With a host of music festivals opting for Rajasthan as their venue in the last few months, the state is bursting with unique sounds this time of the year. After Jodhpur RIFF and the recent Magnetic Fields that had music revellers arriving in droves, now comes the second edition of Ragasthan on February 15 and 16. Organised by Ragasthan Events Pvt Ltd, it is slated to happen in the Thar dunes of Khuri, an hour’s drive from Jaisalmer.
The line-up, which was announced earlier this week, boasts of a series of interesting acts, but have come under fire from one of their artiste programmers from last year. Tarun Shahani who worked on the Amara Stage at the festival last year wrote a long post on his Facebook page talking about non-payment to an artiste and a couple of vendors. Shahani has alleged that one of the cheques to artiste Jayant Ugra bounced, the sound and light vendor Zoos Unawalla has not been paid and there were irregularities in the payment to the food vendor. Shahani ended the post saying: “Don’t go to Ragasthan, don’t like the page, don’t let your friends go”.
This has resulted in one of the big EDM acts, Ash Roy, backing out. But the festival co-organiser Keith Menon, who has been mentioned in the post by Shahani, says, “Ninety five per cent of the artistes have been paid, and the rest of them are close friends who we are speaking to personally. Ugra deposited the cheque too late which is why it bounced, but he has been paid now. It’s sad that we have been made out to be bad, ungrateful people, but with barely 20 days to go, I’d rather concentrate on the festival.”
The organisers on their part have stayed away from getting into a mudslinging fight with Shahani. There is a visible lack of headliners at the fest, because of the lower budgets this year. But some acts that should be checked out include Tritha Electric, the trip hop singer who came under the spotlight last year for her second album Pagli. Apart from local bands that include Mame Khan and Group, who will perform Rajasthani folk, and Kolkata-based popular alt rock band Ganesh Talkies, the festival will also host French composer Christophe Chassol and Brooklyn-based Alo Wala led by vocalist Shivani Ahlowalia. “Ragasthan is about the experience. There is no festival in India that allows you to pitch your tent for free, or does not charge for basic things like water and coffee. Especially when this is 50 kilometres away from the nearest town. We’re hoping more people understand how unique this festival is,” says Menon.