Sundeep Bhutoria

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

The India link

2011 is the Year of India in Canada. 
Artistes from all across Indian have visited and performed in various parts of Canada this year. Just about a month back from Kolkata Pt Ajoy Chakrabarty and Dr Tejendra Narayan Majumdar (picture), along with Sujoy Prosad, had a month long show in this country.
All the shows involving Indian artistes were a big draw given the strong presence of Indian NRIs who mostly see India through Bollywood movies and shows of these kind. For the past decade, Indian food and music has been on a high in the global fashion circuit.
Indian music and movies forge the strongest bonds between persons of Indian origin and their native country India even though some of them have not been to India for the past 3 or 4 decades.
The newer generations of Indians born and domiciled in Canada also see India through these shows and films only. However, there is a flip side too. Many performers and shows showcase or rather sell a certain brand image of India that has nothing to do with the true Indian culture.
One of the shows going on here is Bharati at Place des Arts no doubt the costume and faces are Indian, as is the language, but I could not find anything which is in true sense of Indian regional music or dance or art as claimed or touted by these shows.
These kind of shows have become money spinning businesses especially in the cities that are a little off beat and has lesser Indian population. I mean in London, New York, Dubai or Paris you cannot afford to have these kind of shows in the name of India culture or India. The Indian diaspora in these cities know SRK to Ekta Kapoor everything through the films and television soaps.
But is offbeat cities like Caracas, Incheon, Yarawan etc., where the Indian population doesn't travel much to India and do not have a day-to-day link with their native country, these show pass off anything and everything in the name of India.
I don't think it is possible to check such shows and performances abroad in the name of India or Indian culture. I remember in the 90s there used be scores of Bangladeshi restaurants selling paneer curry and soft pita bread in the name of Indian bread.
Those restaurants used to do good business. I remember that when I was in Lima (Peru) there was only one Indian restaurant and in the name of vegetarian thali I was served pickles, tomatoes, pita bread and dal which was like smashed potatoes and lentil curry.
As far as food is concerned things have changed a lot for the better. Today we have the best restaurants serving Indian cuisine around the world and some of them like Tulsi (New York), Tandoor (Sao Paolo), Chutney Mary, Sitare or The Gaylord (London) or Indigo (Dubai), are better than their famous Indian counterparts.
But as far as Indian culture and music is concerned there's a long way to go to promote the right elements of Indian culture internationally.
ess bee

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