Meet the mob boss

Published: 04 December, 2011 11:46 IST | Yolande D'Mello |

To get the city to groove to the synchronised steps of a flash mob, Shonan Kothari first had to convince cops about random expression

To get the city to groove to the synchronised steps of a flash mob, Shonan Kothari first had to convince cops about random expression

If you happened to be at CST station on November 26 at 5 pm, chances are you would have witnessed something very strange. Around 325 people suddenly broke began dancing to the song Rang de Basanti on the third anniversary of Mumbai's terror attacks.

The girl behind this flash mob is Nepean Sea Road resident Shonan Kothari. And while she has the whole city talking about it, Kothari admits that getting the permission to pull it off, meant convincing cops about a lifelong dream and and the importance of random acts of expression.

"It started purely, as a whim," says Kothari, who is a Corporate Social Responsibility consultant for Skarma. "I always wanted to be a part of a flash mob. I had never heard of such a thing happening in India, so I figured that I would have to do it myself. It was simply about making people happy."

Little did she know that her whim would go viral on YouTube and make her an instant star. And yes, it made a lot of people happy. But Kothari had to work at it. Three weeks, 12 practise sessions and 325 participants later, Kothari is now friends with the policemen of the Railway Protection Force (RPF).

"My first point of contact was the cop at the station, who directed me to the main office. I had to get permissions from three departments -- the commercial wing, the RPF and the general manager," explains Kothari, who was asked to promise that the performance would not disrupt train services, inconvenience passengers and or be a security hazard.

"I made a presentation that was tweaked for each department and it was relatively easy from there on. They helped us play the music, we were given a slot when no trains were leaving and we even received a security cover," says Kothari.

Her plan kicked off with a single email about the flash mob, which she sent to 20 friends. Each of them was required to rope in 20 more people within two days. "I love dancing, but I'm not that talented. I wanted to have a free-spirited show that got everyone involved," she says. 

The mob would practise at the yoga room of Priyadarshini Park at Malabar Hill since Kothari was keen to keep the element of surprise. "I didn't post it on Facebook or tell the media about it," she says. Communication about the event happened via SMS. The youngest member of the 325-strong crowd was a four-year old while the oldest was 60 years.

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