To celebrate the strong India-France connection, the Embassy of France and the French Institute in India have facilitated cultural exchanges between the two countries through a new edition of “Bonjour India”, an ongoing festival that takes place in 19 cities such as Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Goa, Chandigarh etc. With 120 collaborative events, this festival started at the end of March and will continue until June.
“What makes ‘Bonjour India’ unique is that its events are diverse enough to meet the expectations of a broad Indian audience. These events not only entertain thousands of people, but also restore a festive spirit and bring people together after two years of restrictions,” Emmanuel Lenain, French Ambassador to India, shared during the inaugural press conference.
Over the next two months, citizens will have a special chance to explore French culture through a wide range of events and exhibitions on gastronomy, literature, photography, cinema, music, dance, etc This event is a two-way program: the Indian government also organizes a “Namaste France” festival in France.
Enjoy the festivities
The event kicked off at the end of March with “A Twist of Fate”, a parade of giant life-size puppets that took place in Lodhi Garden. A one-of-a-kind street performance, this impressive parade brought French bands, opera singers and theater artists to the heart of the city, leaving locals spellbound. The festival also presented a literary event titled “Goncourt Choice of India Award”. Of the four titles shortlisted for this award, Senegalese author Mohamed Mbougar Sarr was announced as the winner for his 2021 novel The Most Secret Memory of Men.
A cultural treat
Theatre, dance and French literature were intertwined in S. Thala, an Indian sequel, a production which premiered at the ML Bhartia Auditorium on April 2. Created by Parisian company Annette Leday/Keli, this presentation was inspired by novelist and playwright Marguerite Duras’ multi-media corpus ‘India Cycle’ and her book L’Amour. The choreography for this production reflected the themes of Duras’ texts, 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 framework for my way of approaching this type of writing, which is not linear. The book we had referred to, L’Amour, gave us a lot of interesting ideas,” shared Leday, the choreographer and director. The performance, featuring Hélene Courvoisier, Kalamandalam Unnikrishnan, Sadanam Manikandan and Leday, allowed the audience to discover a new form of storytelling. The title S. Thala is close to the Sanskrit word “sthal”, which means stain, thus highlighting the link between Indian and French cultures in Duras’ work.
The city’s third event, Cafe-Cinema, offered the Indian public the opportunity to discover French film productions. An outdoor screening of director Éric Besnard’s 2021 film, Delicious, took place at the Pullman, Aerocity, on Saturday evening. Several film buffs have joined in on the comedy-drama which delves 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 of more than 50 people attended the venue, as they savored delicious snacks and watched the film under the calm sky. “It’s the first time I’ve watched a film in an open-air cinema. The place is very beautiful. The movie was good, but a little blurry at first,” shared Sourav Kumar (21) from Jawaharlal Nehru University, who also attended the screening.
WHAT: “Picking ragams”
WHEN: April 13, 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts, Janpath
WHEN: April 13-14, 9 p.m.
WHERE: The Piano Man, Gurugram
WHAT: “A trip to France, 1970”
WHEN: April 15 to 20, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
WHERE: Taj Palace, Chanakyapuri