For the third year in a row, ‘Kings of Gaana’, the inter-university dance competition hosted by King’s College London Tamil Society, ended the Tamil student calendar with glitz, glamour and plenty of gaana!
A raucous crowd, non-stop comedy from renowned comedians Kutti Hari and YouTube sensation Dayan Shan, and performances from a world renowned singer capped off a show packed with entertainment, as universities across Britain vied for the title.
A celebration of gaana, a style of music unique to the Tamil culture, the competition saw teams pay tribute to traditional folk dance while also adding their own modern Western twist. And for the second year in a row, it was Cambridge University who triumphantly walked away with the trophy, as they danced their way to success in front of a sold-out crowd in London last month.
See their winning performance below.
The competition was reinvigorated this year, with only two universities - Queen Mary and University College London - having competed in all of the previous renditions of the show. Queen Mary in particular posed a serious challenge for the title this year, renowned for their traditional embrace of the dance style.
University College London took inspiration from the multi-million dollar Kollywood industry, being praised for the creativity in their story with characters ranging from hoodlums to damsels in distress, capped off with your stereotypical macho police officer.
City university came back even stronger from last year’s performance, wowing the crowd with a gaana-take on popular movie “The Hangover”. One judge commented on how the dance “got better and better – that last bit was amazing, it just made me want to get up on stage!”
St George's came back from their one year hiatus away from the competition, masterfully telling the tale of Scottish independence ranging from the 18th century all the way to the recent referendum, expressed through a fantastic blend of gaana and hip-hop.
Imperial College London, home to one of the biggest and longest running Tamil societies within the UK, finally made their way into the Kings of Gaana scene, and put on a performance which is sure to get expectations running wild for next month’s annual 'Mega Maalai' show. A comedic take on your typical boy-crashes-wedding story, the combination of hilarity and upbeat dancing delighted the crowd throughout.
Two other universities, Warwick and Essex, also debuted and showed the judges why you can never know what to expect at this competition.
Opening the show, Warwick took us through the celebration of marriage, the heartbreak of an abusive marriage, and the jubilation of seeing love prevail through all, definitely setting the standard high for the other acts to follow.
Essex’s performance displayed old school gaana at its best, while also incorporating the traditional bharatanatyam art form into their act, perfecting all the many intricacies of the archaic dance form and integrating it seamlessly. For many in the crowd, they were seen as the underdog favourites of the day, with the judges even commenting how their act was “definitely one of the best today”.
However, yet again it was Cambridge who had the crowd and the judges on their feet, stealing the show and the prize of Kings of Gaana 2014, using Hollywood-cult classic superheroes to put on an incredible and unique performance.
Team member Shayan Ali, speaking on behalf of Team Cambridge, said their back-to-back successes felt "surreal".
“I don't know whether we have a secret recipe to win or not but what I do know is that all of us have put in our hearts and soul into preparing and performing this routine," said Sahyan. "On the stage there was a presence of a two way stream of us entertaining the crowd and their response charging our energy to take us to the next level."
Their winning performance had encapsulated the spirit gaana said Shayan. "That is what gaana is for us, making sure we as dancers give it our all and everyone has an amazing time."
"At the end that's what we were aiming for, to give justice to all the hours of practise the team has put in. Winning was an added bonus to what we had already achieved. Finally, if there is a secret, it's the countless hours of dedication, commitment and perseverance that our choreographers and performers have put into this, we are all an extremely tightly knit family now and hopefully next year we will be back, bigger and better!”
If all of these acts weren’t enough, Vijay TV Super Singer Pragathi Guruprasad also graced the stage at Logan Hall, mesmerizing the crowd with renditions of modern classics such as Vanakkam Chennai’s ‘Osaka Osaka’ and Mariyaan’s ‘Innum Konjam Neram’.
In what has quickly become the most anticipated event of the year on the British Tamil student calendar, 'Kings of Gaana' has grown year on year. With competition for next year set to be fierce, students across the country are in eager anticipation for another opportunity to dance their way to victory, in an event that can only get bigger and better.