Meet Mr Serendipity in Season 2
Only the core team knows and learns from him. To most, he is the man behind the scenes, who force drives arguably India’s best art festival. A scion of India’s ‘Hero’ family, Sunil Munjal’s credo for Serendipity is all about balancing and letting all the wheels of this social enterprise do their job. He met Café during the festivalIf you were to place odds on the chances of a kid in Doon School buying art – yes buying art – with his pocket money, in instalments, it would probably be at 500:1. But if you did bet on it, the art buying spree of a certain Sunil Kant Munjal, student of Doon School, would have made you pots of money.
Well, money or net worth has never been something to worry about, for this scion of the Munjal family and the son of patriarch Brij Mohan Lal Munjal, the creator of the iconic Hero group. Sunil, the youngest, who separated from his brothers to set up Hero Enterprise, is a bit of a betting ban. He bets on ideas. And one of his best ideas germinated when it was just a continuous experience at home. Art all over the house, music, a stream of music concerts and most importantly, almost all the greats of Indian classical music – Ravi Shankar, Allah Rakha, Sahir Ludhianvi, Mahendra Kapoor and the rest, as regulars at home. Art, music and theatre came together as a seamless whole and not in silos. Many years later, after nurturing many businesses and social enterprises, Sunil Munjal wanted the best of art in all its forms to be showcased as a continuous festival. And that is when the Serendipity Arts Festival was conceived. This was not an end in itself, as Sunil Munjal told Café in his hotel overlooking the massive expanse of the Arabian Ocean, before heading off to the Serendipity Arts Festival in Panjim, his creation: “India has been the home for the arts and that includes everything from music to paintings to sculpture, dance, poetry, textiles, food and crafts. And this has been recognised all over the world. But all art forms are interconnected and this is the way India sees it.” When Munjal conceived this, it was in the context of creating a movement to encourage art in this form in India’s educational institutions as well as continuously promote latent talent. Asked why his team picked Goa to be the home of Serendipity (now in its second year), Munjal said, “ If we had it in Delhi and Bombay, people would have come with other things to do and this would be one of the things they would do. In Goa, people travel for the festival and this becomes all important. In addition, there are enough five star and other hotels and multiple flight connections.” He has an interesting tale to tell about the first edition of Serendipity. Since the team did not go overboard in publicising it, people actually did not believe that a world class festival would actually be free to watch and experience. It was only on the last couple of days that the reality dawned. This year, the scale is tremendous, with over 70-odd performances, 1,000 artistes including 100 from overseas, performance arts on a barge on the Mandovi and myriad interactive performances making this into a world festival, spinning off in its wake so many peripheral activity like other art festivals and shows like the Goa Affordable Arts Festival at the MOG gallery. And above all, the art collector of Doon School is proud of the inclusive nature of Serendipity with wheelchair access for the physically challenged, sign language experts for hearing challenged and catalogues in Braille for the visually impaired. And Goa is proud because truly, this has become our festival.
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