Platinum Jubilee diaspora vibes: From Arunima Kumar’s ‘Ignite’ to Navin Kundra’s ode ‘Tere Liye’

Platinum Jubilee diaspora vibes: From Arunima Kumar’s ‘Ignite’ to Navin Kundra’s ode ‘Tere Liye’

The Indian diaspora in the UK has been fully geared up to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen in style as street parties and festivities line up for the long Bank Holiday weekend coming up.

Taking centre-stage, therefore, is India's cultural heritage and a perfect blend of harmonious tunes, classical beats and genres. Here, iGlobal catches up with some well-known community champions, including singer Navin Kundra, Kuchipudi dancer Arunima Kumar and artist Harsha Wadhwani-Basu, to get the British Indian flavour behind the grand and historic celebrations for the 96-year-old monarch’s 70 years of service to the nation.


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Kuchipudi Enlightenment

Arunima Kumar, a royal regular and award-winning classical dancer-choreographer, is leading two distinct celebratory events in London at Westminster Abbey on June 1 and Buckingham Palace on June 5.

"On June 1, we plan to take around 15 dancers across ages and abilities specialising in Kuchipudi dance and create a thematic production for the Queen, based on all the things she loves. So we're including dance pieces on pigeons, horses, swans and also depicting qualities that she has demonstrated to us – like compassion, strength, courage and resilience," she reveals.

Through the dance pieces 'Ignite' and 'Enlightenment', children of various age groups will depict each aspect of the Queen's inspiring life and the historic backdrop to the Jubilee.

"On June 5, there's a huge promenade that will be held between Embankment and Buckingham Palace. We are working with the Nutkhut company and presenting Kuchipudi with a small group of dancers. It is a wide-scale event; I think about 3,000 performers are involved. So we are very excited to participate in it and represent India as part of the promenade," explained Kumar.

"I'm also learning a lot more about the Queen, and the fact that I had performed for her at the India-UK Year of Culture at the Buckingham Palace kind of brings it all full circle. I'm very excited that I'm getting this opportunity again to present our style to the royal family," said the accomplished dancer, who had also performed with her troupe during the London Olympics in 2012.

Concert vibes

On June 5, The Big Platinum Festival at Mayflower Park Southampton is all set to celebrate with popular singer-songwriter Navin Kundra, who is no stranger to mega royal events. Expecting a diverse crowd, Kundra is prepping for the show with an army of dancers and plans to blend in English, Hindi, and Punjabi in his show.

Kundra, who famously introduced his hit song 'Mehbooba' to Prince Charles – the Prince of Wales, and wife Camilla – Duchess of Cornwall, during a British Asian Trust charity event a few years ago, is now looking forward to presenting an ode to the monarch with his mega hit number 'Tere Liye'.

He shares: "The song that I wrote, 'Tere Liye', has taken on so many different forms, means so many different things to different people in different scenarios.

“This is the song that I would say is the tribute from all of us to the Queen. This is saying thank you to the Queen and showing her how far we've come as a diaspora. I feel grateful, lucky enough to meet the royal family on several occasions. I feel they are a unifying figure in the country."

'Jai Ho', 'Mundiya Tu Bach Ke', 'Shudaayi', 'Gagnam Style' are other popular numbers that the concert audience can expect to sing-along and dance to, besides some evergreen Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars numbers.

"The British Asian music industry officially is quite prolific here. It influences the whole world. It's a huge honour to be involved in something like this and showcase everything that British Asian music offers," the singer adds.


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Colourful blends

Adding another artistic shade to the Jubilee celebrations is Harsha Wadhwani-Basu, originally from Delhi who quit a successful career in publishing in the UK to pursue her passion for the arts.

"Kids are the highlight for me, and older people," she shares.

Therefore, her tribute to the Queen involves 12 special-need girls who have put together the Project Jayantee art exhibition. Wadhwani-Basu's focus is on traditional Indian art forms such as Mithila paintings and she has collaborated with Community Youth Ventures – a community interest organisation that focuses on inspiring young lives through innovative activities.

The Project Jayantee exhibition, backed by Arts Council England’s Let’s Create Jubilee Fund, is scheduled at in Beaconsfield on June 7.

"The art and culture focused workshops that we've been doing are all about experiencing the joy of art and not about being perfect. It's just the joy of creating something, learning and experiencing new things, which these girls have been doing so wonderfully well. These will culminate with a huge exhibition on June 7," said Wadhwani-Basu.

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