Where art thou? @Kala Ghoda

The Kala Ghoda Art Festival (KGAF) which is held annually in the month of February, in Mumbai seeks to showcase a kaleidoscope of events that brings alive the rich culture of art in every form. This year, the festival began with a bang on 6th February, spread across multiple venues.

Lions Dance street performance on 10th feb 1

Each year the passionate KGAF Team makes a great effort to bring new and innovative changes to the already diverse program and this year was no different. The theme for KGAF 2016 was ‘Crossing The Threshold (Seemaprabhava)’.

The inauguration of KGAF 2016 was done by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Devendra Fadnavis. The most unique aspect of KGAF ‘16 is the collaboration between the KGAF and the ‘Make in India’ Festival. For the very first time in 17 editions, the programming of events at the 9-day Festival at Cross Maidan was extended to 12 days. This was also the first time, that a Chief Minister inaugurated the KGAF. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Fadnavis said, “Everyone knows Mumbai is a city of dreams, city of festivities, and in all the colours, there is one colour that one cannot ignore and one that the whole city waits for, and that colour is the colour of Kala Ghoda Festival”. He added, that “People of Mumbai eagerly wait for the festival to start in order to enjoy all that it has to offer.”

Kala Goda Festival encompasses Literature, Cinemas, Dance, Food, Heritage Walks, Music, Standup Comedy, Street & stalls, Visual Arts, Theatre and much more. A snapshot of this year’s Festival, covering various sections follows.


Day 1 marked the launch of ‘Kala Ghoda – Celebrating Mumbai’s Art District’, a book by Abha Narain Lamba. The book is about the iconic history of the Kala Ghoda Association and KGAF. This was launched with much fanfare and dance performances by actor Siddharth Malhotra. Maneck Davar, Chairman of KGAF said that, "This book is an integral part of the KGAF journey and marks the contribution of the festival to the world of Art”.

Day 2 (7th Feb) marked the book launch of ‘Flavours of Kala Ghoda’, by Nicole Mody, a recipe book that includes chefs secrets from around the Art District of Kala Ghoda. The book was launched by one of India's most celebrated food critic and personalities, Vir Sanghvi.


Ustad Amjad Ali Khan with his sons Ayaan and Amaan mesmerised the audiences at Cross Maidan on 7th Feb. Mr. Fadnavis who was disappointed to leave the venue quipped “If I knew that Amjad Ali Khan was to perform here, then I would not have given any commitment to anyone else.”

The music section witnessed Vir Das' Alien Chutney which was a comedy rock musical, followed by performances by the gorgeous Shibhani Kashyap and Karsh Kale. On the closing day, Ayushman Khurana performed for nearly 2 hours and had the entire crowd on their feet. The ‘Make in India’ tie up with the iconic KGAF saw many amazing music, dance and cultural performances, including the unmissable performances by Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Shubha Mudgal.


A panel discussion titled "Renegotiating our Neighbourhood: The Modi doctrine" was held with Ambassador TCA Raghavan, Praveen Swami & Kabir Khan moderated by Manjeet Kripalani. Speaking on the topic and the power of cinema, Kabir Khan, who has recently delivered the blockbuster hit, 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan,' affirmed that, “Films are able to set borders. We don't need visas to block borders. Everyone's going to watch us. Films can make a difference.”

The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival has been integral in introducing Mumbaikars to the world of art, which is otherwise inaccessible to a large section of the citizens. This year was no different and Rampart Row was abuzz with installations that have had the crowd coming in huge numbers to admire the same. Some of the popular installations were ‘A Fish Out of Water’ by Rahul Das, Conservation of Natural Resources’ by Vishal Daware, ‘Chhoti Rickshaw Baddi Sawari’ by Nayna Soparkar, ‘The Phoenix’ by Aditi Bagel and so on. Cross Maidan, the other major venue also had installations like ‘The Kolhapuri Avatars’ by Kanika Bawa, ‘Gobal Warming’ by Hetal Shukla and more. There was also an interactive installation by Gallery Push where people from different walks of life got to tell the PMO their big idea for India.

To spread arts & the message, KGAF also set up installations across the city to reach out to people who couldn’t be part of the festival. Some of the installations ‘RE CYCLE’ by Vikram Arora at Prabhadevi, ‘Tap of Life: Camel’ by Siddharth Waingankar, Rajendra Mistry at Worli, ‘Nagrik: The Common Man’ by Neeta Shah at Haji Ali.

There were also different forms of dances performed on stage, street dance performances like lion’s dance, kachhi ghodi dance and puppet shows for children.


Cross Maidan played host to 25 food stalls from Feb 6th – 17th, 2016. Stalls like The Kalimpong Kitchen serving traditional Kolkata momos, Pack-A-Pav serving seekh kebabs in laadi pav bread, Sadhana Tai's authentic Koliwada seafood, Bawi & Billi's Kheema Pau and Hoisin Pork Bun, Soda Bottle Openerwala's berry pulao and many more food stalls were a huge draw at Cross Maidan thereby promoting local, artisanal food with a twist.

While Maria Goretti enthralled the audience with her cooking lessons, Chef Vicky Ratnani hosted a heritage walk as he taught his audience the social influences determined by communities characterized by food.


At the Cinema section at KGAF 16, Imtiaz Ali spoke about his journey and had some advice for the audience, stating "The trick is never try to be different. When I write a story I try to be like everybody else, I don't try to be different.” Director Onir, actor Sandhya Mridul attended a workshop with screenings of several short films highlighting social issues like women's safety, sex education and awareness, and more. The cast of ‘Aligarh’ made one of their first public appearances to promote the award winning movie at KGAF 2016. Aditya Roy Kapoor, Katrina Kaif & Sonakshi Sinha lent some glamour on the closing day of the festival.

Lastly, KGAF 2016 presented amazing theatre performances that had Mumbaikars laughing out loud with the crazy comedy ‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil’ at Horniman Circle Gardens with Barkha Bisht Sengupta, Delnaaz Irani, Kishwer Merchant and others.

As the curtains came down on the KGAF 16, Mumbaikars have to wait for another year to see, what the next edition of the iconic Arts Festival has in store for the City and its people, and the organizers have already promised to make it bigger and better in the coming year.

Hindustan Times was the presenting sponsor for Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2016. Some of the other prominent sponsors include Pepe Jeans, Citibank, 9XM, Epic Channel, SBI, Tata Salt & others.

About the Author

Pritam Roy runs, a popular movie portal. He loves movies, food and travelling, not necessarily in that order.

Twitter: @pritamr

Tags assigned to this article:

Around The World

Our Publications