Parramasala 2012

Photographer: Prudence Upton


Parramasala 2012 was launched today to the sounds of dholak beats at the Parramatta City Town Hall bringing with it the message that the Arts can surpass differences and boundaries, express unity in diversity. Indeed a much needed and essential message to be given after the rather disturbing Islamic protests that swept through Sydney just last week. Present at the launch were  Premier Barry OFarrell, Mayor of  Parramatta Councillor John Chedid, Dr Harry Harinath OAM Chairman and Director of the NSW Cricket Board and Artistic Director of  Parramasala Phillip Rolfe. The launch concluded with Australian Music icon Kamahl quoting a poem on Love written by Audrey Hepburn in his booming voice bringing a tear or two amongst the dignitaries and media attending the launch.

Listen to the Speech given by Philip Rolfe at the Launch of Parramasala



26 September 2012




Parramasala, Australian Festival of South Asian Artstoday announceda dynamic four-day program featuring a spectacular opening night Bollywood-style party, popular theatre, a wide menu of contemporary music, comedy, delicious cuisine, hawker market stalls, a South Asian film program and free outdoor entertainment. The festival, now in its third year, transforms the city of Parramatta from 8 – 11 November, 2012.


The program features well-known international and Australian artists, as well as many artists from Western Sydney – all inspired by the cultural influences and artistic traditions of South Asia.


Festival Director, Philip Rolfe said Parramasala is an opportunity to celebrate thediversity and influence of South Asian culture.


“Over four festival days and nights audiences can experience some of the world’s most renowned performers, Australian premiere film screenings and outstanding entertainmentall in the centre of Parramatta”,said Rolfe.


Theprogram for 2012 includes:


A Bollywood Block Partyopens the festival by taking over the Town Hall Square. It features special guest MC, the legendary Australian music icon Kamahl, with dance choreographed by PrafullaParida (‘Merchants of Bollywood’), drumming led by Mahashi Raval, direction by Anton and appearances by The Bombay Royaleand Sri Lankan acrobatic and drum ensemble, Naadro. It is produced by Virginia Hyam, previously head of Sydney Opera House’s Studio.


“The Bollywood Block Party promises to have everyone on their feet with a fired up multi-media spectacle for all ages. Many of Sydney’s Indian and South Asian dance and music schools take to the stage performing to remixed Bollywood soundtracks and original composition by Tokyo-Love-in’s Michael Chin”, said Rolfe.


The façade of Parramatta Town Hall will be illuminated throughout the festival with stunning digital projections by Australia’s internationally famous masters of the art form,TheElectric Canvas.


Young British / Indian composerSoumik Datta, recently described by Vogue UK as one of the hottest new music talents in the world, teams up with Austrian percussion virtuoso, Bernhard Schimpelsberger, in Circle of Sound, a spectacular combination of sarod, drumkit, synth bass, electronics and stunning visuals. Both artists have recorded and performed with Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Talvin Singh, Nitin Sawhney and Akram Khan, amongst many others.


The Jodhpur RIFF festival and Parramasala have jointly commissionedthe greatAustralian blues guitarist Jeff Lang, award winning tablaplayer Bobby Singhand masterful Rajasthani musicians Asin Khan and Bhugra Khan,who will appear in the evocative world premiere concert, Maru Tarang (translated asDesert Ripples).


Performing for the first time in Australia with her current band, audiences will experience the acclaimed vocalistSusheela Raman. She has enraptured countless audiences with her wildly original songs and interpretations of music from her Tamil heritageinfluenced by many exotic sources, including Jimi Hendrix. This major world music artist,who notably spent her school years in Sydney’s Strathfield,had audiences dancing in the aisles at her recent five star review concert at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.


Music legendPandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia and his ensemble give one special concert on the final night of the festival. One of the most famous and influential Indian artists of his generation, Hari Prasad has performed and recorded with George Harrison and the Beatles and has composed widely for many major Bollywood films.


Pakistan’s reigning prince of qawwali music, Asif Ali Khaninspires audiences with his full throat vocals and energetic rhythms accompanied by his nine member ensemble on the free Outdoor Stage.


Headlining the festival’s theatre program,the award winning Tamasha Theatre Companyfrom London, co-founded by Sydney’s Kristine Landon-Smith,performs an exclusive season of the highly successful and very comicplay The Trouble with Asian Men.


Returning to Parramasala after a sell-out seasonat the 2010 festival, New Zealand’s Indian Inktheatre company presents Krishnan’s Dairy. Indian Ink, with star actor Jacob Rajan,is known around the worldfor intimateproductions that combine western theatrical traditionand eastern aesthetics to remind audience of the simple truths in life.


Not to be missed, Australian actorAnsuya Nathanperforms her one-woman award winning comedy Long Live the King,an hilarious and touching story of a young Indian couple who arrive in Adelaide on the day Elvis dies.


South Asian Film in Focus is a program of eye-opening new independent cinema, many from the most prolific film producing region of the world. Curated by Ravi Kambhoj, the programshowcases an eclectic mix of features, documentaries and shorts from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India.


The film program begins with the world premiere of Sunshine and Shade.This poignant character-driven Australian documentary, produced and directed by Ana Tiwary,explores the recent experiences of Indian students in Australia – both the good and the bad. It will be followed by an expertpanel discussion.


TheOutdoor Stagein Town Hall Squareruns throughout the festival and hosts an entirely free program of outstanding music, dance and visual delights. Performers include, amongst many others, Bollywood inspired band The Bombay Royale, Sydney’s premiere Sri Lankan dance and music group Sankha Ridma, multi-talented electronica group Tablatronics, Melbourne’s Fine Blue Thread, Sydney’s Mahmood Khan, Western Sydney’s emerging hip hop star El Fresh and cross-cultural music collaborators Nafas.


Full details of the Outdoor Stage program will be announced in October on the Parramasala website.


Town Hall Square is the backdrop to the newFestival Bar, open until late each night with great views of the Outdoor Stage and all the action of the festival.


Closing night sees ablockbuster screening on the Outdoor Stage of Sholay,one of India’s most famous and successful Bollywood action films from the 1970s.


Throughout the festival theMasala Marketswith more than 30 stalls outdoorin the Town Hall Square and indoor in the Town Hall itself,will showcase South Asian inspired hawker food, fashion, spices, fabrics, arts, crafts and refreshments.


As a special treat, one of Australia’s most celebrated chefs and author of Tasting India,Christine Manfield,will host a cooking class featuring authentic recipes from her travels.


The festival is presented in two key precincts in the heart of Parramatta; Town Hall Square in Church Street Mall and in and around the Riverside Theatres.


Rolfe concluded, “This year, Parramasala presents artists from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand and further afield.With accessibly priced tickets and many fantastic free events, there is something for everyone to enjoy”.


For the full program and to purchase tickets visit and join the email list to get regular newsletters and updates.



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