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Photos: Indian Ocean, Alif, Neeraj Arya’s Kabir Cafe and More Rock the House at Drive-In Festival in Bhopal

The Great Indian Film & Literature Festival hosted its debut music event on February 13th and 14th

Anurag Tagat Feb 24, 2021

An aerial view of the crowds gathered in cars at the GIFLIF Drive In Music Festival in Bhopal on February 13th and 14th. Photo: Moxie Morons/Courtesy of GIFLIF

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While drive-in theaters have been part of the entertainment industry across the world for long, India has rarely seen a drive-in music event, let alone an entire two-day music festival. The Great Indian Film and Literature Festival [GIFLIF] has been hosted since 2015 in Delhi NCR, Raipur and Bhopal, but with the coronavirus pandemic striking last year, co-founder Karan Kukreja’s attention turned to the idea of a music festival. 

Inspired by the drive-in concerts which took place in the U.K. and promoted socially distanced music experiences, Kukreja and his team understood that a “normal festival” wouldn’t happen any time soon so they would have to adapt. “The problem was maintaining the space,” he says. With a few twists and turns along their way, the GIFLIF DriveIn Music Festival was hosted in Bhopal on February 13th and 14th, featuring leading rock acts such as Indian Ocean, Neeraj Arya’s Kabir Cafe and Alif, plus newer artists such as Trippy Sama’s collaboration with Iranian-Indian group Narang Ensemble, rock act Blind Sherpa and Nitesh Rajesh Collective. 

Amidst parked lines of cars and people seated or standing amongst their vehicles, you would occasionally find attendees coming up near the front of the stage to cheer on the bands. Kukreja says, “Logon ko mahaul chahiye (people want that celebratory atmosphere), but there was still distancing. We weren’t restricting anyone and everyone got their demarcated space.” 

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It was also one of the few big festivals in Bhopal. Although this counts as the ninth edition of GIFLIF, Kukreja says budget constraints made them scale down to a more modest level. “It was the cheapest yet most grand,” he adds. Providing clear guidelines and regulations for conduct at a drive-in festival, attendees could show their appreciation by honking but only after a song was done. “I also feel we brought about a cultural change, because we sold out the tickets before the show and here, people are still used to free tickets or just free events.” 

With an aftermovie for GIFLIF DriveIn Music Festival coming up, footage from the festival is also being edited for a one-time livestream of performances from both days. 

Photos: Moxie Morons/Courtesy of GIFLIF

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