A Production by South Asian Association
That the highlight of last weekend, without a doubt, was the South Asian Association’s riveting, gripping, hair-raising exhibition of “Ghungroo” goes without saying. The show was sold out for each of its four performances, and involved up to 400 dancers from all across the College. For those of us who had the fortune of getting a ticket in time, it was an absolute treat of an evening.
The show began with an acoustic fusion of John Legend’s All of Me and the all time favorite Give Me Some Sunshine. Whispers were heard in certain quarters of Agassiz Theater at the start of the show, hinting that someone might sing a song from the emblematic Bollywood film “3 Idiots.” The first performance of the evening confirmed this.
The show then transitioned to a highly energetic ‘Bhangra’ performance, which involved several Juniors. It certainly set the mood for the evening, as the audience found itself hanging on to the edge of their seats while Harvard students set the stage ablaze, Punjabi style! What was particularly special about the show was how the energy of the first dance was maintained in all the subsequent performances, which ranged from the classical to the filmy. It gave credence to the claim made by the producers of the show, that Ghungroo does not sell out for each of its performances simply because it may have the best dancers on campus, but because everyone is visibly elated on stage and their ecstasy is catching.
Another special feature of the program was how the flamboyance of the dance performances was juxtaposed with the poignancy of the skit that ran parallel to them. It was centered around the charity that the show makes contributions to, in order to assist with mental health issues among the South Asian community in North America. The skit featured Aditi, a young Harvard student who is in the process of recovering from a meltdown that forced her to drop a year at College. She finds herself struggling to maintain normalized relations with her friends, all the while having to bear the brunt of her parents’ high expectations. “Mom and Dad, are you embarrassed of me?” she asks at one point, drawing only utter silence from the audience. Many of us having grown up in a South Asian household, could perhaps relate to the constant pressure of wanting to make our parents proud; for Aditi, however, it was a lot more than that. She was not only realizing that her parents were ashamed of her meltdown, but she also found herself at a big, fat, Indian wedding – the ideal occasion for people to eavesdrop into others’ lives.
The wedding, however, was celebrated in its truest form – with lots of music and dance in an ornate setting, which was beautifully depicted by the set. Indeed, to echo the directors’ sentiment, it is hard to imagine that anyone left the theater that evening without having gained a better understanding of Indian culture.
This year’s show may be particularly memorable for its coinciding with Junior Parents’ Weekend. It caused a large number of visitors to flood into the gates and enjoy an evening of cultural celebration; for some, it may even be the only chance they have to see their kids perform ‘Bhangra.’
The last performance gave the audience everything they could have asked for and more. The highly inclusive Senior Dance was remarkable for the enthusiasm of its dancers in one of the students’ last hurrahs! . It saw over a hundred and fifty Seniors come together and enjoy their last Ghungroo, dancing to songs ranging from the evergreen Rangeela, to the very recent India-Wale.
Such an emotional and exciting ending prompted freshmen and others students to enlist for next year’s production. Many promises were made to ensure that they get their international friends to shake a leg to their favorite Hindi songs come next Ghungroo.
Never had I thought I would get the chance to visit home right here in the Radcliffe Yard. I was gladly wrong.
Pulkit Agarwal’19 (firstname.lastname@example.org) has had many of his friends self-invite themselves to his wedding in India, scheduled to take place exactly 10 years hence.