Bollywood Opera

Magazine Subtopia met Charlotta Huldt Ramberg, a member of KLUMP Subtopia, who is also the initiator of the community project BollywoodOpera in Botkyrka
Text Elin Borrie, photo Saga Berlin

Even though Charlotta hasn’t had breakfast yet, she’s bursting with energy, and seems to be constantly on the verge of laughter. With burning passion, she turns immediately to the core of the project:

– I reacted to the polarisation. If we divide people in to “us” and “them”, it dehumanises “them”. A number of world wars have taught us this.

Charlotta wants to spotlight “us” by showing our shared historical roots, and how well different culture’s expressions can fit together. She sets off from her own art form, opera, but this project also includes other “pieces of the puzzle, from different stages in life”

– When I was 16 years old, I ran away to Sir Lanka. There, I learned to love the Bollywood music. I also studied musicology at the Lund university, where the presumption was that opera as an art form was born in Hindustan, 5,000 years ago. All of these pieces of the puzzle began to fit together in my mind.

People have migrated across the earth, and brought their culture, and their music, with them. Charlotta explains how the music of Hindustan made its way to southern Europe, where the Baroque era would eventually pick up these melodies, and produce opera as we know it today:

– If you think of human migration across the globe as a spreading of branches, we’ve wandered and spread our branches across the globe as if embracing it. And the little leaves on the ends of these branches are individual people. The wheel is another image I use in the project. I think that returning opera to the country where it was born is a way of closing the cycle, like karma and recycling!

Charlotta has reworked G. Rossini’s opera L’italiana in Algeri, which is full of comic moments. Around 200 amateurs and professionals take part, some of them children from the Bollywood dance class led by Usha Balasundaram. She cracks a smile while talking:

– But isn’t curiosity the opposite of fear? If people dare to make their way forward using their curiosity, and if they see that different cultures can go together very well, then maybe they’ll apply the same idea to people as well?

Text Elin Borrie

In Magazine Subtopia nb 9