Day 4 & 5 – India Blog

There is too much to fit all what happened at Sonya’s 2-day festival into this blog so I’ll just try and sum up some of the things that were going on. Firstly it is amazing what Sonya and her team are doing here in Chennai. I am quite baffled how they actually manage to fund such a glorious festival here in India but they do. The talks that I attended were extremely vigorous affairs with lots of tricky subjects being openly debated. Crossing The Lines: was a talk from Miriam Chandy Menacherry about her film which looks at the area called Leya in Pakistan and follows the work of a musician who is working with young people making music. This area in Pakistan is notorious for its violence. So the talk inevitably then ends up considering the freedom of the artist and censorship. One point that kept being made was that although the extreme violent censorship like beheadings, beatings, torture is of course intolerable what is going on with the subtle forms of censorship is in some ways much more insidious. So, this was the tone of the talks. It is to be applauded that EarthSync are tackling these subjects head on: Music education, Journalism and ethics today and many more crucial subjects. It was a pleasure then to see someone who I met last time I was here, the wonderful singer Vidya Shah delivering a talk on Women on Record. So to some music. Two things struck me. It is no surprise that the two Indian classical performances stood out. Pratik Srivatava and amazing Sarod player and his partner in crime Vinayak Netke on table were the stand out performers. An amazing, exuberant splash of Hindustani colour. The other thing was the wealth of young talent pushing towards new genres. At the moment it is hard to see where this might take them but the sheer enthusiasm commitment to exploring new ways is great. The there was of course the panel that I had the pleasure of sharing with, the ever present face of Divya Bhatia from the Riff festival in Jodhpur and a really wonderful young man who has worked with Chennai Queer Film Festival and is now in the process of documenting queer history in Chennai and the wider Indian society. It was such a humbling thing to have Counterflows represented here.

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