What started out as a small festival in Chennai for the students of art has grown today into a national movement involving students from various disciplines and engaging them in an interactive atmosphere.

Svanubhava was conceptualised with the intention of welcoming students to the diverse, multicultural world of Indian arts and introduce them to the underlying beauty of even the rarest of art forms.

This festival aims to involve students from music and dance institutions, private and public educational institutions, and in the process, create hubs of student communities where they can feel a sense of belonging and nurture their passion towards the Indian art forms. The goal of Svanubhava is to create an understanding for the arts and bring about a basic sense of respect towards them.

NXg talks to the eight-member core team from Svanubhava as they kick-start the sixth edition today.

How does it feel to be young entrepreneurs coordinating such an event?

This is the sixth year we are conducting Svanubhava in Chennai, but that’s hard to believe! We are still going with the same energy we started with, fresh ideas continue to pour in, and each year we continue to explore how we can reach more youngsters through the festival. Our team has steadily grown over the years and it's a remarkable feeling to look back at where we started and how far we have come. It’s a great feeling to be part of this cause!

How do you juggle your other responsibilities, take out time for other activities or even career?

More than anything else, I think it is the passion that drives us to be a part of Svanubhava year after year. I believe that it is every one’s duty to try and give something back in whatever little way possible. The atmosphere of interaction that is created there between some of the senior most artistes and 1000 young minds is irreplaceable. Yes, juggling the responsibilities of a huge festival like this and continuing your own job is difficult, but if you really want to do something, it doesn’t matter how much time you have, you just get it done. It’s all about prioritising and being organised.

How did the team get together?

Initially, most of us were from an organisation called YACM. The team has since expanded with many volunteers joining us to contribute to this cultural movement and make a difference. The most beautiful thing about this team is that we come from different backgrounds; we have different perspectives and bring different values to the table; and it all comes together resulting in the most amazing festival for the student community. All of us believe passionately in the ideology behind Svanubhuva and it is this passion that is taking the team forward, with new people, new ideas and new cities!

Is Svanubhava expanding to other cities as well?

It was strictly in Chennai from 2008 to 2011 but we started getting a lot of calls and emails from students all over the country saying they wanted a Svanubhava in their city and not just through a webcast. So we first went to Delhi in 2011, then to Trichy in 2012, and now Bangalore in 2013.

We even went international last year by taking the festival down south to Sri Lanka. I think that’s the mark of a true movement, for the arts.

What kind of value addition does Svanubhava bring in every year?

Every year from the very beginning we try to showcase various art forms and bring in veteran artistes from the length and breadth of the country, with whom students get an opportunity to interact personally. We’ve covered almost all art forms of India and this is one reason why Svanubhava has gone national and international too. Moreover, the audience strength keeps increasing every year.

How many youngsters took part last year? How many do you expect this year?

Over the years we have grown to coordinate with over 45 schools and 10 universities across the city. Last year we had a student attendance of about 1,200!

The children have a unique experience interacting with artists, and participating in the festival along with their peers. Each year we reach out to more schools including public schools, private institutions, and schools for special children. A few such as the Asian College of Journalism and MOP Vaishnav College for Women have helped us with online promotional articles in the past and live coverage as well! This year we will be having all these institutions and more! We have coordinated with a few organisations to bring in many Corporation schools to the festival. We have school students driving down from Tiruvannamalai, more colleges participating and it looks very promising!

Is your age an advantage or disadvantage at Svanubhava?

The most important thing about Svanubhava is that age has never mattered. I think the fact that everyone in the group has an equal standing and there is no hierarchy whatsoever reiterates that age isn’t even a matter that we are concerned about.

Work is not segregated on the basis of age either. It is simply based on who is willing to do what and who is the best person to coordinate.

While functioning as a team, how do you deal with different opinions?

Never has it been difficult for us to deal with opinions. People working for Svanubhava are those who have known each other and worked together for quite some time now. It’s always the logic behind and the content value of an individual’s opinion that is given merit, more than who that person is.

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