"A Fusion of Red and Blue"
"Red for the warmth and passion of an artistic adventure; Blue for the originality of the rational mind.”
An amalgamation of both the shades to catalyze the euphoric eruption of ecstatic emotions, an unleashing of consummate exuberance, endearment and inventiveness; and an extravaganza ascertained to itinerate the senses on an effervescent expedition of self-discovery and bliss! Inheriting the essence of all these sentiments, the colour Indigo is a true reflector of the Mood, that transitions and escapades to resonate with myriad revelries of youthfulness and jubilation. Packeting and encapsulating this exhilaration opulently, Mood Indigo, mirroring the colour in its name, has become an insignia and paragon of creativity and intellectualism.
Blazoning its kickoff slated at the advent of the new year, the Gymkhana Committee proclaimed it to “herald the start of unique cultural happenings”, and to offer “a chance to young Indians to break new ground on the cultural scene”, the magnum opus of all cultural college fests subserviently roared its modest inception on Jan 3-7, 1973.
‘A youth festival, the first of its kind to be staged in western India, was to be held here.’, was how the guileless heraldic decision was spelt out.
Germinated in the enterprising minds of the trailblazers V.V. Ramesh and Colin Gonsalves, and homaging the iconic classic jazz composition by Duke Ellington of the 1930s, the vision was to effectuate a celebration spanning four days of unrestrained merriment, a spectacle that few others can rival nationwide. A pause and unwinding from the feverish academics and sobering return to books, seminars and unsettlingly earnest face of the professors; the forefathers of this extravaganza conceptualized that the fest will enable its participants to savour the charms of forging new acquaintances and friendships and to get enthralled by the adrenaline rush of cultural competitions. Scarcely had it been anticipated that this humble beginning which was gratified with the attendance of just a few hundred enthusiasts will briskly exponentiate to a few hundred thousand instead and become a cultural phenomenon!
A frugal budget of 500 rupees, remunerated petulantly from the pockets of the gymkhana and without even a sniff from the corporate sponsorship pie, served as the working capital of the experiment in 1973. A mundane and fragile brochure, demurely featherweight with just 16 pages in totality, was envigorated frailly by the generous ads of few well-wishers, including the likes of the grand Mafatlal Groups to local Maharashtra Grain stores. Bemusingly all ads were fashioned fittingly to cater to the virtually all-male institute, with firms like ‘Figurette’ pitching their Facial Sauna, Vibra-Massages, and Hair Dryers.
Charting out unassumingly all the humble events in the brochure that the fest had to offer, namely: debates, dance, experimental film classics, etc, there was no dearth of inventive fervours and zeal. The booklet concluded on a solemn and anticipatory note “All this amidst the natural breathtaking hills of Powai, we hope will make your visit to Mood Indigo ‘73 an unforgettable experience.” Despite that, and notwithstanding all the vehemence and conviction that was employed to potentially launch the grandest college carnival, the resultant development and outcome couldn’t have been more pessimistic. Not even exuding a glimpse of the mammoth that the fest was ordained to become, Mood Indigo underperformed in its opening year and was almost shelved for the later years. The court announcement in August 1973, not even deeming the fest worthy to reward it a genuine reason for its discontinuation, proclaimed, “Plans for Mood Indigo, or whatever you prefer to call the week where you are clobbering with a surfeit of culture, has been shelved.”
The cult enthusiasts in the campus inferred that the slow bereavement of the institute’s cultural endeavours was the main instigator behind this shipwreck, and consequently, substantial attention was diverted in ‘74 to erect a solid foundation of cultural vivification first. The defunct students’ magazine Pragati was resurrected in coherence with this, instead of organizing Mood Indigo straight on. Gradually and expectedly, IIT Bombay’s-culture brigade swiveled their gaze back onto Mood Indigo and resultantly, MI turned again into a reality in 1975, re-organized with reignited spirits. Even the brochure got bulkier, more lively and healthier, indicating the genesis of fresh hope and reassurances. To instil confidence that no setbacks will be encountered ever again, the student magazine Technik even went a step ahead to announce MoodI 1976 as early as in October 1975.
