Sharmila Tagore

Acclaimed Indian film actress Sharmila Tagore joins us on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm to talk about the Eye on India festival, which showcases Indian art, culture and 100 years of Indian cinema.

Chicago Tonight spoke with the festival's president, Anuradha Behari, to learn more about Eye on India. Read our Q&A below.

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What is Eye on India?

Eye on India is an annual festival of Indian performing arts, visual arts and literature. It’s an annual festival we do in collaboration with Chicago-based organizations. This is the second year of the festival.

What are some of the featured events and festival highlights?

One of the main events is our Bollywood dance party on July 14 at 11:00 am on the front plaza of the MCA. People can participate in it. We have a Bollywood choreographer coming from India who does these flash mob workshops all over the world. And we have some students from Chicago Public Schools joining him as well.

On July 15, we are bringing in three eminent authors from India. One of them is M.J. Akbar. He is the Bob Edwards marries Tom Brokaw of India; just to tell you how eminent he is and how respected he is as a journalist, author, and media personality. Then we have another author who is a stalwart when it comes to women’s issues.

What are the goals of the Eye on India festival?

We don’t just bring in a program here. Whatever we bring in, we co-curate with the venue or institution that we are partnering with. One of our big goals is to create opportunities for Chicago-based artists in India. For example, we are working to take the Chicago Children’s Choir to perform in India. It’s a two-way street; it’s mainly collaborative in nature.

Eye on India is a not-for-profit organization and it’s fairly new, but we are delighted by the way we’ve been received over the past two years. The amount of interest that India has inundated is great. Venues are keen to work with the India scene.  There are about 115,000 Indians around the Chicagoland area, which really haven’t come to be a part of Chicago’s art mainstream community. So doing something India-related creates a bridge where you invite them to these venues, and hopefully create a larger membership base.

Are there Eye on India festivals in other U.S. states?

Chicago is the only full-fledged version. We do our author sessions also at the Seattle Art Museum. Our goal is to expand to other places around the U.S. Chicago is fairly untapped when it comes to India-related programming. A lot of it goes to New York and LA. Chicago is very welcoming. We are lucky we found the support of Chicago people.

What is the significance of having Sharmila Tagore as part of the festival?

Sharmila Tagore is one of the most amazing women I’ve met. She has been part of Indian cinema for the past 50 years. She has worked with the greatest of directors. On personal level, her husband was the captain of India’s cricket team. Cricket is India’s other religion aside from Bollywood. Her son [Saif Ali Kahn] is now one of the leading stars of Bollywood today. She will talk about cinema, her life, and her work. She is the highlight of the Eye on India festival this year.

The event, In Conversation with Sharmila Tagore, will be held on July 12 at 7:00 pm at North Central College.

Following the In Conversation session will be a screening of the film, Life Goes On, at 8:30 pm. The English film, featuring Sharmila Tagore alongside her daughter, Soha Ali Kahn, is about a doctor who faces challenges in life, as well as from his daughters, after the sudden passing of his wife. Watch a trailer for Life Goes On in the following video.

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