Pagdi Sambhal Jatta, Asmita Theatre Group’s 100th play and is about the revolutionary icon of India’s freedom struggle, Bhagat Singh. It depicts his lifestyle, social and political conditions of the times and his vision of a socialist India for which he sacrificed his life at a young age.
History is to some degree about creating a narrative and this play helped dispel many myths. For example, today a lot of Right Wingers are claiming that Bhagat Singh was a deeply religious man. However this is a man who once wrote a very powerful essay titled, ‘Why I Am An Aethist’, and the play beautifully explains the reasoning behind the piece.
Asmita believes that art has a larger purpose, that it must educate its audience and inspire in them the desire to create a better future. All of us found something in the play that spoke to us, whether it was the music, characterization or dialogue. This is a play we will remember for a long time to come.
THE STAGE IS SET,
THE CURTAIN DRAWN,
DON’T RAISE IT UP JUST YET
(SULEIMAAN SIR MIC KI VOLUME NAHI AA RAHI HAI!
THE DANCERS POISED
THE MUSIC CUED
OUR CHOIR’S LATE
THE DIY DANCERS ARE READY
TANDAV AND HIP HOP
WHAT IS THEIR EXIT CUE
THE LACK OF LIGHT
OR MUSIC TOO
OUR DANCERS REALLY HAVE NO CLUE
THE MIC IS ON
EAGERLY AWAITS THE SPOKEN WORD
WE HAVE ONLY TWO MICS TO SPARE
CHANGE THE ORDER
CALL THE COMPERES
MIC CHECK, MIC CHECK
1, 2, 3
THERE ARE 22 BANDS
WHO EACH NEED A DIFFERENT KEY
TICK TOCK TICK TOCK
TIME’S RUNNING OUT
(I’M SORRY GUYS BUT YOU’LL HAVE TO CUT YOUR SONG SHORT
HI, HELLO ALUMNI HERE
THE ORIGINAL LEGENDS
AYESHA, ARNAV, RISHABH, KHULLAD
THE ACTORS TAKE THE STAGE
SHAHID SIR STEPS OUT
THE LIGHTS ARE TOO DIM
AND PLEASE RAISE THE SOUND
THE BAITHAK ASSEMBLES
THE DRAMA ROOM TRANSFORMED
WHAT TO DO WITH THE MIKE FORMATIONS
LET’S CHANGE THE ORDER AROUND
(THIS PROBLEM PLAGUES THE DRAMA ROOM)
HEY IT’S TIME FOR ACT REACT
BUT THE ACTORS AREN'T AROUND
FIND THEM FIND THEM EVERYWHERE
AND OH! OUR HEROES ENTER LATE
THE AUDIENCE CLAPS
THE STUDENTS CHEER
IT WAS REALLY WORTH THE WAIT
LET’S TAKE YOU BACK A 100 YEARS IN TIME
TAP, JAZZ, SWING AND JIVE
INTRODUCE IT AGAIN
AND WHERE ARE THE PRISON CELLS
WHY IS THE DISCO BALL NOT LOWERED ON TIME
IT’S TIME TO WRAP UP
AS OUR MADNESS CULMINATES IN THIS TWO DAY EVENT
WE CALL JASHN
DO GRACE THESE HALLWAYS
WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU
Creativity, Activity, Service; CAS is indeed what lies at the heart of Jashn. It is in fact CAS stalls that greet us when we come to Jashn. They are our stop-by throughout the course of the festival, as we crave something to eat. They fuel us to keep going through the course of the long celebrations and sell the merchandise we proudly sport and later save as souvenirs. Our CAS team works tirelessly to arrange the production, advertising, arrangement, accounting and sales of a range of available items, from baked goods to t-shirts.
Today, we stayed to observe the endeavors of the CAS students who led by Chetna ma’am worked relentlessly in the calculation and accountancy of pre-ordered Jashn merchandise. (Which they had previously strived hard to hype everyone about!) The amount of research and graphic designing that has gone into creating these is also very commendable. All proceeds from these hard and consistent efforts go for the benefit of a school in Rohilapur, a nearby village. Over the past few years, all such profits raised through stalls put up by CAS have aided the development of the school’s curriculum and facilities.
Being a part of CAS has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the students tell us eagerly. It truly feels great to give back to society!
Our 23 students from class 9-12 have been practicing vigorously for the last 10-15 days. Teachers in charge Kirti maam, Indu maam and Hema maam left no opportunity to polish the diction, pronunciation, expression, intimation and posture. The script is bilingual. Students have been carefully selected and allotted events based upon their interests. 12 events are happening across the SBS premises and our comperes have something to say about all of them. What is also commendable is that they have done the research for their pieces themselves. Most of them were first timers yet all of them gracefully and confidently succeeded in waving off their stage fright.
