The Kennedy Center’s Maximum India Festival opens today with just one performance, a free U. Shrinivas concert from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the Millennium Stage, but over the next 20 days it will feature 73 events involving music, dance, theater, literature, comedy, visual art, cuisine, and film. While the celebration may not include events in all of India’s 24 tongues, or cover every aspect of culture of the country, it offers a pretty impressive variety—with 13 master chefs, bhangra dance lessons, a panel discussion on the portrayal of Indian women in film, artists producing paintings, rapper Panjabi MC, and a number of collaborations with the National Symphony Orchestra.
The 42-year-old Shrinivas has performed traditional South IndianCarnatic music on the acoustic and electric mandolin since he was 9 years old. Never sloppy despite his frenetic finger-picking, Shrinivas creates psychedelic ragas that are heavy on reverb. While he has collaborated with the likes of John McLaughlin, he will be without special guests tonight.
Wednesday night shows off some of the breadth of the festival. Rhythms of Rajasthan on the Millennium Stage at 6 will feature percussion, flute, and wailing Sufi vocals, while the play Nati Binodini, at 7:30 p.m. in the Terrace Theater, tells the true story of a prostitute who became one of India’s leading actresses. Meanwhile in the Eisenhower Theater at 8, Indian classical dancers Madhavi Mudgal and Alarmel Valli will present Samanvaya: A Coming Together, a show that exhibits the distinctive twirling and sinuous arm movements from Madhavi’s New Delhi and Valli’s Chennai.
Other potentially impressive events this week include comedian Dan Nainan (Thursday at the Millennium Stage), rock band Emergence (Thursday at the Monsoon Club), blues and soul band Soulmate (Friday at the Monsoon Club), and an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play When We Dead Awaken (Friday and Saturday in the Eisenhower Theater). We’ll be previewing more fest events in WCP”s print edition on Thursday, and here through the 20th.