A Bengaluru biker will ride across India to document folk dances while three Mumbai youngsters gear up for an India-Pakistan peace ride. Here’s why you should track their crowdfunding campaigns that go live this month
Did you know that Singhi Chham is a dance originating in the 18th century in Sikkim, featuring performers in a lion costume, symbolising the snow lion? Or that Kamar tribes set the rhythms with manjiras (metal cymbals) tied to their bodies when they perform Tertali, a folk dance of Madhya Pradesh? “My research throws up more than 126 dance forms practised throughout India, how many can you name? Can you feel their enormity and diversity — each with its own music, costume and history?” asks 26-year-old Jothi Viknesh aka Jo Danzbiker on his Facebook page, Indian Dance Trail, created for an eponymous project that he’s busy prepping for. Come June and the Bengaluru-based certified Zumba instructor and biker will embark on a 15-month solo ride across India to document close to 50 folk dance traditions to showcase the melting pot of cultures that India is. “I will start from Bengaluru and ride all the way up to Kashmir. From there, I will head to the North East and later, cover central and south India,” Viknesh maps his course in an email interview. Documenting Maharashtra’s famous Lavani dance is also part of the plan. “I intend to find traditional dancers, and learn more about their art form,” he shares.
Artistes perform Lavani. The Maharashtrian folk dance will be documented during Jothi Viknesh’s Indian Dance Trail. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
With the cost of the project estimated at `20 lakhs, he will try to raise '14 lakhs through a 60-day crowdfunding campaign, which goes live on Wishberry next week. “I have found a sponsor for the bike accessories and I will raise the rest of the amount through workshops during the roadtrip,” he informs.
Dance and bike
Born in Gujarat and brought up in different parts of India (“because my father is in central police”), Viknesh completed his Masters in Immunology and Microbiology before turning to dance as a full-time profession. “Dance had always been a passion but it took over in 2012, while I was working in the nanotechnology department of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Kolkata. That’s when I decided to become a licensed Zumba instructor and moved to Bengaluru,” he recalls, adding that he learnt most of his moves from YouTube videos and TV shows.
On the other hand, he discovered his love for solo biking during an unplanned ride, which led him to initiate the Indian Dance Trail. “Two years ago, I felt the need to fuse my love for dance and biking into something bigger,” he adds.
From popular forms like Bhangra, Kuchipudi, Bharat-anatyam and Garba to the lesser-known Kud, Saang, Baagh Naach and Garadi, Viknesh will cover cities in 20 states including Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu, Kerala, Odisha and even Pondicherry. Straddling a KTM Duke 390, the biker will capture the dancers on a GoPro, SLR, mobile and iPad cameras. “I will edit the footage into shorts focussing on each dance form, describing its history, methodology, significance and also provide tutorials,” he says. He then intends to provide these videos to schools “so the children can learn from them in a fun way.”
You can also track his journey on the YouTube channel, Indian Dance Trail, featuring glimpses into local food and culture, and challenges along the way. What about the accommodation, we ask. “I’ll stay with dancers who I know in different cities, with strangers, in hotels or simply use my sleeping bag,” is the nonchalant reply.
It’s not travelling solo or figuring out the accommodation that worries Viknesh as much as finding insights into the dance forms he’s focussing on. “The information based on my research may not be valid because the data available to public is decades old, so I need to work on it by asking locals. Also, most folk dances happen during festivals, largely from November to April, according to agricultural crop cycles. The dancers lie dormant for the rest of the year, so scouting for them might be difficult,” adds Viknesh.
What’s more, the biker has plans to attempt a Guinness World Record with the journey. “The current record for the longest solo motorbike ride within a single country stands at 78,000 kms. I intend to cover 1,00,000 kms and raise the bar,” he concludes.
For updates, Log on to: Indian Dance Trail by Jo Danzbiker on Facebook
From Kochi to Karachi
What’s common between a project manager, a chef and an airport executive? They’re friends, love travelling and this July, the troika will collaborate on an India-Pakistan peace ride, travelling to different parts of India and later, crossing the border, asking locals along the way about their views on the neighbouring country. Costing '15 lakhs, the crowdfunding campaign goes live mid-April. The team will also approach sponsors for bike gear and cameras. “Like many Indians, we too had negative views about Pakistan. But when we connected with a few Pakistanis on social media, we realised that they don’t hold any grudge against India. They are facing more problems than us. So, we decided to get on-ground views,” shares 25-year-old Dombivali-based Dhaval Gori, who works with an MNC. His collaborators include 25-year-old Bhavesh Hagwane, working as a chief chef at a restaurant in Vashi and 26-year-old Arun Bhat, a former airport executive in Qatar (he resigned and is expected to be in India by this month).
