ABOUT 1.5km from the bustling Lalbaugcha Raja Pandal in Parel, a housing complex is hosting a steady line of visitors who come there to watch the sound and light show. In the past, the Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal of G D Ambekar Road in Kalewadi has received several awards for its shows but the residents are more excited about the devotees who return every year to enjoy their show.
Around 10 boys aged between 17 and 21, all residents of the society, spend their nights in the pandal entertaining visitors. Having conceptualised the show, they perform throughout the night for an average footfall of 300 a day. They repeat their act each time a new batch of visitors walk in, no matter how small the number. It had taken the boys two days to build the set, edit the audio-visual and master the synchronisation. “We mastered the synchronisation in our second trial,” said Aniket Gopal, one of the participants.
“We have done more than 25 shows in the first five days of the festival,” said 19-year-old Gopal. Since more devotees visit pandals at night, the shows start at 7pm and go on till 4am. Keeping up with the tradition of spreading awareness on social issues, this year’s theme sheds light on the glamourisation of Ganeshotsav.
A visitor is treated to an audio-visual delight that focusses on the historical importance of the festival. Busts of Chhatrapati Shivaji and Lokmanya Tilak adorn an elaborate set made of Plaster of Paris. An audio commentary running in perfect synchronisation with the lights talks about the shift in the festival’s essence from unity to a mere display of fanfare.
It is only after the show that the visitor gets a peek at the 11.5-feet-high idol. Visitors include devotees as well as jury from several local competitions. In the past two years the shows have garnered many accolades and awards in local competitions. Last year the society received five awards for their theme. “Awards bring us joy but it is the reactions we get from visitors that make our day,” said Rahul Mhalkar (21). The team has been nominated in four competitions this year and members are confident of bagging all of them.