India Night 2009 brings “Slumdog” to campus

By Emily Herbick

Dancing, singing, drama and comedy will grace the stage at Foellinger Auditorium Saturday as the Indian Student Association hosts one of the longest-standing cultural shows on campus.

India Night happens each year to “show different cultural aspects of India” and to “spread diversity and cultural awareness,” said Miral Patel, cultural chair of the Indian Student Association and senior in LAS.

The theme of this year’s show is “Jai Ho!,” named after a song featured in the Oscar award-winning film, “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Though this phrase has many meanings, but can be interpreted as meaning “hooray” or “may you win” in English, Patel said.

“It displays salvation culture through a different perspective that hasn’t been seen before,” said Neal Dodia, president of the Indian Student Association and senior in LAS. “Obviously we don’t have nearly the same kind of problems that “Slumdog” portrays, but “Slumdog” was able to display that culture, and so we’re trying to display our sense of Indian culture.”

Patel said the masters of ceremonies are incorporating the theme into their skits. She said they want to add humor to the serious theme of the film by showing the different stereotypes about India.

There will also be an introduction video and a Bollywood dance at the end based on the film, Dodia said.

Patel said a lot of people have seen the movie, not just south Asian people. She hopes this will help more people feel welcome to attend the show.

“I think we will get a lot more (people) because of the popularity of the movie,” she said.

Many family members, University students and friends from University of Illinois at Chicago, Loyola University and DePaul University attend the annual show, said Vaish Shastry, internal vice-president of the Indian Student Association and junior in Business.

Dodia said he hopes the show will not only entertain, but also educate the audience about slum life in India.

At the beginning of the show, a student will speak about the slums in India, and people will collect donations throughout the event. The proceeds will go to a philanthropic organization based out of the same area depicted in “Slumgdog Millionaire.” The organization provides funds for children in slums to receive an education, he said.

“We’re hoping to attract an audience for dancing and culture and that’s all fine and great, but we also want to try to educate our audience a little bit about the poverty that has stricken these kids and also do something good,” Dodia said.

He said the show is a forum to display passion for the Indian culture.

“The show is important because it highlights Indian culture,” Shastry said. “It’s a sense of community and pride.”

Tickets cost $12 in advance and can be purchased at Ticket Central located at the north end of the Illini Union, according to the Indian Student Association Web site.