: Right from the time Shashwat Gandhi of IIT- Bombay, arrived in Chennai with nine of his friends, he has not parted with his camera for even a moment. As a participant in the Short Film Making competition, he is been on a quest to capture every occasion that evokes the theme, ‘Beauty or Fear.' And it seems the picturesque IIT- Madras campus is only helping his cause “There are things that represent both fear and beauty,” he says, adding, “It is the first time our college has sent a team to ‘Saarang'. We really hope to have a nice time.”

Students lugging around heavy bags and also bearing hopes of success at various cultural events, volunteers rushing around making the final touches - these were the most common sights on IIT- Madras campus on Thursday. It was a celebration of culture in all its forms as the preliminary rounds for the dance, visual art, poetry, craft and theatre competitions began.

Among the highlights of day one was the ventriloquism workshop by R. Indushree, an artist from Bangalore, who manipulated drawings on boards into moving, thus creating a surreal atmosphere besides getting a few puppets to talk. The beginning of the event saw some ‘tense' moments as volunteers noticed that the voice would come, three seconds after she moved her lips. “We were worried there was some problem with the mike but then we realised it is the art of speaking like that,” said Varun Govindarajan, a student-cum-volunteer.

The music events in different genres also began on Thursday. “Listening to different kinds of music only helps you appreciate music better. There is good music in every genre,” opined V. Sowmya, a trained classical vocalist, who is coordinating the light music events. T- Shirts with the picture of the earth bearing the legend ‘I am Hot,' an obvious reference to global warming, marked the entry to the venue of the T-shirt painting event.

Presentations by personalities such as Deepak Ravindran, CEO of mobile startup Innoz, and Krishna Patil, one of the youngest Indians to climb Mount Everest also attracted a lot of student participation. “Before the smart phone era, when ordinary mobile phones ruled the roost, I am sure many of us yearned for a service that could provide us an answer if we sent a question, like our search engines do now. It is the journey of his idea that is fascinating,” says Mayank Chakravorthy, a student, about Deepak Ravindran.

The cultural extravaganza continued till late evening, as 30 teams from different parts of the country presented contemporary dance fusions. Citing inspiration from the all-pervasive presence of fire in every aspect of life — love, passion, death — a team from Stella Maris College presented a recital, fusing it with a powerful Thaye Yashoda. Many other teams presented street dance-based choreography that captured the essence of hip-hop and some also blended Indian dance with western dance forms.

While the team from Madras Christian College dazzled with electrifying visuals with the odd ‘Dark Knight' Jokers, ‘Moksha' from NIT Tiruchi, presented a perfectly synchronised performance based on the history of ancient India. The girls from Loyola College drove into history for inspiration too as they infused martial movement into the framework of classical dance and brought to life Velu Nachiar, the first woman warrior of India to fight the British.

Besides the competitions on art, film making and debates, the campus, on Friday, will host workshops apart from an evening performance by music composer and playback singer Devi Sri Prasad. The Hindu is the media partner for ‘Saarang' 2012.

Keywords: SaarangIIT- Madras

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