Art & Culture

Dear Vadfest organisers, you are not celebrating Vadodara, you're humiliating local artists

vritti.bansal@intoday.comJan 06, 2015 | 11:16

Dear Vadfest organisers, you are not celebrating Vadodara, you're humiliating local artists

Even if you go just by the name, then the Vadfest, which the Gujarat government is organising in Vadodara between January 23 and January 26, should be a festival celebrating Vadodara. So, if that's the case, then why are local artists being ignored? That's the issue I strongly raised and the organisers, in turn, criticised me. The government has pitched the Vadfest as a city-wide celebration of art, music and culture with a children's theatre, pop-up restaurants and street food. The idea of the festival is to showcase the cultural richness of Vadodara, Gujarat's cultural capital. But with their poor planning, the organisers have completely missed the essence.


When the festival was being planned a few months ago, the organisers put a list in the local newspapers saying these are the artists who are performing. Three days later, I got a call from the event managers saying you are selected for Vadfest, so give your consent. I asked them what any artist would check on - who am I performing with, who are the other artists and what is the payment. They kept quiet. Three days later they called to say, we will pay you Rs 11,000. The government has finalised this rate.

Since they want to make it a big event, the government has invited internationally known artists such as Yanni, AR Rahman, Sonu Nigam, Sunidhi Chauhan and Kailash Kher, among others. A lot of artists are being paid in lakhs as well. But in all this, we Baroda artists have been completely neglected.

We have always performed with pride for our city. During the city marathon, we had gone and sung on stage from evening till 4am in the morning. We did this because we love our city. We demand the same respect and treatment as is being given to other artists. Had they asked us to perform for our city, we would not have even charged a rupee. Here, the question is of respect. You can ignore me. But you have no right to insult me.


The manner in which senior artists have been treated is absolutely unfortunate. There is Atul Purohit; just his name pulls in crowds. Then there is Purshottam Upadhyay who has given 60 years to Gujarati music and is a well known name the world over. He was told - we will give you half-hour and then Bhoomi Trivedi will take over. We have nothing against Bhoomi, she is a young singer. But just because she is a Bollywood singer, she gets prominence? I have given 40 years of my life to music in Baroda. Artists like us who are locals should have been involved in the planning of the festival right from the beginning. Instead, we are being humiliated.

They are calling it Vadfest, so then where are the Vadodara artists? It has become more of a corporate event. So, in that case, they shouldn't call it Vadfest.

Even we as Baroda residents are happy that AR Rahman and Yanni are coming to our city to perform. In such a scenario, local artists should have got a chance to perform as well. Artists from other parts of the country, who are of our calibre, are being paid in lakhs and we are being given 11,000 as if they are doing us a great favour.


This experience points to a very important sentiment in our country - that unless you are a part of Bollywood, you are not Indian enough. And you don't deserve respect. Everything revolves around Bollywood which is very unfortunate. The only criterion for success is Bollywood. Gujarati culture is super rich in its folk music, periodically recognised worldwide even in Bollywood with garba and dandiya raas. This cultural base of our identity, itself is forgotten by the so called cultural capital's festival.

Baroda has immense talent. The country's only surviving maan bhatt performer is in Baroda. Bhavai, which is a very evolved and superior performing art form, is a tradition of Gujarat. That should have got at least 30 minutes of performance time. But all these art forms are ignored. It shows a complete lack of knowledge about the art forms of Gujarat. This was an excellent opportunity to showcase the culture of Gujarat. Instead, what they've done is that during the main festival days between January 23 and 26, not a single Gujarat based folk singer or performer has been invited. Only Bollywood singers will be on stage. I am totally against this unfair treatment.

Our self respect has been hurt especially since we've got so much love from Gujarat for decades. The Gujarat Gaurav Puraskar is no less than a Grammy Award for me. Then why am I not being given due respect when a festival is happening in my city? Why are we, the local artists who have done Gujarat proud, being ignored?

Last updated: January 06, 2015 | 11:16
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