Organisers of cultural events in Hyderabad are an anxious lot and count on normalcy to return, finds SANGEETHA DEVI DUNDOO

A year ago, when plans for the Festival of France-Bonjour India were made, Hyderabad was among the cities chosen for the most number of events. The week-long cultural tapestry included concerts, kudiyattam performance, film festival and a delightful street show, Les Girafes. Necklace Road was chosen as the venue for the animal operetta. The plan was to have a herd of red giraffes amble through the streets.

Back then, The French Embassy and the Alliance Francaise wouldn't have fathomed that Hyderabad could give them anxious moments, with frequent calls for bandhs. Now, having invited some of the best performers and sending out invites, the organisers are hoping the Festival of France, beginning today, will be a smooth affair. “As scheduled, we plan to go ahead with concerts, kudiyattam performance and the film festival. Of course, events will have to be called off last minute if there is trouble in the city. As a precaution, we have cancelled the Les Girafes show on Necklace Road since it would involve traffic diversions and special permission from the police. Considering the prevalent situation, we don't want to take chance with a street show,” says Frederic Dart, director, Alliance Francaise Hyderabad.

Prshant Lahoti of Kalakriti Art Gallery and Krishnakriti Foundation, who has joined hands with Alliance Francaise, echoes similar sentiments, “There are anxious moments whenever an event is being planned. We hope for the best since the Krishnakriti art camp, photography workshop and panel discussions are being planned at private venues.”

Organisers of cultural events have had sleepless nights in the recent weeks, wondering if it would be a gamble to go ahead with their plans. Most of them went ahead, after much mulling over. At times, they sent out SMSes assuring invitees ‘we are on'.

Amita Desai recollects conducting the anniversary celebrations of Goethe Zentrum on December 4, when the city was gripped in T-frenzy. “As an organiser, you are responsible for the safety of 500-odd invitees as well. I had to discuss with higher-ups and then take a call. If the protests and disruption of normalcy continues, it may not augur well for Hyderabad as a cultural destination. Those who put in money and effort to conduct events will have second thoughts,” she says.

Last weekend, the city was witness to the much-loved Ruhaniyat concerts. And in a week's time, we'll gear up to listen to Ustad Zakir Hussain and Niladri Kumar. The organisers and those who've purchased tickets for the high-profile show would hope for peace and calm in the city.

A music aficionado voices her scepticism, “A month ago, I skipped the Pandit Jasraj concert at Chowmahalla Palace unsure whether it would be safe to venture out with so much unrest in the city. Now, I am planning to purchase tickets for the Zakir Hussain concert only next week, gauging the situation. I hope things will return to normal.”

Frederic Dart shares that thought and says, “There are many people who are tired of the way things are turning out. They want to lead normal lives and look forward to cultural events.”