Of the many Indian recreational outings the community is known for, one that has more popularly captured our cumulative social imagination is the age-old tradition of antakshari.
A musical game that resonates with our affiliation with popular music, antakshari, which started as a part of social events and celebrations, soon became reason enough for a social gathering.
It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that this is true of Indian communities all across the world. Weddings, festivals, filial parties, informal shindigs can all be conduits to the pursuit of this happy-go-lucky sport.
The phenomenon, popular in small pockets variously, caught the nation's imagination meteorically when it aired on cable television for the very first time in the last decade with popular TV personalities such as comic powerhouse and NSD alumnus Annu Kapoor, and iconic girl-next-door Renuka Shahane playing the part of insuperable hosts with a knack for tapping the public pulse.
Over time the spectacle may have become glassy due to standard format and patterned play, but its simplistic universal appeal remained unrivalled as such. Cashing in on this very quality, zealous marketers brought the phenomenon overseas some years back.
Today, organisers 'Catch the Rhythms Inc' is presenting this popular musical show, titled 'NRI Antakshari 2006' yet again all over the US.
In fact owing to its popularity within the Diaspora community worldwide, it is being held not just in America but also in Canada and UK at various populous cities.
Adding sheen to the show is inimitable maverick host and beloved antakshari maestro, Annu Kapoor.
Kapoor, the original face of the hit Indian TV show, is a huge part of the whole antakshari allure.
Now, with innovative, exciting rounds and renewed zest, the show is being put up on a massive scale. Accompanying Kapoor are other talented professional singers and musicians from Mumbai.
This year's tour started in Toronto on August 13, in concord with the Independence Day celebrations and staged at various dates thereafter in Houston, Los Angeles, and Sunnyvale.
In Atlanta, this program was scheduled for Monday, September 4, 2006. The interactive and zesty open auditions saw enthusiastic participation from patrons at local desi hub, Global Mall.
New York, New Jersey and Phoenix will be the next few stops for this musical entourage.
'NRI Antakshari 2006' combines elements of the typical musical extravaganza with variations like visual and audio clues, rapid fire rounds, dumb charades with audience participation to keep audiences hooked.
The accompanying orchestra, tunefully in sync with Kapoor's interactive musical machinations, is the extra value proposition.
Not only is the program broadcast on television networks; the distinction, for many, of being on stage, competing amidst a huge audience, for nearly three hours is phenomenal.
Generally, four teams comprising 4 members each form the initial group of participants.
Titled Dilwale, Matwale, Joshilay, Rangeele, the lowest-scoring team is sent back and is replaced by a pre-selected team.
Being a roll-over antakshari, the program aims at maximum participation. Audiences, too, are more than catered for through a zany question-answer session and sing-along participation.
For many enthused patrons, the host, Annu Kapoor is in fact is the reason why this TV show is so popular and beloved.
While his crackling spontaneity ripples even through television relays, seeing him in person brings that much more to an otherwise placid performance. It is not surprising to see the show's soaring popularity credited therefore, often times, sorely to his wit, warmth, ingenuity and talent.
Further, his vast knowledge and understanding of the genre bestows credibility and singularity to the gig.
It may sound strange today, but antakshari finds its roots in the ancient Indian system of 'Gurukul', where it is believed that children were encouraged to gain knowledge through this lively infotainment format.
Today, it has become a fun way for families to come together and enjoy.
For NRIs, antakshari is becoming the great entertainment leveller, one that merges together various regional entities into one single identity, the Joshilay way!