It’s the newest trend in communication. An increasing number of college students are using flash mobs to raise awareness on various social issues, as well as to publicise college events and festivals.
Students said flash mobs were a refreshing alternative to conventional methods of publicity. Pooja Kothari, a student of Wilson College, Girgaum which organised a flash mob with 4,000 people, including 3,000 students, in June 2012 to protest female infanticide, said, “We had a bike rally two years ago, and this time we wanted something with a wider appeal.”
Other colleges have followed suit. Tarang Gupta, a member of the Rotaract Club of Jai Hind College Churchgate, said, “We performed at venues like the international airport on Women’s Day last month. Our message was the empowerment of women, and we think we reached out to more people.”
While the world saw its first flash mobs in 2003, India was introduced to the concept only in November 2011, when a group of young people descended on the crowded Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Fort, for a few moments of dance, much to commuters’ surprise. The person behind the idea, 25-year old Shonan Kothari said, “I wanted to be a part of this since I first saw it happening abroad. And I realised that if I want to be in it, I will have to initiate it… I am happy that so much positive energy and talent is coming to the fore because of these students.”
Publicity for college events has also changed thanks to flash mobs. Noel Mathew, a student of St. Xavier’s College, Fort, said, “We performed at High Street Phoenix in Lower Parel two weeks before our college festival, Malhar, since we wanted greater visibility and the mall is frequented by many young people.”
Sophia College, Cumballa Hill, also publicised their festival, Kaleidoscope, through a flash mob. Vasundhara Rathi, the pre-festival coordinator, said, “A dance performance grabs attention, and we chose Phoenix Market City, Kurla, to target the suburban audience.”
While some may call this subverting the purpose of a flash mob, Shonan disagrees. “We shouldn’t judge this for its morality. Its sole purpose is spreading happiness. As long as this quality is retained, flash mobs should continue, without the need for justifiying their purpose,” she said.