Until last week, Nilakshi Rawle had never sung at a state-wide competition. Last week, she went up a stage and girded her vocal chords for a rendition of "I Am Nothing", unleashing her inner Whitney Houston.
Rawle, 20, a third year student of Podar College in Matunga, came second in the solo event of the inter-university cultural competition, helping Mumbai University bag the overall championship trophy at the state-wide championship. The annual event, organised by the office of the chancellor, was held in Nanded from November 5 to November 9 this year.
This is the tenth year in a row that the university has swept the podium at the state-level event, bagging 80 points this year in comparison to Nagpur University which, with 35 points, stood at a distant second.
"I used to take part in zonal competitions so I wasn't expecting to do so well at the state level," said Rawle. "But I did have high hopes."
Rawle was also part of the western group song event where the team bagged second position, singing an original composition as well as an Elvis Presley number. The University came first in a host of other events, bagging positions in nearly every event. The university had sent a 38-member team which participated in 27 events overall.
"This time the performance was really very good," said Mrudul Nile, director of student affairs of Mumbai University. "The difference in the points between first and second itself shows how much ahead we were and the level of preparation of the students. They really prepared very hard."
Events cover a range of cultural activities including music, dance and the fine arts.
"When I first started participating I wasn't anything," said Nandkishor Khedekar, 24, who came third in the on the spot painting competition. "Now I feel I will be able to do this professionally." He is a fine arts student in his third year at Devrukh College of Art and Design in Ratnagiri.
Mumbai University also won the "golden girl" and golden boy" awards, for exceptional performances by individual students. The entire team will now go on to represent the state at an all-India cultural competition to be held in December by the Association of Indian Universities.