The journey of creativity—insights and inspiration from Serendipity Arts Festival curators
In Part III of our photo essay from this award-winning festival in Goa, we share more artistic highlights and curator perspectives.
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 735 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
With 10 curators across artistic sectors, the Serendipity Arts Festival (SAF) offers a diverse showcase of music, dance, cuisine, theatre, and visual arts. See Part I and Part II of our coverage of the 2023 edition, and photo essays from earlier editions.
SAF 2023, one of the highlights of the annual cultural calendar, wraps up in Goa this weekend with a series of performances and shows that converge across cultural sectors. In this photo essay, we highlight more exhibits and share curator insights on their own creative journeys.
“I am still doing what I did in college—wear T-shirts, sneakers and cargo pants, and do theatre,” curator Quasar Thakore Padamsee jokes with YourStory. For SAF, he selected a series of newer plays that reflect current developments in the world, such as Afghanistan is not funny and Lives of Clay.
The second festival edition after the pandemic reflects the growing public interest in theatre and production. Quasar is also a founding member of young theatre group Thespo, and Executive Director of Tata Literature Live.
“I am immersed in literature and cinema. It is hard to switch off,” he observes. But he does indulge in cricket and Marvel comics on occasion.
Chef-entrepreneur Thomas Zacharias has 25 years of culinary sector experience, and is Chief Partner at The Bombay Canteen and Founder of Locavore. “After winning many awards in the restaurant business, I decided to focus on interventions that have more social and cultural impact,” he explains.
His platform and curated shows focus on culinary heritage, cultural publications, and community building for doing good with food. He is actively involved with organisations like the Goa Livelihood Forum as well.
“On the global stage, Indians need to market their food better,” Zacharias advocates. This can be done via authentic storytelling, building on local strengths, and connecting to global audiences.
“I can’t switch off. I am on a path that has a 50 to 100-year vision, and will last beyond my lifetime,” he explains.
Sunil Kant Munjal, one of the founder-promoters of Hero Group, documents his business journey and formation of the Serendipity Arts Foundation in the compelling book, The Making of Hero: Four Brothers, Two Wheels and a Revolution that Shaped India (see my book review and author interview).
He set up the Serendipity Arts Foundation to promote art on a national and international scale. “We have a number of activities between the annual festivals, such as an artist residency programme, smaller events, and tours of portions of the festival to other locations like Delhi, Kolkata and Dubai,” he explains.
Arts curator Veerangana Solanki developed a strong love for nature and horses while she was growing up. “I became a curator because I could not become a horse trainer,” she jokes.
She is the Programme Director at Space Studio, Baroda, with a focus on cultural dialogue across public and private spaces. She has curated art festivals in Nepal and teaches at Kathmandu University.
Music curator Ricky Kej, a three-time Grammy Award winner, tours the world with music performances that inspire a love for nature. “Winning a Grammy was not even a dream for me when I started my musical journey. Then I went on to win two more,” he jokes.
“I can never switch off from music,” Kej says, though he does watch movies as a hobby. He is actively involved in collaborative projects with folk, classical music, and electronica.
He promotes sustainable living as well. “I am not into fast fashion, and own only 11 sets of clothes. I don’t own a car, though I used to once own three cars,” Kej explains.
When asked about the carbon footprint from his international travels, he admits that there is no alternative to flights for touring musicians. “I audit my carbon footprint, and conduct quarterly reviews to improve sustainable practices,” Kej says.
Choreographer-entrepreneur and dance curator Mayuri Upadhya expresses gratitude for the way her parents supported her journey into dance right from her childhood years. “When any random guest came into our home, I would put on a tape and dance for them,” she jokes.
“I was always a curious kid,” she adds. That curiosity, excellence and commitment would lead her into a range of cross-genre explorations as a dancer and choreographer.
One of her school teachers was also supportive. “He encouraged me to attend dance camps, where I lived with other children and learnt how to survive on my own capabilities,” Upadhaya recalls.
Her work involves multiple deliverables across clients, sponsors and audiences. “I can’t switch off. I am a poor sleeper, and get fully immersed in artistic pieces,” she says.
“Yoga, workouts, long drives to loud music, comic books, and my mother’s upma help me unwind,” Upadhya jokes.
Crafts curator Sandeep Sangaru started off as a mechanical engineer before moving on to design and crafts in bamboo. “There are more than 135 species of bamboo in the world, with applications from weaving to construction,” he explains.
In his professional journey, he asked himself, “What can I do as a designer?” Sangaru now devotes himself to the preservation and evolution of bamboo products through community platforms.
“Bamboo is more than a poor man’s timbre. It has diverse applications, but the sector needs more recognition, better wages for craftsmen, and wider market connects,” Sangaru signs off.
Now what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and harness your creative side for a better world?
(All photographs were taken by Madanmohan Rao on location at the festival.)
Edited by Kanishk Singh