The night was a night to remember. The auditorium was large enough to accommodate nearly seven hundred audience members. The wings were adequate to move about. The staff were averagely helpful, their interference was the least though, in the setting up of sound and décor of the stage, which is always a blessing in disguise for the directors to set up their own equipment.
The show was touted to start at 4:30pm, but the setting up took longer than expected and it actually began at 5pm. The hosts, Harpreet and Sopan began the show with introductions to helpful groups of the gay community and an overture to the show in general.
The first performer was Pranit Hatte as Ganga. She has been crowned Ms. Humsafar 2017! And has the starring role in the movie, entitled “Wajood” – it went on to win awards in the Toronto Film Festival 2017 and at Kashish 2017. She performed on a medley – on some of the songs danced on the silver screen by the wonderful and every graceful, Madhuri Dixit.
The second performer was Ashish Tupe. He is an engineer by profession, an aspiring singer and novelist and has been learning Hindustani classical music for two years now. Music is his passion, and he was there to entertain through music and spread the magic of melody. The song he sang was a classical number “Mere Dholna Sun” from the movie Bhool Bhulaiya, originally sung by M. G. Sreekumar and Shreya Ghoshaal. His rendition was superb and effortless.
The next performance was by the Satrangi Chokre comprised of the dancers, Sumit and Varun. The theme of their dance was a tribute to the Queens of Bollywood Deepika and Priyanka and the dance form was semi-classical. The idea of the tribute was to salute the work and contribution of Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra to the Bollywood film industry and their success on an international platform.
On a more sombre note, GBTS introduced a singer, Aaron D’Souza, who wished to talk about an incident that touched the gay community recently. He works for an IT firm and has a strong passion towards singing. He sings for church choirs and various other social events. He gave a soulful rendition of the famous song that stirs hope in so many hearts: Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
The next performance reflected so much of what has been affecting our community. The LGBTQ+ youth – as a group – experience more suicidal behaviour than heterosexuals. They often lack important protective factors such as family support, social acceptance and so they tend to experience depression. The next performance was directed by Deep Nandi and his Team TKS. At GBTS 2016, they had put up a grand Musical and this year once again, they did not disappoint.
They were there with a new production: With stories of stigma and prejudice we all face at the institutional and individual level. The theme highlighted the need to support each other in promoting health, safety, and inclusion of LGBT youth, as visible and empowered members of our communities. GBTS was proud to give a platform to their newest creative piece “Tu Jee Le Zara”!
At the end of the performance, Umang Sheth was called upon stage. He was one of the foremost GB core group members and he wanted to speak about the rising cases of suicide amongst the LGBTQ+ community. He felicitated the GB group for having allowed the community a chance to tackle their demons and unleash them creatively, and for being there as a support group for the past 19 years!
The show then went in for a half-hour long break, at 7pm.
The opening performance after the break was by Sagar Kadrekar. The dance incorporated elements from the Koli community. The Kolis are the original inhabitants of the coast of Maharashtra. They are of course the fisher-folk. And they have their own dance form which is popularly called the Koli Dance. This community is most familiar with – Fishing, the boats and the sea… and by sheer coincidence the name of the performer too was Sagar, which means the sea in Hindi. The community has its own distinct Costumes and lively dances. This dance is generally performed on traditional songs and in group; but Sagar went Solo and clubbed the performance with popular songs with koli and marathi beats.
Sanket Sawant was the next performer. He is a belly dancer and danced beautifully to the sounds of the darbuka, the goblet drum, played by Raffi Avakian. He also merged the music of Amy Duarte to his act. The audience loved his performance, and he moved his hips to the sound of their applause.
Most of the LGBTQ+ community have heard the next performers. They were the Rainbow Voices Mumbai – India’s first LGBT choir. They sing songs of freedom, hope and struggle. The choir has members from North to south, and east to west of India and have represented India at London Pride 2017 performing along with Europe’s longest running LGBT choir- Pink Singers
They believe as faith can move mountains, music can move hearts; becoming the voice of oppressed and sexual minorities in India they represent the true spirit of Diversity and inclusivity with love and acceptance. Their performance was soul-stirring. Each of them wore wonderful, similar t-shirts depicting gay pride and determination, and their voices reached the heavens with each Hallelujah.
The next performance was by another group that is well known in the LGBTQ community: The Dancing Queens! They performed a Rajasthani Folk dance which had all the garba lovers aflutter. This was followed by a Transgender Empowerment Act – a skit, which was in the form of a dance!
Immediately after this, the mother of Abeena (one of the performers in Dancing Queens) who was seated in the audience was called upon stage, to be felicitated with a standing ovation. Such strength and family support is what the entire community has always needed and counted upon and GB was proud to have her grace the stage.
The last performance of the evening was about magic, love and about the choices we make. It tried to answer the questions of what happens when life throws some real difficult situations at someone… would fall apart and give up be an option… or would one need to stand up and face them? And with a little bit of magic, everything can become easy, or does it? It was a play presented by Colour Positive, directed by Savio and had many actors that the audience had come to love, like Pranit, Chirag, Harish and Abhijeet. There were some surprising performances, great visuals and a wonderful story.
No better way to have ended GBTS 2017.
GBTS 2017 would like to thank QGraphy for covering the event, and National College for the venue. The other names from within the family that do require a mention: Ameya, Bala, Deepak, Radhey, Samir, Saurabh, Venkatesh and Vikas.