This time the focus was also laid on certain but healthy anxiety. “The top priority at this stage is advertisements. We must get at least 25,000 bucks in ads this year to have a decent working capital. That’s where you can help put in the effort to get as many ads as you can by Dec 1rst.” Ironically and yet fittingly, perfectly representative and reflective of the organizers’ backgrounds, the highest ad revenue was collected through ‘Agarwal Classes’, well known for its JEE coaching, with its banner depicting its name in throbbingly thick black font.
The 1976 edition of Mood Indigo indeed proved to be a resounding success, with flashier, plumper, and more glamorous ambience and events. Serving as a pedestal and a benchmark for the future, it did steer the ferry in the right direction. Flowering the aspirations of the organizers to coordinate the event at even grander scales, advertisement and sponsorship garnered huge sums in revenue. With the fest titillating youngsters seeking mirth and attracting the din from all walks of society, the fest created enough turbulence for Technik to remark "One hint, publicize this event a bit more next year, especially at Sophia College from where you’ll get a hell of a lot of good looking girls!" The banners, posters, events, and awnings grew glossier with each successive year, and the pilgrims to this Mecca of exaltation surged from a few hundred to a few thousand, gradually encompassing hundreds of colleges throughout the breath of the country.
Suffering oscillations that threatened untimely climax in its first decade of inception, the road to acclamation for MI was still riddled with potholes. Criticized in its infancy to be pandering excessively to the Western tastes and culture, and with dying apprehension and curiosity amongst the students for future editions, its existence collapsed to the brink of contemplation whether the grand fiesta should be continued or not. The year 1978, particularly, is said to be a turbulent year in the history of Mood Indigo, when its fate hung in balance. Student meetings were held to see and decide if the festival should be reorganized or restructured. Ultimately after a plethora of discussions, the fest was saved by the skin of its teeth.
Post that, Mood Indigo, as a fest, ballooned from strength to strength without any other stutter or setback and scaled dramatically both in acclaim and eminence. The stature of featured professional artists, a reliable yardstick for measuring its success, also grew leaps and bounds. A galaxy of popular and eminent stars who redefined the Indian cinema and entertainment landscape was invited to ameliorate this indulgent trip to euphoria. Celebrities and megastars like Ustad Zakir Khan, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Asha Bhonsle, R.D. Burman, Hema Malini, electrified the audience in every edition and the corporate inclusion for funding and lavishness skyrocketed. The grandeur and robustness of the fest escalated to giddying scales, notably becoming a force to reckon by the 90s.
From a humble investment of 5000 rupees yet with unmatched resoluteness, Mood I has also had the privilege of being marshalled by some of the most distinguished and eminent alumni that the institute has ever produced, including the likes of Nandan Nilekani and Adil Zainulbhai!
Inspired by the cultural renaissance and modelling the high budget organizational framework of Mood-I, several other fests also spawned, most notably Techfest. Christened as 'Technofair', and blending fun and work in a portable way as the IIT Bombay’s first technology fest, the first edition in the mid-1980s featured a plethora of outlets for technological reformation through panel discussions, invited talks, audio-video presentations, exhibitions, and workshops. Spearheaded by Prof JR Issac of CSE, the fest gradually waned off to hibernation for a decade or so, largely because it was deemed as too ahead of its time for anticipating vibrant collaborations with the industry. Resurrected in 1998 as Techfest, the festival did attract chief sponsors like AMD for a handsome sponsorship amount of $20,000. Techfest thereafter rapidly expanded its events, reaching neck to neck with Mood Indigo.
Pioneered by dazzling yet gruelling journeys and exhibiting a skilful execution of vision with unrelenting grit, the history and growth of all these celebrated fests of IIT-Bombay have swirled upwards in their own unique ways, giving them the strong multitude they have today!