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Ekal Vidyalaya’s spectacular show, “Kaafila – a Bollywood Caravan” by Aditi Bhagwat

Rachna Gupta and Mahadev Desai
May 2018
Ekal Vidyalaya’s spectacular show, “Kaafila – a Bollywood Caravan” by Aditi Bhagwat


(Left) Aditi Bhagwat and Kunal Tavri, an awesome duo! (Photos: Shama Manji and Vinod Devlia)

Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation organized a scintillating dance and music show—Aditi Bhagwat’s “Kaafila – A Bollywood Caravan”—at Berkmar High School on Saturday, March 31, 2018. The program was a fundraiser for Ekal for its work to eradicate illiteracy in India’s underserved rural and tribal areas by providing innovative, single teacher schools, providing free basic education, healthcare, and vocational training.

The well attended program was graced by Consul General of India, Hon. Nagesh Singh and many dignitaries from the Indian community. After a delicious full course dinner, the riveting show started promptly at 7pm with lighting of the lamp by Nagesh Singh and Shiv Aggarwal. The Consul General then expressed inspiring remarks about the occasion.

The internationally acclaimed danseuse Aditi Bhagwat is a Kathak, Odissi, and Lavani exponent, who has given many performances both in India and abroad and has always explored collaborations with other disciplines like jazz, ballet, filmi, and Flamenco dance. In “Kaafila” she brought to life the intricate cultural fabric of India, its diversity, culture, and music as depicted on the glittering silver screen by Bollywood. Kaafila means a convoy or Kaarvaan, which has found its way into the English language as the word ‘caravan.’





(Left) Dancing to songs from old movies.

The program was emceed with flair by Preeti Tanwar. Aditi Bhagwat and Kunal Tavri, who has trained in India and Spain, presented an enthralling mix of dances, including some from Indian cinema, some vintage items from old black and white movies, classical Kathak, qawaalis and even a Kathak – Flamenco jugalbandi.




Umrao Jaan

Aditi brought the flavor of the Mughal court, where this art form found royal patronage, by performing captivating Kathak pieces from Bollywood classic films Pakeeza and Umrao Jaan, attired in a very colorful and elegant costume. The auditorium reverberated to the rousing applause of the audience after each presentation.



The special and new standout dance of the show was Kathak blended with the Spanish tune of the song “Señorita.” Strategically placed floor microphones augmented the listening pleasure of the handclaps, finger snaps, and the rhythmic thumps of the feet tapping in Kunal Tavri’s hypnotic Flamenco dance. The harmony of the melody, beats, and expressive use of the arms was awesome. Aditi’s narration informed the audience about the Romani people, or the gypsies, as the link between Rajasthan and Spain.



(Left) Shruti Bhave on violin.

Singer Suranjan Khandalkar, who is well versed with ghazals, bhajans, thumri, and film music rendered classical and semiclassical melodies, and also expertly played the harmonium and keyboard. A first for Ekal’s Atlanta stage was violinist and vocalist Shruti Bhave who carved popular and traditional melodies from her violin for the dancers to perform to. Master of rhythm Kantha Das also showed his commendable versatility as a premier percussionist playing the cajón, drums, dholaki, tabla, and octopad.

The crowd’s comments about “Kaafila” were effusive: “par excellence,” “phenomenal,” “impeccable energy,” “very graceful,” “perfect expression,” “never before have I seen this kind of jugalbandi,” etc.



Aditi Bhagwat choreographed a wonderful, imaginative, and highly entertaining program for Ekal and helped the Atlanta Chapter raise sponsorships for 105 schools at the event to support the noble and praiseworthy mission of Ekal. Only a dollar a day or $365 a year will support an Ekal school!

Ekal’s office bearers and volunteers alike, too numerous to be individually named, worked tirelessly to efficiently serve dinner, chai, emcee the program, provide information on Ekal, and complete secure online credit card sponsorships.

Since Aditi Bhagwat is on a national fund-raising tour for Ekal, this program is presented in other cities too, so those who missed it can still enjoy it at other venues. Join the Ekal movement to change the lives of millions of children in remotest areas of India.

Video: https://www.facebook.com/divinity.av/videos/2120470788188892/

Ekal_officers volunteers artists_680.jpg


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