Dandiya queen Falguni Pathak and popular singers Preeti and Pinki will be missing from the Navratri festival action in Mumbai this year.
But, in spite of their absence, Navratri mandals in the city have upped their budgets to ensure that the nine-day festival is celebrated in grand style.
According to organisers, sponsors are willing to put in more money into the festival as the economy has stabilised.
“Last year, the recession and the approaching elections prevented people from spending much. Now, finances are better and everyone wants to party,” said Ganesh Naidu, president of Naidu Club, which organises one of the most popular garbas at Kora Kendra in Borivli (West).
The club is spending a record Rs 80 lakh on hiring the ground, setting-up a 1 lakh sq ft wooden dance floor, decorating the stage, and erecting an air-conditioned pandal for the comfort of celebrities who might come to the event. “We have roped in Gujarati folk singer Nilesh Thakkar, who has sung with Falguni Pathak,” added Naidu.
At Ghatkopar’s Somaiya Grounds, the Ghatkopar Gujarati Seva Samaj is making up for the absence of their regular artistes Preeti and Pinky by bringing in four singers, including popular Gujarati singer Kirtidan Gadhvi.
“It has increased our expenses especially since we are planning nine different, elaborate stage entries for the artistes every night,” said organiser Jignesh Khilani. The artiste entries include bringing them on stage with the use of cranes, through bursts of fire and on carriages.
“Budgets had to rise and we were expecting it,” said Manoj Kotak, president of the Mulund Yuvak Prerna, which is organising garbas in Mulund, Bhandup and Kanjurmarg. To make their garba more alluring for revellers, the group has increased the number of prizes on offer this year.
However, Goregaon-based Sankalp, which won’t have Pathak this year, is one of the few mandals that is spending less than it did last year. “We treat Navratri like a big rock show, with laser lights and special effects. But, even though we are getting a host of singers from TV talent shows, our expenses have not increased,” said organiser Devendra Joshi, who is spending Rs 25 lakh on stage décor and Rs 30 lakh on prizes.