{shortcode-c0b211d84df14e74f7ba27a3492b278ff025b564}Snowy weather and frigid temperatures aside, I’d say spring semester has been full of surprises and excitement. From the new HUDS upgrade to a mild(ish) winter, there must be something in the air. And there’s only so much more to come, including one of the largest student-run productions on campus: Harvard Ghungroo! Don’t know what Ghungroo is? Want to learn all about it from the directors themselves? Say less, that’s what we’re here for. We sat down with two of Ghungroo’s directors, Sarah R. Ramberran ’24 and Shraddha Joshi ’24, to give you all the inside deets and why you should all go see the show!

TC: Can you give us a brief rundown of Ghungroo and what it is?

SJ: Ghungroo is a South Asian cultural showcase. We have dance, music, skit, and spoken word, and it’s the largest student-run production at Harvard. It’s a celebration of South Asian culture and its diaspora.

SRR: So we start preparing for Ghungroo, really, in the summer, and then we start doing back-end work in the fall semester, and in the spring semester, we actually get our residency in the [Agassiz Theater]. That’s when the set goes up, and that’s when people really start practicing their dances and music acts.

TC: Could you go into what goes into Ghungroo?

SRR: There’s many departments. What we see is skit, dance, music, acts, and spoken word. There’s a lot of preparation that goes into planning those acts, figuring out what is the plot for skit, people preparing their spoken word acts, and then dance.

SJ: Basically for context, we have a tech team of almost a hundred people and 350+ performers from across the College. In terms of dances, we have eight regular dances, which are the non-senior dances, and they’re different regional styles from across South Asia and then also pan-regional styles, such as Underground, which is a new act that we have this year that is focused on hip-hop, and then we also have cinema, etcetera. And then we have senior dances, which are separate from the dances that freshmen, sophomores, and juniors perform in, and those are a back-to-back succession of seven dances, typically similar styles as the regular dances. And then this year we have six music acts, and each one is either a different regional style or it’s something classical and different sorts of styles from South Asia.

SRR: Our tech team is called G-Tech, and so through the year, we try to build a nice community, especially for freshmen, and for everyone else it’s a great time for people to come together and have a lot of fun and put on a show, which I think is really gratifying at the end.

SJ: To talk about the set, because this is the stuff that isn’t performed, obviously we have a pretty intensive set, and there’s a lot of people that also contribute to that, whether they’re the ones actively designing it or if they come in as an organization or as a group of friends to paint and stuff.

SRR: I think that Set and Build, those are the departments that you don’t really get to see on show day, but I think they deserve a lot of credit because the acts are one thing, and then the set is another thing. The visual aspect is great.

SJ: And it’s often sometimes the most work.

TC: What are the best parts of directing Ghungroo?

SJ: I think it would be the night before dress rehearsal, which is really when everything is going to come together, because we get to see the show in one go. But I think for me personally, one of the best parts is just seeing people who may have not really been involved in these spaces before just pitching ideas, like “Oh, I wanted to have this music act” and then now seeing that music act on stage, and now it’s a reality or people who haven’t really been as involved before are coming in for paint nights and stuff like that. I think just seeing really small anecdotes of a community coming together is what makes the work of being a director feel really meaningful, and it’s just really humbling to be part of something that’s super big because I think when you’re in the Ag every day, you’re interacting with the same small group of people. When you see people just come in and feel really excited, feel a sense of ownership over Ghungroo, that’s kind of what makes me feel really grateful to be part of it.

SRR: I really love when, towards the end of our residency, people come in, and they start practicing, and like tech rehearsal was great. I think when you actually see the acts on stage with the lights and the sound, and you're like, ‘wow, everything is finally coming together.’ I think just seeing the dances, I personally love senior dance. I think that was one of the greatest things I've seen. And I think just being here and seeing people come in and out. It’s just such a great feeling to know people are really doing this because they want to do it. This is the 35th year of Ghungroo. So I think just seeing we are part of something that is much older than us and we are kind of continuing this and people enjoy it. And I think it’s great to know that people still love doing it and they look forward to it.

TC: If Ghungroo was any HUDS dish, which one would it be? No explanation needed.

SRR: The postickers. The edamame potstickers.

SJ: I was going to say the Chicken Vindaloo, because I think we aspire towards South Asian-ness but we also have our own flair that’s influenced by our circumstances.

TC: As show day approaches, what keeps you guys motivated through late night rehearsals?

SRR: Oh my gosh, I had a dream about Ghungroo. And in the dream, I was in the hallway, right there, and I heard the audience roaring, and I just can’t wait to hear the audience, because they all love it, every show, even if it is Thursday night or Saturday night. The audience is always so engaged, and I just can’t wait to see them enjoy the show.

SJ: I think for me, just running into people who are just like “Oh, how’s Ghungroo going” or like “We’re so excited to come see” or “I’m part of organizations that, you know, might not have a lot of South Asians in them, but now they’re dancing in Ghungroo this year because they feel really excited about it.” I’ll walk into a space and see people wearing Ghungroo sweatshirts and stuff. It feels like it’s a culture that so many people share beyond just the people that I know immediately, and I think that palpable energy in the air is definitely something that keeps me going.

TC: Three words for why we should all go see the show?

SRR: South Asian party!

SJ: Do it for the community!