The Hindu Society’s annual show lacks laughs, despite the exhausting efforts. Good dancing though.
The night before the Rangeela show, Hadouken did a DJ set at Proud Camden. My friend attended, saying it ‘kind of made her want to die’. Parts of the Rangeela show gave me a similar feeling. To say the entire thing was terrible would be unfair, as there was a strict divide in quality: the drama was so bad it induced cringing, the rest was good. However, considering the running time, that made for an hour of atrocious sex gags, tiresome slapstick and mildly offensive stereotypes.
Before the spectacle began, I had thought perhaps this would be a good opportunity to learn something about a culture of which I had very little previous knowledge. Instead, the Hindu society’s tenth annual variety show taught me:
Rastafarians are funny
Long Asian names are funny
Rice is funny
Gay people are funny
Kidnapping is funny
Objectification of women is funny
Regional accents are funny
Asian accents are HILARIOUS
Domestic violence is funny
Falling over is funny
Jumping up is funny
Flatulence is funny
The story featured that iconic Hindu hero Sherlock Holmes attempting to save a spoilt rich girl while a white man pretended to be black at the side of the stage. There was an Asian man pretending to be a Jamaican man. There was a man dressed as a woman who broke into frequent hysterics at the thought of Holmes having gay sex with his sidekick Watson, who was a medical student rather than a doctor so us students in the audience would get it. You certainly couldn’t fault the Hindu society for their effort, with the whole play a positive onslaught of jokes. I didn’t laugh once.
The exhausting attempts at comedy were not even restricted to the play, with one musical piece interrupted halfway through by the keyboard player, who doubled as yet another stereotype in the drama, breaking into a silly melody. This was the tenth anniversary of UCL Rangeela and it genuinely seemed targeted at someone born on the day of the first show.
It’s a shame really, as the rest of the acts were actually impressive. The dancing was well choreographed, the fashion displays professional and the singing rousing. A personal favourite moment was the drop of Julio Bashmore’s authentic Hindu anthem ‘Au Seve’.
In seriousness, the best moments came when Rangeela was just showcasing how talented many members of the UCLU Hindu Society are. Saijal Reahal’s choreography of one of the dance performances was remarkably well done, as indeed were many of the other dance acts. The aforementioned keyboard player, when not failing to make us laugh at every turn, was clearly skilled and his performance with Holly Turton was a welcome sombre moment.
Also, for all my reservations about the comedy on show, the rest of the audience seemed to be having a whale of a time. The laughter was uproarious throughout and there was a substantial applause at the finale. By the end it was pretty late, but the president still had time to thank God for giving him the strength to come up with a show featuring a tonne of sex jokes and plenty of blasphemy.
Next year, Rangeela would benefit from the Hindu society concentrating on what it does best, namely dancing and visual spectacle rather than weak comedy. This way, they could reduce the somewhat demanding running time and eliminate the embarassingly poor parts of a show with some very promising elements.