, calls the event "a veritable kaleidoscope of the best of contemporary and traditional Indian arts".

She says literary arts have been a more recent inclusion and "a welcome one at that".

"From a book reading by Dalrymple to poetry reading by Oscar-winning Indian lyricist and poet Gulzar, the festival has beautifully showcased the richness of Indian literary work in the recent past.

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