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Mumbai's first Bharatnatyam flash mob
Danny Boyle's 2008 block buster Slumdog Millionaire was an instant favourite of anyone who saw it even once. It showcased the exuberant spirit of Dharavi, Asia's largest slum.

The movie was based on a novel named 'Q and A' by Vikas Swarup, of Indian Foreign Service. Currently, he is spokesperson of our Ministry of External Affairs. Suddenly, world's attention was focussed on Dharavi slum and young actors Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto became instant celebrities.

The movie centering on the TV quiz show, 'Who wants to be a millionaire', confirmed its universal appeal. Movie's climactic end showed hundred of boys and girls doing a flash mob dance at Mumbai's C.S.T. train terminus.

Danced to A. R. Rahman's Oscar winning 'Jai Ho' song, it stirred all those who had tapping toes. Very soon, different sets of youngsters would suddenly appear at stations or malls and dance to some Bollywood or Western beat, taking people by surprise.

After the act was over, the youngsters would disappear as suddenly. The onlookers enjoyed and also tapped along. 'Jai Ho' caught the fancy of people all over the world. Pretty soon 'Jai Ho' flash mobs appeared in Madrid, Munich and elsewhere. A new trend of mob dancing in public had been established. 

During the last general elections, we saw youngsters in Mumbai doing flash mob dances on social themes like corruption. Later some flash mobs appeared spreading the 'Swachh Bharat' message. This was something like street plays on themes like dowry, communal harmony and other social issues. Only these flash mobs were in dance format.

Not to be left behind, even the classical dance artists in Chennai took to the streets and surprised the public with their Bharatnatyam flash mob. When over 50 classical dancers, appeared most unexpectedly at Chennai Citi Centre, the public was taken aback.

This was the first time the classical dancers had descended on the streets, to go through the complex steps and mudras, to perform for the common man. There was appreciation and excitement in the air. It was highly appreciated by the public and well-reviewed in the press.

Very soon the Mumbai dance gurus and their students of Bharatnatyam decided to put up an even bigger show. Over 300 teachers and students decided to spring a surprise on our suburb's main street. Overnight, a sound system had been installed in one of the restaurants. Around 11.00 a.m. dancers in their full costumes and elaborate dance make ups streamed out from their hide outs and started standing in formations. Within seconds, the music and well co-ordinated dancing started.

Passersby halted, traffic came to a stop. People were exhilarated and kept clapping. Everyone talked approvingly, of this new phenomenon. Finally, classical arts which are normally the domain of the upper crust, came down to the streets and it was appreciated. A welcome trend!

(Photo: Bharatnatyam Flash mob at Central Avenue, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai)

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