Image credits: Nandhu Raj
The Gajendra Circle lit up to welcome the one of its kind, hybrid Saarang 2022 – Lores and Legacies. The fest kickstarted with a number of online and offline events on January 6th, 2022. Skepticism surrounded the conduct of offline events, but the team was successful in maintaining a control of not more than 20 to 25 participants at the venue. The Safety and Security team were present throughout, ensuring that no one other than the registered participants and the coordinators were allowed to enter the venue. However, there was a delay in the launch of the official Saarang 2022 website and was reported to have multiple bugs, which created an air of criticism around the efficiency of the team. Unlike offline Saarang which sees the presence of a huge number of food stalls, hybrid Saarang saw the setup of a single stall in the Himalaya Food Court. It was received fairly well by the students but was not enough to attract every student, primarily because of the relatively higher costs of the items sold. The footfall was definitely lesser than the usual Saarang scenario, but good for an event conducted during the pandemic.
Competitions conducted include Mono Acting Prelims by Drama Club. Several workshops like the House Workshop, Lyrical workshop were also conducted offline in various venues like the Central Lecture Theater and Student Activity Center. Other events scheduled were called off due to rising COVID cases on campus and the unavailability of Club Convenors due to the same reason.
The stars brought in for World Fest were very diverse. The aim of bringing the cultures of different parts of the world to the plate of Saarang was met. World Fest flagged off with the performance of a Melbourne-based music star Mitch Tambo. Day one was also graced by a top Finland Pop star Robin Packalen, the winner of four Finnish Grammys. Day 2 saw the presence of Love X Stereo, one of the K-Indie Music Bands from South Korea and an act by the Swedish Hypnotherapist Dan Ahtola which was received well by the audience through a constant interaction ensured by the performer. As diverse as it can get, World Fest further brought in the HNH dance crew from Ghana which was a combo of performance as well as a tutorial workshop for the audience. The closing act of Tim Vantol, an inspiring Indie singer from the Netherlands, who believed in writing songs from his own perspective, ensured a conceptual end to a diverse line up.
The Spotlight Lecture Series included Aditi Ashok, Sucheta Dalal, Maya John, Vinay Rai, Dhruv Sehgal, Anand Gandhi, G.V Prakash, G. Kartikeya, and Vidushi Dr. S Sowmya. The experience of the lineup varied from experienced to newbies. The ProShows nights, one of the events that IITM looks forward to in every Saarang, were conducted fairly well considering an online scenario. One of the key performances was the closing act by Palak Mucchal, with songs in Aashiqui 2 and M.S Dhoni to her name. She performed songs from both the movies in South Indian languages, which was quite mesmerizing to those who haven’t heard those songs in versions other than the original. The other nights were lit up by the performances of stars such as Raghav Meattle, the performance of which was opened by the Malaysian Singer Talitha. The Rock Show by the Malaysian Band, Kyoto Protocol, and the Mumbai-based band Corner Café Chronicles, were fairly successful sustaining the name of Rock Night as the most heart-throbbing night of Saarang.
Beyond instances of mismanagement brought about by the hybrid mode, with many Saarang cores down with COVID and the coordinators forced to go into quarantine, the atmosphere has turned tense. The legacy of Saarang did mount the 2022 edition with the pressure of living up to the expectations of the spectators. Yet, the ambience definitely helped in lightening up and distracting everybody from a world that is once again returning to a pandemic cycle.
Edit: Non-IITM students were not allowed to and did not participate in any offline event.