Using campus roads as drawing boards to unleash your colourful imagination, flying kites from college lawns or playing with water balloons would get you suspended on most days. But during a few fun-filled days every year, all of those are actively encouraged in the name of competition.

College culturals are all about rediscovering the kid in oneself. Students were doing just that by ‘defacing’ walls with graffiti art and trying to catch water balloons thrown at them to win prizes on the second day of “Riviera ’10,” a four-day sports and cultural festival hosted by the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) University.

Asha Chigurupati, a first year student at IIT-Madras, was living one of her childhood fantasies at the face painting contest. Her ‘victim’ was her brother, Aakash, a third year Instrumentation student at VIT. “I am not using poster colours just because I thought it might harm his skin. He must be happy with that,” she said.

The theme was ‘scary faces’ but streaks of red scars and magnified white teeth against a poisonous blue background only made Aakash look funny and both had a good laugh about it in the end. The prize really didn’t matter.

Kalyan Turaga, a third year Mechanical engineering student, was living his dream in the middle of an interrogation chamber. Mafia gangs and money was involved, but Kalyan is no convict. He was coordinating a bunch of detective heads at ‘Holmes alone’ as they tried to unravel a mock murder mystery. “I’ve always been fascinated by crime scene investigation,” he said.

What Asha, Kalyan and many like them — the amateur theatre clubs that participated in ‘Dramatyx’ and the first timers in a variety of competitions — were in a way saying was that you can be anything you want to be; for a few moments, far away from the arc lights, until the prizes are announced. That is what cultural fests are for.

The evening was reserved for some serious head-banging by one of Asia’s best rock acts, ‘Motherjane’. The group members, hailing from Kochi, paint their faces in the ‘Kathakali’ style for every on-stage appearance to be touch with their roots.

They effortlessly mixed the melody of Indian classical forms with the energy of rock. Combining scales, ragas and genres, they showed that music is not about rigid grammar, but about the capacity to share an emotion. It was followed by a scintillating acrobatics performance by ‘Firefly’, a group from Singapore, and a finale by singer Shaan.

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