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On stage, able, but differently

To call Kshitij 2003 just another fest would be a misnomer. This assembly of talent and grit, passion and perseverance organised by the Rotaract Club of Belur, in association with the Interact Club of Mahadevi Birla Girls and the social service unit of Birla High (Girls), threw up several heroes among differently-abled and specially-talented children. And every participant proved to be a winner.

July 6 was the date and Vidya Mandir the venue for a dazzling display from these special children who rarely get a stage to show their talent. They put up such well-crafted performances that the judges had a tough time choosing the best. An audience of around 800 that included students, parents, teachers and guests witnessed something very unusual. What began with the participation of only nine schools saw a total of 22 institutions – Mentaid, Shirc, Reach, Uttarayan, Rotary Bal Vikas Kendra, Greenfields and many more — signing up for this carnival with a difference.

Former mayor Shyam Sundar Gupta lit the inaugural lamp, followed by the felicitation of some Rotaractors and Rotarians. The various rounds of competition ranged from fancy dress to song and dance and the ever-popular sit-and-draw. The art competitions were held in the respective schools, with students depicting terrorism and communal harmony with flair and imagination, making judge (artist and interior decorator) Kiran Majumdar’s job a difficult one.

The day’s events started off with the fancy dress competition that found the Charlie Chaplins mingling with sadhus, brides battling beggars to make the grade. Next in line was the cultural presentation in the form of dance and drama, songs and mime. It began with the girls of Shirc putting up a stupendous performance. A groovy foot-tapping performance by the students of Mentaid to the song Dhoom pichak dhoom brought the auditorium to its feet and set it rocking. Judges Veena Kichlu (theatrician) and Pandit Bhajan Sopori (santoor maestro) picked the girls of Shirc as the best.

The cultural presentation was followed by a cartoon show — Tom and Jerry on film — that all but brought the house down. Adding to the fun were cartoon characters and clowns invading the auditorium, shaking hands with the excited kids and offering them chocolates galore. Emcees Leena Bardhan from Noble Mission and Rotarian Ankur Garg did their bit to help the children have a blast.

At the end of the day’s play, every participant received certificates and lunch-boxes. Winners in each category got gift packs sponsored by Nestlé. The Rotaract Club of Belur also gave each of the participating schools carrom boards. A student from the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy bagged a special prize for painting with his feet. But it was Shirc that swept the prize stakes.

The on-stage action aside, there was also an exhibition-cum-sale of handicrafts, cards, and drawings made by the specially-talented children, outside the auditorium. “This was an effort to enhance the pursuits of the mentally and physically challenged children by offering them a stage to reveal their talents in the form of dance, drama, art and fancy dress and to make them believe that they are, indeed, a part of society. And once on stage, they proved they were no less than their ‘normal’ counterparts,” summed up Rotarian Vinay Mundhra, president, Rotaract Club of Belur.

The curtains came down with the felicitation of all the judges, designer Nilanjana Chakraborty (wife of actor Arjun Chakraborty) and Barry O’Brien, and a formal vote of thanks by Ankur Garg — but not before the pledge of a “bigger, brighter and better” Kshitij round the corner.

— Ankita Rathi,

President, Interact Club,

Mahadevi Birla Girls

 

Festive acts

Then, now and KY forever was the theme for “the most happening” school fest of Calcutta — Karmayatra, or just KY.

The oldest surviving festival of Calcutta’s school circuit, at 29, was held on July 4, 5 and 6 at the Amoditya and Lawrence Halls of La Martiniere. KY is the fundraiser for the school’s Interact club, which has service projects at the Little Sisters of the Poor, Manovikas Kendra and Udayan Gram, and conducts weekly free medical camps at Park Circus and Garcha.

Besides the hosts, St James, Pratt Memorial, Calcutta Boys, Calcutta International School, G.D. Birla, Frank Anthony, Birla High and Ashok Hall participated in the mega festival this time. July 4 was reserved for off-stage events and the customary KY prom night. G.D. Birla, Ashok Hall and Calcutta International School swept most of the off-stage prizes.

