Shakti, Geneseo's South Asian cultural organization, held their annual Sangamam dinner on Saturday, which was a treat for performers and onlookers alike; the vibrant dances and hilarious acting served as a marvelous backdrop to a story of Indian independence.
Before the play began, the audience enjoyed a family-style dinner of traditional South Asian dishes like naan, cholay, vegetable biryani, South Indian chicken curry and beef keema. Though delicious, the entrees were a little spicy to the unaccustomed tongue making the mango ice cream dessert all the more welcomed.
The evening featured a play titled "Against the Grain: A Game of Survival." The play was written and performed by Shakti members with the help of Japanese Culture Club, Geneseo Chinese Culture Club, Korean American Student Association, Black Student Union, Latino Student Association, Pride, Womyn's Action Coalition and Slavic Club.
The play focused on an Indian family whose village is threatened by increased taxes imposed by the British Empire. Balmaan, played by senior Nibin Pachikara, makes a deal with the region British officer to face off in a cricket match, the stakes being British taxes.
Hoping to help her village, Balmaan's daughter Supriya, played by junior Sunaina Bedi, decides to dress as a boy in order to play for the team. However, a love interest develops and complicates her situation as she risks being exposed and shaming her family.
Seniors Michael Hosking and Chiara Guardo, junior Yangchen Bhuti, sophomore Vishal Patel and freshman Daniel Santiago filled out the main roles. It was junior Riley Fee, however, who stole the show as Countess Mount Batten, the oft-intoxicated wife of the British officer. Delivering hilarious lines like, "I can't bear my own children … the doctors never told me why," Fee held nothing back in his outrageous performance.
The ensemble would not have been complete, however, without the numerous talented dancers who showed off months of dedicated rehearsal with well-choreographed, exciting dance numbers throughout the show. Garbed in colorful Indian wardrobes, the dancers used the stage as well as the dining area itself to bring to life the south Asian culture, which Shakti celebrates.
After the conclusion of the storyline, the cast emerged for a series of exciting dances including a special performance by graduating seniors. Geneseo Bhangra closed the show with their always-energetic routine, which they performed again at Relay for Life just hours later.
The word "sangram" means "coming together" in Sanskrit and refers to the confluence of ideas. This year's Sangamam was clearly a confluence of people, effort and creative energy and provided a great evening for all who came to join in the celebration.