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Soumik Datta in Borderland!


Thursday 20th October at 'Embrace Arts' in Leicester at 7.30pm.

Soumik Datta in his great new production 'Borderland'

“Rabindranath Tagore is an Indian superhero”. Raised in suburban London, a disoriented Bengali teenager struggles with this notion. Soumik Datta, now a ‘British Sarod maestro’ (Time Out), returns us to a journey he made as a boy to the far corners of his cultural identity to face his troubled relationship with the father of Bengal.

Three musicians, led by Soumik, play and narrate this story of discovery. The score comes to life with Indian classical, Soul, Blues and Electronica. Culminating in a breathtaking finale, the piece connects present day London, war-time India, comic book superheroes and Tagore’s global influence.

Stylish and laced with Electric and acoustic Sarod, Vocals, Guitar and multilingual translations, Baithak Records is proud to present a tribute to India’s national poet.

Post Script......

The event was attended by over 40 people, from all different cultures, which I love to see. Some of them were old friends of Kala Kahani, some of them new. I have never actually really listened to this genre of music before... I did watch Soumik (pronounced Showmik) on You Tube with Bill Bailey... what an accomplished sarod player! But this performance was just something else! The performance is a multi media extravaganza of film, poetry, song, and music to challenge all your sensibilities. It begins with footage of the London riots, I felt overwhelming sad, as I'm sure most people did, then we move onto other footage of various wars interlaced with haunting music on the sarod, tabla and electric guitar, and of course Tagores poetry. The performance then moves through an entrancing mixture of poetry, spoken word, music and the most beautiful singer brings it to a crescendo, and its suddenly over. I felt like shouting 'No! Not yet...' It was just enthralling.... one of my friends commented that 'it should have been in front of an audience of thousands...they don't know what they missed.' And they didn't

This is what another member of the audience at the London showing thought (courtesy of DSC South Asian Literature Festival Website

'Some in the audience may have been lured here by promises of old Tagore, others by the young sarod player, Soumik Datta. The Bengali-British musician’s latest composition is based on one of Tagore’s stirring poems, Borderland. Virtually an epic poem in its depth (though perhaps not in length) Tagore deals with themes of life, death, identity – and the other ‘borders’ we face in our daily existences.

The outset sees Soumik on sarod, accompanied by his nimble-fingered tabla player, telling a story in Tagore’s words, in an attempt to bring classical poetry into a modern context. The performance sees a gradual increase of musicians on stage, and video installations in the background.

Although the music is really well composed and performed and is a beautiful wave for the story and the images to ride on, it occasionally feels like the composition is trying to combine too many things at once; to show images of the London riots while reciting parts of the poem as stirring as this: “I saw, in the twilight of flagging consciousness / My body floating down an ink-black stream”, is perhaps an overload of ideas.

Although beautiful and successfully conveying a lovely taste for Bengali poetry and sound, it is overwhelming, and difficult to take it all in. It feels as though too much is trying to be said with images and words rather than in Soumik’s actual language – music. It is therefore best ingested by thinking less, and rather, simply immersing yourself in the music, images and words surrounding you, without making too much effort to make sense of it all. A true hedonistic pleasure if ever there was.' Written by Jeanny Gering

Bali Rai in Loughborough!

Local writing hero Bali Rai will be visiting Loughborough on Saturday May 14th!
A bit about Bali..... having grown up in the heart of Leicester’s Sikh community, Bali Rai went to London to study Politics. After managing a bar and thinking about becoming a journalist, he now devotes all his time to writing and visiting schools to talk about his books.
Bali's debut novel '(Un)arranged Marriage' in 2001 received fantastic reviews, he also wrote 'The Crew' 2003, 'Rani & Sukh' 2004, 'The Whisperer' 2005, 'The Angel Collector' 2006, 'City of Ghosts' 2010 and soon to be released 'Killing Honour.' Bali mainly writes for a teenage audience but his books do hold universal appeal.

Loughborough Event Saturday 14th May

Bali will host a writers workshop in Loughborough Library at 11am until 12.30pm where he will talk to emerge writers and will take them through a series of writing exercises to improve their writing skills. Places are free but limited and would need to be booked.

A public author event will take place from 2pm to 3.30pm in the Children's library where you will able to listen to Bali talk about his work and ask him questions. His books will also be available to purchase and have signed by Bali.

For more details or to book a place call Rebecca on 01509 8821035 or email

South Asian Literature Festival in Leicester!

We are very pleased to announce that Kala Kahani and Leicester University will be working together to host the first South Asian Literature Festival as it goes on tour around the country! Sponsored by the DSC, this inaugural festival will begin in London on 15th October to 25th October with and is dedicated to showcasing the rich and varied cultures of the South Asian sub-continent, from India and Pakistan through to Sri Lanka and Nepal. the Festival will present a unique storytelling heritage in all its forms - from the written word through to imagery, film, music, dance and art. It will be in Leicester at the Richard Attenborough Centre on Friday 29th October.
We have the pleasure of three published authors, Farahad Zama....better known for his first novel 'The Marriage Bureau for Rich People' which was a Richard & Judy and Daily Mail book of the month, and has also been nominated for numerous awards and a sequel, 'The Many Conditions of Love, was published in 2009.'

Anjali Joseph has written for the Times of India in Bombay and been a
Commissioning Editor for ELLE (India). She graduated from the MA in
Creative Writing at University of East Anglia with distinction in 2008. Saraswati Park, published in 2010, is her first novel.

