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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mahautsav 2009

More than two decades ago, Vir Sanghvi had recognised the power of Hindi cinema’s reach across the globe. He had said that India should devise means to use this reach to develop into a soft power.

The Indian state didn’t take cognisance of this advice. The Indian Diaspora across the globe apparently did. India's soft power is widespread and palpable today.

It was on grand display at Toronto’s Roger Centre October 9 and 10 when a group of enterprising Indo-Canadians celebrated Diwali in a style.

The Mahautsav 2009 was a 30-hour non-stop indoor concert that had all the ingredients of a masala movie.

Song and dance, remixes, devotional songs, rendition of the epic Ramayan, popular television stars from India, Punjabi rockers from the UK, multitude of local Indo-Canadian talent.

Performers included Anurdha Paudwal and her daughter, Mahalaxmi Iyer, Stereo Nation, A-Slam, popular Indian television stars. The star that had the top billing – Sunidhi Chauhan – didn’t show up.

Toronto didn’t miss her. She missed the fun.

The best entertainer at the show was undoubtedly, the Punjabi rocker Stereo Nation. It was a high decibel, energetic and highly individualistic performance. The audience was spellbound. Hip-hop artists A-Slam from Vancouver despite just one act was brilliant.

In my view, the show was a brilliant manifestation of Punjabi Power in Canada.

Popular Indian culture is a derivative of the Hindi cinema (even after accounting for the difference in languages in the south).

Thanks to the persistence of Yash Chopra over the last four decades, Hindi cinema is nothing but a portrayal of a particular kind of Punjabi culture.

Across the globe, when the Indian Diaspora meet and celebrate festivals, it’s this particular type of popular Hindi cinema culture (which huge overtones of Punjabi) that is on display.

In the developed world – especially in Britain and Canada – Punjabi Power has acquired global dimensions. In Canada, Punjabi is the fourth largest spoken language.

It’s robust, dominating and feel-good. There can’t be a better way to have a good time.

Incidentally, the organiser – Harpreet Sethi’s Grand Victorian Convention Centre and the Radisson Plaza Mississauga, Toronto Airport and Roger Nair Productions -claim the Mahautsav is a world record for the longest non-stop indoor concert.

I'm happy to be a part of such a show. Thank you Asha Luthra.

It's time Yash Chopra gets the Bharat Ratna. I'm serious.

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