In our preview article, we played with the analogy that “If Bollywood were to be packed into a box, the name of that package would be ICS night”. It seems that with the arrival of ICS Night 2019, that package has finally been delivered. Before unpacking through it, it is only apt that we get to know a bit more about Bollywood and its roots.
The word Bollywood is a play on the word ‘Hollywood’, which refers to English films. The first letter “H” was changed to “B” as Hindi films originated from Bombay, in Mumbai. Although this term was only coined in 1970, Indian films have been leaving their mark on the world since 1913!
Bollywood has evolved over 3 defining eras: the Studio era, Music Director era and Transition era. In the beginning, the industry was run by a handful of major studios which had their own stock of producers, talent and crew. However, World War II brought a standstill to the Studio era as the government banned raw film stock. The film industry was thus left to be funded by the black market, rather than a few major production companies. This ushered in the Music Director era of Bollywood, from 1950 to 1998. Now that control over the industry wasn’t concentrated in the hands of a few studios, independent music directors had more freedom to produce their own films and gain an audience. Inevitably, this led to a crash in the music industry in 1998 as producers were unwilling to pay the exorbitant prices demanded by music directors. As such, today we live in what is known as the Transition era of Bollywood. Without any clear creative direction, what is demanded of a Bollywood film remains indeterminable, necessitating new age directors to be adaptable.
Now that we have a better idea of Bollywood’s history, let us take a look at ICS Night 2019! ICS night is an annual performance brought to VJC by the Indian Cultural Society. It is well-known amongst the Indian community in Singapore, enough to fill the Performance Theatre every single year since its conception. 2019 is no exception to this. Like a much anticipated parcel all the way from India, the audience was more than ready to indulge in the delights ICS had in store for them.
6.50 pm: 10 minutes before the doors were to open
A twisting, winding and meandering line had already formed outside the doors. Proud parents, supportive friends and excited Victorians alike formed this seemingly never ending chain. The crowd overflowed from the doors to the pedestrian crossing, with all eyes fixed on the two white doors ahead. When those two doors swung open, the excitement of the audience was almost palpable as the queue rushed forward to get the best seats.
7.30 pm: The performance begins
The lights dimmed and a spotlight shone on two figures on stage. Shouting and bursts of cheering sprang from all corners of the theatre, as the performance they had been waiting for all this while was finally beginning to take shape. Before the drama was to begin, however, the emcees first introduced their tradition of lighting a candle to mark the start of the performance. With the candle lit, the fire and passion of ICS burned brightly on stage as they began.
“Khatam” means game over in Hindi. “We felt that this summarised our plot, as we try to defeat each other and ruin the other’s game plan,” shared Ankita when asked about the theme of the performance. Khatam was a product of the members’ blood, sweat and tears for the last five months, and the brilliance of the performance was certainly the sweetest fruit of their labour. For those who were unfortunately unable to catch this thrilling performance, here’s an overview of what went down.
The play revolved around two main characters, Shanaya and Rohan, who coincidentally met in a park and sure enough, fell in love. Indeed, their blossoming and picture-perfect relationship evicted a good mix of reactions from the audience. Some were put off, others tickled by the pure cheesiness. Such tickling moments were peppered throughout the play, and definitely incited much enthusiastic response from excited viewers. Things were not completely perfect for the two lovers, however, as their relationship stirred up much bitterness from Alia, Rohan’s good friend since their days in Junior College.
As the story progressed, the theme of betrayal began to unfold. In an attempt to prove his unconditional love for Shanaya, Rohan foolishly delivered a package for her without questioning its contents. Shockingly, this was then revealed to all be part of Shanaya’s scheme. Capitalizing on Rohan’s love, she had lured him into becoming a drug smuggler for the Sons of Samosas’ (S.O.S). In the play, S.O.S was a crime syndicate led by a demanding drug lord, which Shanaya was revealed to be an active member of. A crazy twist, isn’t it?
A clever interplay of conflict and humour.
Watch out, though, because an even bigger plot twist is ahead! Shanaya’s plan then backfired as Rohan was actually working as an undercover cop, baiting her to lead him to the “gold mine” all along. Full of unpredictable twists and turns, this unorthodox storyline made for an invigorating watch as audience members were constantly kept on their toes. Certain elements of it, be it the romance or the jokes, were certainly relatable to many present as well.
We counted: the performance had a grand total of seven dances.
An invigorating dance performance.
Mass dances form an integral part of Bollywood films. It certainly was no easy feat preparing for these dances, as it involved coordinating an entire crowd. Nevertheless, ICS managed to smoothly infuse these mass dances into the play. The dances turned out to be flawlessly choreographed and synchronized, after months of practice.
Not only were these dances mesmerizing to watch, the sheer bass and upbeat rhythm of the songs tempted the audience to get up on their feet and groove to the beat. It is interesting to notice how the dances were strung together: the mixture of traditional dances, modern dances and fusion dances made this play especially unique. The type of dance can be identified through its song choice, costumes and even dance moves. For example, in the more traditional dances, the Ghungroo (small ankle bells strung together) is worn to signify a dancer ready for performance. Perhaps, the blend of dances aim to parallel the cultural diversity that thrives in VJ. Looking at the bigger picture, the fusion of old and new sentiments that take on the shape of such beautiful dances convey the notion of synergy in diversity.
One of the more traditional dances with dancers wearing traditional outfits.
For your listening pleasure, some of the songs used in this play include – Party On My Mind, Allah Duhai Hai, Coca Cola, Gun in Kadhal, Kadhal Cricket, Badri Ki Dulhania, High Heels, Theri Dubstep and Aankh Marey. Feel free to groove along at home!
A member of the audience, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “The performance made me feel really hyped and I can see the efforts put in by both the cast and crew members. I particularly enjoyed the dances.”
Another audience member, Hannah from 19A15 encapsulated the storyline as such, “I guess the storyline was very interesting because it wasn’t like super boring and like basic, but there was like a twist and then another twist and I was confused at times but it was really good overall.”
Besides the storyline, we at The Victorian Press found it heartwarming that the audience members were also able to acknowledge the background work of the crew members. Although the cast members were in the spotlight for the performance, the efforts of the crew, who flawlessly worked in the dark between scenes, must be recognised as well. Their integral role to the performance was evident in the seamless transitions of the performance that solidified its quality. This was indeed recognised by the audience who thanked and congratulated crew members after the performance.
The conclusion, or a new introduction?
The word “Bollywood” instantly conjures up an image of brightly colored productions for many, topped with smoothly choreographed mass dances and featuring elaborate plots of romance, comedy, drama, or all 3! ICS Night 2019 certainly did not fall short of that, while also adding a distinctly Victorian flavour into the mix.
ICS night is well-loved for its vibrancy and fun. Be it on-stage, backstage or off-stage, the laughter and jokes fill the air. Though it seems fun to perform, the hard work behind the scene is no less gruelling. “Having started off with nothing five months ago, we ended up presenting such a major success. I am honestly super proud!” mentioned Ankita, president of ICS, when asked about the performance. Coming up with this huge production within the span of 5 months was certainly hard work, especially since the juniors only joined in February. Even so, with passion and dedication, the ICS members have overcome the odds and attained success. The qualities of teamwork, perseverance and determination of the ICS members should be a learning point for all.
We at the Victorian Press are excited to see what new mysteries and intrigue ICS has in store for us for ICS Night 2020!
19S40 Anika Shormill Mamun
19A15 Low Yan Ting Kelly
19S30 Swathi Ravi Sivashankar
Pictures provided by:
VJ Photography Society