Any task, when done with focus, dedication, clarity of intent and an understanding of its essence driven by both instinct and mastery, is elevated to an art form. Makeup is no exception. This year at Jashn, we have performances like the One Act play and a 100 Years of Dance which require transforming living, breathing humans into aesthetics that convey the spirit of an era and a gamut of character or dancer specific emotions and quirks that enhance the realism of the piece and subsequently the impact it has on the audience. To this end, we have invited a professional makeup artist to SBS.
Today we had a deep, some would say philosophical, discussion with Hargun ma’am, the teacher in charge of makeup. On being asked whether she considered makeup to be an art form, she said that yes, she did because it was a wonderful means of self expression. She further added that seeing things as dichotomous wasn’t necessarily the best way. Rather than seeing makeup as a mask or something to hide behind, one could view it as medium that allows someone’s natural self to come out and allows the individual, freedom to share their thoughts with the world.
Presentation is a huge part of Jashn. It is important to the students and teachers that they look their very best at all times. This is why the school uniform is an integral part of the school community. Yet, during Jashn, clothes become so much more. A black shirt and jeans signify production, the mighty team that organizes the whole show. If you’re wearing an old worn-out T-shirt, it is evident that you belong to the Arts team.
At Jashn, clothes aren’t just clothes, they are costumes. Your attire signifies who you are, which venue you belong to and well, what you do. During Jashn, the costume department, led by Ruchi Mahajan ma’am and Anshu ma’am, works day in and day out to not only design, but get the costumes approved, clothes bought, stitched and ready for our performers on the final day. There is a lot of hassle involved in this particular task, especially since this year we have a 100 years of dance performance, taking you through the eras to showcase the evolution of dance. For the costume department, this means designing costumes that dancers wore during the different eras- Charleston, Tap, Swing, Jailhouse Rock, Classical Jazz, Disco, MJ, Conga, Hip Hop, Street Jazz and Modern Contemporary; requiring extensive research in order to go back in time and give our audience the complete essence. For the Kalavati dancers and singers, vibrant colors have been chosen to highlight their piece. Our costume department has been rushing to different manufacturers, getting the material and color combinations right, placing orders and taking measurements. Even for our musicians, attires are important. The Indian roots performers will be dressed in traditional Indian Kurtas and Salwars, while those putting up Unplugged will be wearing Jeans and Jashn T-shirts designed by the Seva team.
The One Act Play also demands a variety of costumes this year. Talking of cultural boundaries and depicting various kinds of characters, each one requires a specific look to complete the play in its entirety. There are students in uniform, and Muslim and Hindu characters in archetypical costumes, these too are designed by our teachers.
In conclusion, this year we have a very well dressed Jashn.
As we entered the auditorium today, we could feel the excitement in the air. The stage was buzzing with performers as they walked around setting up the stage. Towards the back of the platform, the small group of choir students could be seen setting up their mikes and instruments, doing sound checks and vocal exercises before the practice began. In front of them their dancing counterparts could be seen stretching and putting on their ghungrus as they prepared for practice.
The chaotic atmosphere calmed down as Sakshi ma’am walked in and the dancers got in position. Vineeta ma’am directed the instruments- Tabla, Sitar, Pakahwaj and flute. The singers began to sing the Kalavati Raag and as they sang the dancers moved to their melodious voices. Having previously prepared the dance without the live music the dancers had perfect synchronization, but since they were not used to the live music and the variations that came with it, the dancers had a little problem. To correct this, Sakshi ma’am asked the Pakhawaj player to change the beats a little, add some beats here, subtract there, etc. The dance started off with four trained Bharatnatyam dancers, dancing to the song ‘Kahe Tarsaye’, depicting the story of a lover asking her loved one to come back to him. As it progressed, the singers switch to a Tarana based on Raag Kalavati. At this point, the Kathak dancers stepped in with their graceful movements, continuing the scene and emphasising the anguish of the expectant lover. Towards the end of the performance, the singers, tabla players and the dancers shift to a Jugalbandi- a back and forth where they each challenge each other as they showcase their art.
To sum up, the Kalavati Dance promises to be a mesmerizing performance which as it matures is an absolute delight to witness. As of now the dancers are having a few cue problems but with Sakshi ma’am’s help they will eventually perfect the small nuances of this extravagant piece and present to us a truly brilliant classical performance this Friday.
Today, we were spectators to a dazzling display of DIY dance choreography, and what a spectacle it was indeed! Starting off with a fusion of classical taandav, the performances soon progressed to an array of energy and grace, shimmering hands and pointed toes. From hip-hop to jazz to contemporary, not one page of the extensive chapter of dance was left unturned! This time, we also saw a variety of alternative and freestyle tracks, fresh artists such as Billie Eilish and Marshmello being especially popular. The freedom of choreography on the students’ part allowed them to channel their talent and passion for these various styles in full form, getting audiences to tap and groove right along.
