There were a few standard sequences that figured in mime performances at the Government College for Women on the third day of the Kerala University’s youth festival on Friday.

One particularly popular one involved scenes from the military, beginning with a young soldier leaving grief-stricken parents, participating in drills and classes on strategy, fighting along the front lines, and concluding with his funeral complete with State honours. Other was of love stories gone wrong, another was critical of the proliferation of mobile technology in our lives, and still others touched upon issues such as environment and water conservation.

This essentially summed up the themes that were featured on stage, despite the fact there were nearly 60 different teams that had enrolled for the programme.

So similar were some of the performances that members of the audience wondered aloud whether the contestants did indeed have to abide by a predetermined theme. Others surmised that the same few ‘gurus’ or trainers had taught the different teams, resulting in the uniformity. Such uncannily similar performances, even in terms of the background music and sound effects, made it difficult for the audience to distinguish one favourite. Moreover, the event began over two hours after the scheduled time of 9 a.m.

Contestants, in teams of five and six, were given five minutes to convey an idea effectively without uttering a single syllable out loud. Though the choice of themes was largely unimaginative, some teams were more effective in their manner of communication, eliciting gasps, laughter, and even applause from the audience.

Diversity in costumes

Some wove in extraordinary stunts into their presentation by forming human pyramids in seconds and performing somersaults and cartwheels in a carefully choreographed routine. There was diversity in terms of costumes, with some wearing loose, frilly, clown-like costumes, and others opting for simple single-hued outfits with gloved hands and painted faces. There was one team that stood out in terms of its outfit and choice of theme. Painted teal, they made generous use of the stage space, and concluded with all members leaping off the stage and sprinting right through the audience and the back door of the auditorium. It began with what many interpreted as an Adam and Eve storyline, again rendering a distinctive quality compared to the uniformity of the other performances.