After getting lost in the parking lot of the LaLiT Ashok while carrying three bags full of posters for The Ladies Finger’s Leddis Night, and simultaneously cursing my friend for not answering my calls, I saw a sign that pointed me in the right direction – to a hall that would soon be filled with women in Sridevi costumes celebrating a night of laughter with a line-up of epic performers including Aditi Mittal, Deepika Arwind and Shrirupa Sengupta.
Being the amazing and helpful intern that I am, I walked over to the registration desk to find out if there was something that I could do only to be greeted warmly by my colleague who asked me where I had been the entire day and why it took me so long to get there. But before I could answer, someone else came up to her about a poster problem or a goodie bag emergency and she disappeared.
I carefully took to avoiding her for the next hour as I helped direct the crowd of hundreds of selfie-taking Shashis, Chandnis and Manjus to the registration desk as they excitedly talked about the prospect of a real ladies night with no men around! Because that’s what this was all about. An entire night of women, by women and for women.
I go to an all-girls college so I’m pretty familiar with how women are when they are around only women. And it’s not easy to describe. As I entered the lawn where the crowd of women were waiting near the registration desk, I had the same feeling I have every time I walk down our famous Mount Carmel College drive. The immediate feeling of comfort and confidence that I can, well, generally chill out. And ‘chill out’ is exactly what I and the rest of the audience did for the entire evening!
In general, I’m a pretty clumsy and forgetful person and throughout my internship, I’ve tried my best or at least made an attempt to be more responsible than my usual wallet-losing, never-on-time self. I stood next to the stage, worrying about the task I’d been handed. I had to keep a watch on the timing of each performance and signal to the performers when their time limit was at a close. I felt like this was a job I was sure to mess up at some point. However, the dance troupe Dhurii took the stage and my worries immediately dropped off the radar. Everything from Dhurii’s costumes to their energy on stage was fabulous.
As the Sridevi medley to which they were performing began, the crowd went wild, hooting and cheering them on and the energy in the room skyrocketed to a point from which it didn’t come down all night. Stand-up comedian Shrirupa Sengupta’s MCing made sure of that.
I was completely blown away by theatre artist Deepika Arwind as she performed an act from her piece “No Rest in the Kingdom”. She portrayed the role of a stereotypical old Bangalore boy and from the many exclamations of “OMG, this is so real” and “Wow, I cannot believe how accurate this is,” I think it’s safe to assume that my fellow audience members were just as stunned. I was surprised at how many women could relate to one part of the act where she enacts a scene about an ‘old Bangalore boy’ trying to ‘help’ a girl who’s waiting for a cab late at night. After her performance, everyone around me was sharing their own stories that were similar to what Arwind had performed and suddenly I realised, all these women – of all age groups – had experienced the same things I had.
After a super quick break (the ladies had been enjoying their Sridevi-themed cocktails after all), we returned to Deepika Mhatre’s standup piece that left everyone giggling helplessly and caused my friend to repeatedly exclaim, “Awww, she’s adorable.”
But the piece-de-resistance of the evening was most definitely Aditi Mittal. I have stalked Ms Mittal thoroughly on social media and watched and re-watched her videos at least a hundred times but to see her perform that night left me in awe as tears of laughter ran down my cheeks. It was my turn to jab my unfortunate friend every time Aditi said something relatable. So, constantly.
I’m pretty sure that by this time, I’d forgotten all about my time keeping job. Good thing Shrirupa had it all under control. Because honestly I was too engrossed in trying to figure out who’d win the prize for the best Sridevi costume.
But the evening wasn’t over yet. In fact, now was the time for the energy in the room to be channelled onto the dance floor as DJ Prarthana spun some amazing vibes.
As I danced, handed out goodie bags and mogra flowers and tied up the end of my dupatta (part of my attempt at nailing Sridevi’s white salwar in “Lamhe”), I couldn’t help but admire the scene. Over 500 women of all ages in costume, dancing and laughing like they had not a care in the world, wearing all manner of funky sunglasses well into the evening, pallus and dupattas all over the place. It was an experience. And in that moment, I was so happy to be one of them.