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Festival of South Asia Hits it out of the BIA Park




Toronto, July 28, 2016:

The longest running outdoor South Asian festival in North America, the 14th Annual TD Festival of South Asia, took place at the Gerrard India Bazaar on Gerrard Street in Toronto on July 16 and 17th, 2016 from noon until 11pm, with free admission for all with over 200,000 in attendance. Clamorworld chief  correspondent Samuel Yerraguntla in conversation with Tushar Unadkat, the producer and director of FSA.

Samuel Yerraguntla(SY): Let me start by congratulating you for a splendid FSA. What makes this year’s festival different from its 13 predecessors?

Tushar Unadkat(TU): Thank you, Clamorworld for your recognition and greetings and thank you to a number of local businesses and artists who havedonated money, time and talent to support this community festival.


For the first time in 14 years, the Festival of South Asia:

  • is truly Multi-disciplinary arts festival, including Literary Arts, Visual Arts, Live Art installations on site and performing Arts
  • has not only local artists, but artist across from Canada and Abroad
  • has performances by Bollywood Celebrities
  • has maximum community and media partnerships
  • has 100s of media coverage
  • has more than 100 artist
  • the line-up of artists who participated this year included those recognized for Juno, Much Music, Western Canadian Music Awards, Dora Awards, and India’s Nari Shakti (woman power) Award winner to name a few.

Above all, for the first-time, the mainstream media gave us terrific accolades:

Twelve things you must do in Toronto this summer

– The Globe and Mail

Toronto’s Top 100 Events of 2016

Five Festival and Parades include Festival of South Asia


IMG_0021The Best Food and Drink Festshappening in Toronto this summer

Now Toronto


SY: You as visual artist and designer always look and show things in the most pleasing way to the human eye. What elements of your art did you embed into this year’s Festival of South Asia?

TU: The BIA events committee asked me to give a face lift to the programing and gave me complete freedom to make artistic decisions.

A significant new feature this year was the signature Culture Gully that was a crowd-puller and gave visitors an experience of rural South Asia with a walk-in Mud Hut with fine interior as well as exterior displays, parallel to Rangoli competition (folk floor-art), staged a potter with a wheel, a colorful Indian kite exhibition and a backdrop of the Taj Mahal as a vintage photo-booth. The traditionally dressed Chaiwallah (tea vendors) offering free tea in clay pots had the audience charmed; not to mention a Panwallah, flutist, astrologer, and a flower-girl who spiced up the South Asian flavor of the festival.

Besides, we for the first time show cased, Bolly Yoga, Cloga (clown yoga for the kids), and included non-south Asian artists to share their South Asian talent and experiences. More details:


SY: The variety of events were all over. Cultural, to Bollywood, fusion, Yoga and the variety of Food stalls? So was the ambience. What was the inspiration for this spread of variety?

TU: The tag line I proposed for this year’s festival was:

“If you can’t fly to South Asia, visit FSA to experience a slice of it”. 3

Toronto is my inspiration for being the most multi-cultural city in the world and yet celebrating oneness. Canadians are open to exploring cultures and I believe that South Asians have a lot to offer. I took this opportunity to spread multi-disciplinary arts and recreate an ambience to cherish.


SY: Some of your challenges you faced organizing the event?

TU: Like any other event of such magnitude, there were challenges and unexpected situations that made us think on our toes overcome with the support and dedication of my creative team members. A crucial challenge was in finding sponsors. A number of factors from the budget that defines the artist line-up to other logistics are based on who signs on as sponsors.FSA successfully bagged a grant for past few years that was declined this year making a big difference in the funding.

Logistically, the quality of artists performing at the Festival this year would have increased costs exorbitantly beyond the capacity of what I was able to pull it off with my decades of relationship in the arts community.Once again, Iwant to expressa BIG thank you toa number of local businesses and artists who havedonated money, time and talent to support this community festival.

Many organizations came on board as our Community and Media partners to share their compassion with passion for the Festival efforts. See


SY: All work of art has scope for improvement and you are no exception. In hindsight what would you have done differently in organizing the FSA? Let’s think of it as a note to self for 2017 and many more events you would be doing.

TU: I agree that, there is always room for development and one an important area of improvement for large events is beginning the process early. I signed the contract late March and although I was successful, this proved to be a very tight schedule to deliver such a phenomenal two days in under four months of planning. I believe it was tight to organize so much in just under 4 months.

In this time, I redesigned the corporate identity, logo, website, artist contracts, and even the not-for-profit Vision and Mission statements for the organization., to name a few serious foundation efforts. Subsequent to that is the actual planning and execution of the event. Next year, this process will be much smoother with the strong foundations set this year.

I believe that large annual festival need minimum of 6 months’ prep in order to get all ducks in a row. I would start it early in the year.


SY: On your other projects? What are the ones in pipeline?

TU: We are now planning the 14th anniversary gala for Nouveau iDEA ( scheduled this November. Parallel to it, I am also working on a feature film project with Bollywood coming to Toronto. We are in pre-production and plan to go on floor early next year.

SY: What inspires you most as a producer?

TU: It is inspiring to disseminate information, produce and promote South Asians to a main stream audience and to provide a platform to network and showcase multi-disciplinary artistic achievers.


SY: What was the best compliment you got for the splendid organization of FSA?

TU: The best compliment is to be listed in the top 5 Festivals & Parades of Toronto in the BizBash: Toronto’s Top 100 Events 2016.


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