Bringing a Bit of Bollywood to Babson

four dancers strike a pose on stage

At 7 p.m. on a Wednesday, a group of friends stands in the lobby of the Sorenson Center for the Arts, holding on to scripts and waiting to take the stage. 

Tonight is the final rehearsal for AMAN’s fall show. The friends are performing in a skit they have written, and this being the last chance to tweak and perfect it, they’re feeling varying degrees of confidence. 

Talin Badhwar ’27 enjoys making people laugh and has always wanted to perform in front of an audience. This will be his first time doing so. “I’m feeling good,” he says, “but I don’t want to be overconfident.” 

Neeraj Adnani ’26, the skit’s director, isn’t feeling so cautious. Sure, the script was overhauled a mere three days ago, but that’s no matter. “The entire script was changed,” he says, “That is not an obstacle for us. We are solidly ready for tomorrow.”  

The student group AMAN celebrates the cultures of South Asia, and with some 200 members, it is one of the largest student organizations at Babson College. Every semester, it puts on a show filled with skits, dances, and fashion. “It’s like a depiction of a Bollywood movie,” says Sonia Khamitkar ’24, AMAN’s president. 

Putting on that show requires a lot of work, however, and tonight’s rehearsal promises to be a long one. 

A Sense of Home  

In the lobby of Sorenson, across from the group of friends putting on the skit, sit two dancers eating their dinner: Rewa Purohit ’27 and Anya Sawansukha ’27. They choreographed one dance in the show and are performing in another. 

With some 200 members, AMAN is one of the largest student organizations at Babson College. (Photo: Nicolaus Czarnecki)

The run-through of the show was supposed to start at 7, but technical difficulties have pushed the start back to 8. “They said they might keep us here for a while,” Purohit says. “We are not sure when we’re going on stage.” Not that the delay is a surprise. “When you start practicing, things get chaotic,” Purohit says.  

For now, the dancers are content to wait. The show is tomorrow, so time is short. They, and the 100 or so other members of AMAN performing in the show, are focused on getting things right. “We are all coming together as AMAN for the show,” Sawansukha says. “Everyone is working together to get it done.” 

Students in AMAN represent the cultures of five South Asian countries: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Besides its shows, the organization also holds holiday celebrations and career events. “I wanted to join something that represents my culture,” says Badhwar, who is from New Delhi. “It gives me a sense of home.” 

That sense of home was something that Yashvardhan Rathi ’27 was seeking as well. He also hails from New Delhi. “This is the first time I’ve been so far from my family,” says Rathi, another from the group of friends putting on a skit, which is inspired by “Bigg Boss,” a popular Indian reality show. Their version is called “Babson Boss.” 

Rathi is feeling ready for the performance. Then again, his role isn’t pivotal. “I am more of a supporting actor here,” he says. “I have just four lines.” 

Stage Lights Come Up 

The ranks of AMAN’s membership include graduates and undergraduates, as well as international and domestic students. Khamitkar, AMAN’s president, is of Indian descent and grew up 40 minutes from Babson’s campus. “I wanted to meet people of my culture,” she says. “I wanted to create events that create a sense of home, a sense of community.” 

The view from the soundboard as AMAN holds a final rehearsal for its fall show. The rehearsal lasts hours and goes well into the night. (Photo: Nicolaus Czarnecki)

Khamitkar says students appreciate being able to express themselves at AMAN’s shows, but she admits that the weeks leading up to those shows can be stressful. Scripts and choreography must be finalized, and lines need to be memorized. In the final days before a show, rehearsals can last until midnight, or later.  “We always struggle through the rehearsals,” she says. “When we perform, it is a sigh of relief.” 

At 8 p.m. on the final dress rehearsal, Khamitkar moves about the theater, talking with people, checking on details. On stage, tape is laid down to mark spots, and microphones are checked. Finally, the house lights go down, and the stage lights come up. 

No matter how hectic the rehearsals and preparations are, Khamitkar is thankful for her fellow AMAN members. “Through all the stress and chaos, we are like a family,” she says. “We all go through the stress together.” 

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