Falguni fiesta

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KOMAL UTSAV JAGAD dances to the Queen of Dandiya

Amidst a profusion of our pious Indian festivals including the conclusion of Ganeshutsav and the ritual bidding goodbye to Lord Ganesha, a shift in mood is already in place. An abundant wave of fiesta was brought in by the Queen of Dandiya Falguni Pathak, as she helped Sydney’s Indian community welcome the Navratri season.

Traditionally celebrated as a nine-night affair (‘nav’ means nine and ‘ra’ means night in Sanskrit), Navratri celebrates three (tri) elements – power, wealth and knowledge in the form of Hindu goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Over 1800 people attended the Rosehill Racecourse event in late September to rejoice in their passion for Navratri with the one and only Falguni Pathak.

The event was a burst of colour, energy and delight all around, thanks to Dhawal Amin of Amin Events in association with Meit Shah and Neha Kolape of NM Events, all of whom were instrumental in bringing Falguni to Australia this year. Falguni’s fans could not wait to shake a leg as they walked into the venue dressed in conventional chaniya-cholis: for some, decorative metal ornaments including ethnic headgear and heavy necklaces enhanced both their attire and temperament. As evidenced by their festive style and dress, all the revellers knew exactly what was coming and were looking forward to it.

As soon as the garba beats began, small circles of dancers congregated, surrounded by non-dancers who tried figuring out how the dancers managed to clap, snap and hop gracefully at the same time. Their puzzled excitement intensified as they saw different circles creating new patterns of dancing.

Despite all the action on the dance floor, a stir of hysteria greeted Falguni as she appeared on stage. Sticking to her trademark tomboyish fashion sense, Falguni was dressed in a smart off-white kurti complimenting a glittery maroon coat with sequins and diamantes, teaming up with her band members who were dressed in shimmering blue and green shirts.

With a sweet voice and charismatic stage presence, she brought smiles effortlessly to everyone’s faces, while the audience showed their appreciation with heartfelt accolades like ‘Waah waah!’ (Bravo!). With co-singers Tushar, Sanjay and Hema, Falguni packaged a mixture of different hits including a pop track Pari hoon main; to old melodies like Mumbai se aaya mera dost; and the most recent hit Jaan lelo na jaan re from the film Bol Bachchan.

Not just Bollywood and pop, Falguni’s niche is, of course, traditional Gujarati folk music. Evergreen numbers like Kesariyo rang and Bahuchar mana dera had the crowd singing along Kookde kook bole with her, and swaying in excitement and delight.

It did not just end at that! Snehdo, folk tunes derived from the word sneh meaning love or affection, are couplets of four lines with amusing ideas for purely fun. Dancers squat down after a pause after every couplet is sung, and regain momentum by jumping back high up in the air to start dancing again once the new couplet begins. This is a very unique and interesting dance form and great entertainment indeed!

In spite of the busy schedule, Falguni spared a few minutes backstage to sing couplets from her very famous song Chudi jo khanki for the media. She said to Indian Link, “I loved performing here in Sydney again. It’s always nice coming down under. I will now be flying to Muscat to perform after this”. Falguni has been singing for over 27 years now, and has been performed in Australia every year for the last four years.

The special performance on Rangeelo maro dholna by Farah, Pallavi, Pooja and Priyanka was another highlight as they danced gracefully with earthen pots. Chandni Patel, Shalini Gajjar and Hardik Gajjar also performed at the occasion, flying down from Melbourne especially for the show.

A short presentation and aarti (prayers) was followed by a dandiya round, finishing past midnight with an awards ceremony with the winners – Ekta Parikh (Best dancer Female), Ishan Vyas (Best dancer Male) and Shivangi Gajjar (Best dress).

For most of the attendees, Dandiya Bash 2012 with Falguni Pathak was like making a trip back home, rejuvenating and refreshing, a reminder of their traditional Indian links. And what better way to do it than with Falguni who is simply fun, admirable, legendary, groovy, unusual, native and indefatigable! Kudos to the Queen of Dandiya for making it a memorable night for everyone!

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