‘Mandali’, a review – PAF 2013

A Visual Delight

Sameer Mishra’s name stands tall when one talks about PAFs here in insti. Sameer has been scriptwriter-director of PAFs such as ‘Golden Quadrilateral’ (2011), ‘Arthur Road’ (2009), both of which won by a mile. He was also involved with setting up the premise of the PAF ‘Prime Minister’ last season.
Sameer has been involved with The Viral Fever (TVF), an entertainment group which has brought hits such as ‘Gangs of Social Media’, and ‘Roadies: Sab Q-tiyapa Hai’.
As brilliantly as the review is written, InsIghT stresses that the opinions in this article are Sameer’s alone, and are in no way endorsed by the PAF Committee or InsIghT.

I bet the alumni who came to watch this PAF would have loved it. Because the way IIT security treats us is very similar to how the British East India Company used to treat the citizens of India 😛 Humaare insti mein aake humein hi aankh dikhaate hain. Seriously, the GSes must do something about it. Why is the alumni base supposed to give funds to IITB when they are not even allowed to enter their own campus at all points of time? Nothing as such happened to me yesterday, though. I’ve had some pretty bad experiences in the past, but yesterday was all great. I came on time and left on time 🙂 But again, I heavily digress. Lets now talk about the visual spectacle, the delightful part of the evening, “Mandali”, the PAF by hostels 5,9 and 12.

Some PAFs are awesome, some are good, some are bad and some don’t even leave any mark. This PAF was none of the above things. It was beautiful, refreshing and absolute eye-candy. Let’s talk about the productions first.


I have never seen a prod more beautiful, more authentic or more detailed than this one. The colors, the textures, the intricacies and the attention to detail was unparalleled to whatever I have ever witnessed in the past. They stole my heart from the very beginning with the color-morphing house. The concept was not exceptional but the way they presented it, the colors they chose and the intensity of light they used was so soothing to the eyes that I almost didn’t see what was happening in the scene (and thanks to the light dept, neither did anyone else 😛 but we’ll come to that later).

Then came the right quadrangle, the village house. It was very authentic, what with the expertly painted backdrop and the roof made of ‘hay’ giving it a realistic feel. I was already very impressed with their effort and was eager to see what they had done with the centrestage. I didn’t have to wait much, soon the curtains were drawn apart and what was behind it could be only explained as a precious piece of art. It was so amazingly beautiful that it prompted an instant applause from the crowd. The peacocks painted on the central backdrop were ravishing (I am running out of superlatives here) The color contrast of the central and the side backdrops were, well, well thought of.

Coming to the structures and other ‘techgiri’; The structures were big and stable too and those “mashaals” (couldn’t figure out a name for it. Nor could the prod team. All they were able to come up with was, ”Woh mashaal jaisi cheez jismein upar kapda laga tha aur neeche se pankha aur light maar rahe the? Uska naam nahi pata”. So let me stick to mashaal) those mashaals were brilliant, and gave a royal look to the court. The only let down of the whole prod was the left quadrangle, the British office, the walls of which reminded me of my final year PAF (‘Golden Quadrilateral’) in which even posh office walls looked like they were made of clay 😛 But overall, the prod team did an excellent job and almost pulled the PAF on their own 🙂

PROD rating: 9.75/10. 0.25 for the office prod but it will get rounded off to 10/10 🙂


It was not a script driven PAF, but was element driven. It wasn’t as if the script wasn’t good. It was good, but had many loose points. However, tough their intent was at the right place, they did not have much of a story to tell. They had enough potential in their characters to make almost all of them memorable, but they didn’t tap that fully. I am aware of what is going on at this facebook poll (click here to view) but frankly, I didn’t buy the final analogy. What they showed in the end about media would have been exactly analogous to the PAF script, if in the current age, all the media bodies were controlled by the government, which is not at all the case. Media bodies portray a certain event in a certain way just to get maximum TRPs and even if they are controlled by some force, there is not just one force controlling all of them. Different parties use different channels for their own propaganda, so a viewer gets to know about all the different point of views and makes his opinion according to what suits him best. So the analogy, although gave an instant high point to the PAF, wasn’t properly thought of. Infact they successfully did what they were blaming media for, deluding the viewer in to believing something which is not actually the truth 😛

What I liked about the script was the absence of “fatte”, the structure of the scenes, the flow of the whole story and the way they wrote some scenes in rhymes. In fact I liked it so much that I am going to write a few lines of my own.

तुमने दिखाया खेल जो , सौंदर्य कपट का मेल वो
हर्षित हुए सब देख कर , मोदित हुए उस लेख पर
बाकि के दल अब डर गए , तुम काम ऐसा कर गए
प्रतियोगित घनघोर है , देखें अब कितना ज़ोर है
फिलहाल बस ये शोर है , कि ‘मंडली’ चारों ओर है
कि ‘मंडली’ चारों ओर है

The direction team of this PAF did a decent job apart from a few blunder. The first blunder was that they had a direction team rather than a single person directing it and that showed pretty clearly by the way same actors performed in different scenes. Particularly, the initial Durgesh Dingh, who appeared to be an all together different person when he came back for the pre-climax scene. The other blunders included the screen placed at the centre of the quadrangle obstructing the view of the audience of the scene happening in background, the selection of the background music for most of the scenes which were overpowering the scenes themselves and the transitions of most of the scenes which were not smooth. Another direction flaw which annoyed me a lot was the post mujra-sequence, where the ‘mantri’ was playfully teasing the dancer at the time when an important discussion was going on between the king and other ‘mantris’. That sequence was there just to get some cheap laughs, which it was able to garner but in the process it divulged the attention from the main story, which a director must always avoid.

