Mumbai: The usual bustling crowds in Mumbai's Chatrapati Shivaji Terminal received a surprise on November 29 when they were treated to a scene straight out an Indian film - a huge group of seemingly ordinary bystanders suddenly burst into choreographed dance while music blared.
The song was 'Mohe tu rang de basanti' from the film 'Rang De Basanti' and the 200 or so dancers were ordinary folk who had signed up for the jig. They got together and practised the dance moves for a month before dancing twice at 5 and 6 pm on platform number 5.
The news was not spread through social network sites simply because the organisers, led by Shonan Kothari (who kick-started and organised the whole affair), were worried that thousands would show up and disrupt the show. Just an e-mail was sent out and the respondents were taught the dance moves in Malabar Hill Park.
Flash mobs are common in Europe and the America where it is very popular. The idea is to show up in large numbers and surprise people by performing a series of choreographed moves - sometimes dance moves, other times just an eye-catching pose - before melting back into the crowd again.
The Indian version wasn't quite that simple or spontaneous. It was more of a dance than a flash since the setting up of the camera crew and the lights pretty much hinted beforehand that something was up. However, the surprise across the nation was certainly absolute.
The dance happened just a few days after the three-year anniversary of the 26/11 attacks when 166 passengers were massacred in this very terminal. The organisers said that the event was a tribute to those victims, but in a sense, it gave us all a chance to once again smile about something interesting that happened in CST while at the same time acknowledging that colourful and lively lives were brutally extinguished here.
It was also a silent nod to Mumbaikars in general, who always seem to know how to have the best fun despite the circumstances.
For a country long accused of taking itself too seriously, such a fun act comes as a welcome break from the sober and mostly token memorials.
Also such a large crowd cannot just simply gather on the platform and start dancing. Permissions were asked and given by the Railway authorities and other concerned officials and even trains were halted for ten minutes to allow the performance some uninterrupted time.
Such co-operation without the usual grumbling or posturing is another rare sight in official India and one that should be thoroughly encouraged.
Besides, considering the popularity of films, it is surprising that this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often in our land. How many of us have not felt the need to just break into song and dance at a random time? Who knows? Maybe the next time the urge seizes you a few hundred might join in.