In Mumbais Vakola,this under construction building wears a desolate look from a distance. The elevators dont work and the smell of fresh paint fills the air. Yet,the sounds of chatter,music and shuffling of feet are unmistakable,once one steps into it. A trek up to the third floor reveals a room filled to capacity with around 50 people standing in rows and dancing in unison. This is our last choreographed session before Tuesday so pay close attention, shouts choreographer Dev Kakkad,a thin 21-year-old in his baritone. His orders are followed immediately and the practice session for Indias first queer-themed flashmob continues.
Put together by Queer Azadi Mumbai (QAM),a collective of LGBT individuals and organisations,the flashmob will be held on January 24 in the run-up to the annual queer march. The march is scheduled to be flagged off at August Kranti Maidan on January 28. With a week of activities planned,Queer Azadi 2012 will see events such as a rock concert featuring LGBT performers at Bandra Ampitheatre and a photography exhibition at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
Come Tuesday,a popular location in South Mumbai will be thronged by a group of 100 people joining in for a choreographed sequence of three Bollywood songs. The performance,which will last for a total of five minutes,will culminate with the raising of a banner giving the details of the Queer Azadi March and seeking support. A flashmob is an interesting way to get peoples attention, says Sonal Giani,who works with the Humsafar Trust and is closely associated with the QAM activities. The mob is aimed at garnering awareness for our cause as well as drawing straight people who want to come forward and show their support at the march. says Giani.
The group,which has been practising for over two weeks,is expecting a turnout of 100 people on January 24. Whats interesting is that while the majority of participants are part of the LGBT community,there are also a handful,who wish to lend their support. For 21-year-old Shruti Menon and her friends,its also an opportunity to have fun. Our friends are part of the community. That apart,weve already bonded with so many people, says the Mass Communications student from Xavier Institute of Communications. Her friend Marina Poulose too,is quite pleased to be part of the flashmob. Ive already told my parents. They didnt react to it,but they havent disapproved either, says the Malad resident.
Kakkad,who had also choreographed the last flashmob at Mumbai CST,too has a lot of LGBT friends and has been involved with their activities for some years. My sexuality is often questioned by people but I dont care. These are my friends and I will support them.
Abha Talesara,a business developer with Queer Ink,publishers and distributors of queer literature,believes that getting youth support is whats bringing a wave of change in the way the community is perceived. We have been working very hard to sensitise people about the queer community and its showing in the support weve been getting, says the 25-year-old.