On speaking to the performers individually, we gained some insight into what about DIY choreography they find unique, and got chirpy responses talking about how they enjoy working with their own tastes to unleash inner emotions and imagination. As the dancers’ creativity and perseverance continues to shine through, we can’t help but be drawn into their spirited self-expression, and are enveloped incessantly by the vibrant atmosphere they so breathtakingly create.
What can ground us but our roots? And what will keep us stable when we aim to touch the sky. This is the philosophy behind Indian Roots. In the words of Vinita Ma’am, “We wanted to do Indian Roots to showcase the variety in Indian Music because most people aren’t even aware of them.”
Today the practice sessions took a long time to take flight as harried teacher in charges ran about the school and tired but spirited students tried determinedly to get their various practice schedules in harmony. However once the practice started, with a venerable rendition of the Saraswati Vandana, the pieces of the puzzle started falling together. The Vandana was followed by the soulful Ghazal, Dairo Haram which is a plea against religious fundamentalism. This was followed by the foot tapping rhythm and intoxicating vibes of Sufi and Qawalli.
Unfortunately, we could not hear the Thumri. Sandeepan on the table deserves a special mention as he tirelessly played the table and patiently and willingly incorporated all feedback. The flautist and sitar player too delighted us and of course, Vinita Ma’am’s insights elevated the performance.
We recommend Indian Roots both to the novice looking for a place to start and the aficionado. Do hear them out, we promise it will truly be an unforgettable experience.
There's discussion and deliberation to nurture our budding sensations.
Our students come together, seated on the floor, they strive, they work, only so they soar.
They work together to achieve perfection, as they perfect and master every expression.
They learn, they grow, they even improvise, they speak of our religious turmoil, the severed ties.
They handle these notions, fragile and tenuous, the days are long, long and strenuous.
They build their expression and mould their voices, bigotry, communalism, they depict our shameful choices.
With their poignant pieces, they evoke strong emotion, and bring light to our country's heinous commotion.
‘Death Takes Rangi' was a scene between the inevitable, powerful and mighty,“death” and a mediocre man. Rangi is a suspicious, creepy, cribbing person who is sick of his wife and nagging kids. in short a usual pessimist.
It’s a comical modern day rendition of death. What we deem as adversity is a commonality for her. The character "death" advocates trivialization of loss. Attaching humor to tragedy the skit exhibits important moral values. The skit exhibits humor by using strong display of sarcasm, powerful usage of expression and a quirky banter between both characters.
Today we gleaned insightful tidbits on the various pieces in performance poetry.
The first piece talks about how performance poetry first developed in ancient Greece as a means of mass entertainment. The audience are given an idea of the history and beginning of this beautiful art form. The second segment is set at the time of the Hiroshima Nagasaki bombings, which talks about how after huge struggle, suffering and destruction, they conquered peace. The performance starts off with two girls, passionate and powerful. One of them depicts the city, reflecting the tragic irreversible reality of 21st century. A reality which cannot be unseen. The last piece was highly relatable, as it revolved around two typical teenage boys trying to express their problems and feelings of neglect.
Walking into the Western Music Room today, we were greeted by the sight of three much loved alumni; Raghav Khullar, drummer extraordinaire and Ayesha Thate and Arnav Sethi, them of the mellifluous voices. Though they haven’t been a regular feature of student life, tales of their escapades and talent still live on in the hearts of us juniors so it stands to reason that we were over the moon to know that they would be performing for us.
Singing a medley of soulful Bollywood songs, the performers accompanied by students of grade 12th were hard at work today trying to figure out the right scale that would complement both their vocal ranges. Raghav, despite this being his first session, had already improvised a beat. We heard them sing Jiya Lage Na from the thriller Talaash. It is not an easy song but they did the composition justice. There is a lot of ornamentation in the piece and a singer must also focus on their breath control, tone and ability to deliver the themes and emotions of the songs effectively to the audience. That they have extensive formal training will be evident even to a layman but to a trained ear, the experience is all the more enhanced. Asked why they chose the songs they did, Ayesha laughed and said, “They have a good vibe.”
It was truly a pleasure talking to them but what made me smile was what they said when asked how it felt stepping into the four walls of unpainted brick, “It feels like home.”
Dance is an essential part of our life. It helps us express ourselves in ways words can’t. The very crux of Jashn is the dance department without whom all performances from drama to music would be incomplete
This year the dance team has compiled various dance forms to create the “100 years of dance” performance. It comprises of 11 dances which are classical, contemporary, hip hop, ballet and jazz. charleston, swing, modern contemporary, classical, disco, tap, jail house rock, conga, MJ and hip hop are the names of the various dances.
