Shyamhari Chakra

Inaugural show receives lukewarm response from audience

A majority of galleries are empty

A visitor terms it the dullest edition

KONARK: Has the annual Konark festival of Indian classical dances, now in its 20th edition, been reduced to a mere annual ritual of the Orissa government? This question intrigued many who attended its inaugural evening here on Tuesday.

Modelled after the famous Khajuraho festival ‘to promote the world heritage site of Konark as an attractive tourist destination while providing patronage to Indian classical dances,’ the festival this year has received the lowest number of tourists from India and abroad.

The empty galleries bore testimony to it. The audience mostly comprised the officials of the host tourism department, a huge contingent of media invited from the State capital and of course the large number of security personnel deployed for the VIPs’ visit.

“I have been attending the festival regularly ever since it was launched. This would be the dullest edition of the festival as far as audience response is seen,” observed Satish Mehta from Mumbai.

Disturbances

“There were a lot of disturbances for the VIPs and visitors’ movements while Sonal Mansingh was performing Odissi. I could not enjoy the show,” lamented C.Vasavanna, a retired bank officer from Karnataka state who has been a regular visitor to the festival for the past 14 years.

Several national and regional newspapers carried spacious advertisements of the festival released by the Orissa Tourism. But no advertisement had any information on the artistes scheduled to perform while details of the guests scheduled to inaugurate the event were prominently displayed.

While the photograph of the Tourism Minister, the principal host of the festival, was published in all the advertisements, the organisers did not feel it wise to carry the photograph of celebrated danseuse Sonal Mansingh who opened the festival this year with her recital.

Governor M.C. Bhandare inaugurated the festival, while Tourism Minister D.P. Mishra, legislators of Nimapada and Kakatpur, senior officials of the Tourism Department and Puri district administration were present.

The inaugural evening witnessed Odissi by Mansingh followed by a scintillating group Kathak presentation by Kathak Kendra, New Delhi led by Guru Geetanjali Lal.