Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Games galas will showcase Indian culture - not all Bollywood

Plans for the 2010 Commonwealth Games ceremonies are a bit of a secret. There is speculation that India will showcase its Bollywood formula yet again in Delhi like it did in Melbourne. But here's what - you can actually expect a cultural fiesta replete with classical and folk dances and music!

Holding the spectacle together will be the ceremony's theme -- the wheel of life -- a take on the country's 5,000-year-long civilisation and colourful celebrations, say organisers. The Games will take place from Oct 3-14.

"Our key concept is 'the wheel of life'. We are also incorporating the idea that the 'whole world is one family', which is affirmed in the ancient Upanishad scriptures as 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam'," a top official in the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (CGOC) told IANS.

The organisers say the opening and closing galas have a budget of Rs.84 crore and will blend India's classical and folk dances, with music being the thrust of it.

Unlike the Indian show at the Melbourne Games in 2006, where only popular Bollywood dance numbers and stars like Aishwarya Rai, Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukherjee took centre stage, this time around 8,000 professional artists will be out in the middle.

"Bollywood is an integral part of India and recognised the world over. It could be a part of our closing ceremony but we aren't considering it for the opening," the official said, not wanting to be identified because of organisational rules.

The theme will, as Queen Elizabeth II said while declaring open the Melbourne Games, be to celebrate the value of sport as a means of bringing together people from 71 nations and territories and from a wide range of cultures, traditions and beliefs, the official said.

With rehearsals set to begin next month, the ceremonies department of the OC is buzzing with elaborate plans to dazzle the international gala.

The team working non-stop on the extravaganza is being guided by Kathak exponent Shovana Narayan who is also the ceremonies department's joint director general. Along with her, the creative heads incharge include Bharat Bala, India's noted creative director, filmmaker Shyam Benegal and script writer Javed Akhtar.

The organising committee has hired international consultants for the gala, including Australian producer Ric Birch and renowned creative engineer Mark Fisher.

While Birch boasts of having managed various Olympic Games ceremonies like the magnificent Beijing Games, Fisher is the man behind creative marvels like the Cirque-du-Soleil show.

India is culturally very diverse and we want our best to come out on the international platform. We have Ric and Mark on board to provide an international outlook and execution. India will be holding such a grand show, perhaps, for the first time. In addition, the organising committee is organising a horde of cultural events for players and visitors at different venues, said the person in charge of the show.

Artists from all corners of the country have been nominated by 'regional cultural centres' and will come together in various capacities for the opening and closing events of the Games scheduled in October, she said.

For the opening ceremony alone there are around 15,000 participants, including the nearly 8,000 professional artists from all over the country. Nearly 6,000 schoolchildren from in and around Delhi have been selected to participate.

The rehearsals for the smaller ceremonies like player's welcome will begin in April and the larger events will be rehearsed in July.

In addition to the events by the organising committee, the Delhi government has lined up Indian music, dance and theatre shows in a carnival atmosphere with plenty of Indian food to savour.

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