Unfortunately, today the team was behind the schedule and practiced the first dance, charleston for two hours alone.
Charleston is a dance set in the 1920s. Full of drama, the facial expressions of the dancers brings to life the joyous life of the people living at that time.
One of the dancers, Anjali Khanna of grade 11 said, “this dance makes me believe that those times were way more amazing than times now” the students helped one another catch with the steps. Aalya Malik, a student who recently returned from Denmark after the student exchange programme learnt all the steps within 20 minutes. Even more commendable was the fact that she, along with her fellow dancers, added more steps.
The dance is a masterpiece performed with loads of enthusiasm. The costume department enlightened us by telling showing us a simple layout of how the clothes will look. (Tune in next week for details on costumes!)
Today morning, we went to check out Conga, a workout dance from the ‘80s. All of the girls were dancing and choreographing independently, trying to improve their previous efforts. They spent very long on altering the dance, changing and adding a couple of new steps as well. They all thoroughly enjoyed what they were doing and made everyone around them groove. The conga dance style is a kind of march, which is characterised by a distinctive conga drum rhythm. It is a mixture of many dance styles. The dance progresses in various formations, most commonly a single file. The coordination and rhythm is truly a treat to the eyes. Viewing the Conga practice, we are reminded every time that unity is strength, as the dancers continue to help each other out at every step.
Two crucial scenes were being crafted today in the Studio Theater. Without giving too much away, we would like to explore very sensitive themes of religion and innocence whose nuances are subtly brought out by the actors.
Today's act begins with the rivalry between two child gangs “Radha gang’ and the ‘Chala gang”’ This in a very simple, ,childish way tries to depict the regional disparities in everyday life which has a become a very unfortunate part of today's socio-political landscape.
Later on we see a very typical evening in two ordinary families of different religion, Hindu and Muslim. Carefully constructed it portrays a simple truth. That no matter what religion you practice, your bonds are uniquely human.
The lessons we learned today are ones we hope embed themselves deeply in our conscious.
Unplugged and Beyond will be a culmination of various musical talents spanning everything from spectacular vocals and mesmerising instrumentals. Our young artists will take you back to the age of rock 'n' roll, into the glorifying years of Elvis Presley, David Guetta, Queen and many others. Students will be providing audiences with their own take on music, and are working energetically towards this enthralling ensemble.
The interactions between Gayatri ma’am and her students are the bricks and mortar of the brilliant performances in practice. Sirat Rakheja delivered a powerful piece today on the daily struggles with self esteem faced by young girls. It revolves around the pressure inflicted upon children by parents. Reflecting the harsh reality brought about by constant comparison and criticism, it depicts feelings of alienation and inadequacy which manifest in the minds of young siblings. The teachers and students continuously venture forth, delivering poignant and evocative pieces one at a time.
Production is like the back bone of Jashn and plays an integral role in its success. The Production Team manages all events in the Jashn in a smooth and efficient manner. There are about 70 children in the production team. The production team has various heads and sub-heads who manage different events. It is truly astonishing how they bring order to chaos. The production team also ensures that there is proper discipline and everybody is in their venues; not bunking! It even ensures that the non-participants are in their respective classes. Over the years, the Production team running around tirelessly coordinating every aspect of the respective function is a common feature in our school. Production students also take the students from venues for costume measurements and makeup.
The singers of Indian Classical Music begin their practice with a popular Ghazal, Dairo Haram. Accompanied by Vinita ma’am at the harmonium, they travel on a melodious journey and pull you along with them. The tone of their voices transports you to the gory period of partition while at the same time reminding you that peace is worth fighting for. Also included in this wonderful repertoire are the melodious sounds of Qawwali, Ghazal and Sufi music. From ‘Bhardo Jholi Meri’- a Qawwali song, to ‘Nit Khair Manga’- a Sufi song and ‘Dairo Haram’, our students are completely mesmerising everyone walking past the Indian Music room. Along with Vineeta ma’am on the Harmonium, our Indian Roots singers sound nothing short of perfect, and are nearly ready to enchant you with their beautiful voices.
Imagine taking a trip, decades into the past in just 30 minutes. The dance production of ‘100 Years of Dance’ does exactly that!
From the high energy, on-your-toes Charleston and Jazz, the defining dances of the roaring 20’s, to the rock and roll era of the 50’s. A trip to the swinging 60’s and jumping into MJ’s primetime the 90’s. And then of course the 21st century characterized by dub-step and hip-hop.
With over 12 dance forms, over 50 talented dancers hope to mesmerize the audience with their captivating movements. This trip will make you live the depths of the music, history and dance all culminated into one fantastic production sure to bring a smile to your face and a rhythm to the tapping of your feet.