Sunday, March 27, 2011

Women power to the fore at Namma Arcot Road jamboree






A woman expresses herself in many languages… Vimal is one of them. Remember that famous tagline that Reliance used for Vimal saris in the mid-1970s? That came from advertising legend Frank Simoes who also crafted some absolutely stunning visuals to go with that breathtaking tagline. Simoes, a genius who was also one of India’s best copy writers ever, is no more but his tagline continues to find expression in various ways.

This means that women, despite the odds, do find ways of expressing themselves when given a chance. Of course we all know (or do we?) that women are loving and caring, they go out of their way to please whom they like (mothers, fathers, siblings and children) and also people they don’t much care for (husbands and mother-in-laws, somehow father-in-laws come out as squeaky clean), they are more genuine in their affections than men are, and they have the amazing energy to work almost everywhere.

Multitasking may be a new word, but women over centuries have been doing just that. What they also do with equal aplomb is freaking out or having fun if you like, when given an opportunity. The pleasure they derive from small things, a man can never understand and at times it might even seem stupid to some men, but when women let go there’s no stopping them. And it really cuts across all age groups. I saw proof of that last night.

Well, I’m glad that Namma Arcot Road coordinators are also determined to have fun while trying focus on issues such as heritage. They (it’s an all-woman team) probably never had as much fun and excitement as they did when they put up a women’s fest at Hotel Green Park. When the moment arrived they were all out in resplendent attire – from jeans and Capri to Kanjeevaram silks and Garden chiffons, they were all there, 24-carat (or 18) gold or funky jewellery to match. I overheard (didn’t eavesdrop) one asking another while the music was on, where the latter had her low-cut blouse stitched. And then she drew aside up her sari pallu to examine closely the beads that hung from those blouse sleeves. I almost winced.

There were only a few men who dared enter the hall; there were quite a few outside swaying their heads from side to side to catch of glimpse of goings-on inside. And the few who were inside, were a photographer or two, a husband who was called to judge a ramp walk, and maybe (give credit to them) one or two who had the gall.

So, for about three hours, there was music and dance, singing aloud, and a variety of games that saw paper cups, buckets, glasses, water and even biscuits being used. Can you imagine men coming up with this sort of thing! Well, I can’t. But it was such a pleasure, seeing women in their 70s jiving and keeping pace with those in their teens and early twenties. There were also times when I almost burst out laughing (outside the hall, that is), like when a 71-year-old said she wanted to sing for her 78-year-old husband (he was probably at home) and then she cracked up after dishing out hardly a line of legible prose (or poetry if you will). Later on, I saw her going wild on the dance floor as if there was no tomorrow.

The ramp walk saw women climb the stage one after the other and strutting about a little, swaying to the music, each one a winner in some way. They didn’t need a Sabira Merchant (diction expert for Femina Miss India), a Queenie Singh (image and make-over expert), an Anupam Kher (acting mentor) or a Shiamak Davar (dance guru) to train them. So, more power to such women…

The pictures aren’t too good or clear (I didn’t take them) but they’ll give you a flavour of a night that was. The first two shows the packed hall; then the games with paper cups and the mysterious bucket; and you can se the oldies freaking out in the last one…

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