Noor-e-Punjab (Summer 2001)

"MIT Bhangra Ho Gaya Sharabi"

Each year, MIT Bhangra traditionally performs at the India Association of Greater Boston's (IAGB) India Independence Day show. 2001 was no exception. This year's dance featured a confluence of over 20 dancers from all age groups and occupations from all over Boston -- many of whom had never performed before. MIT Bhangra had been teaching open classes from December 2000 through May 2001. Some students who were absolute beginners in early 2001 were on stage and performing the finale act in front of thousands of people by August. The result was an amazingly energetic and spirited dance.
Rizwan Dhanidina, Ravi Dixit, Moninder Jheeta, Dharmesh Mehta, Radhika Nagpal, Mona Shah, Sunil Vemuri

Diana LaVigne, Navroop Pal Singh Mittar, Sripriya Natarajan, Reshma Patil, Chetak Reshamwala, Jaspal Singh


Rizwan Dhanidina, Usha Govindarajulu, Sheetal Jain, Moninder Jheeta, Veenu Kaur, Anjali Khurana, Sushil Kumar, Diana La Vigne, Dharmesh Mehta, Suniti Moudgil, Sripriya Natarajan, Atif Qadir, Chetak Reshamwala, Joellen Secondo, Mona Shah, Veeral Shah, Anita Sharma, Arundhati Singh, Neil Shetty, Yogesh Singla, Sunil Vemuri, Saritha Vuppala, Mounika Vutukuru, Rama Rao Vutukuru
Photo taken by Shaun Robbins

The Story

The dance starts somberly with the last verse of Kuldip Manak's "Jatt Ho Gaya Sharabi". In this section, the music slows and Manak sings about a girl named Banto, in whose memory the Jatt got drunk in the first place.
Giddian 'ich thaanke, 
aj kerdi morni pave?
Banto tured kar gayi, 
teri yaad bari hi aave
In the gidda today (aj)
which (kerdi) peacock (morni, good looking girls) is creating a stir?
Banto (the girl's name), you left me 
I miss you a lot (bari=alot) (yaad=memory), 
The dance immediately picks up pace with B21's "Darshan". All 23 dancers flood the stage and proceed into a very active choreography. The section is highlighted with a rapid fire succession of energetic movements. We typically do not try such complicated arrangements when so many novices are involved, but the leaders simply did not tell the dancers that the choreography was difficult. This crafty omission worked; all the dancers were completely fooled into dancing the section splendidly!
Oh, sona mukharda vekh ke tera,
ni baago baag hoyaa dil mera
Seeing your beautiful (sohna) face (mukhrda), 
My heart (dil) goes absolutely crazy (baago baag)
The ladies exited in the middle of "Darshan", leaving the men only for a section highlighting bold and powerful moves, but quickly make way for the women again. They return by performing a Giddha to A.S. Kang's "Vohti" (choreographed by Reshma and Mona). The lyrics describe what Kang wants in a wife.
Vohti oh lehni,
Jirdi peke jave na
Phul vang husdi rahe
Mathe vat pave na
I want a wife (vohti)
who (jirdi) never goes to her parents house (peke)
who always laughs (husdi) like a flower (phul)
who never frowns (mathe=forhead vat=folds)
After "Vothi", the men return with vigor, total abandon, and vodka! to the beginning of "Jatt Ho Gaya Sharabi". In almost lyrical and dance perfection, the team enacts a Jatt who is freshly drunk and is on a rampage. This rampage is a direct result of the unrequited affections of the aforementioned Banto. This entrance is highlighted by what many on the team felt was the best part of the dance: an artistic lyrically-synchronized fight scene involving staffs and stunts:
Bakare bulaundaa, 
pind wich aageyaa 
Poore pind wich, 
parthoo oh paageyaa 
Calling out challenges, 
He came into the village (pind) 
In the entire (poore) village, 
he made a huge ruckus (parthoo)
The dance completes with a mela-like series of simultaneous stunts.


August 18, 2001: IAGB Independence Day Show
The summer was spent preparing for this performance. The IAGB Hatchshell performance was attended by several thousand people. After the success of this show, performance offers came rolling in.

August 28, 2001: MIT Activities Midway
Activities Midway is an event at the beginning of every school year in which student clubs promote themselves and recruit new members. Sangam kindly arranged a dance time slot for us. We brought the house down! Sunil joined as a dancer for this and the next performance.

September 23, 2001: Somerville's "Spice of Life" festival
The final performance was a charity benefit for the South Asia Center. Jaspal Singh, a long-time contributor to MIT Bhangra, arranged this performance as a way to reach out to the Somerville community and city government in an effort to help secure a building for the permanent home of the South Asia Center. Ravi and Arundhati joined as dancers for this performance.

An interesting team discussion took place just prior to the Spice of Life performance. The date of this performance was soon after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. At this time, there were reports of racial violence in the United States directed against those who appeared of Middle-Eastern decent. The team discussed the implications of performing a celebratory dance in the wake of such loss of life and any consequences we might face by wearing turbans as part of the dance. The team proceeded with the performance, with turbans, and the crowd loved it!

© Copyright 2001-2002 MIT Bhangra, Written by Sunil Vemuri, last updated Feb 1, 2002