If you are a first year student at IIT Kharagpur, you’ve heard all the publicity quotes from “it’s your wildest fantasies come true” and “the only chance IITians have of some serious bird watching” to “the biggest socio-cultural fest of eastern India”.
If you are a first year student at IIT Kharagpur who, after one of the dullest Spring Fests in recent years, still believes all of this, you’re probably not very bright.
The fact is that in all respects this year, from sponsorships to prize money to external participation to quality of star-nites, SF lost out badly to Kshitij, which until now used to be the neglected step-brother in Kgp’s Fest culture.
Scholars’ Avenue attempted to gauge student sentiment about the fest by holding an opinion poll for the final years. The results are there for all to see. While the title of best SF was a close-run thing with both 2003 and 2004 vying for top spot, 2006 was the clear winner of the dubious distinction of being the worst SF. And why not? With two out of three star-nites flopping miserably, an eminently forgettable Fine Frenzy, the lowest participation in literary events since God-knows-when and peanuts for prize money, Spring Fest 2K6 was a paragon of mediocrity. The only saving graces were the Shankar Mahadevan show and the Hasya Kavi Sammelan, but then if star performances and concerts are the only reason Spring Fest retains some measure of popularity, why go through the fracas of organizing the innumerable literary and cultural competitions? For tradition’s sake? Or plain lure of lucre?
Many alumni hold the view that SF is no longer the platform for inter-collegiate camaraderie that it used to be. Ask yourselves: how many non-Kgpians did you know before SF? How many after SF?
Get the point?
The same competition that attracted a crowd which filled less that a quarter of Raman Auditorium (Ad Spoof) ran to packed houses in Kshitij (Atelier Unrehearsed). After the immensely enjoyable and inspiring TN Seshan Star Talk of SF’04, what followed in 05 and 06 was a no-show. Anubhav, which last year saw the charismatic Rahul Sharma regale Netaji, was barely noticeable this year. And the standing joke during Fine Frenzy was that the much hyped “Fashion Parade” was all-Parade-no-Fashion. That the home team couldn’t even muster a second-runners-up (and this goes for Wildfire as well) added to the general feeling of ‘dampsquib-opia’.
Yes, SF still is THE biggest so-cult fest in Eastern India and will continue to be so the foreseeable future. Undeniably though, most events having a general feeling of being washed up and extremely monotonous. It is time we redefined what the true spirit of the youth is, and made SF the fun fest it used to be.