Canada’s biggest South Asian festival, draws record crowds

dance and lasers at Bollywood Monster MashupToronto (IANS): The Bollywood Monster Mashup, Canada’s biggest South Asian festival, drew record crowds of thousands of people for two days of dance, music, yoga, fun, food, shopping and laser blasts at the Celebration Square in Mississauga here.

Mississauga, which is the sixth largest city in Canada and neighbours Toronto, is home to the second biggest concentration of Indians in the country.

The brainchild of famous Indian-Canadian composer Vikas Kohli, the festival reflects the multicultural character of the city by serving Bollywood music and dance in fusion with various genres from around the world.

The highlights of the festival which ended last week were Indian-Canadian singer Jonita Gandhi, who has worked with A.R. Rahman and Shreya Ghoshal and sung the title song of “Chennai Express”, and Indian-British singer Ash King, who is known for hit Bollywood songs such as “Te amo”, “Aunty ji”, “I love you” and “Meherbaan”.

Crowds at the fully packed Mississauga Celebration Square went berserk with joy as the two singers belted out their hit numbers.

“It’s an absolutely fantastic turnout…We do not have official estimates yet. However, we have heard people saying that we might have beaten (the record of) Canada Day celebrations at the Celebration Square which gets approximately 100,000 people,” said Kohli, the event’s executive director.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie was on hand to soak in the Bollywood spirit. Shaking a leg to the song “Balam Pichkari” from the film “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani”, she had the crowds in splits.

For the first time, the festival included lasers which lit up the venue, with beautiful laser logos creating patterns on the walls of the City Hall.

True to its mash-up character, the biggest Bollywood festival in Canada was not just about Bollywood films and music, but also included yoga, dance classes, and tastiest delicacies. Reminding visitors of Dilli Haat, its Bollywood Monster Marketplace offers a unique shopping experience for visitors.

In fact, the festival has been created with the fusion of Bollywood and other genres to reflect the multicultural character of Mississauga city where immigrant people from over a hundred countries have settled.

Summing it up, Kohli said: “Everything about this Bollywood festival is a fusion act – cultural fusion, genre fusion…orchestra, laser show… hug acts on state. Actually, we are throwing a huge party (for people of all cultures in the city).

“Five years ago, Mississauga city asked me to fill the gap because we didn’t a have a high-quality festival. Immediately, Bollywood Monster Mashup was a hit because Bollywood is so popular everywhere. In just five years, we have become the largest south Asian film festival in Canada. We get our locals artistes to mingle with international artistes. In fact, many artistes come for their premiere Canadian performances here.”