The government, it seems, cannot “afford” big stars for one of its most important festivals — the Rajgir Mahotsav.
The government’s focus has suddenly shifted to encourage local artistes for the three-day fest that begins on December 28. Sources said from Sufi music to modern pop, the fest would have it all this year.
Only a week ago, the government was going gaga about legends like Abida Parveen performing at the festival. The tourism department had also claimed that the popular rock band, Indian Ocean, and ace singers like Sonu Niigaam, Shreya Ghoshal and Sunidhi Chauhan would enthral the audience. The claims have now fallen flat because of apparent “huge cash demand” from the stars, sources in the department said.
“December 28 is almost the fag end of the year. The big stars have many offers in hand at that time. We had offered them a price but there were others who offered them more. While we were negotiating with them, others offered them a better price and booked them. However, popular stars would be coming to the festival this year,” a senior tourism department officer said. “The Rajgir Mahotsav will begin on December 28. Chief minister Nitish Kumar will inaugurate the fest at the newly constructed convention centre. Sufi singer Zila Hussain Khan, as it was earlier announced, would perform on the first day. Local artistes, too, would perform at the event,” tourism minister Sunil Kumar said.
On the second day, Sukhwinder Singh of Chaiya Chaiya fame would perform at the fest. “He is a good singer and has a distinct voice. The audience would love his numbers. After Singh’s performance, again local artistes would take the stage. On the last day, pop singer Alisha Chinai would perform,” the minister added.
On bringing lesser-known artistes to the fest, a department officer said: “The tourism sector is growing. The funds can be used in other development work. The big stars were asking for huge fee, which is not possible for us to offer. The artistes who have been booked are also popular and very talented,” he said.