Monday, Aug 15, 2022

Art, Theatre, Books, And More: The Bonjour India Festival Is Back

Bonjour India 2022 will take place in 19 Indian cities, and showcase a programme of 120 events on literature, cinema, gastronomy, street art, performing arts and photography.

Wall art by French artists at Bonjour India festival
Wall art by French artists at Bonjour India festival

If you have been looking for something interesting to do through summer, here's the answer. The French have laid out some of their best art and culture via events throughout India in the coming months. Bonjour India 2022 will be hosting 120 events in 19 Indian cities, all created in collaboration with French and Indian partners, in domains including literature, cinema, gastronomy, street art, performing arts and photography. The COVID-19 pandemic brought in social distancing, masking, isolation, online work and took away conviviality from life in general. Bonjour India will be like a coming out moment, with vibrant programmes celebrating dance, circus, music, cinema, pop-up shows, debates and food.

The 19 cities include Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai, Dehradun, Goa, Hyderabad, Gurugram, Jaipur, Kochi, and Lucknow. Check out the list here.

Supported and funded by the government of France, the fourth edition of the festival celebrates 75 years of India’s Independence and 75 years of the establishment of Indo-French diplomatic relations. Speaking about Bonjour India, Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said, “Bonjour India is a gift from France to the people of India when the country celebrates the 75th anniversary of its independence. India and France have enjoyed a close cultural partnership for decades, thanks in particular to the network of 14 Alliances Françaises throughout India. During this festival, we will honor the past exchanges and create new collaborations.”

Bonjour India is for neophytes and enthusiasts alike, a platform where families, school children, young adults, professionals, and others, mingle, discuss, explore, and forge memories and experiences that are remembered for a lifetime. All the events will be open to all, and in most cases, will be free. 

A sampler of the events that have been lined up: A Trip to France, 1970 will be an exhibition where you can experience veteran photographer Parmanand Dalwadi’s journey to France in the 70’s traced in 50 photographs. Captured with his Nikon F, these also showcase the influence of Cartier-Bresson on his art. The Rick-Show will be a mobile cinema that fits within a box that can be adapted and transported on a rickshaw. A Twist of Fate is a deambulatory show by Les Grandes Personnes from Aubervilliers in France.

As much as Bonjour India is supported and funded by the government of France, the festival has a tradition of receiving the support and contribution of numerous partners, Indian and French, public and private. This has played an important role in enriching the festival and bringing diverse communities together. More specifically for the present edition, enterprises and brands, whether small or big including BNP Paribas, Pernod Ricard, Airbus, JSW Group, Saint Gobain, Tata Sons, Godrej, Safran, Accor, Om Books International, Chaudhry Nummero, Bira91, L’Opéra and many others came together to support culture in a bleak economic scenario because of their conviction in the power of the arts, in the essential quality of culture in bridging people and in the strength of Indo-French relations.

Here's a peek into the events of Bonjour India 2022:

Shared History
How did French and Indian photographers perceive India over two and a half centuries since the birth of photography in France? Bonjour India takes you back in time and space to discover a panorama of photography’s French connections across original prints and negatives from museum collections in France, in a curation by Rahab Allana. Likewise, discover the France of the 70s with Indian photographer much influence by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Parmanand Dalwadi. The festival also unearths the vast, though hitherto lesser known, history of scientific cooperation between the two countries over at least three decades. From the discovery of helium to electrification of Indian railways, through satellite imagery from space of Indian cities and the presence of French mathematicians in Indian cities in the 1930s to stories of India and France flying together throughout the first half of the 20th century.

Art In Public Spaces

Bonjour India will reclaim urban public spaces through innovative initiatives which will address issues of gender through interventions like City for All? a street art/wall art festival which redefines equality and expression for all and finally, a street parade which invents new ways of making sculpture dance in the streets brought by the company Les Grandes Personnes. Why do we lack participatory public spaces in India? Why do people come together? Bonjour India will address some of these questions through its performances.Bonjour India brings the power and energy of electro dance with ELEKTRIK, showcases Marguerite Duras through a Indo-French theatrical dance form, brings a selection of short films around a showcase, Let’s Dance and revives the art of juggling in a modern circus performance. 

Music For All

Remember the songs, lyrics and melodies streaming from balconies and streets and Zoom choirs during the lockdown? When physical limits could not stem this most universal urge to make melody, imagine the energy of music sans restrictions or barriers? From jazz to fusion and electro, Bonjour India offers an eclectic range of music and concerts.

Books, Ideas, Debates

Bonjour India prides itself as a platform for liberal exchange of ideas, expression and democratic values. It brings a debating Night of Ideas on the theme of “Rebuilding Together” with architect and community-based artist, Swati Janu and thinkers from India and Europe. A French Pavillion at the New Delhi World Book Fair with at least 20 writers, illustrators, poets and publishers to engage around the diversity of India and its languages and audiences. Workshops, conferences, book launches. The prestigious Goncourt Prize comes to India as Goncourt Choice of India wherein students from nine Indian universities and the Alliance Française network come together as jury to pick their best francophone literary work. A coming-of-age of the French-speaking community in India, quantitatively and qualitatively.

For more, check out the events calendar here.