Sunday, July 4, 2010

On LA Fest 2010


1. If you are not from Loyola School, Trivandrum or any part of Trivandrum chances are that this would not make sense to you.

2. This is just a personal opinion.

Every school kid or has-been in Trivandrum knows that LA Fest is the premier inter-school event in the city calender. Even if you are not a Loyolite you would recognise the quality that sets apart LA Fest from the rest. LA Fest had stood the test of time, for 14 years, as it enthralled the up and coming teenage population of the capital city of Kerala. Its success has spawned a number of similar events across the city in various schools. But LA Fest is the big daddy of them all. Ask Federer whether he would rather win the Wimbledon or the Vanautu Open. For an answer in a similar vein you could ask any school in Trivandrum whether they would rather win LA Fest or some hooky assed fest else where.

On July 3rd, the city watched with eyes wide open whether the 15th LA Fest would be a worthy successor to its illustrious predecessors.

LA Fest 2010 was the second LA Fest to be held in the huge indoor stadium of Loyola School. Since last year, the venue had been moved from the inimitable Sutter Hall to this colossus of a venue. Sporting a new onstage event and a couple of events off stage, LA Fest 2010 had an air of something new and fresh around it. An increase in student intake meant that there was a sea of dudes in a rather neat LA Fest t-shirt but it certainly made life difficult for anyone trying to find out who was in chage of what.

To be frank, LA Fest 2010 was not all that great. May be it was due to the lack of quality of the participants, may be it was some pretentious hosting or may be it was some pure bad luck, but the batch of '11 failed to pull of an event that could hold its head high among the other successful ones of the past fourteen years.

LA Fest kicked off, without much dilly-dallying and shilly-shallying, at eight o'clock. For once the opening cermony started off at pretty much the same time it was supposed to. Since I did not watch the events that unfolded in the auditorium until the lunch break, I shall not comment on that.

The lunch break gave way to Encuesta 2010, the quiz event of LA Fest. Being a former host of the LA Fest quiz, I know that the quiz slot is where the audience generally slips in to the afternoon nap or a stroll in the lush campus of Loyola. Contrary to expectations, the quiz got of to a good start and the crowd actually semmed quite enthused by the thrills the show offered. But it all went downhill from there.

The initial hosts let the tempo slide a bit and a few bloopers later the event was back in familiar territory. The first pair of hosts gave way to another as the crowd raised their drowsy heads slightly to take a peek at the new offering.

They were left wishing they had not. The new hosts made just one mistake. They forgot that the performers of LA Fest are the competitors onstage rather than the hosts themselves. Ideally, a host facilitates opportunities for the participants to shine and capture the hearts of the crowd. Somehow, the boys got their priorities mixed up.

I gave Block N Tangles the miss as I had to go out to get something done, but the reviews from the crowd was not that great either. Block N Tangles is often the biggest let down of LA Fest. It is often touted as the most entertaining and intellectually stimulating event of LA Fest but almost every year it comes up short. The participants often fail to rise to the exalted standards that would amaze and thrill the audience and thus there is often too much onus on the hosts to liven up the affair. So, if the hosts are not up to scratch, you have yet another show in tatters.

La Persona, the most awaited event of LA Fest, turned out to be the biggest shock of the week for me. Reason: It turned out to be a damp squib. The hosts came on stage in the garb of the quintessential 'Vijayan' and 'Dasan' of the Mallu movie industry and made a meal of it. They failed to pull off the act succesfully, getting caught between the usual high-brow, sophisticated nature of La Persona and the down to earth, slapstick style of the movie characters. Their attempts to get the best of both worlds was brutally turned on its head by their own ineptitude. Suffice to say they got it all wrong from the start, right from the theme.

Two hot chicks and four others made up the contestant list and they looked set to set the stage on fire, with some imporessive ramp walking. Alas, it was not to be. Talk about flattering to decieve. I should have known when one guy started off by rendering a speech from Old Bill's Shakespeare. It was insult to injury when he walked away with the title of Mr. La Persona. One hot chick almost undid the visual effect she had on the crowd by rendering Eminem's 'When I am gone'. The performance would have made Eminem commit suicide and then turn in his grave. She won the title.

The contestants where nowhere near the levels set by dudes and dudettes of previous years, as they stumbled and stuttered through the rounds, making the whole thing a drab affair.

Dance O Mania is usually an event which sets the stage on fire and has the crowd on its feet, singing and dancing as one man. Not to be. This was the fourth LA Fest I happened to be at, and never have I seen such an inane display of dance from Trivandrum. It was the age old steps, with little or no verve, no mood to innovate, no dare devilry, just a ritual of going through the motions. It was intensely disappointing that LA Fest ended with such a show that was starkly in contrast with the spirit of LA Fest.

The closing ceremony, supposed to be at 7:30 was pushed forward to 7, which meant that the ceremony was done for the most part sans the chief guest. Nina Prasad, a noted dancer, made her appearence as the chief guest at an opportune moment, just in time to give away the trophies for over all champions.

The night did not end there.

Understandably disappointed at their failure to grab one of the top spots, a school alleged discrepancies in judging and heated arguments ensued. Senior Loyolites had to intervene to atleast partially gruntle a hugely disgruntled lot of students. Not that I blame them. Though it is easy to pass off cliches like 'graceful in defeat' I have amply demonstrated to Trivadnrum that, when faced with failure, my approach to matters is only slightly better than those of Jack the Ripper and Attila the Hun.

On the whole, LA Fest 2010 left me with a bad taste in the mouth. A collection of events of a rather banal nature did not have too many people savouring the delight of LA Fest. The usual rumours of this being the final LA Fest did the rounds, but the current talk seemed to have an added ring of truth to it. May be, fifteen is a good number to end it all. On second thoughts, I hope they don't. May be it is time the school channelled some of that energy and enthusiasm in to rejuvenating the banal arse-wipe called the Loyola Basketball team.


  1. NIce review Basil... To be very frank.. even i was quite shocked to see the proceedings unravel on stage.. its cos of a combination of factors... mainly the falling standard of participation and the hosts... it has been in a decline since 2007 i feel... let's hope that thinks will change for better next year.. and i wud pity the '11 batch students.. they worked very hard but success eluded them..

  2. ahoy..sum1 was in charg of the quiz rite???:P
    dnt tell me u dint listen to those guys was more lik a futbal the ball(balls)

  3. basi, abhishek here. i know its a late reaction. got to read this only now. just want to say that u're absolutely spot on! and like arun said, lets hope for a better one next year!

  4. Sad state of affairs indeed, but nothing quite unexpected. I'm sure you'll agree.

  5. Quite sad indeed. Though there would have been slips on the hosts' part, I would not blame them alone. It's probably their first time hosting something this big. I'm sure LA Fest now is much much bigger than the LA Fests Guru, Basil, Arun or I have organized. I'm sure there was no shortage of senior Loyolites "helping" around. Maybe this time, the seniors were flawed in their judgment? If so, wasn't it their fault too? If the seniors had seen anything below the usual standard, they should have actively tried to make changes. I'm sure the Dasan-Vijayan thing had been discussed way before the final rehearsals.

  6. @nikhil- there was no dearth of seniors helping out, myself included. I'm not sure of how much use i was there :D. But at the end of the day, it is their show and not of those who have passed out. And about the Dasan-Vijayan thing. It probably was a good idea. But the proof of the liquor is in the drinking. All I am saying is that the hosts could not pull it off successfully.