Day-II commenced with industrialist and ex-Martinian, Harshavardhan Neotia inaugurating KY ’03. St James’ aced the medley conducted by Shunashir Sen. Karma Konflict found Ashok Hall winning the war of words over ‘In the opinion of this house — this house does not exist’ and ‘Circle a Square’, in the block-and-tackle debate.

Karma Gimmick, a version of ad spoofs, held at the boy’s school, had students endorsing brands such as ‘Kill it Blades’, ‘Subtract Gel’, ‘Fountain Blue’ and ‘Maikalal Shampoo’. The Calcutta International School campaign sold the best. The UN Mock witnessed a discussion about the alleged impotency of the organisation and the US-led war in Iraq, with St James’ finally being adjudged the best. The day was rounded off on a musical note with Karma Jazz, the western music competition, and a victory for the boys from the home team, with their repertoire of classical and rock music.

The five-round Karma Quiz showed how Calcutta Boys School could out-answer the rest. Half-a-Minute (HAM) saw the Jacobians beat the boys from Birla High in the finals. In the Indipop and classical music fusion event Karma Taal, Siddharth Bapna of La Martiniere was conferred the best vocalist award, and his team the best performing band.

At Karma Pact, teams incorporated wacky lines into skits, with Sumit Thakur of the host school pronounced best actor. The most exciting event was, as always, the choreography. Karmathmics, the western dance contest, showcased the on-stage aptitude of all 10 competing schools, but special mention must be made about LMB and CIS, who preferred classical numbers to the modern, with unique costumes, and steps taking the audience way back to the 60s. St James’, LMG and LMB bagged first, second and third place respectively, and Shashank Kapoor of St James’ was named best dancer.

The prize-distribution ceremony brought down the curtains on KY. The prestigious Mahayatri award for the year was bestowed on Projesh Banerjee of St James, the school which also won laurels for its overall performance, followed by LMG and LMB.

Sangeet Shirodkar

 

Games students play

Festive action continued at St Joseph’s College, which hosted Josephtsyna 2003 from July 3 to 5.

On Day I, the teachers of Calcutta Girls, Loreto and St Joseph’s displayed their singing talents. This was followed by a debate on the topic ‘Back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, women made the coffee and men made the decisions. No more, we have changed that’, won by Frank Anthony. Then, Trevor Cheng and Christopher Tigga of the host school performed a couple of English songs. Creative writing was next, the English edition won by Calcutta Girls’ while Frank Anthony stole the crown in the Bengali.

The second day started with the Who Dares Wins challenge. Water balloons and eggs were chucked at the challengers who had to catch them without breaking them. The eastern music contest, dominated by Bengali songs, had Calcutta Girls prevailing once again. At the group elocution where students had to speak together, Calcutta Girls shared the limelight with the hosts. Coming out on top in eastern dance, which leaned towards traditional recitals, was Ling Liang School. Fusion was the flavour at the fashion show, and Frank Anthony proved the most stylish.

The third day again saw the second leg of Who Dares Wins, including a slow cycling competition. An event inspired by the show Whose Line is it Anyway had St Joseph’s and Douglas bagging the top slot. The same combination ruled in western music. Antakshari, conducted by Siddhartha Roy, lead singer of Cactus, was hard fought, but Frank Anthony emerged victorious. Western dance went to the performers from Loreto and Calcutta Girls. In the final tally, Douglas was adjudged the most sporting school, but it was Calcutta Girls that raked up the highest score. It was time for celebrations all around at the closing prom night.

This time proceeds from the fest have been dedicated to Sangram, a remote tribal village in Arunachal Pradesh where the Christian Brothers have set up a primary school and a dispensary.

— Akshay Jain,

Class X, St Joseph’s College

 

Rhythm rage

Percussionist Bikram Ghosh spent last Saturday with about 200 musically inclined students at Apeejay School, where he was conducting a workshop on rhythm. The tabla exponent explained the way rhythm can be used in our daily lives, emphasising that every child should learn some form of music for the fun of it.

The group learnt how to play a ‘drum’ with parts of the body, a table, or on the floor. Students then fired their question on technicalities of music and career options. A jugalbandi between Rekha Moitra, dance teacher, Apeejay School, and Bikram, was part of the workshop, with both explaining ‘taals’ in music. Bikram wrapped up proceedings with an experimental performance.

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