Express News Service
To celebrate the strong India-France connection, the French Embassy and French Institute in India have facilitated cultural exchanges between the two countries through a new edition of ‘Bonjour India’, an ongoing festival taking place in 19 cities such as Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai , Goa, Chandigarh, and more. Featuring 120 collaborative events, this festival commenced in late March and will continue till June.
“What makes‘ Bonjour India ’unique is that its events are diverse enough to meet the expectations of a vast Indian audience. These events not only entertain thousands but also restore a festive spirit and bring people together after two years of restrictions, ”shared Emmanuel Lenain, Ambassador of France to India, at the inaugural press conference.
Over the course of the next two months, citizens will have a special chance to explore French culture through a wide array of events and exhibitions on gastronomy, literature, photography, films, music, dance, and more. This event is a two-way program — the Government of India is also organizing a ‘Namaste France’ festival in France.
Revel in the festivities
The event commenced in late March with ‘A Twist of Fate’, a parade of life-size giant puppets that took place in Lodhi Garden. A one-of-a-kind street performance, this impressive parade brought together bands, opera singers, and French theater artists in the middle of the city, leaving the locals spellbound. The festival also featured a literary event titled the ‘Goncourt Choice of India Award’. Of the four titles selected for this award, Senegalese author Mohamed Mbougar Sarr was announced as the winner for his 2021 novel La plus secrete mémoire des hommes (The Most Secret Memory of Men).
A cultural treat
Theater, dance, and French literature were interwoven in S. Thala, An Indian Suite, a production that was performed at ML Bhartia Auditorium on April 2. Created by Paris-based Annette Leday / Keli Company, this presentation was inspired by French novelist and playwright Marguerite Duras’ multi-medium corpus’ India Cycle ‘and her book L’Amour. The choreography of this production reflected the themes in the texts by Duras, and the performance followed a non-linear narrative to bring out a range of emotions.
“Marguerite Duras is a very complex writer. I had to find a frame to how I approach this type of writing, which is not linear. The book that we had referred to, L’Amour, gave us many interesting ideas, ”shared Leday, the choreographer and director. The performance — starring Hélene Courvoisier, Kalamandalam Unnikrishnan, Sadanam Manikandan, and Leday — allowed audiences to experience a new form of storytelling. The title S. Thala is close to the Sanskrit word ‘sthal’, which means spot, thus bringing out the connection between Indian and French cultures in Duras’ work.
On screen moments
The third event in the city, Cafe-Cinema, offered the Indian audiences a chance to experience French film productions. An open-air screening of director Eric Besnard’s 2021 film, Delicious, took place at Pullman, Aerocity, on Saturday evening. Several film enthusiasts joined in to watch the drama-comedy that forays into the life of a chef (played by Grégory Gadebois) who finds the strength to free himself from his position as a servant and opens a restaurant, after meeting a girl (played by Isabelle Carré).
An audience ranging from more than 50 people was present at the venue, as they relished tasty snacks and watched the film under the quiet sky. “This is the first time I am watching a movie in an open-air cinema. The spot is very beautiful. The film was good, slightly unclear in the beginning though, ”shared Sourav Kumar (21) from Jawaharlal Nehru University, who also attended the screening.
WHAT: ‘Plucking Ragams’
WHEN: April 13, 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts, Janpath
WHAT: ‘Electric Po’
WHEN: April 13-14, 9:00 p.m.
WHERE: The Piano Man, Gurugram
WHAT: ‘A Trip to France, 1970’
WHEN: April 15-20, 11:00 am-7:00pm
WHERE: Taj Palace, Chanakyapuri