A Bollywood Affair: “Love In Masalatown” hits Hamilton

A Bollywood Affair:

Jenn Carey

While “reefer madness” ensued downtown and some dirty dancing rocked Theta Chi, only in the Hall of Presidents could one find the holy trinity of Bollywood charm, delicious Indian food and phenomenal French-infused techno-dancing. Last Saturday, the South Asian Cultural Club (SACC) hosted its annual banquet, this year pleasing crowds with the winning combination of a meal and a show. With both a matinee and an evening performance, SACC’s original production of “Love in Masalatown” featured an explosion of culture, including Indian dance, South Asian music and traditional costuming. The show centered on the trials and tribulations of an impatient film director (senior Safwan Shabab) as he attempts to produce a Bollywood film with a diverse cast and motley crew. The play was extremely well-written, featuring comical characters such as the Bollywood heartthrob “Utsavdas” (brilliantly portrayed by sophomore Utsav Adhikari), the stereotypical Indian father (played by sophomore Bharadwaj Obula Reddy) or even a French, techno-dancing, camera-man (senior Damien Vacherot). “Love in Masalatown” found its hilarity in its ability to simultaneously represent and poke fun at South Asian Culture. The show entertained audiences with a variety of humorous storylines, such as an Indian father unwilling to let his daughter marry for love due to his own desires to inherit dairy farms offered by another of the suitors. Another strength of the performance came with its dual use of both onstage performance and prerecorded video clips. With the acting punctuated by videos such as “Access Bollywood,” “Love In Masalatown” kept audiences entertained.

 “We worked a lot on the script starting last semester,” Vacherot stated, when reflecting on the work that went into producing “Love in Masalatown.” “We started practicing about two weeks before. During the last week, we had rehearsal pretty much every day.”

While the cast and crew of “Love in Masalatown” put countless hours into making the production a success, perhaps the greatest achievement of this year’s banquet was its ability to contribute to a charitable cause. The proceeds raised from ticket sales are being donated to the non-profit Educate the Children International, an organization in Nepal with a close Colgate connection. Erin Sinnott ‘09, who had the opportunity to travel abroad to Nepal, became actively involved with the Educate the Children International foundation and is currently helping to build a school in the region. The funds raised by this year’s banquet will benefit this effort, helping with both the construction of the school and the organization’s larger goal of proliferating educational opportunities in Nepal.

Due to the popularity of the event, with the Saturday night performance selling out, SACC will be able to provide a generous donation to assist the non-profit organization. While the simple act of attending the banquet helped to fund a great cause, the cast of “Love in Masalatown” wanted to make sure that audience members received a performance worthy of their contribution.

 “I hope people got a lot of laughter out of the performance. I also hope that people got what Bollywood is about.  It’s a tacky genre, in a fun sense, where you are supposed to go through a whole range of emotions in three hours. I hope we were able to convey that,” Vacherot said, reflecting on his hopes for the performance. 

In addition to serving a great cause and entertaining a rapt audience, SACC’s “Love in Masalatown” also proved beneficial for the group itself. 

“[SACC] lost a lot of our old members. This was a great way in which the group was able to come closer. We’ve always been a group of pretty good friends,” Adhikari said, adding that he expected that the members of the SACC enjoyed the performance “more than anyone else did!”

The strong bond existing between the members of SACC was clearly apparent as they acted, danced and brought Bollywood to the stage. However, unlike the lengthy duration of a typical Bollywood movie, the cast took their final bow after only about an hour and a half. 

As the cast belted out its final peformance of “Deewangi Deewangi” from Om Shanti Om and the well-fed crowds filtered back to their respective homes, the members of SACC were able to abandon their Bollywood personas and return to everyday life. For some, such as Adhikari, this proved to be a welcome relief.  When asked if he now receives celebrity recognition for his portrayal of Utsavdas, Adhikari took the modest route.

“That’s not something I want to dwell on,” Adhikari said.