Bombay in the Bay is pushed back to Saturday and Sunday, but ticket sales remain strong

February 10, 2024 — by Jane Lee and Neal Malhotra
Photo by Neal Malhotra
The Class of ‘24 girls practice for the senior girls’ act during rehearsal on Feb. 8. 
There are over 200 performers taking part in 10 acts.

On a recent Saturday morning, “I Hate Luv Storys” blasted from a speaker in front of the cafeteria as members from the school’s competitive Bollywood dance team, Toga Tamasha, practiced their dance for the upcoming Bombay in the Bay (BnB) show. Senior captains Shyla Bhandari and Joshua Ta and co-captains senior Avik Belenje and junior Juhi Karamcheti retaught fundamental steps to make sure each dancer mastered the choreography.

BnB, an annual Bollywood performance held in the McAfee Center, is a showcase bringing together over 200 students across all grades — this year marks the show’s 19th rendition. The goal of the performance is to raise money for a yearly rotating charity. This year the profits will go to Abhyudaya, a nonprofit organization supporting underprivileged children and their families in India. 

BnB is hosted by the Indian Cultural Awareness Club (ICAC), and will take place on Feb. 17 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Feb. 18 from 5-8 p.m. Unlike previous years where BnB was on Friday and Saturday, the performances will be pushed back a day due to scheduling conflicts with an out-of-state orchestra coming to play at the McAfee Center.

“It’s unfortunate we have to shift from our usual Friday and Saturday performances [to Saturday and Sunday],” senior ICAC officer Raghav Chakravarthi said. “But at the end of the day the performance is still happening, and it will hopefully be just as impactful as other years.”

This year, ticket prices have dropped from the usual $25 to $20 in light of parent complaints about the prices, according to Chakravarthi. However, after the first four days of ticket sales, the McAfee was almost sold out, with about 1,100 tickets snapped up, so officers believe that the higher number of ticket sales will help compensate for the lower price.

ICAC has also gained sponsorships from realtor Andy Tse and local Bay Area restaurant, Chaat Bhavan, along with several downtown businesses. In order to do so, the ICAC officers — Belenje, Bhandari, seniors Raghav Chakravarthi, Kavya Patel, Samik Pattanayak and Anu Thakur — went around door-to-door in downtown Saratoga to pass out flyers and emailed sponsors from previous years.

To further promote their performance, the officers posted on their social media to encourage more students to participate and more community members and [jump] parents to buy tickets. This campaign has had clear payoffs: All classes have noted increased participation compared to last year; in particular, the sophomore class has seen a sharp increase from around 15 girls to 25 this year. 

In the two weeks leading up to BnB, participants have been practicing three to four times per week for each of the acts they’re in.

Although the Class of `27 is participating for the first time, freshman choreographer Ovee Dharwadkar noted this year’s freshman participation is higher than it was for the other grades during their freshman  years. They have around 30 to 40 girls and 15 to 20 boys. 

For Dharwadkar, choreographing for BnB is an opportunity to bond with others through Bollywood music and dance.

“I’ve always really liked listening to Bollywood music growing up; it brings out a different feeling. I think a lot of people can definitely relate to that, which is why they join,” she said. “Also, just being able to dance with your friends in a no-judgment environment and hanging out is what really makes it super fun.”

For the returning sophomores, they have noted significant improvements from last year in both dance quality and overall enthusiasm for BnB.

“Last year, we weren’t that close and people were kind of uncomfortable with their partners, but this year, people have loosened up and built up more time for BnB,” sophomore choreographer Nila Venkataratnam said.

However, the junior class has noted how difficult it is to schedule rehearsals due to the busy and stressful nature of junior year, according to junior choreographer Mihir Shaik. Because of participants’ busy schedules, Shaik has found that hosting weekday practices is impossible and even weekend practices do not have full participation.

The whole senior class act started their practices later than other grade-level acts. Due to many seniors participating in other, longer acts, like the All-Girls Dance (AGD) and All-Males Dance (AMD), the senior choreographers decided to start practices three weeks before the show.

“The senior act is only about 6-minutes long split across three sections so there’s not a lot of teaching we have to do,” senior choreographer Arjun Raje said. “The senior act is also an opportunity for people who haven’t done BnB to jump in and participate for the final time since the dance isn’t very difficult.”

In addition to individual grade acts and AGD/AMD, BnB always includes four more specialty acts: Tamasha, Bhangra, Singing and Classical. To transition between acts, ICAC officers act out well-known Bollywood movies, with this year being “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.” 

According to Chakravarthi, AMD and AGD are usually the highlights of the show, being the finishing acts. They consist of seasoned dancers who have participated in BnB for all four years, and are usually 10-12 minutes each. Other speciality acts like Bhangra and Tamasha are tryout only and consist predominantly of upperclassmen.

The Bhangra team — performing a common Punjabi-style dance —  is led by senior captains Raje and Ameya Saund and junior co-captains Arshia Desarkar and Saejel Thomas. This year, 10 girls and 10 boys were selected for the team.

Following tradition, the act features props, such as sticks with ribbons.

“The thing about Bhangra is that it’s super high energy and it takes a lot of energy to be able to dance through all 10 minutes along with grace,” Saund said.

Another specialty act, Tamasha, is unique in that they also perform in local Bollywood dance showcases. The Tamasha captains held tryouts in August, selecting seven boys and seven girls for the team. Currently, they are preparing a 7-minute dance. Later, they plan to perform the same routine at local showcases — ones they’ve frequented include Foothill Nashaa, Dublin Jalwa and Amador Valley Isvara.

“Tamasha is a great opportunity for students who love dancing to pursue their passion further,” Belenje said. “I joined during my junior year, and I’ve enjoyed my time on the team ever since.”

With the inclusion of speciality acts and grade-level dances, Chakravarthi noted students often form strong relationships with their peers. Beyond being a large dance showcase, he feels that BnB has become a popular community-bonding event. 

“I think it’s a really good way for students to be able to come together because I feel like dancing and just hanging out with your friends is something that everyone enjoys,” Chakravarthi said. “With all the work that people have to do at school, it’s a way to get your mind off things, especially because we are working for a good cause.”

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