Statutory Warning: Looooooooooooooooong post! 😛 Read at your own risk! 😉
Dhwani 09 – the prestigious intercollegiate cultural festival by College of Engineering, Trivandrum, was held on April 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th at the college premises. Regarded by many as one among the best cultural festivals of the state, the festival falls in the league of Ragam – the flagship cult-fest by NITC. The latest edition of Dhwani happened after a hiatus of three years, and was already the talk of the town. Due to some quirk of fate (or rather, on the persistance of my friend Satish), I found myself at CET that fine morn, on April 4. A coordinator of an intercollegiate festival myself, my trip to Dhwani was essentially observational with the sole intent to garner organizational tip-offs or maybe get in touch with potential fest-sponsors.
I had no idea, not even in the back of my mind, that I’d get into the finals of five events, including Mr Dhwani – the coolest personality contest in town!!
Satish wanted me as his partner in English debate. But I had my MBA Coaching class at Time that day. Considering the fact that 99% of my batchmates at Time were CETians; With all of them at Dhwani, it would be pointless to attend the forlorn class. Thus, I gingerly stepped into the sprawling 125-acre campus of CET. The day zipped by fast. I participated in the Malayalam JAM (where I couldn’t even open my mouth!), which was followed by the prelims of Block & Tangles and Adzap. The remaining part of the day was DISASTER. Block & tangles was a train-wreck of sorts! We had none other than IIM-A against us, who eventually bagged the first place! The finals made me realize for the umpteenth time that I lack spontaneity and humor sense! Dejected, I went on to write the prelimns of Persona, Mock Press and Ananthapuri Chopsuey(A ‘Potpourri’ event), all back-to-back. Having racked my brains in the true sense of the word, famished, having missed food since morning, I reached home at 7 PM and flopped down onto the bed.
I was woken up by a phone call which announced unceremoniously that I’ve been selected for the finals of Mock Press. It was followed by a series of calls which announced my entry into the finals of Adzap and *surprise-surprise* Mr & Miss Dhwani!! Aneesh (the coordinator of the persona event and a friend of mine) called me up and cooly announced: “Buddy, you’ve made it to the second round of Persona.” I couldn’t believe what I heard! Yeah, I was one step closer to being Mr. Dhwani!
I’ve always been fascinated by personality contests and it’s been my dream to get into the final stage of a Persona. As yet, my only experience has been Sargam 2008 – the arts festival at my college – where I royally sucked, despite having virtually no competition. Ever since, it’s remained a splinter in my mind. Bad luck, my constant companion, always finds some way to be with me all the time. It seems fests were jinxed for me in 2009! There would be some clash and I would not be able to write the prelims of any perosnality contest. The jinx continued till Ragam – I’d to skip Mr & Miss Ragam for What’s the Good Word’ prelims, which I didn’t clear either! I thought the jinx would persist for Dhwani too, where the finals of Block & Tangles clashed with persona prelims initially. However, the timing for Persona prelims was made flexible so as to eliminate clashes, and the jinx lifted itself! I wrote the prelims after five pm, right after the B&T finals. The questions were a tad different, and I kinda liked ’em! I tried to be candid and put my mind to paper. I thought I’d done it in a strictly-okay way. But I never had the remotest idea that I’d clear it.
In the second round, twelve of us finalists (six guys and six girls) were divided into groups of three. Each group was given a topic and were asked to enact a drama on stage. The theme for my team was ‘horror’. My team mates were Isly (from RIT Kottayam), Gayathri (Mar Ivanios, Trivandrum) and Akhilesh Warrier (Mar Baselios College of Engineering & Technology). Now, Akhilesh is one AWESOME guy with countless (female) fans and personality to match, not to mention looks! The President of UNI-Y, he was a favourite and almost everyone expected him to be Mr Dhwani!
The next day, none of our team members could reach CET in time. Even though Isly and I made it, the others were a bit late. I was preoccupied with What’s the good word prelimns (which I didn’t clear, yet again!). By the time Akhilesh and Gayathri had reached college and all of us met up, it was twelve thirty. And we had to get on stage in an hour or so. We decided not to go slapstick and tried a serious story, after all our theme was ‘Horror’! Akhilesh came up with a theme that portrayed how suppression of ideas is the greatest horror in the world. We finalized three anecdotes from history: The practice of Sati, Galilio’s fate when he said the Earth is round, and Hitler’s ruthlessness and supression of ideas. Incidentally, I played the villain in all three anecdotes and the finals scene had all the other three pinning me down & killing me. We did a random quick-practice session and waited to get on stage.
Thankfully, ours was the third item on stage. The first session was about love. Gayathri (From LBS, not to be confused with my teammate), George, Teresa and another guy (I forgot his name!) showcased a cliched but tongue in cheek college-love-story about two couples who go on a double date. The story ends with a twist when the guys get ‘attracted’ to each other and ‘move on’! The judges – Pranav (IIMC) and Aravind (MDI), both alumni of CET (and Loyola School! :D) had a fun time crushing all of them. Next came the second team who had a theme ‘Drama’. Madhuri (my senior at college), Saran Soman (Senior at school, Final year medical student), Neethu and Renju Rajiv were the team members. Titled ‘Slumdog Mr Dhwani’, it showcased a slumdog trying his hand over the Mr. Dhwani title against a ‘cool dude’. It ended with all characters cutting their veins and suiciding. Then came ours. We elicited the most hoots from the crowd, for our theme was serious. Still, we put up a decent show on stage, (excluding a few guffaws from yours-truly who shouted ’20 flags to galileo!!’ instead of ‘flogs’! :P) The judges tried screwing us up, but we stood with heads held high, refusing even to vote out our team members.
