The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF) is a landmark in Mumbai’s cultural scene that brings you eclectic forms of artistic expressions including crafts, performing arts, food, culture and history. When it comes to Mumbai’s culture and history, the massive contributions made by our Parsi community is greatly acknowledged. No wonder then, that Parsis also form an integral part of the KGAF, involved in all aspects of this cultural bastion of Mumbai!
US Parsis love our food and what better way to express this than organize events that cater (pun unintended) to gastronomic delights! At KGAF we meet Nicole Mody, Festival Coordinator and Food Curator, who shoulders the responsibility of organizing the entire food vertical of the Festival including workshops and contests. Nicole and her team work to precision ensuring seamless transition from one event to the next. The packed houses at the workshops bear testament to the fact that Nicole knows what the public wants. Nicole says, “I have been a part of the KGAF since the year 2009 but it was only in 2012 that I moved to curating the food festival. I am a big foodie and I guess this was an evolution of sorts for me because even in my professional career I have moved from planning art and public events to marketing brands and curating food related events.”
Another Parsi we bump into is Chef Darius Madan, executive chef at Kaboom, a restaurant based at Ballard Estate and Kamala Mills – it’s USP is that the menu changes every day! Chef Darius was conducting a workshop at Kala Ghoda with many avid listeners enthusiastically noting down his recipes and cooking tips.
The art installations at KGAF are one of the biggest draws of the festival. This year, in keeping with the theme of the KGAF, ‘If Wishes Were Horses’, there was an interesting installation put by the students of St. Marys School (ICSE). Titled ‘Dreamatorium – A Magical Octohorse’, the children imagined a golden horse that has tentacles which do the work while the horse can rest. Amongst the group of 45 boys who envisioned and executed this work of art, were three young Parsi lads Ayaan Dalal, Darian Dalal and Pezan Hiramanek who excitedly contributed through the entire creative process.
Ever wondered why the area near Churchgate Station is called Fort? Well, Sanaeya Vandrewala explains all this and much more about the history of Mumbai when you join her on one of the heritage walks she conducts during the course of the KGAF. A Conservation Architect with ‘Abha and Lambah and Associates’ by profession, she has been part of the KGAF for the past six years. “Being born and brought up in Mumbai, I find it very interesting to learn the history and facts about the city. Also, being a conservation architect, I love explaining the different detailing of the architecture and carvings in our heritage buildings. Often while doing research, I come across unknown facts, drawing linkages to other facets of history.” Sanaeya takes her responsibility very seriously, “I do thorough research as I do not wish to ever pass on any erroneous information. These walks are about educating the people and making them understand the rich history of the city.”
You would be forgiven for thinking that Rustom Dara Gowadia’s stall at the KGAF, Rare Thoughts, was part of the art installations. His creations are indeed visual bursts of creativity. What’s most amazing is despite his pieces being highly creative works of art, they provide practical / functional usage as well! Amalgamated from scrap metal and wood, Rustom and his rare works are now almost a fixture at KGAF. Going by the number of pieces that have already been sold, Rustom is one artist whose popularity will never wane! Rustom says, “We have been a part of KGAF since its inception. I find the customers here very nice and they are quite interested in how the pieces are made as well. I am a part of designing and execution of every piece in Rare Thoughts.”
Another stall that draws good footfall is Taronish Bulsara’s NGO that works for the welfare of street dogs – WFA or ‘World For All’. The stall offers animal-based merchandise that promotes the cause and helps raise funds for various animal welfare programmes. “At the Kala Ghoda Fest, we wish to create greater awareness about various causes and programmes related to street dogs”, said Taronish.