Interview: Ajay Chhabra Artistic Director at London Mela
We are super excited for London Mela 2019 and spoke to Aja Chhabra to talk about his inspirations when putting together the epic line up.
Tell us about London Mela. What should we expect to see?
The London Mela is the largest event of its kind in the EU. We started out as a one off event and we’ve grown year on year and are proud of the way the event has grown organically, how the audience is a true mix of London and how the kids who came in the first few years are now bring their own families and parents and grandparents it’s an intergenerational, multi art form, showcase of all things South Asian and more
It’s for everyone and our finale shows are always designed to be breath-taking and spectacular so I’d encourage everyone and anyone to come on down and watch the show live
What’s special about the festival and what has been key to its continued success?
Mela is the UKs best kept cultural secret, it brings people together, it entertains as well as educates – Mela means to meet or gather and in a world where we supposedly are less dependent on each other, Mela fills that void space of real connectivity and real community.
What are your influences in programming the festival this year?
Intergeneration runs through the entire programme. Connecting the young and old through music, dance and the arts. We ensure our programme is a musical palate of a range of styles from grime to Bhangra from hip hop to Qawwali. You’ll literally hear it all at the Mela. And most of all you’ll be able to hear how folk music and classical musical influences on new hits.
What advice would you give to young South Asian artists?
Connect with us now. We can help mentor, support or programme your work and be bold, be courageous in making artists choices.
What are your favourite London haunts? (to eat, to watch live shows/music, to relax)
To eat and watch live music in southeast London head to DANFE in Plumstead, an old London boozer, with ex Gurkhas, a pool table and the best momo this side of Kathmandu!
New Roxy in Southall. I’ve been coming here since the early 1970s. The decor has changed. But the food and owner haven’t. Nostalgic, suburban and a great atmosphere all week!
Grelha D’Ouro, Lambeth Road Stockwell. Portuguese home cooking. Join the party atmosphere at weekends with families celebrating birthdays, anniversaries galore. The tastiest Portuguese restaurant in town.
The Ivy Blackheath – to impress it has to be the Ivy in Blackheath. Cool staff, stiff drinks and clock wallpaper. What more could you want!
Everest Inn – once you been here, you’ll return. The owners make you feel welcome. Service is slick. The food is slicker.
London and Mela at its best – international and welcoming, that’s what we do best !
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like free, cheap & offbeat London, especially: cabaret, art, theatre, pop-ups, eating out, quirky films, museums, day trips, social enterprise & much more.