When dandiya queen Falguni Pathak ditched Mumbai to perform in Ankleshwar in 2010, for the first time in a decade or more, she had told this paper, “I want to be back in my Mumbai.” That year, dandiya lovers had confessed that Mumbai’s Navratri nights had lost a certain sheen.
Following the trend was star dandiya duo Preeti-Pinky, who had left for Gujarat but have also now returned to Mumbai. The third biggest Navratri star to quit the bright lights of the big city was music director Viju Shah, who had also gone to Bhuj for some years, but is now back in Mumbai.
With three big stars of Mumbai’s dandiya nights back in town, the extra glitter has returned to the city’s festive atmosphere.
One thing that has changed in the passing years is that all three have changed their performance locations; Falguni has moved to Ghatkopar, where Preeti-Pinky performed earlier. The duo have shifted to Borivali, in the western suburbs which was once the fiefdom of Falguni, who used to perform in Goregaon. Viju Shah has moved his base from Ghatkopar to Mulund.
While the central suburbs now boasts two top names, the western suburbs, apart from the entrance of Preeti-Pinky, has its traditional Kora Kendra Mandal, which was one of the biggest mandals even when Falguni was in Goregaon, and attracted good crowds. But going by the sheer number of dandiya events in the city, there are many options, including big names.
Viju Shah, who went to his native place to perform, says that he was happy in Bhuj, but Mumbai is his ‘karmabhumi’, and he enjoys Navratri more here than in Gujarat. “I am performing in Mulund this year. I had been to Gujarat for some years; initially people over there took some time to get used to the music mix, where we played Gujarati as well as Hindi music, but then they started enjoying it,” he says. “However, in Mumbai, because of the cosmopolitan crowd we always have played mixed music. In Mumbai we have the time limit, which we didn’t face in Gujarat, but this year, we will take Mumbaikars by surprise as we have many songs and music yet to be revealed, that will be played during Navratri.”
For Preeti Dave of the Preeti-Pinky duo, performing at Borivali is like coming home. She and her sister also have planned surprises for the crowd.
“We performed for nearly six years in Ghatkopar, then went to Gujarat and had even been to Pune once, but then performing in Mumbai is what we always enjoy. It’s going to be full of excitement and surprises for the crowd who will dance to our tunes. We have planned on playing Sanskrit slokas on the rhythm of the dandiya beats, and we are sure everyone will enjoy it,” she said.
Falguni Pathak is excited to be back too. She said, “First time in central suburbs, new crowd, new venue, my fingers are crossed.”
With the central suburbs boasting two top names, Falguni in Ghatkopar and Viju Shah in Mulund, organizers are hoping that people from the far-flung western suburbs and even from the city’s south will come to Mulund and Ghatkopar.
Mihir Kotecha, organizer of the Viju Shah Navratri event, says that people from Colaba and Cuffe Parade will attend. “Mumbai is going to have a blast this time in the festive season of Navratri, and especially the central suburbs as we have both the big names Falguni as well as Viju Shah performing here.”
All this buzz means that much more excitement for dandiya lovers as well. Student Aditya Sangoram, an avid dandiya lover, is already planning on getting passes for Falguni’s dandiya, which incidentally is being held within his college premises. “This year with Falguni playing so close by I will surely go for the dandiya in Ghatkopar.”
Hetal Gangar is Gujarati but isn’t too sure about her dandiya dance steps. She even wanted to join a class where she could learn garba, but her time schedule did not allow for it. However, the draw of the big names in Mumbai again is spurring her on to catch at least one night of dandiya, where she will try some moves.
Student Vedhas Katpatal, who mostly participates in his housing society dandiya, said that this year he will be attending the dandiyas in the central suburbs, as they are being held close to his residence.
Thane resident Mili Arien says the mere mention of Falguni’s name makes her feet start tapping. “There is no way I’ll miss her event,” she said.
Pankaj Kotecha of the Kora Kendra says that the big stars are associated with political banners. “With elections close, the politicians have come out like frogs during the monsoon. They hide when the monsoons are gone. Similarly we will see later that the politicians will recede from the scene and dandiya will again be ‘dull’. Only genuine people will survive.”
However, Mihir Kotecha, who also belongs to the BJP and is holding the Navratri in Mulund, claims that politicians have joined in to save the festival. “Navratri has changed in the last one decade. Unlike Gujarat, here we need nearly 60 kinds of permissions from various state-run departments. A common organizer gets tired with all this, and hence we have taken this as a moral responsibility to save our culture. We don’t want our culture to die, because not only Gujaratis but everyone joins in and starts playing garba and dandiya when the music of Navratri starts playing.”
While there has been general demand for the time limit for dandiya events to be extended till 12 midnight, this year organizers aren’t too happy with it. Kotecha says that the government has allowed the extension on two days -- October 12 and 13, and they are Saturday and Sunday. “We wanted Friday and Saturday, because Sunday being the last day and also the next day being a working day, people won’t be able to enjoy.”
Imagine dancing with the dandiya beat to the tune of Tum hi ho from Aashiqui 2. This looks likely because Arijit Singh of Aashiqui 2 fame has been called to perform on October 6 in Mulund, along with Viju Shah.