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Performing Arts Festival

by Vaibhav Sambre
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I was just a normal guy.


I did not write poems/articles/stories back then. In the interest of my wing and the general public at large, I opted not to sing, dance or do dramatics very early in my first year.

Well then, why am I writing this article about PAF?

It all started in my first year when I voluntarily joined in to cut bamboos for seemingly no purpose at all. This seemingly pointless work was made enjoyable by the sheer enthusiasm of the freshies and seniors working with us. Every night there used to be a music system which played popular songs and people used to gather in the H3 footer field. The amount of bakar generated during those days used to be so damn much! Once in a while, the Hostel GSec used to pop up and we used to take up the monumental task of splitting a bamboo vertically into equal parts using basic gardening tools. The late night supplies of free nimbu paani from the canteen used to complete the scene.

Well, I can go on and on, but I would want all you freshies to get on ground and give it a try. Trust me “Prod” is one of the most enjoyable and satisfactory parts of PAF. Had I not worked on them back then, my IIT journey would not have been that memorable.

Back to the scene, we virtually recreated a lively airport scene with a working escalator and conveyor belts. We also had a two-tier set

In my third year, we were paired with H10. I have never seen so many people come to work for PAF!

up for the same. If I remember correctly, I was supposed to pull the rope so that escalator lifted the man standing on it. One senior came and said “Baith jaa, tera pehla PAF hai, dekh and enjoy kar”.

In another interesting anecdote, when there was no spotlight on the senior tier of our airport, it so happened that a freshie was caught there with two sophies. So till the time the focus returned on the second tier, the sophies “interacted” with the freshie. The guy just gave an intro in front of 2000 people. Gosh he must have been proud.

Our PAF “If Tomorrow Comes” came second. Archrivals H4 came first with “Arthur Road” which, I must say, is one of the best PAFs I have seen to date.

In my second year, I was the Prod and HR in-charge (yeah, we had an “HR” in-charge). So apart from doing all the prod stuff, I also had to guide all the freshies and create “enthu” among them. I couldn’t have been prouder.

We created a 20 feet tall revolving statue with Goddess Durga on one side and a Banyan tree on the other. A herculean effort was required to shift the statue from H3 to the OAT, with 27 people lifting the statue from H3 to SAC and twisting and tilting it until it finally went through the SAC gate. It was very heavy and back then we did not have tempos to transport the props. I cannot forget this scene ever.paf1

Thanks to awesome direction, script and acting, our PAF “Panchhi Re” won the first position. However “Antaragini” stole the prod trophy by creating a working train on which they also had a choreographed dance. Respect to Hostel 8 for making such a thing possible.

In my third year, we were paired with H10. I have never seen so many people come to work for PAF!

I was the Prod in-charge again. Getting people to work was never a problem and even many of my batch mates came to work voluntarily (thank you, H10).

I have a lot of fond memories of this PAF, because this was the first time I was handling big things as our seniors refused to work because of some disputes. Due to my prod experience, I was made the Insti Bamboo in-charge and went with representatives of all the PAF teams to get bamboos from Mahim. The ride from Mahim to Powai sitting on bamboos loaded on a truck is something that I will never forget.

One fine night in the OAT, three of us Prod in-charges got pricked in the feet by nails. We got tetanus injections from IITB Hospi at 12:30am. Priceless it was.

If you guys have seen the OAT stairs, you can understand our plight. We had built a semicircular boathouse there and the boathouse was projecting out of the OAT Stage with no support from the bottom. We thought it was just ornamental, but it was during the PAF that we realised that Mister Badri had a 20 min scene on the structure with jumping sequences. Such was the impact of jumps that even Niyati standing beside him jumped because of the vibrating structure. IIT Bombay Civil Engg had indeed taught my co-in-charge a few things. The structure did not break.

Our PAF “Zoon – The last ray of hope” came second. “The Golden Quadrilateral” featured a working elevator and came first. We won costumes and prod. Job well done!

My fourth year was the best PAF ever.

When we got a team of 1,3,11 and 13, we hardly knew we would create history in “Antbahar – the last drop of Spring”. Adding to that the entire PAF was in vernacular. But what we did was phenomenal. Just a glimpse:


  • We had sand art at the start. We had a puppet show, rope walking, men breathing fire…
  • We had a working Ferris wheel built entirely by H3. We built it in parts and assembled it at the OAT. Mechanical Engineering at real work.
  • We covered the entire OAT floor with sand to give a feel of the desert.
  • We had an invisible border hidden in the stand which would pop up after a dance.
  • We had awesome voiceovers, dance, music, drama sequences. I had never seen such dance forms and voiceovers for two actors in the same scene.

We won all 9 trophies.

Among things, building the Ferris wheel was a huge task. We had to make sure that it rotated and also was able to bear the weight of people. In the end we also lit it up with LEDs. Special thanks to H5 who allowed the structure to rest in the OAT even two days after our PAF was over. We were so tired that we couldn’t carry it back.

While filling the OAT with sand, we realised that the sand was black. It was thirty minutes until the start of our PAF and the sand was black. We brought around 50kgs of yellow gulaal and played holi. Festivals are good.

People were trained, in front of my eyes, to rope walk and they pulled it off successfully. IITians can do everything, can’t they?

On a personal level, I missed out on prod due to my back surgery, but I did PFA, costumes and materials. Perhaps my most intriguing memory of this PAF will be when I carried the entire 60 kg bags of costumes from Virar to Andheri singlehanded. And yes, I danced a lot after we won.

En route to the PAF season, we were on a cornerstone at the Institute level and many meetings were held to discuss stuff, like bringing in labourers from outside for prod. The idea was revolting and fortunately was not implemented. A fantastic PAF season with “Maun, Prime Minster”, “Antbahar” and “Awahan” rested all the doubts about the future of PAFs.

My fifth year was the senti PAF.


It was my last PAF – the culmination of all my experiences. Sadly for me, it did not go well. We came last in all the fields.

Among many things, I finally put the knowledge of chemistry to test as we planned to end our PAF “Satrangi” with seven different colour flames. I brought in all the chemicals but failed miserably to create the magic. A different sequence with seven different coloured cloths was planned hence, but was never executed.

I also had a trip to the police station during our stay at the OAT. Apparently the noise from the rehearsals was too loud. Fortunately I was let off.

Perhaps the funniest thing which I can recollect is the scene in which the actor was supposed to be hanged. Well, we had a hanging mechanism ready, but it broke during the scene. Our cool dude actor simply put himself in the hanging rope and hanged himself. Perhaps that was the thing even I would do out of embarrassment.

Nevertheless, the effort put in pulling this PAF was no way less than for the rest, and I am sure Team H3 will bounce back with its full vigour the next time.

I am presently writing this while sitting in my office cabin. All the memories are so fresh, raw and bouncing before my eyes. Perhaps PAF defined the way I was known during my five years and gave me memories and friends for the lifetime.

To all – PAF is something which you will never be able to do once you are out of IITB, and remember that this is the thing which only IITB does among all the IITs. Don’t miss this opportunity. Experience PAF in whichever way you can, and trust me – you will not regret it.

Vaibhav Sambre
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