strongJason Madanjian, Beacon Staff/strong
divColorful lights adorn the walls. The crowd is rowdy and loud. Glow sticks pass around and balloons bounce amongst the audience like a beach ball at Fenway Park. This was the scene Monday night at the Cabaret, as Emerson International hosted Shades of Bollywood, an evening of Indian song and dance./div
divAccording to president and sophomore Ananda Boga, Shades of Bollywood was a chance to introduce the Emerson community to Emerson International, which aims to provide students a chance to learn and share culture through meetings and planned events./div
div“My freshmen year wasn’t that active,” said Boga. “We wanted to get our name out there.”/div
divHe said Bollywood, a style of Indian cinema that features elaborate song and dance numbers accompanied by colorful costumes and melodramatic story lines, was an obvious choice for the club’s kickoff event./div
div“It was the easiest to put together because we all had experience,” said Boga, who said that including him, four Emerson International members are either from India or Pakistan./div
divVice-president Mitaali Vohra said that she thinks Bollywood has especial relevance to Emerson./div
“This is a big film school, and Hollywood and Bollywood are the two mammoths of the film industry,” she said.
The 30-minute performance featured members of Emerson International dancing to contemporary Bollywood songs. The performances highlighted both sensual and playful choreography as the upbeat songs, like Hindi dance jam “Maahi Ve,” blasted through the Cabaret. Following the performance, the audience got a chance to meet with members and enjoy free food from the restaurant Tantric.
Throughout the show, the crowd went absolutely wild — laughing and grooving along to the performances on stage. Many in the crowd shouted out the names of their friends featured in the show.
“This was the most energetic and exciting event I’ve seen at the Cabaret in my time here,” said junior marketing communication major Parker Simon.
Twelve different songs were performed during the show, all ending in a break from the Bollywood sound with a crowd-pleasing rendition of LMFAO’s shufflin’ dance hit “Party Rock Anthem.” Audience members took to the stage for an all-out dance party.
“I’m absolutely blown away,” said Boga. “We really only expected 40 to 50 people, so to fill the Cabaret and have people standing in the back is amazing.”
Shades of Bollywood marks not only Emerson International’s first event of the year but its first event in a couple semesters. The event was co-sponsored by the Office of International Student Affairs.
Vohra said she is particularly proud of how quickly and successfully everything came together.
“It’s amazing how devoted everyone has been,” said Vohra.
Performers during the show, which included both the president and vice president of Emerson International as well as non-members, rehearsed almost every night for the past few weeks. The Friday before the event, the group rehearsed a variety of dance numbers countless times for roughly three hours.
Additionally, they choreographed the dances themselves, taking inspiration from Bollywood movies and music videos.
Sofia Haroon, a sophomore visual and media arts major and performer in the show, said she couldn’t have been more thrilled with the reception.
“At the end of the night, it didn’t even matter if we got the steps right — it was all about letting our presence be known to the Emerson community and having fun.”
emMadanjian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org./em