The Unsung Heroes

Posted: May 14, 2010 in About Me

The Pandavas and Krishna

Last December, our school had organized a grand-scale celebration (owing to its completion of thirty years as a fully functional school). They decided to organize a play on the Mahabharata (a Hindu epic, and an important part of Indian mythology. It’s REALLY long and complicated-even longer than Greek mythology). People from grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 were assigned roles as main characters. The rest of the school (from grades 4 to 12) were cast as dancers. Some girls were part of the Production Team (unofficially known as the Duty Girls).

In the entire hullabaloo over the play—fussing over the main characters, setting the dances—the river dance, the finale dance, the courtier dance, the Swayamvar dance, the jungle dance, the dance of death, the Chakravyuha dance, etcetera, we lay forgotten. I doubt the production team was even aware what our dance’s real name was. It was us, the Unsung Heroes, the Funeral (oops. Opening) Dancers. In the following stanzas, I will explain why we felt so.

It all started one August morning. Every girl who had “not been selected for anything in the play” was required to assemble in the second floor hall. We knew there wasn’t much in store for us, but little did we know the horror of what was awaiting us. After being kept waiting for about half an hour, we were told of our role in the play. It turned out that all the female rejects (who, they implied, were good at neither acting nor dancing) from the seventh to the tenth standard were all going to be dumped into something known as the Funeral Dance. Alas, the ignominy of that name! The teachers took pity on our plight and rechristened it as the Opening Dance, but the Funeral Dance name stuck on.

At first, there was resentment among some of the Funeral Dancers who weren’t included in the main cast, but were much more capable than the ones selected (I shall take no names). But understandably, everyone fell prey to extreme self-pity and resentment. Were we capable of only this? We wondered. Our days as the Funeral (oops. Opening) dancers were tedious and monotonous; as we ‘waited the livelong day with patient expectation to see the Main Characters strut across the halls of JML’ (those who have read Julius Caesar will understand the quotation). We took a little respite from our situation by giving in to complaints about the dance and making snide comments on some of the main characters (again, I shall take no names).

When we received our costumes, we wondered if the teachers were joking. It looked like someone had dyed the ends of Mother Teresa’s sari black and cut it up into a ghagra. And the fitting? Everyone’s costumes were several sizes too short. Our jewellery was made up of coloured cardboard pieces stapled to ribbon. Enough said. The makeup…well, everyone had pretty much the same fate where makeup was concerned. Though the makeup looked peculiar from up close, it looked good from the audience’s vantage point, I’ll grant them that. I supposed it enhanced our facial features.

Our dance itself was…well, not a dance. We just had to walk into different formations wielding big block diyas and wearing abysmally long ghagras (on which we ended up tripping over on the final day because we never had a dress rehearsal.). Everyone kept forgetting the dance (partly because they didn’t take practices as often as we needed, and partly because the two dance teachers kept modifying the steps, not realizing that the other had modified it on an earlier occasion). Various members of the audience complimented us later, telling us our dance was “beautiful”. Whether they said it as a joke or out of sympathy, I will never know.

That isn’t to say the dance teachers weren’t competent. Neither does it mean that the makeup team didn’t do their work properly. Nor does it mean that the people who made the costumes did a bad job. I don’t mean to demoralize anyone—everyone did a great job. It’s just that we, the Funeral (oops. Opening) Dancers comprised the lowest stratum of the Mahabharata society (aside from the duty girls. But at least they didn’t have to wear ridiculous costumes) and no one really spent much time on us. We were pretty much nonexistent to the rest of the school. Therefore we call ourselves the Unsung Heroes—we bore all this without complaint.

Aside from all this, I cannot deny we had a good time. We bonded over chips and gossip sessions. We began lifelong friendships. And most of all, we learnt what being humble meant. Many of us are very talented, professionally trained dancers/actors and it did us good to finally learn what being an extra feels like. I must commend the efforts of the teachers in charge of the Opening Dance, who worked hard to turn rags into riches (literally)! And lastly, I must commend the efforts of the school management and our Principal. Great efforts!

Therefore, I would like to conclude my (rather pessimistic) post by saying that though my experience was negative, it was not bad. It was good fun being one of the Unsung Heroes. I will never regret being an Opening (oops, Funeral) Dancer!

  1. Well,I’m finally commenting on your blog Nupur 😀
    Wow, something faced by so many kids our age,yet written so different and beautiful 😀
    Loved it!!!
    And how can you say this is a pessimistic post Nupur?C’mon,the last line itself proves that this is optimistic indeed 😀
    I’ve yet to read your other posts,but exams take their toll. Don’t worry, I’ll never ignore my new friends’ writings 😀
    Please do await my comments on the other posts 🙂
    Oh,and in case I haven’t mentioned,you rock as a writer 😀 😀
    Thanks for this opportunity 🙂
    BTW,you studied in JML eh?I studied(and am studying 11th and 12th) in Podar ISC 😀
    So,fellow Mumbaikar,write on,blog on 😀

  2. smartie94 says:

    I was very pissed at my school. I love dancing and acting and I really couldn’t appreciate what I got. Selfish of me, really. But thanks 🙂

    Haha, my exams start Saturday. They last a month. And I am procrastinating on WordPress. 😛
    Okay, sure.
    Thank you for reading it! 🙂

    Yeah, I did. I’m in the 11th, HSC right now.

  3. My exams are going on RIGHT NOW and I’m procrastinating on wordpress 😛 😛

    Well,if you love dancing and acting,who’s the school to stop you? 🙂

    SIES Eh?so,did you take science? 😀
    And no thanks needed,it was my pleasure 🙂

  4. Okay awesome 😀
    BTW,what’s the reason behind your blog’s name? 🙂

  5. smartie94 says:

    Well, I like M&Ms. 😀

  6. 😀
    Yup,M&Ms are awesome 🙂

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