But the overall flow of the story maintained by the direction team was good enough. The scenes were almost never lengthy. The prod was used intelligently and certain scenes were handled with great maturity, like the last scene where ‘Shiva’ tells the truth about mandali to the villagers with a powerful monologue accompanied by a decent visual depiction of it. Another thing which I liked was their attempt to use ambiance sounds like the “wine pouring in to glass”, the “breaking of the bottle” etc. although it was not in sync with the action most of the times but I would still appreciate the attempt. So the direction was good at some points but overall I would say that there was huge scope for improvement.

Rating: Script: 8/10, Direction: 7.5/10


There was inconsistency in both these departments. Some of the voiceovers – acting pairs were very good, specially that of Shiva, played very well by Shikhar Paliwal and voice over given by Abhishek Yadav, aka Mr. Unmaad (The cultural fest of IIMB) 😛 , the king, played by Kunal Shelar (whom I discovered during GQ ) and voice over give by Apoorva Maheshwari, and finally the master/mandali-director voice over actor pair. But apart from these three pairs, most of the others were inconsistent or misfitting. For example, the acting of Lord William Kripashankar by Sargun Gulati was vibrant and energetic throughout the PAF but the voice over given by Ankit Yadav wasn’t a perfect match for him. The way Ankit delivers his dialogues sounds impressive only when it is accompanied by his eccentric and amazingly different body language, which creates magic onstage, but here it was not apt. Similarly the voice over of the British officer was not convincing enough. His accent was fine when he was speaking in Hindi but his British accent never sounded authentic. The voice over of the old man was very good at places but the person giving it got over excited and start over doing it, as soon as the audience started applauding his effort. The voice over of Saguna too was over energetic for the body language of the actor playing it. So overall, it was a decent performance by the acting-voice over team with few sparks of brilliance and few mediocre efforts.

Ratings: Acting – 8/10, Voice over – 8/10


This PAF had a very good band or call it an orchestra if you wish, but not a very good Music team. The reason I say this is because the songs made by this band were awesome and highly impressed me, but at the same time the background music of almost 70% of the scenes didn’t gel at all with the scenes. They were too overpowering and loud and were meant to impress and not to convey. It didn’t support the scenes as such but tried to grab attention towards itself. There is a difference between good Music and good Background music. The music pieces which they created were brilliant as individual tracks but they could hardly be called background music. I will try to explain with an example. Take the case of the music piece created/plagiarized by Pritam for barfi’s trailer. Here it is.

What a nice tune! Captures the whole feel of the film and the protagonist, but still, it was never ever used by the director in any of the scenes where two of the characters were conversing. That’s because it’s too overpowering and will divert the audience’s attention from the scene and the dialogues. Such was the case with the sequence of the PAF just before the titles and all the British-officer-scheming scenes. Also, why make two different pieces for the “Saguna preparing Shiva” scene and “British officer deciding the script of the next mandali with masterji”? It broke the whole flow of the sequence. I understand that the feel of both the scenes were different initially but eventually they merged, so they could have easily done away with something like this

Not exactly this piece, but the structure it follows.

Overall, all the songs composed by the music team were superb and the music pieces as such were well made and well executed. So if the judges didn’t read my review, the music of this PAF might as well win 😛

Ratings: Music – 10/10 for the OCs but 6/10 for the background scores. The total comes down to 8/10


The placement of the dance sequences were very apt (except the mujra which was not at all required). Though the dancers were not in perfect sync, all the sequences were very impactful. The Shiv Vandana in the beginning was awesomely executed and it was visually very appealing because of the fire and the LEDs in the natraj. The ‘neel’ choreo however was a bit lengthy and the dancers were totally out of sync, but it conveyed the message it was put there for, and took the story forward as well, that’s why I didn’t mind it at all. The mujra choreo, although very nicely done by Sumedh, I couldn’t understand its need. But it was far better than the “ladka naach” done by the first PAF 😛 The UV elements were also very intelligently used by the choreo team and the final choreo had the required impact. So overall I was very much impressed by the effort of the choreo team.

Ratings: Dance – 9/10


So what was the blunder-count this time, 30 or 40 ? I stopped at 15, but the lights team didn’t. There were many putches and the lights weren’t at all properly handled It used to light up exactly at the time of transitions and didn’t go off until the prod guys were off the performing area. The only impact which came due to lights was the end of the ‘neel’ choreo where the moon tuned blue. Apart from that it was a bad day for the lights team.

Costumes were again a part where this PAF impressed thoroughly. The costumes were good not only for the dram part but also for the dance sequences. It was very apparent that they really gave thought to the costumes and didn’t simply wear whatever was available at the moment. Thumbs up to the costume department.
Ratings: Lights – 6/10, Costumes -10/10


There was not much scope for videos in this PAF. The initial title-video was very basic and failed to impress, however the news footages and the facebook, youtube sharing and views part of the final video was very nice and added a lot to the overall impact of the PAF.

Overall, as I said earlier, it was an impactful PAF with many high points and a script good enough to hold the audience’s attention. The Prod of this PAF was almost invincible but that’s not the case with most of the other departments. The competition is still wide open but it will take an extraordinary PAF to beat this one. Will “Delhi Beats” be that PAF? Only time will tell.

OVERALL RATING for the PAF: 8.5/10