Not only are London Mela HQ celebrating the election of the first woman of Indian heritage to the office of Vice President of the United States of America, but also the staging of the first global virtual reality Mela – Melatopia. When they chose the dates, November 7/8, they thought there was a good chance that the world would be celebrating a change of U.S President, they didn’t think it would be announced during the show!
Even with the Biden/Harris victory the very first Melatopia hit impressive audience figures. The total reach of London Mela presents Melatopia is 264,829 and 1,043 for Melatopia TV. These figures will continue to grow as the content will be made available online to view.
Melatopia took us on a musical and artistic journey. The show opened and closed with sets from renowned tabla player Sanju Sahai, a direct descendent of Pandit Ram Sahai, the founder of the Benares Gharana. There was qawwali from Chand Ali Khan as well as classical and Bollywood dance, before the programme turned unashamedly to Pop, Urban Desi and EDM. Highlights included spirited pop diva in the making Celina Sharma and originator of the Urban Desi sound, Juggy D before turning to the headliner, Grammy award nominee, Raja Kumari. Raja played a barnstorming VR set which is sure to increase her profile around the world – you can see why Kamala Harris is a fan.
UK Asian Desi party starters Panjabi Hit Squad then changed the musical direction, warming up for the legendary founders of the Indian electronica scene, MIDIval Punditz. Later in the show Melatopia gave a platform to Canadian electronica newcomer Khanvict. There were sets from legends Panjabi MC and Apache Indian before DJs took the stage. DJ Ritu, Dhol player Yash Puri, DJ Shraii, Bobby Friction’s Fake News Orchestra all featured before Indianman closed the show.
Melatopia TV, the second streaming channel of the event, featured the Melatopia TV magazine programme – a retrospective of two decades of Mela, which presented newly commissioned and archive content. It featured a gender balanced programme and showcased disabled South Asian artist – a Mela first on many levels. Additionally, the programme included the Great British Bollywood Dance Off – 6 dance workshops by 3 London based choreographers, including Jay Kumar, who also hosted and programmed the Dance Off.
The London Mela team made up of Remarkable Productions, Nutkhut and Mela Partnership, should be congratulated for having created this pioneering digital event. The team have created a new digital platform for disseminating content, and overcame funding cuts, practical challenges of recording artists and broadcasting the event during the UK lockdown.