Celebrating team work

THERE'S ENERGY, exuberance, competition, camaraderie, music, magic, unlimited fun, lots of prize money — all of that and more comes together to make Saarang, IIT Madras' annual cultural festival, one of the country's best-attended and most-recognised college cultural fests.

Organised by the students of IIT Madras every January, it features loads of literary and cultural events. Saarang is a five-day festival, peppered with quizzes, dramatics, Western, classical and light music, antakshari, ad-zap, creative writing, speaking events, a few high-profile shows and ending with a rock show on January 26. And there's that lovely, sprawling campus to accommodate the whole melee. And, of course, there are the famed professional shows: Shankar Mahadevan, S.P. Balasubramaium, Euphoria, Sivamani, Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Moksha, Parikrama and this year, Shaan and Kadri Gopalnath — they've all performed to massive audiences at Saarang.

From the IIT geeks and corporate bigwigs to hippies from the Goa beach and die-hard fans, the Open Air Theatre is packed to capacity for these shows.

"Saarang is a chance to meet people from all over the country," says a student who's been coming to IIT for the past three years. "It's one fest I don't miss. You get to see how various colleges perform and improve on your own performance."

Celebrating team work

This year, Saarang 2003 kicked off with Shaan at the Open Air Theatre (OAT). Although he couldn't "hit all his high notes because of a sore throat", his high-energy performance had the crowd on its feet throughout the two-and-a-half hour show. The turnout at IIT this year was a lot higher than the last year's performances by Shankar Mahadevan and Euphoria. Magician P.C. Sorcar Jr. had performed a week earlier as a curtain raiser to Saarang and lyricist Javed Akhtar inaugurated the proceedings.

As usual, the quiz, Choreo-nite, Powerchord (the Western music competition), antakshari and light music had the largest crowds among the cultural events. Saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath and Moksha, the rock band, performed a fusion show on the second night. The grand finale was the much-awaited head-bangers ball, the IIT rock show featuring Brahma.

High wattage, heavy guitars and hard-core metal and rock provide the perfect closing to a week-long celebration of talent and team work, leaving participants waiting for next January and the next Saarang. Saarang turns the already beautiful IIT campus into a place buzzing with people and energy. Everyone is going somewhere, doing something, cheering for someone - there's a kind of magic and excitement about the whole place during that week, says Pavithra from Ethiraj.

"Coming in to Chennai for Saarang was such a thrill," says Pradeep who studied engineering at a college in Kolar. "The rock show is an event that I still attend. Although I was a little disappointed by this year's performance, I'll be back next year — you have to catch at least one of IIT's shows. You can't miss it completely."


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