The crowd could be heard quite audibly enthused as Nutkhut’s Wedding Party float came into view down the Mall in central London to add a dash of Bollywood sparkle to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant over the weekend.
British Indian actors were among those in the crowd who could be seen swaying to the Indian folk beats, which included a mix of dance forms from bhangra to garba.
“Seventy years ago, my mother, nine years old at the time, welcomed the Queen to Fiji; a 10,000-mile journey resulted in her and three generations of women in my family making London their home. Seventy years on, my nine-year-old daughter is dancing with the Wedding Party,” said Ajay Chhabra, the co-artistic director of the UK’s Nutkhut performance company.
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Founded in 2004, Nutkhut was created to present Joint Artistic Directors Ajay Chhabra and Simmy Gupta’s creative work following 15 years as performers with other companies.
Gupta brought together a unique South Asian UK Drag Artist collective for the Pageant, in a nod to the tradition of drag artists in South Asian celebratory events. Independent performers from around Britain came together for the first time to create an all-inclusive LGBTQ+ group to be a part of the .
Gupta said: “South Asian communities have a long and rich history of drag artists performing at celebratory events; my intention was to raise the visibility of South Asian Drag artists in our communities. This is an exciting opportunity to support and see South Asian drag through the lens of fashion, combined with a powerful aesthetic of technicolour.
“It was my dream to bring South Asian Drag Artists to Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant! And also to create a South Asian Drag Artists’ Ensemble as a legacy for the Pageant.”
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Nutkhut has a strong track record of working outdoors, which remains a key component of its current work offering a range of creative opportunities and a direct connection with audiences through work in the public realm, which is usually free to access. The performance company prides itself as a culturally diverse, artist-led company in the UK working regularly with festivals, melas and other events across the country.
The company describes itself as being committed to creating access to creative careers for under-represented groups and its Associate Artists Scheme creates a talent pipeline for diverse artists, largely of heritage.