Bangalore’s ever-changing cityscape has been taken over by a new breed of people – the flash mobbers. Here is a lowdown on the latest social revolution

Bangalore’s changing cityscape is home to a new breed of people – the flash mobbers. Here’s a peg on what’s grooving the city.

It’s just another busy day at one of the many popular malls in Bangalore. Amid the hustle and bustle of people milling about, a young man suddenly screams out, holds his head and faints. A crowd gathers around him. Someone shouts for water. People continue to crowd around the seemingly unconscious man in concentrated panic. Suddenly, the mall’s stereo explodes with trippy music and the young man gets up and begins a dance. The group around him joins him in shaking their leg and soon it’s an entire posse of people grooving to a cause. Welcome to the age of the flash mob.

From one of the first flash mobs in Manhattan in May 2003, the social movement has come a long way and is the newest craze to have taken Bangalore by storm over the last few years. From festive celebrations and awareness drives to promotional publicity and more recently, elections – flash mobs have become the most entertaining way of getting people’s attention. So much so that almost every major mall in the city has a flash mob once a month. Even politicians are vying for flash mob support. The recent flash mob organised at Royal Meenakshi Mall in support of Nandan Nilekani, the Congress candidate from Bangalore South in the upcoming Loksabha elections, is proof of the craze this trend is garnering. MetroPlus talks to Bangaloreans and finds out what makes this phenomenon a regular sight here.

Madhuri Upadhya, associate director at Indian contemporary dance company Nritarutya, says Bangalore as a city encourages such trends. “We are open to a lot of new things and changes as a city.” Recalling her event, she says their flash mob was performed in four malls across the city at the same time. “We had around 30 dancers in each venue and we started dancing at the same time. It was on Christmas Eve and celebrated the festive occasion.”

On what goes into planning a flash mob, Madhuri says the choreography needs to be very simple and basic in its structure. “It needs movements which anyone can copy and join. It has to have the feel of a popular culture that is relatable to the city’s people simply because participation will be easier. It should definitely have energetic peppy music. Most flash mobs have a fusion kind of music that is very eclectic. It should also be short and impressionable and the group should be huge in number.”

Arun Kalarickal, the cultural co-ordinator at Christ University and choreographer, says the flash mob scene opened up in the city a few years back. “Now it’s become such a trend in the university itself that every department does one when it has an event. Any inter-collegiate fest or event is promoted through flash mobs. We have over 12,000 students in the campus and posters and banners really don’t help. We did a massive performance with over 800 students for a sports day event which is exceptional in itself. People are always finding more creative ways to get people’s attention and flash mobs are a people’s movement so it relates better.”

He adds that the main thing in a flash mob is to execute it in a way no one knows about it. “The element of surprise is what makes it special. That’s the most difficult thing to do and is the actual concept. Even when we were doing our event, it was a challenge to get over 800 students to practise without anyone finding out.”

Kiran, who choreographed a flash mob at Garuda Mall last Christmas for Red Revival Church says the reason why it is so popular is because people love seeing something crazy happening around them. “It’s a great way to spread a message across, promote your team or spread awareness. It also gets the audience involved and anyone can dance along. Flash mobs are already becoming a big part of marketing and will always remain a vital part of our future.”

Shallon Sherly, who took part in the Red Revival flash mob says: “It was a proud moment for us as we were the first church in the city to do something like this. All the hard work that we put in paid off and it came out beautifully. Fladh mobs are one of the most unique and exceptional movements that have come up in the city now. It’s not like television advertising or other forms of marketing. This grabs a lot of attention and is very creative. Doing it in the right place and creating a hype over the cause or product or group gets people thinking. Flash mobs also help people to shake off their daily routines and have fun and get a positive outlook.” She adds that creativity is at the heart of Bangalore’s flash mobs and the movement has a bright future.”