Mayor Ken Livingstone said: ‘The London Mela is now firmly established as one of the capital’s major cultural events. Over 75,000 people enjoyed last year’s festival, and we will build on this with even more live performances, contemporary and classical Asian music, and cultural, arts and children’s activities to enjoy. I’m pleased that links are developing between the London Mela and Asian festivals in other countries and I hope that Londoners and visitors from all communities will join us for one of the true highlights of the summer.’
Highlights will include a debut European performance by Pakistani rock artist Atif Aslam on the main stage. Fans of the festival will know that the Mela finishes with a dramatic grande finale. This year the crowds will be treated to nutkhut’s ‘Bollywood Steps’, a company of professional performers celebrating much loved clichés of Bollywood films – the glamour, the wet sari scene, the quick costume changes, boy meets girl, the marriage. Expect high-energy performance with bhangra, hip-hop, classical Indian dance, and salsa, as well as bright lighting, pyrotechnics and water effects.
Ajay Chhabra, London Mela Artistic Director said: “If you put all the arts centres, clubs and theatres of London together for a day, you’ll get the London Mela. In committing to commissioning new work, collaborating with international partners, discovering new artists and delivering creative projects in the local community the London Mela brings together pop culture and high art, young and old, urbanites and suburbanites”.
New for 2006 is ‘Tabla Blah Blah’, the second installment in a trilogy of new Mela commissions influenced by iconic images (the first was ‘In the Dhol Drums’). The piece features live performance, soundscapes and video-visuals, and is collaboration between DJ and broadcaster Bobby Friction and leading Tabla (which is a traditional instrument) expert Pandit Sharda Sahai. As in previous year’s Radio 1’s Bobby and Nihal will to present London Flavas, the best festival stage for British Asian urban music in the UK.
As a result of a partnership with Oslo, Bradford and Liverpool Mela’s, audiences will be able to view The Grand Trunk Road photographic exhibition, which explores one of the greatest trade routes in South Asia. From Delhi to the Khyber Pass, passing through cities, towns and villages the exhibition will link with many South Asian communities in Europe today.
Other attractions will include Classic Mela, specially commissioned street theatre, The Kaleidoscope Project for children and a fantastic funfair. There will also be heritage and cultural exhibitions by the Victoria and Albert Museum, community stalls and plenty of opportunities to sample the culinary delights of South Asian cuisine.