With most schools off on Saturday, the footfall on the final day of the carnival was unprecedented.
Wearing TTIS badges with the school name written on them, thousands egged on their school teams in Fusion Dance. Calcutta Girls' and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan put up some sizzling performances. The 26 teams kept the crowd on its feet for a good three hours before the Fashion Parade took off.
John Abraham, Abhishek Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor, Sania Mirza' They were all there, not in person but as role models of aspirants who walked the ramp at Swabhumi. The glamour parade saw the students of 20 schools walking the aisles.
'If a fashion show was all about clothes then we would not have been here. It is all about attitude and carrying your style with elan,' said the students of Calcutta Girls'. Minor hitches like steps missed and nervous moves were overlooked as the spirit of youth and the talent of the young shone through. Every sequence was worthy of loud applause, but the colourful display of South Point, representing the cosmic powers of Maya, was the clear favourite.
The western band performance was quite a melange of metal, mettle and melody with eight schools strumming their guitars and straining their vocal cords. If the fashion show was a cakewalk, the gig was not for the weak-hearted. While some tripped, others triumphed. The crowd chorus was maximum when the winners, St James, Don Bosco Park Circus and AG Church Park Street were in performance.
The band beat over, the stage was set for Babul Supriyo to stir up the melody, regaling school students with tracks like Shei raate raat chhilo purnima, Tere liye, Hum tum and Salaam namaste.
'When I perform for elders I have a set pattern. But with children it is quite difficult. They would not think twice before booing you out. Moreover, to connect with them I have to go back to my school days, which is quite nostalgic,' said the singer.
An added attraction at the show: a cameo by Sharmilee Supriyo, Babul's toddler who had the crowd in splits.
Song and dance, fashion and fun done, it was time for things to get serious before the curtains came down on the carnival.
At the prize distribution, the two most coveted crowns were the Champion of Champions School ' Calcutta Girls' High School ' and the Champion of Champions Student ' Navojit Mukherjee, Class XI of Methodist School, Dankuni. A dozen talented students who had come close to the Champion of Champions crown were given special gifts.
But for the 2,000-plus students who participated in the mega carnival, there was no gift more special than the carnival itself ' 72 hours of competition and camaraderie.
Day one & day two
It is awesome. It seems like the best of an entire generation of the city has turned up at one place' ' an overwhelmed Shuvaprasanna, who co-judged the T-shirt painting and Collage competitions on December 15.
With at least two to three events on at any given time at different venues in the heritage plaza, both the participants and the audience had their hands full on Thursday and Friday.
Day One had 18 teams in the Ad Spoof making a mockery of the implausible ideas that the admen manage to sell on screen. From pills that turn Bappida into a raving Rambo to Mrchies greetings cards for the just-ditched and just-divorced... the judges loved it all. A student of Loreto Day School Bowbazar stood out in the role of a bulky housewife who endorses the family pack of a particular brand of atta and sattu to win back her husband from another woman.
Talking nineteen to the dozen Dania Javed of Calcutta Girls' won herself a month-long internship with Red FM in the War of RJs. As expected, the biggest draw of the day was 3 Minutes to Fame, a hunt for the best entertainer. Koyel Dutta Gupta of Mahadevi Birla sweet-talked her way to the top, a la Moon Moon Sen .'We were forced to give away three first prizes as they were all equally good. What struck me was their versatility. 3 Minutes to Fame for Indian youngsters is a potential television idea,' said Barry O'Brien, who judged the event along with Suhel Seth.
School bags and shoes started piling up in the corridors circling the courtyard at Swabhumi from 9 am on Day Two of the fest. 'Our class tests start from December 19. My grades would surely slip, but being in the top three amongst 42 teams in the Street Play would make up for it,' said Soumitra Majumdar of South Point, which later made it to the second spot. 'A particular performance was so touching that I was moved to tears,' admitted co-judge Anindita Sarbadhicary.
In between the big events, there was plenty of fun to catch up on. For one, the Beyblade craze was unparalleled. Groups of fours and fives dotted the cemented floor, huddled around for a quick round. 'We didn't want to miss the biggest school carnival. We are hungry, but relishing every minute here,' chirped Prianka Nath of Loreto Day.
The fest fever even caught up with those who had casually dropped in for some shopping. 'Something big is going on here. The entire place is filled with schoolchildren,' smiled Marilyn Mars of Ohio, as she overlooked the multitude of youngsters crowding around the dais and the lawns in the courtyard, enjoying Antakshari and Tug of War. Friday evening rocked as radio jockeys of Red FM took centre stage.
Pictures by Pabitra Das and Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya