The fest season of Delhi University swings by every year like clockwork, starting in the end of January and lasting till early April. Colleges host several competitions, headed by their respective cultural societies. Another feature we’ve recently come to heavily associate with fests of DU colleges are star-nights and star-appearances. Colleges have increasingly been getting top actors, singers and DJs to perform at their college fests and have been rewarded with increased footfall and many hassles to go along with it.
It’s not hard to realise that cultural fests are lately being reduced to just the star/performer nights taking centre-stage. Where the focus should actually be on promoting cultural activities, the students are being sold the commoditisation of their fests in a glittery, star-studded package that they won’t hesitate in accepting. Since the entire fest revolves around the stars, schedules often go in for a toss and events are disrupted and delayed to accommodate celebrity visits, to the obvious chagrin of the participants. It’s getting increasingly common to find no events scheduled for the entire day save for a few informal events and a big star-night at the end of it. The security hassles that accompany inviting a big star are another inconvenience in themselves.
While it’s definitely worthwhile to consider that star-nights allow students to witness celebrities and performers they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, it must also be recognised that the appearances are getting repetitive, with the Badlapur cast having visited numerous colleges in the span of two months during the last fest season and Mohit Chauhan, who performed in SRCC last month having performed in several colleges already. It’s an exercise of picking from the same overused pool of performers that is mostly static save for one or two new additions every year. It is also disturbing how colleges participate in the consumerist tactics used by celebrities who visit colleges solely to promote their films.
Performers’ nights in themselves aren’t a bad idea. We need to move on from them being a platform for already established performers who don’t need it in the first place. Performers’ nights can instead act as a stage for new and upcoming artists to perform, who will neither charge money enough to empty the union’s coffers nor have as many logistical nightmares associated with them. They will, infact, be more appreciative of the platform. The audience will also take back a broader knowledge of the indie-music scene and not just the din of the usual Bollywood tracks.
While definitely an unpopular opinion, it’s important to consider what we’re giving up when we reduce cultural fests to just status-symbol clashes over stars and not a place for culture and new talent to flourish.
Image Credits: Chirag Sharma for DU Beat