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An article reviewing PAFs cannot not start without stating the universal truth that ‘PAF God hota hai!’ Every PAF season, a few hundred people thinking along similar lines work their hearts out for months on end. Due to the fierce competition amongst the four teams this year, the judges were forced to announce two teams as joint winners.
A distinctly visible improvement this year was that of increased emphasis on video and trailer elements. As expected, there were some new special elements used this year, including but not limited to a perfect depiction of a starry night seen from a hill-top, the enactment of a gas leak incident from a chemical plant, devising a new language, and ending the PAF with a shadow dance as well-synchronized as an atomic clock.
Let us have a close look at all the PAF’s individually:
PAF I: Lohar (Overall 4th, 1st in Script) – Hostel 4, 5, 11, 13
Inspite of being the first PAF of the season, Lohar suffered a lower than expected turnout because of the India vs Bangladesh T20 WC match being held on the same night. The story revolved around a village ‘Loharganj’ wherein locals were misinformed about the good deeds done by their landlord until a media person disproved the notion by exposing the selfish personal motives. The makers ended up relating the story to General Elections 2014 in an abrupt and rather forceful manner.
In some cases, the energy of the actors failed to resonate with their brilliant voiceovers, more in the case of Arjun and slightly for Sadhu (performed by Abhishek Yadav and Ayush Gupta respectively). The script was well-written and flowed smoothly throughout the PAF except towards the end, while beautifully interweaving different settings through voice-overs in the transitional scenes. It has to be pointed out that the dance performances were misplaced, not well spread out, abstract and inconsistent with story, which would suggest that the direction and screenplay were weak. Elements that stood out were the ‘Jagraata’ track and Ranjan Raj’s (the guy who simplified Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle) acting and voiceover. A special mention must be made of the centre prod of the temple which was wonderfully done. The prod in general was quite detailed but lacked finishing. The team erred in forgetting to turn off the lights of the corridor which definitely had its negative effect on the overall impact of the PAF.
PAF II: Pehchaan (Overall 1st along with ‘Ekla Cholo Re’, 1st in Acting, Voice-Over, Music, Direction and Trailer) – Hostel 1, 6, 9, 10
Thanks to a brilliantly made trailer which incorporated multiple special effects, this PAF was able to garner a lot of pre-event hype. This team was one of the strongest contenders with each hostel specializing in different genres and coming together as one unit.
The story was based on a fictional city of Dinstones where three communities speaking three different languages were living in peace and harmony until a power crisis arose.
The center prod was extravagant with brilliantly done FA, to which sudden eruption of the audience in applause upon revelation of the center prod stands as evidence. Almost everyone from the audience declared it as the best they have ever seen in the history of PAFs. Even though the theme was predictable and cliched, the quality of the script and the symbolism in the storyline nullified this effect with smooth progression and fluid transitions. All the different parts of the PAF were well-coordinated and the determined efforts put on individual genres were visible. The bold step of choreographing most of the dance performances on original compositions ensured that this PAF would be an excellent contender for the top position. The dance performances were relevant and well choreographed, though one could say that they were too frequent and slightly repetitive. Music, in spite of starting off a bit low, matched the expectation levels in the second half. The vocals by Riju De probably made the difference to eventually securing the music trophy.
PAF III: Kolahal (Overall 3rd position, 1st in Productions) – Hostels 7, 8, 10A, 14, C Type Quarters
Kolahal, the third PAF of the season, chose to touch upon a sensitive topic – the ‘Bhopal gas tragedy’. It was set with the gas tragedy in the background and followed the protagonist, Aditya who was a senior safety manager. His inner conflict led to him taking drastic decisions which, in turn, had a huge effect on the world around him. While the plot was fact-based, the script was largely fictional.
The story (concept) was quite sensitive but the execution did not seem upto the mark. In particular, the script could have been much better specifically in terms of dialogue which seemed immature while pertaining to serious issues at times. The twists in the storyline were also not portrayed well enough. Acting was fairly well done and it must be noted that the lead actor’s performance was remarkable. Voice-overs, on the other hand, could have had a lot more impact if the tone and modulation had been worked upon well. Dance was noticeable with emphasis being laid on the content. Music was repetitive primarily due to the scenes being stretched longer than necessary which was a general issue with the whole show. Lights were well co-ordinated as well, but failed to create a larger impression. It must be said that the production was exceptionally well done as it could be seen that a lot of effort was put into it. However, the failure to not make use of it to the fullest potential rendered it somewhat invaluable to the theme. The news video that was played was very professionally made which was surprising since a lot of PAFs have failed to do that in the past.
In all, the PAF started off well but could not build upon it. It did look like a lot of effort was put in (especially in the production). However, the execution could have been much better.
PAF IV: Ekla Cholo Re (Overall 1st along with ‘Pehchaan’, 1st in Aesthetics, Dance, Lights and Costume) – Hostels – 2, 3, 12, 15C
Ekla Cholo Re [English translation – ‘Go alone (on your way)’] was the fourth and the final PAF for the season. The PAF received positive reviews from the viewers who found it to be a fitting end to a fine PAF season.
Ekla Cholo Re describes the story of Ghosh, the protagonist who is a disciple of S.N Bose and a staunch believer of his ideology. Bose was someone who believed in working for the greater good and did not seek recognition for his work. The story basically revolves around this ideology by describing certain incidents in the life of Mr. Ghosh, Vikram (his servant) etc.
The story was exceedingly good with the script being quite tightly knit together. However, the script could have been better in terms of dialogues and character development. There were subtleties with different parallels running simultaneously, which did set it apart from the rest. Acting again was good with voice-overs generally being in sync. However, no particular scene in this PAF could be called its “high point” and it lacked that factor which might have taken it to the next level. The lights for the setup did steal the show by creating an aesthetic ambience which was quite pivotal to the whole show. Music stuck to theme and hence its impact was evident in each scene. The same was with dance where the state of mind of the characters was conveyed brilliantly. The shadow dance clearly stood out and justly received a great deal of applause from the audience. Production again was quite central where the viewers got to see three levels of Prod for the first time. The FA wasn’t very extravagant but was once again central to the theme. The costumes were relevant to the scenario and a special mention must be given to the costumes used for dance which enhanced the beauty of the performance.
All in all it was a good PAF, although it could have ended with much greater impact. The story was dealt with sensitively which is usually an issue while taking up historical characters as subjects. Aesthetically, it was a very sound PAF and must be specially acknowledged for lights and costumes.