I had a AdZap soon after the second round and we cooked up a quick ad campaign, went on stage, and managed to walk away with the third prize. Soon, all 12 of us finalists were asked to proceed to the third floor of the main building where the stress interview would commence. Many of us were stunned at the fact that the interviewee was none other than Mr Rahul Easwar himself!! Expecting major screw ups, people gingerly stepped inside. Akhilesh, among the first to go in, returned with a smile, muttering “T’was ok.”. All of us smiled.
I was the third to go in. Rahul ushered me in with a smile and asked me quirky questions based on the crap I’d written in the questionaire. It went roughly like this.
Rahul: Hi Hari!
Hari: Good day, sir!
R: Hmm… it seems that you’re the only blogger here!
H: Not really, many others have blogs, but I feel I’m the only guy who takes blogging seriously!
R: That’s nice. And btw, you’ve written here that you’re unique. Elaborate on that.
H: *Oops* That’s true, sir. Fact is that, I’ve qualities that are way different from others and in that way, I am unique.
R: What’s your take on reservations?
(I almost Duh-ed!)
H: I’m totally against it, blah blah, yada yada!
R: Don’t you think it’s good for minorities, blah blah?
H: No, reservation should be based on purely economic criteria… blah blah blah!
R: Tell me three of your passions
H: Quizzing, Blogging, Psephology.
*Didn’t mean to say the last one, which means the art of predicing election results! But that was my blah moment, yes and I had to say whatever that came to my mind! :P*
R: Psephology, interesting, very interesting!!
Goes on to ask me questions to test my ‘quizzing’ knowledge. I manage to answer some, if not all!
R: Btw, do you have a girlfriend?
H: Nope, I don’t.
R: Why not?
H: I believe it’s a sheer waste of time, NOT to mean that I don’t believe in love, but the *affairs* I see around me are shallow to an appalling level… yada yada
*Rahul gets bored now! :P*
R: Hey, what’s on your tee? It reads funk soul, right? Are you a funk person?
H: Not really, it looks good on me, so I thought I’d wear it.
R: Better wears ome decent clothes when you get on stage… anyways, nice meeting you Hari, all the best. C ya!
And, they called that a stress interview… sigh! 😛
I got badly scrwed up in Mock Press later on, where the half of CET literally booed me out of stage as I sat there as Naradan. 😐 It was followed by an equally disastrous Ananthapuri Chopsuey where the three of us cooked up some really arbit stuff. Meanwhile, Aneesh calls me again to confirm my entry into the finals of Mr & Miss Dhwani 09!
Reminded of Rahul’s dig at my Tee, I borrowed Akhilesh’s Kurta while he adorned himself in a stylish shirt. Akhilesh, Saran, George, Neethu, Madhuri, Gayathri (not the All Saints one – my team-mate in round two. The all saints Gayathri got selected, but had to leave on parental pressure) and Teresa were the finalists. I was the inevitable blue-eyed guy of the pack. Grossly ignored by my team-mates (except for an affable Saran chettan – who happens to be a fellow blogger and greatly adored senior at school, and Madhuri Chechi; not to mention occasional glances from Akhilesh), I walked about re-kindling a very feeble hope that I also stand a chance.
My intro sucked bigtime. I tried to shout out and connect to the audience and was moderately successful, but it was nothing compared to the *kinglike* entry of Saran and the graceful walk-in by Akhilesh. Saran was lifted onto the stage by his friends, in a very ROYAL fashion. His charm and his witty demeanour gave him immense crowd support. From the girls, Gayathri chechi too made a fantastic crowd connect with her charming but self-assured style. I couldn’t do much but sigh!
Next came the talent round. I had nothing in my kitty but to show off my singing skills, and I sand Kya Mujhe Pyaar Hai, again, to reasonable applause from the crowd. Akhilesh made up a ‘How NOT to participate in a persona’, taking digs at everyone else (especially Saran). Saran did a kick-ass, fun, dance performance. And yeah, he belly danced with good ol’ Smita – the compere. (Now, for me, she was the discovery of Dhwani ’09. I’ve heard many say that she’s *THE* most talented gal in CET, but has loads of attitude to match. Yes, she does, but trust me, she’s a gem of a person and the persons who know her closely would agree)
Next came the vote-out round. I heard George muttering that he would vote out the least eligible guy cause he needed competition. My heart churned. And well, he did vote me out. Along with Neethu and Teresa. I was Jack’s ripped-off-sense-of-ego. I thought I’d quit then and there, for it was utterly pointless to be on that stage for a second more, but well, I stayed on. The vote out was an informal round, and no one would physically get voted out, the judges announced later.
The Q&A round which followed saw a blitzkreig of *serious* questions at me. I dodged them well, but the crowd started booing! Then the judges asked me to make the clap for me. I counted till ten, and a few girls from the corner did start clapping – much to my relief. 🙂 I was the quickest to be sent back. I thought I’d leave then and there, but I waited for the contest to end, just to see who the winner is. I was sure Akhilesh would be Mr Dhwani and Madhuri Chechi would be Ms. Dhwani, but unfortunately fates proved otherwise. Saran Soman became Mr Dhwani, and Gayathri secured Ms. Dhwani. Dejected, but happy for Saran Chettan, I silently left the place.
Loss, failure, depression. The feeling was unpalatable. I felt ignored and my ego took a severe beating. My heart bled and I felt my ears go pink. Gobbling up a few quick sweetmeats from a local teashop, I walked all the way home, my head bowed down in defeat, with a firm resolve in mind to come back next year… as THE WINNER!