There will be either one or two more writers of distinction, which will be confirmed soon. Watch this space!

The theme of the event will be Love, marriage (arranged or otherwise), sex and family relationships have historically been a
great source of inspiration for many South Asian authors and poets, and those who have traveled or lived there. This stellar panel of speakers would look at the way in which modern South Asian writers have treated this subject – from comical representations to melodramatic, heart-warming or tragedy-filled renditions. The event will include readings and discussion by the authors, followed by questions from audience members.

For more information or to book tickets please contact me on

01509 821035 or email


The event took place on 29th November as planned. The line up of authors was Anjali Joseph, Farahad Zama and Hema Macheria who has published 25 short stories and a number of articles in Indian magazines. Her first novel 'Breeze from the River Manjeera' published by The Linen Press, has been very well received. The proceedings were moderated by Bhavit Mehta. The afternoon was well attended, and after a fabulous buffet lunch, a lively debate took place with some interesting comments and questions from the audience. Leicester University book shop were able to furnish the event with all of the Authors books, which they signed and then chatted with members of the audience afterwards. The afternoon was a great success with requests for the Festival to come to Leicester again next year!

Featured Authors

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Farahad Zama
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Anjali Joseph

Everybody's Reading Event - Daljit Nagra

On September 15th 2010, we have great pleasure in welcoming Daljit Nagra to the prestigious City Rooms in Leicester. In partnership with Leicester City Libraries and the Literature Network we are proud to be celebrating the 'Everybody's Reading' Festival with a wonderful evening of poetry from Daljit.
'Daljit Nagra comes from a Punjabi background. He was born and raised in London then Sheffield. He has won several prestigious prizes for his poetry. In 2004, he won the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem with Look We Have Coming to Dover! This was also the title of his first collection which was published by Faber & Faber in 2007. This won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and The South Bank Show Decibel Award. Daljit is on the Board of the Poetry Book Society. He has judged the Samuel Johnson Award 2008, The Guardian First Book Prize 2008, The Foyles Young Poets Competition 2008, The National Poetry Competition 2009. He has also hosted the TS Eliot Poetry Readings 2009. He is a regular contributor to programmes on radio.'
Daljit will also be working with a group of young people during the day at 2FunkyArts where he will be showing them just how cool poetry can be!

For more details of both these events email me on or call me on 01509 821035

Arvind Mehrotra Poetry Reading

Kala Kahani and Leicester Libraries are delighted to welcome Arvind Mehrotra , the first Indian poet to be nominated for a professorship by Oxford University to Leicester on Thursday 4th March. In his own words he will be ‘entertaining us with 2000 years of Indian poetry in 90 minutes! From early Prakrik love poems to Kabir (15th Century) to Arun Kolatkar (1931 – 2004)
As the author of four books including the 'Absent Traveller' (Penguin Classics) he is also an essayist, editor and translator of numerous works. During his visit to the UK he will be speaking at the Goldsmith’s (University of London), and the English Faculty of Oxford University on Kabir and Kipling, reading poetry with Tom Paulin, Bernard O’Donoghue and others at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, and at the Avril Bruton Creative Writing Prize event, also at St Hugh’s. We are pleased to welcome Arvind to the prestigious City Rooms on Hotel Street from 7pm. Places are limited but tickets are free and will need to be booked in advance via email or by calling 0116 299 5426
For more details please contact Rebecca Abrahams on 01509 821035 or
This event would not be possible without the support of the University of Northampton School of Arts and CCFN (Centre for Contemporary Fiction and Narrative)

Writers Events and Programmes

1001 Nights Now

1001 Nights Now in its original form was produced at the Betty Nansen Theatre in Copenhagen in 2002. It came about as an attempt to counteract the Danish establishments and public's increasing intolerance of immigrants and asylum seekers from war torn Muslim countries. Using peoples honest experiences, thoughts and feeling about their countries, heritage and how they are perceived in the western countries they have moved to.

This project is designed to be a take on the epic that is Arabian Nights but the operative word in the title 1001 Nights is NOW. The characters in the play will share the stories of Middle Eastern and North African refugees' stories and struggles in today's Britain. The plot will incorporate the stories of a group of ten writers which will voice the thoughts of a group of illegal immigrant workers in a large Western European factory as they pass the time by telling each other stories.

The specific topic of the stories is open at this stage. This is a lot to do with the fact that Arabian Nights covers almost every possible human experience and we too wish to allow ourselves to be open to learn and be inspired by your experiences of Britain today.

1001 Nights Now originally included 10 writers from Egypt, Afghanistan, Jordon, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon and Tunisia. The British leg of this project which is designed to be a homage and continuation of the project in Copenhagen is currently in the preliminary stages. We envisage it being ready to perform by Autumn 2005. We are currently in search of a writer based in the East Midlands to take part in this project and be one of the ten British based Arab or North African Writers who will create 1001 Nights in Britain.

If you are interest in this writing opportunity contact me on the number below.

Many thanks .

Serenah Brontilla Cole

Tel: 0115 947 4361
Mobile: 07830107358

Writing News and Events

Check out 'Askaboutwriting' for news on writing and events, this site publishs general writing news and news of events, competitions, and whats on where, in addition to a growing list of reviewed writer relevant websites.