Paekakariki to host Festival of India next month

Indian Music, Dances, Film (Shakespeare Wallah) and Food

Venkat Raman
Auckland, September 7, 2022

The small population of Paekakariki will experience the unique culture, heritage and cuisine of India at an event scheduled to be held next month.

Organised by Helen Keivom, who hails from the Northeast Indian State of Manipur, the Festival of India will be held at St Peter’s Village Hall on October 1 and October 2, 2022.

She said that the event, hopefully, the first in an annual series, will feature the dances by the students of the Wellington-based Mudra Dance Company and an Indian Classical Music Ensemble by Basant Madhur and his troupe from Auckland.

“The programme on October 2, 2022, will incorporate a Music Workshop, a film and food stalls. The Festival will celebrate Kapiti’s cultural diversity and acknowledge the essential contribution of the Indian community to the District,” she said.

Senior students of Mudra Dance Academy Wellington will perform at the Paekakariki Festival (Photo Supplied)

About Paekakariki

Paekakariki is a town in the Kapiti Coast District in the southwestern North Island, one of the northernmost suburbs of Wellington. It is located 22 km north of Porirua and 45 km northeast of Wellington Central Business District. Its name means ‘Parakeet Perch’ in Maori.

With a population of 1850 people, Paekakariki serves as an important transportation node. To the south, State Highway 59 climbs towards Porirua; to the north, the plains extend inland from the Kapiti Coast; at Paekakariki, the highway and North Island Main Trunk railway run close together between the coast and hills. Paekakariki is also served by the nearby Transmission Gully and Kapiti Expressway (both are a part of State Highway 1).

About Mudra Dance Company

Mudra Dance Company is among the most popular and professionally managed Indian classical dance companies in New Zealand and has performed to illustrious acclaim for more than 20 years. Directed and choreographed by Vivek Kinra, the Company specialises in the ancient tradition of Bharata Natyam style as the mode of expression to create a vivid spectacle of rhythm, colour, music and motion.

The Company’s scheduled performance at this year’s WOMAD was cancelled due to Covid restrictions. Mr Kinra has presented lectures and demonstrations to the New Zealand School of Dance, New Zealand Drama School, Victoria University’s Music Department and the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

About Basant Madhur

The Basant Madhur Ensemble comprises three generations of the Madhur family on the Tabla, Sitar, Violin and harmonium. Tabla Master Basant is the Director of Sargam School of Music where he tutors with his multi-instrumentalist brother Deepak and father Professor Shukdev Madhur, a retired music lecturer specialising in violin.

The Basant Madhur Ensemble (from left) Basant, Arohi, Shukdev, Sargam and Akhil Mathur (Photo Supplied)

Basant’s daughter Sargam and nephew Akhilesh complete the Ensemble.

Basant has won numerous national and state numerous awards in India.

In New Zealand, he has accompanied international music legends such Grammy winner Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (Ry Cooder), Flautists Ronu Majumdar (Ravi Shankar) and Rakesh Chaurasia, alto saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath and Mridangam master Patri Satish Kumar.

Basant has also collaborated with Western musicians in fusion music.

The Musical Workshop

According to Ms Keivom says the Ensemble’s Sunday morning workshop is suitable for intermediate to professional levels. ‘Attendees can bring acoustic instruments such as Violin, Guitar, Ukulele, Flute, Saxophone and Percussion.

“Prior knowledge of Indian classical music is not a requirement, just a love of melody and rhythm. The programme will centre around Raaga. Following the Sunday Workshop, members of Kapiti’s Indian community will host stalls with Indian food, clothing, and henna painting. Entry is free for the stalls from 12.30 pm,” she said.

Shakespeare Wallah, a highly acclaimed 1965 Indian film will be screened at the Festival to raise funds for the maintenance of the Paekakariki Community Hall.

A scene from Shakespeare Wallah (Shashi Kapoor and Felicity Kendal)

The film features Shashi Kapoor, a popular actor from the famous Kapoor family, his father-in-law and sister-in-law, respectively Geoffrey and Felicity Kendal and Madhur Jeffery. The film, directed by James Ivory, is loosely based on the real life of Geoffrey, his family and his travelling ‘Shakespeareana Company, which earned him the Indian sobriquet ‘Shakespeare Wallah.’

Shakespeareana travelled throughout India in the 1940s and 1950s performing Shakespeare plays to the Royalty and bemused villagers. Jennifer Kendal, also a daughter of Geoffrey, married Shashi Kapoor and their own love story is part of Indian film legend. Shakespeare Wallah was the second film made by the Merchant-Ivory team and is being screened in Paekakariki with their permission.

Festival Organiser: Helen Keivom (Photo Supplied)

The Programme:
Saturday 1 October: Mudra Dance Company and Basant Madhur Ensemble: Cost per ticket: $20
Sunday 2 October: Music Workshop: Charges per person:  $20
Sunday 2 October: Shakespeare Wallah: Ticket per person: $10
Tickets at undertheradar.co.nz and eventfinda.co.nz.
Phone bookings: Helen Keivom: 027-2584251

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