Bonjour India is back with an array of events in 15 Indian cities to celebrate Indo-French relations

Good news for those who delighted in Bonjour India (2009-2010), an array of cultural, artistic, literary and sportive programmes across the country celebrating Indo-French relations: the fete is back with its wide panorama of events. Here’s an overview of the multi-disciplinary festival, being staged in 15 Indian metros by the Embassy of France in India and the Institut Francais en Inde, in association with the Alliance Française India Network and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). The synergy between French and Indian artistes is the hallmark of Bonjour India.

And then, one thousand years of Peace (till January 27), a dance performance with powerful philosophical and psychological undertones, presented by Ballet Preljocaj on a jaw-dropping stage put together by Subodh Gupta, in Delhi/NCR and Mumbai inaugurates this edition of festival.

Luminocity, as the name suggests, is a celebration of light, where light sculptors Patrick Rimoux and Nandita Palchoudhuri work their magic and designers Didier Leconeat and Hemant Sagar demonstrate how LED lights can drive sartorial brilliance. A concert by Scratch Bandits Crew completes the scintillating soiree at Jantar Mantar Park.

Gates to India Song (February 14 to March 11) at Delhi/NCR, Mumbai and Kolkata, an Eric Vigner play based on the works of French writer Marguerite Duras, has Nandita Das playing a significant role.

Unique collaborations

Among other grand collaborative projects are: a confluence of the geniuses of sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and composer Pierre Thilloy and an offbeat choreography that involves French choreographers N+N Corsino, Indian dancers Revanta Sarabhai and Pooja Purohit and, believe it or not, iPads and iPhones.

Details of these events, as well as those taking place in Chennai, can be accessed at www.bonjour-india-in. Brief synopses of a few Chennai events: “Urban Ballet” (at Lady Andal on January 30) by Anthony Egea from Compagnie Revolution, a hip-hop dance training institute, promotes what is known as ‘hybrid forms’ where hip-hop meets Vivaldi, Ravel, Xenakis and Franck II Louise; Vendeurs D’enclumes (at Museum Theatre on February 15) band presents French songs with multiple influences, ranging from classical music to jazz and rock; The Floating Buffet (at Park Hotel on March 25), a modular installation by La Cellule, is an object lesson in managing space. The floating buffet morphs into different forms and sizes depending on the length of the guest list. Another grand effort is France Heritage (at Lalit Kala Akademi, from March 27 to April 19), a photography project designed to highlight the footprints of the French in India that is spearheaded by conservation architect Aishwarya Tipnis. Employing her work detailing Indian architecture inspired by French influences as the guiding light, photographers Anay Mann, Gigi Scaria, Serena Chopra, Rishi Singhal, Isabel Saij along with Jean-Pierre Dubois, have captured stones and mortar that speak of French heritage.

“This photography exhibition is a result of two, if not three, years of dedicated work,” says Benoit Olivier, director, Alliance Francaise of Madras.

Efforts such as this underline the ambition to reach more people in the second edition, which comes with built-in changes, the most conspicuous one being its timing. Learning from the first edition, which unfolded from November 2009 to January 2010, the organising team have settled on a different season for this long-drawn, multi-disciplinary event. It stretches from January to mid-April. Olivier explains the Festival of France (as Bonjour India is referred to) has been planned this time in such a way that it will be the cultural focus point for the next few months.