Rhythm India Leaves Audience Mesmerized @ Bollywood Blast 2017

Photos: Navin Mediwala & Murali Santhana

Photos: Navin Mediwala & Murali Santhana

Click here for Photo Collage

By Vanshika Vipin Varma

HOUSTON: The turbo-charged spectacular Bollywood Blast 2017, enthralled audiences last Sunday, October 29, at the Miller Outdoor Theatre after being rescheduled from its regular Labor Day weekend, due to Hurricane Harvey. Each year, Samskriti organizes the much-anticipated Bollywood Blast, which is a delightful and captivating homage to Bollywood, with unique themes presented by different dance schools. And this year, one of the most adored and cheered dance schools of Houston, Rhythm India was up on stage beguiling audiences with their spectacular performance.

Arzan Gonda (left), Artistic Director & Founder of Rhythm India Dance Company and Rathna Kumar, Artistic Director of Samskriti.

Arzan Gonda (left), Artistic Director & Founder of Rhythm India Dance Company and Rathna Kumar, Artistic Director of Samskriti.

Arzan Gonda, the Artistic Director & Founder of Rhythm India Dance Company, directed the show. Rhythm India’s performance at Bollywood Blast was last seen in the year 2014. Arzan founded Rhythm India in 2005, with a group of 8 children, over a period of time, Arzan’s passion and love for dance grew into a business and today Rhythm India has close to 400 students, with exceptionally talented instructors on board. Rhythm India has successfully conducted a workshop with the legendary Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan and many other choreographers like Shakti Mohan, Swarali Karulkar, and Shampa Gopikrishna. Arzan takes pride in making her dance classes fun, accessible and challenging. What really sets Rhythm India apart is the fact that they hold their dancers and performances to a high standard of technique and energy. In spite of them performing year round at various festivals and concerts, the passion and zeal and enthusiasm is the same in all their shows. They like to take the audience on a journey and to be able to feel their passion, emotion and intention. And the journey last Sunday at the Miller Outdoor Theatre was truly an enriching one.


Rathna Kumar, Artistic Director of Samskriti, inaugurated the show. The vision of Samskriti is to unite cultural traditions between the East and the West. It is the leading organization that has enriched the Houston arts scene by bringing world-class artists and scholars and has enlightened and educated audiences about the rich and ancient art forms of India. This is the 15th year of their success story with Bollywood Blast, which started way back in 2002. Samskriti has brought in tremendous diversity by allowing different choreographers to present their talent.


The sole objective of this year’s show was to showcase the influence of the various Indian regional dance styles, that included the North, South, East and West of India, and the impact those unique styles have had on the evolution of Bollywood Dance through the years. The thrilling and fast-paced show was divided in two integral parts, the live dance performance and a short film “Bollywood Bachelor”, and both of these parts were so seamlessly connected that it took the audiences on a hilarious roller coaster.  The short film was conceptualized by Rhythm India, and written & directed by the talented Yaksha Bhatt. Yunuen Perez Verti flew in from Vancouver to shoot and edit this film that casted Aurko Dutta, Prateek Karkal, Meha Gargi, Sujata Sachdeva, Jesal Kapasi, Manik Joshi, Harpreet Chawla, Arif Memon, Uma Nagarsheth, Aarav Dutta, Preity Bhagia, Dilshad Patel and Rishi Goswami. It is rare to see a coherent intermingling of a live dance performance and a short film, and the skillfully gifted Arzan and her energetic team gave their heart-felt performances to live up to the expectations of the much anticipating crowd. Some portions of the mesmerizing two-hour journey was screamingly funny, filled with barrels of laughter and having the audiences in splits. Such a captivating show it was that the audiences were seen deeply absorbed, not wanting to lose any content even for the split of a second.


The breath taking and highly energetic opening act was performed to the song Sadda Dil Vi Tu from the movie ABCD, and had dancers constantly swaying away with different props and masks. This power-packed performance was a graceful and intense offering to Lord Ganesha, complimented with a massive projection of the Lord on screen, and a live one dancing away to glory on stage. There were several activities that stole the show that evening and one of them was the Arzan Gonda starrer Bharatnatyam and Kathak Jugalbandi performed on the popular song Mere Dholna. It was really inspiring to watch one of the non-Indian Bharatnatyam dancers whose expressions and sways were just spot- on. The perfect blend of music, choreography, props, costumes, and lighting created an enchanting and dazzling magic. One such popular highlight of the evening was the performance to Mast Magan, in which the glittering costumes were so well complimented with the dry ice and the lighting effects on stage. The spectacle then transitioned from this beaming new-age performance into the Mughal legacy with a popular chartbuster from Deewani Mastani. A scintillating performance powered with loads of back-flips was seen in the South India medley Malhari and Top Lessi Podi remix. While Dholna and O re kaanchi represented their respective regional flavors with dandiya raas and bamboo dance of East India, the drool-worthy High Heels and Kala Chashma got the audiences foot-tapping and grooving on their seats. They almost hit the ‘dance floor’ thanks to the exhilarating and peppy Girls like to swing, fused brilliantly with Broadway and Charleston vintage aesthetics. The finale on Tamma Tamma Again, had all the 130 plus dancers and cast members take their final bows, leaving audiences craving for more.


The superlative performances of Rhythm India team formed a priceless magnetic connection with the audiences. Some of the incredible performers brimming with energy were as young as six years old. The very talented Arif Memon executed the lighting design for the show, while Navin Mediwala and Murali Santhana were the official photographers, and videography was by Murali Santhana’s MS Filmz. After the show Arzan Gonda thanked everyone. She mentioned, “This show has been a labor of love. I am extremely grateful to the wonderful team of dedicated dancers, filmmakers, our film director, actors, back stage managers, technicians and volunteers who have all gone above and beyond of what was expected of them. With over a 130 plus performers and over 1000 costumes straight from India, the coordination and team work has been crucial in making this production come to life. Our back stage manager and backbone of the production was Rashna Oak who made sure everything ran like clock work and smoothly backstage. Special thanks to my Guruji Smt. Chhaya Khanvate and my family”.

Houston loves watching shows that sweep them off their feet, and the next Rhythm India performance will be for the Half – Time show on the March 30 2018, as the Rockets take on the Phoenix Suns. Rhythm India offers classes in Stafford, Katy, Sugar Land & Bellaire.

For further information on Rhythm India visit www.rhythm-india.com or call 281 968 9479.