India at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is almost here. The month-long event highlights the very best in UK and international comedy and performance art. Anybody can perform across one of the city’s many venues, making the fringe seriously diverse - the Times of India has described it as “the world’s best known cultural festival”. 

To celebrate this wonderful event and the range of acts on offer, we’ve found the best Indian acts and performers who’ll be at the festival. 

Vir Das’ Unbelievable: The Dishonest Indian

Described as a mix of comedy and dishonesty from a uniquely Indian perspective, Vir Das’ Unbelievable sees Das tell his audience stories ranging from the time he flew an Air India plane to his childhood in India. The catch? Not all of his stories are true.

The Times of India described him as the “king of stand up comedy,” “simply hysterical” by the Hindustan Times, and the Mumbai Mirror says “nobody owns the stage like Das”.

1857: Turrebaz Khan

A dramatic retelling of the life of Turrebaz Khan, the Hyderabadi hero who rebelled against British rule in 19th century India. 1857 focuses on the last few hours Khan spent with his British captor. It emerges that those oppressing him are also slaves to the system he is fighting against. 

Hyderabad’s own Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation, which wrote and are performing the play, describe the tale as a ‘gripping drama’. 

Barra to Bengal

Barra to Bengal is a Scottish-Indian cultural musical telling the story of two people from opposite ends of the globe (Barra is a Scottish island) striking up a friendship through collaboration with musicians.

According to the theatre company performing it, the musical’s purpose is “to demonstrate that people, although from different cultures, are basically the same with the same need for self-expression,” and “that we can always find ways to understand each other, to work together and ultimately produce something beautiful which is understood by everyone.”

Quli: Dilon ka Shahzaada

Another historical drama by the Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation, this time about 17th century Indian poet prince Quli Qutub Shah and his beloved Bhagmati, and the fateful love they overcame religious and cultural barriers to share. But it’s more than just a love story: it’s about Quli’s founding of the city of Hyderabad. Prarthna Rao, who plays Bhagmati, told newspaper The Hindu: “It is the love story that gave birth to Hyderabad. It is a story of two artistes who drew inspiration from each other.”

The play has received standing ovations in city across the globe, and features choreographed shadow dance, period sets and costumes, and live qawwali with Quli’s original nazms.

Triveni: An Indian Classical Trio

Returning to Edinburgh after a great time in 2015, Triveni is back for this year’s festival. The trio includes Prabhat Rao, one of the leading Indian classical vocalists in the UK today. Rao is joined by Pulkit Sharma on the tabla and Drupad Mistry on the sarod.

They promise to share their perspectives on the ancient performing art and present it to audiences with a contemporary perspective. For those interested in India’s musical and cultural heritage, this is a must see.