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Song & dance replace slogans

Darjeeling, Sept. 28: Normalcy seems to have truly arrived in Darjeeling as the hills are suddenly alive with the sound of music and dance now.

The Queen of the Hills is gearing up for a slew of musical shows, concerts and dance contests which will help people rediscover their penchant for mirth, lost in four years of Gorkhaland strife marked by sloganeering and road blockades.

Even though the Memorandum of Agreement to set up the GTA was inked more than a year back, on July 18, 2011, the 17-day Darjeeling Tea and Tourism Festival was the only event organised thereafter. The tea festival was largely seen as an initiative of the Darjeeling district administration, which was wholeheartedly supported by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

However, many shows by apolitical organisations, without the direct participation of the Morcha, have been lined up in the hills of late. To start with, one of the most well-known bands in Darjeeling, Carnival, is holding a three-day musical evening starting today at the Gorkha Rangamanch Bhawan here.

Chandan Lomjal, the general secretary of the band, said: “The musical show is titled “Old is Gold” and is being held to commemorate 40 years of the band’s existence and also in aid of a kidney patient. During the three days, we will be playing Hindi and Nepali songs of the period from the 1960s to the ‘80s.”

A well-known Nepali singer, Prem Dhoj Pradhan, will be one of the star attractions at the show.

The hills are also on the hunt for its future dancers.

A group of dancers has come together under the banner of the Himalayan Twisters and is holding a competition tilted Just Dance Darjeeling for children aged between six and 16 years.

“There were more than 600 contestants who came to attend our auditions held in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik. This is a television reality show — the first of its kind in the district — and will be shown through various local channels every Saturday and Sunday,” said Purnakala Thapa, the public relations officer of the show.

The hill people can vote for the contestant by sending SMSes. The winner of the Just Dance competition will get a cash prize of Rs 25,000 along with gift hamper worth Rs 1 lakh. “The first runner-up and the second-runner up will get Rs 10,000 and Rs 5,000 respectively. The winner will also be sent for a three-month training at A-Jazz academy in Calcutta,” said Thapa.

“The final is scheduled to take place in the last week of October,” he added.

Another musical jamboree will also dazzle Darjeeling in the coming days.

A newly formed group called The Great Himalayan Rock Production, which consists of young music lovers from the hills, will organise a show “Lets Get Started” at Capitol Hall here on Sunday. “The year 2012 has breathed a fresh lease of life into the hitherto dead music scene of Darjeeling. By dead, we mean a lack of exposure and a platform for creative musician-audience interaction,” said Dipen Pradhan, a member of the organising committee.

“We have received a positive feedback from the musicians and bands from Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Guwahati and Gangtok will perform at the event,” said Pradhan.

Bands, Laidback and Circle’s End, will represent Darjeeling, while Filharmonix from Guwahati, Nightmares from Gangtok and Ground Zero from Kalimpong are the rest of the groups.

Each of the bands will be performing a self-composed song on the HIV/AIDS theme.

“We also bring about an awareness of HIV/AIDS through the show,” said Pradhan.

Filharmonix, Laidback and Ground Zero will launch their albums at the show.