A Mumbai student creates a sculpture of Ganesha with flags of both, India and Pakistan as a message of peace. Pic/AFP
With the ride divided in two parts, the team will first cover Indian cities between July and December. “We will interview 1,000 Indians and will look for those who are connected with Pakistan in some way, like someone who’s been there or defense personnel,” informs Gori. In December, they intend to cross the border and conduct similar exercise for two months in Lahore, Sialkot, Islamabad, Peshawar, Swat Valley and Karachi. “We will publish a short documentary of our shoots every weekend on YouTube and post travel, release a final one,” he adds.
Dhaval Gori, Bhavesh Hagwane, Arun Bhat
When we ask him about logistics and security issues, an optimistic Gori says, “We will apply for a Pakistan visa post July because it is valid for six months. In Pakistan, we plan to approach local police for security. We also have support from a few Pakistani locals and plan to meet them there. With their help, we will be able to tackle complications, if any.”
Log on to www.facebook.com/ rideforpeaceIndiaPakistan
Be on autopilot in Mumbai
Picture this — An autorickshaw that looks like a car from Back To The Future zooms on the city streets. It’s got wings attached and tools that help create everything from DIY musical instruments to playground equipments. Sounds like a dream, right? Andheri-based Maker’s Asylum is planning to turn it into a reality with the crowdfunding project titled, The Maker Auto.
The month-long campaign intends to raise $5,000 (approx '3,31,725). The vehicle will be used to conduct workshops in collaboration with community groups and non-profit educational institutions. “The goal is to promote design-thinking principles through public workshops. The two-month auto-building process begins in May. We have a concept in place and are currently working on the 3D models,” informs Vaibhav Chhabra, the founder of the space, collaborating with designer Coby Unger and Mumbai-based engineers Sumit Rode and Nikhil Shinde. “The auto will include 3D printers and power tools. There will be customised curricula for the workshops,” shares Chhabra.
Log on to www.indiegogo.com/projects/maker-auto-rickshaw#
Now, eat your spoon too
Imagine digging into an ice-cream and then taking a crunch off the spoon made from rice, wheat and jowar. Or customising it with garlic, ginger or even onion and tomato. Welcome edible cutlery, a brainchild of Narayana Peesapaty, founder and managing director of Hyderabad-based Bakeys. Having successfully raised close to `20 lakh, the campaign is live for three more days on Ketto.org and you can order here too.
The edible cutlery can also be custom-made with flavours by placing orders three months in advance on Bakeys.com
The platform, that’s partnered with Peesapaty for advance orders will deliver the spoons, available in sweet, savoury and plain versions, priced at `275 for 100 pieces. “I realised my main competition was plastic spoons because they were cheap. My spoons are priced at `2 each. However, I am working to bring the cost down to `1.5 or even `1. If demand increases, prices will come down further. I am looking forward to replacing plastic cutlery used in small restaurants and railways with these edible ones,” he concludes.
Log on to www.ketto.org/bakeys
>> Bagurumba is the folk dance of Bodo tribes of Assam which is also popular for Bihu, Jhumur and a traditional dance performed during Ali Ai Ligang (spring festival).
Viknesh shot these Bhangra performers in Ludhiana in February during the Rural Olympics in the Kila Raipur village. He plans to document them again during his visit to Punjab
>> Considered the most popular ritual of the Satnami community of Chhattisgarh, Panthi dance involves energetic movements and pyramid-like formations.
Jothi Viknesh aka Jo Danzbiker
>> Dollu Kunitha is a traditional drum dance of Karnataka, which also boasts of dance theatre like Yakshagana and the vigorous Veeragase.
>> Celebrating the arrival of autumn, the Namgen dance is practised by gypsy tribes of Himachal Pradesh.
>> The local folk in Jammu perform Kud as a ritual to honour Lok Devatas (gods of the people).
>> Native to the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh, Charkula sees women dancing with multi-tiered wooden pyramids arranged with 108 lighted oil lamps, balanced on their heads.