Rajasthan Post takes a stroll through Jaipur’s culture zone Jawahar Kala Kendra and finds its ‘makeover’ stimulating
Delhi’s cultural milieu is always buzzing. The capital has them all, the India International Centre, the India Habitat Centre, the India Islamic Cultural Centre and others. All of these conceived to provide a space for individuals and institutions to share a common synergy in the fields of culture, performing arts, music, theatre, workshops, arts and many others.
Jaipur’s only such multi-media centre, the Jawahar Kala Kendra (JKK) located in the heart of the City, which began its journey in 1993, is now attempting a makeover. Considered as the hub of art and artistic activities and conjunction of classical and folk traditions, there have not been many dull moments in its 23-year-long journey.
This international institution has been trying to preserve and promote the various genres of Indian art and culture, embellishing the visual and cultural heritage of Jaipur. In the last few of years, JKK has become the most popular, cultural destination and is a point of reference for other such art and cultural centres. Throughout the year, cultural activities such as seminars, workshops, dance and music recitals, theatre shows, and publication of books on art & culture, are part of JKK’s buzzing scene.
But now with a budget gift of Rs seven crore, JKK is attempting to make itself the most happening place in Rajasthan.
Kicking off with its eight-day Performing Arts Festival, ‘Navras’ from March 15, i,e tomorrow,JKK will see a mélange of cultural performances by way of contemporary dance, Sufi music, fusion music, classical instrumental, classical vocal and theatre from across India.
An ‘Architectural Walk’ around the sprawling JKK would be a new highlight to guide visitors through the beautiful details of the cultural centre. This walk at JKK will allow visitors to explore why ‘JKK is in true sense a metaphor of Jaipur, Jai Singh II and Jawaharlal Nehru’.
JKK’s architecture is based on the concept of Indian astrology and resembles the square-grid plan of Jaipur city. The main building contains administrative block, an ethnographic museum, temporary exhibition galleries, open air theatre, air conditioned theatre, an arena, library, dormitories, and coffee house.
Designed by Charles Correa, one of the most celebrated urban planner and visionary, who had a ability to constantly think outside the confines of architecture, taking in the concerns of the particular city that he was working in, JKK has been in the revamp mode under his supervision,for the past few years.
JKK building is based on the theme of nine planets. Each section of the building resembles the characteristics of the respective planet. For instance, the library is located in the Jupiter section, which attributes to knowledge and wisdom. The Murals from Jain mythology, the charts and paintings on the ceiling of the central dome play a considerable role to attract the tourists and artists, thus formulating the exceptional nature of the institution. The coffee house in the lunar section portrays the less reveal aspects of astronomy through its paintings and creativity displayed there. Moreover, the intelligentsias and art connoisseurs assemble here everyday to collate their thoughts amidst coffee beans and appetising cuisines at the ever busy Coffee house.
Meanwhile, the architectural walk, which will kick off from tomorrow, would be conducted by Siddhant Shah, an architect and a heritage management consultant. Pooja Sood, the new director general of JKK says: “The effort is to create an avant-garde facility in Jaipur, that gives the artists in the state a platform while at the same time bring in quality visual and performing arts from across the world.”
The special attraction of Navaras is the ‘The Manganiyar Seduction’ at 7 pm at Madhyavarti. This theatrical presentation is an ecstatic music-making, mixing Muslim and Hindu traditions. Conceived by director Roysten Abel, this spectacular 80–minute performance features over 40 musicians in turbans and robes, who sit or kneel in red-draped cubicles. These cubicles are stacked in four tiers and illuminated when their occupants perform, thus creating a dramatic and astounding build-up of musical instruments and voices of the Manganiyar community. The dramatic set up is inspired by the red light district of Amsterdam. It is being held for the first time in Rajasthan after it was performed for the first time in 2006.
The play has opened many a festival, been enacted before queens and commoners and travelled the globe but unfortunately has never been performed in its native land. Roysten, incidentally, has created another play titled The Manganiyar Classroom, featuring the youngest members of the community in 2014.
Later in the week the Jaipurites will get to see ‘Sharira’ Dance Performance (16 March); Dhruv Sangari’s Sufi Music (17 March), ‘Meidhwani’ Dance Performance (18 March) and ‘Maati Baani’Fusion Music (19 March).
Strong on the theatre element, there will be as many as four plays during the festival: ‘Barrister Parvateesham’ (19 March); ‘Nagamandala’ (20 March); ‘Main Hoon Yusuf Aur Yai Hai Mera Bhai’ (21 March) and ‘Macbeth’ (22 March).
A special feature of the festival will be the morning classical programmes by Pandit Harish Tiwari (19 March) and Pandit Kushal Das (20 March) at 7.30 am at JKK Lawns.
Till now most events at JKK have been free. But now some of the events would be tickets to get the right kind of audience for it. Except the inaugural event of the ‘Navras’ – ‘The Manganiyar Seduction’, ‘Architectural Walk’ and the morning ragas on 19 and 20 March, all performances will be ticketed on moderate rates. While the performances at the Madhyavarti will be priced at Rs. 30, the ones in Rangayan will be priced at Rs. 100 per person. The tickets are available at the JKK reception from 9.30 am to 6 pm.
But JKK has had its fair share of controversies as well in the recent past. Some Bajrang Dal activists had created a furore after a floating cow installation was put up at the venue during an art summit and was pulled down by activists. The state government had been embroiled in another controversy, when it scrapped a list of nominees for the JKK’s culture panel that included British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor, who had criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent Britain visit.