Potpourri of Indian culture at Games opening ceremony

By Radhika Bhirani, IANS
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

NEW DELHI - Dances, drums, music, yoga, textiles…The sights, sounds and colours of India, encapsulating 5,000 years of the country’s culture, are set to mesmerise at the Commonwealth Games (CWG) opening ceremony Oct 3 and the creative team behind it says they are ready and waiting!

“Everything is going fine. The rehearsals are on in full swing, everything is ready - the stage, the sound and lights…everything is installed and we are ready. The ceremony will be a grand cultural display of Indian culture and will not give anyone a chance to complain,” Viraf Sarkari, director of Wizcraft International Entertainment, told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

The opening ceremony of the Oct 3-14 will have a total of 7,000 men, women and children putting up as many as six different performances.

The ceremony has been divided into six segments - Rhythm of India, Swagatam, Tree of Knowledge, Yoga, Great Indian Journey and A.R. Rahman’s rendition of the CWG anthem, informed Bharat Bala, who is among the creative team for the event.

Rhythm of India will be a blend of different drums from India and will involve around 1,000 drummers creating a symphony.

Popular singer Hariharan will then sing a welcome song, which will be a cocktail of Hindustani, classical, Carnatic and folk music, and around a 1,000 schoolchildren from the capital will perform on it.

Following this would be the Tree of Knowledge, “based on the tradition of the “guru-shishya”, says Bharat Bala.

“There will be 1,000 Indian classical dancers performing bharatanatyam, kathak, mohiniyattam, manipuri, kathakali and the likes with stalwarts like Sonal Mansingh and Bharti Shivaji, Pandit Birju Maharaj and Raja and Radha Reddy. It will be a perfect depiction of Indian classical tradition,” he added.

Next will be a “unique segment” featuring over 1,000 yoga performers, followed by the Great Indian Journey, which will give a glimpse of rural India with the help of 1,500 performers.

Popular set designer Omung Kumar said: “A train has been made with bamboos. It is almost 600 ft long. It is like a complete Indian bazaar and will show people from all walks of life…It is not a swanky train, it is very Indian, very rural,” Kumar told IANS.

The first 10 minutes of the Games opening ceremony will exhibit the rich textiles and traditional crafts of India. To be shown in the first segment, it will showcase the rich heritage, art and craft of handloom weavers and artisans of India.

The crescendo to the grand, two-and-a-half hour ceremony will be brought by Oscar winning composer A.R. Rahman. He will be singing the Games anthem “Jiyo Utho Badho Jeeto”, and will also render his award winning number “Jai Ho” and his most popular number “Maa Tujhe Salaam”.

Bharat Bala says there is elaborate choreography for the last segment that would involve a huge number of performers.

“I hope ultimately everything comes out well thanks to the 10,000 people who have worked day in and day out to make this event a success,” he said.

To project India’s secular culture, azaan, will be a part of the background score at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games. A qawwali soundtrack, props on the celebration of Eid and Mughal monuments will also be shown.

There will be other attractions at the event too, including the Rs.40 crore aerostat that will be multipurpose, with video content being projected on it. The projections will include animation and graphics.

The costumes for the event have been designed and arranged by Anna Singh, Serath Narendra and Delhi-based designer duo Ashima-Leena.

Organising committee chief Suresh Kalmadi had said: “CWG will be better than Beijing Olympics”.

But Sarkari says he doesn’t want to compare the two events.

“We would not like to compare our ceremony with the opening of the Beijing Olympics. India is so full of colour and culture. The event in Beijing was very technical…here we will show the human side…we will show what India stands for. The CWG opening ceremony will show a potpourri of Indian culture in one night.”

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