In a world of compartmentalized education, the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts takes pride in providing the students an opportunity to study courses from across the various conventional streams and mix and match academic disciplines to create the combination that suits them the most. SSLA gives student many lenses to view the world. It was then no surprise that their Annual Day Event happens to be slightly different from the others.
Popularly known as the SSLA Red Carpet Event, the event consisted of a range of programme, from a theatre performance on the ‘Idea of India’ to a slam poetry session, an Urdu play put up by the students of Urdu to a dance-drama by the students of the Uday Shankar Style of Creative Dance, along with the distribution of awards and other dance and musical performances. One of the highlights of the Annual Day was the ‘Last Lecture’ where one faculty member addresses the audience imagining it to be their last lecture. The concept of the last lecture was popularized by Prof. Randy Pausch’ book of the same name, wherein he literally delivers his last lecture to his students after finding out that he was fighting a losing battle with cancer. This year’s Last Lecture was delivered by Prof Gokul Narayan, Faculty of Law at SSLA.
The other highlights were the theatre performances “Idea of India” and “Tasher Desh”, put up by the students of the Understanding India and Uday Shankar Style of Creative Dance classes respectively. The idea of India conjures extreme emotions within the citizens of this nation. The Indian youth has many perspectives to choose from today but never has an opportunity of developing and creating their own understanding and perception. The images projected by media, the reality witnessed in and around our lives, the difficulties and issues that are a constant challenge, more often than not take away from a rational, unbiased and unprejudiced rhetoric of a country that is an enigma to most of the world in many ways. Be it democracy, diversity, poverty or the religion of cricket, ‘Indians and India’ is always a welcome subject matter. The undergraduate students of Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts took this herculean task of weaving their way around the maze that is India. They scripted and produced the play with guidance from Dr. Shweta Sinha Deshpande and Mr. Abhishek Thapar.
The Uday Shankar style dance was very apt considering the philosophy behind Liberal Arts. Legendary dancer Uday Shankar broke all the boundaries of the existing society and created a new genre in Indian Dance which did not exist before – the genre of Indian Creative Dance. It was Indian in spirit without being provincial in nature. The piece that was performed by the students and guided by Prof Sulakshana Sen, was Tagore’s Tasher Desh (The Kingdom of Cards). Inspired by Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland, and written in opera style, Tasher Desh is a satire, about an idealistic prince who convinces his friend, the son of a merchant, to explore the unknown with him. The story goes on to reveal how, inspired by the prince and his friend, these puppet citizens transform into thinking and reasoning individuals. They abandon the shackles of meaningless, unreasonable rules and start questioning the system. They ultimately become champions of free will and bring in a revolutionary change in their country. Tagore dedicated this work to the firebrand freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose. Tasher Desh was not only anti British Imperialism, and a call for freedom, but was also meant to inspire Indians to rise up in a mass movement against the British.
The annual day was designed to give the audience a glimpse of the range of activities students participate in, at SSLA. This four hour treat offered the audience an interesting platter of performances, representative of the creative and intellectual life at SSLA.