Pune fest kicks off with history, dance and fun

A voice clip of Lokmanya Tilak, a movie based on Yashwantrao Chavan's life and work, and a rendition of the Ganesh Vandana by actor Hema Malini gave a wide range of colour to the 24th Pune Festival inaugural ceremony on Friday. The festival kicked off at the Shree Ganesh Kala Krida Rang Manch on Friday.

The festival, an annual feature of the city's culture calendar which has seen its own share of rows and controversies— this time it was over the guest list — began with a movie on Yashwantrao Chavan. Hema Malini's Ganesh Vandana followed. The man who had started the Ganesh Festival in Pune for the first time in the country spoke to the audience from a pre-Independence voice clip. The 97-year-old voice clip of Lokmanya Tilak was unveiled for the first time by Tilak's great-grandson Deepak Tilak. If the voice clip lulled the audience into a serious, thoughtful and patriotic mood, a 'Jai Ganesha' performance and Lavani had the audience swaying in participatory joy and action.

Jai Ganesha featured actors Subodh Bhave, Jitendra Joshi, Aditi Sarangdhar and Mrunmai Deshpande dancing to Hindi and Marathi songs in praise of Lord Ganesha. The grand finale of the evening was a Lavani-Mujra featuring actors Varsha Usgaonkar, Urmila Kanetkar, Bhargavi Chirmule and Tejaswini Lonari. Choreographed by Nikita Moghe, this is the first time a Lavani-Mujra combination was attempted. Every time one dance form fused seamlessly into the other, there was a grand applause.

Northeastern students performed the Bihu dance and a fashion show with traditional costumes from Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Mizoram.

Playwright Satish Alekar, Vijay Kumar, who won a silver at the London Olympics and Gagan Narang who bagged a bronze, and group leader of the recent Mount Everest expedition Umesh Zirpe, received the Pune Festival Award this year.

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