India to return to the shores of the Nile

Ati Metwaly , Monday 9 Mar 2015

Films with Amitabh Bachchan, a Bollywood flash mob and yoga in Al Azhar Park all in the programme at this year's India by the Nile, to run from 28 March to 15 April

Rajasthan Josh
Kalbelia dancer performing with Rajasthan Josh band during the second edition of India by the Nile, April 2014. (Photo: Ati Metwaly)

India by the Nile is back this year from 28 March to 15 April, with its third edition to bring Indian performing arts, music, films, food and crafts to Cairo, Alexandria, Ismailia and Port Said.

"If you look into the many cultures across the globe, and rank their popularity in Egypt, you will probably find India among the most popular ones," Navdeep Suri, the ambassador of India to Egypt, told the press on Sunday.

Yoga, Indian food and Bollywood films are very popular in Egypt, he said.

"I've been to a small village near Kom Ombo [an agricultural town in the south of Egypt] and I started talking to some teachers working there," he said. "All of them knew all the Indian Bollywood actors. I'm not sure they would know the same in the case of Hollywood for instance."

An elite fraction of the population are adepts of American cinema, but the popularity of Indian cinema transcends class, he said.

This year's festival will include the Indian Film Panorama, with a focus on Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan. Anand (1971), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Agneepath (1990) Black (2005) and Paa (2009), all films starring the actor, will screen between 29 March and 3 April at the Artistic Creativity Centre located on the grounds of the Cairo Opera House.

Born in 1949, Bachchan catapulted to fame when he was cast as the leading role in the Hindi action-thriller Zanjir (1973). Over the four decades of his active film career, he has appeared in over 100 films, garnering numerous awards as Best Actor. Most recently, he was awarded India's Padma Vibhushan award for his service to the nation.

After inviting prominent Indian actress Shabana Azmi in 2014, this year the festival is to host renowned Indian journalist and author Sidharth Bhatia. 

A musical extravaganza titled A Tale of Passion, Love and Revenge is to be staged between 1 and 8 April.

"It will be a completely different show to what audiences attended at the festival's past two editions," Suri said. "In terms of the dancers, we will follow the second year's practice and rely only on an Indian troupe that consists of 35 dancers from India."

During the 2013 edition, artists form the Cairo Opera Ballet Company joined a smaller group of dancers from India in the Bollywood performance.

The organisers are also working on including a Bollywood flash mob at the Cairo Airport, upon the troupe's arrival.

"Last year, the show at the airport was so popular and many people joined in, so this time the Ministry of Tourism themselves suggested that we repeat it," Suri explained.

On 30 March, Gilles Chuyen, an India-based French dancer and choreographer will conduct a Bollywood dance workshop at the Midan Theatre, in front of the Hanager Arts Centre at the Cairo Opera House.

The music section of this year's edition will include Advaita, an eclectic fusion band from New Delhi. Its seven members will treat several Egyptian cities to music blending Indian drums, tablas (percussion instruments), sarangi (a string instrument), guitars and Hindustani vocals.

Between 11 and 16 April, the festival will focus on the classical dance form of Manipuri, which originates from the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur on the border with Burma.

In 2013 audiences were treated to a captivating Odissi performance, while in 2014 they were introduced to a Kathak performance by Marami Medhi.

As for Indian crafts, there will be an exhibition and a symposium. Craftsmen from India and Egypt will also hold a series of workshops and master classes.

Finally, India by the Nile 2015 will also address our well-being.

Yoga sessions will be held at Al Azhar Park on 3 and 4 April.

And audiences will be able to discover Ayurveda, a five-millennia-old Hindu healing practice that aims at the holistic management of health and diseases.

"Ayurveda medicines act in accordance with the concepts of Tridosha (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) to achieve the goal of perfect health, physical, mental and spiritual well being," explains the press release.

During its two previous editions, the festival attracted a large audience from all generations and walks of life. 

India by the Nile is a brainchild of Teamwork in cooperation with the Indian Embassy in Cairo.

Headed by Sanjoy Roy, Teamwork organises dozens of performance, visual arts and literary festivals across the globe. It also runs the world's largest literary gathering, the Jaipur Literary Festival, alongside other acclaimed art festivals in India.

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