SALA2019 woke up the sleeping giant…

From October 6 to 13, 2019, Montalvo Arts Center and Art Forum SF in collaboration with UC Berkeley Institute of South Asian Studies presented the first ever and one of the largest South Asian Literature & Art Festival (SALA) in the US. It was truly a special event, with over a thousand enthusiastic in audience.

The Opening Gala on Oct 4th was exclusive and attracted about 150 crème de la crème from the Bay Area, who schmoozed with the International Emmy Award nominees Vikramaditya Motwane and Varun Grover, alongside with Rekha Rodwittiya, a contemporary and eminent artist, Priyanka Mathew from Sunderlande New York, Raghu Karnad, the Yale Wyndham Campbell award recipient, to name a few. The opening gala included Dipti Mathur renown art collector and a philanthropist from South Bay in conversation with Prof Sugata Ray from UC Berkeley

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The Tides of their Poems with Athena Kashyap and Tanuja Wakefiled made a wonderful add from the Diaspora artists. Another interestingly engaging panel on There are No Margins – with Minal Hajratwala and Siddharth Dube, made its mark for the quality literary arts curation.

As a grand finale for the literary panels, Professor Harsha Ram from UC Berkeley got into an elaborate encounter with a legendary actor, painter and a poet, Deepti Naval. At this intimate evening, Ms. Naval revealed her life journey as an artist by exhibiting digital images of her paintings and read select poems from her books.

“Our presenting partner Art Forum SF displayed incredible vision and expertise in curating phenomenal artists, panels, and presentations,” announced Angela McConnell, Executive Director, Montalvo Arts Center.

Tipu Purkayastha at the fireside chat format, with Varun Grover, Vikramaditya Motwane and Vikram Chandra (via skype) explored the process of adapting Vikram’s 2006 book ‘Sacred Games’ to the TV screen as a Netflix Original, the first Indian web-series to be nominated for the International Emmy Awards 2019. 

Jo Bhavuk hai, wohi to paagal hai
It’s the mad ones who carry the passion.
– Varun Grover

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South Asian Literature and Art Festival celebrated contemporary reflections of literature and arts from South Asia. The event featured books and readings, hands-on art activities, writing programs, art exhibitors, folk artists, Bollywood pop-up dancers, bhangra rhythms, henna, a live Rangoli demonstration and impromptu dance interludes — all interspersed with delicious food stations representing the flavors of the entire subcontinent.

KitaabWorld curated the emerging genre of “Children’s & Young Adult Writers” and Delhi based textile artist Shelly Jyoti showcased her work: Revisiting Gandhi celebrating 150th Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on Oct 11th, followed by a conversation with Rahul and Sandhya Gajjar on the Romance of Champaner (UNESCO heritage site).

On October 13th, SALA Festival had a film segment as the closing event showcasing a short documentary GuruCool by an Indo-Canadian filmmaker Sangita Iyer looking at the Indian Educators in the 21st Century education System. Followed by Kaifinama, an award-winning feature documentary on the life of legendary and progressive Urdu poet, Kaifi Azmi, directed by Sumantra Ghosal, with famous Indian Actress Ashvini Bhave as the guest of honor. 

“We are thrilled with the response we got in hosting the first ever South Asian Literature and Art Festival in the Bay Area! Its success has warmed our hearts – we heard rave reviews from not only the audience but also from the artists, themselves,” reports Ambika Sahay, Executive Director, Art Forum SF.

“My observation of SALA 2019 is that Art Forum SF have woken up the sleeping giant,” exclaimed Tushar Unadkat, Media and PR Director, Art Forum SF. 

Art Forum SF is thankful to the generous sponsors and volunteers, without whom this event could not have happened. Please click the link to view high resolution photos from SALA Festival. Photo by Hetal Soni. For more updates, please visit: