The word ‘special’ doesn’t even begin to describe the birthday party held at Nungambakkam on Friday. First, it was held to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday on April 21. Second, it celebrated the fact that the Queen became the longest serving British monarch last September, and third, it marks the 400th year since the death of the Bard, William Shakespeare.
“Unlike other countries, the UK doesn’t have a national day, so we celebrate the Queen’s birthday. This year, it’s on a bigger scale,” Bharat Joshi, British Deputy High Commissioner Chennai, told City Express.
With a host of diverse performances — which had some connection to Britain — lined up, there was never a dull moment. First, Stagefright Productions had a tongue-in-cheek, five-minute rendition of the Bard’s Romeo and Juliet. This was followed by High Kicks, an all-girls dance group, performing a James Bond special theatre-ish dance piece, with dialogues and music from 007 movies playing on the screen in the background.
The ‘Bond girls’ set the stage on fire and even mingled with the audience for a while during their performance. They also used their guns to blast enemies and enacted action sequences. “What we did today was something called ‘Dirty Contemporary’. It’s a mix of contemporary dance with elements of street jazz,” Aparna Nagesh of High Kicks told City Express.
After this, all guests stood at attention as violin sisters, Lalitha and Nandini, who are cultural ambassadors to the US and UK, performed the national anthems of both India and Great Britain.
The tempo then picked up, with Zimbabwean band Zimboita’s high-energy performance using traditional instruments like Marimba. With their music, dance and antics, the endearing band told the audience to work hard, but added, “If you feel like shaking and moving, please go on!” A collective sigh descended on the audience when the band announced their last song. DJ Eddie and his group then belted out popular songs to wind up the evening.
Thanking them for their performances, Joshi, in his speech said it was “hard to believe” that just a couple of months ago, this city was recovering from the floods. Highlighting that the UK was proud to support the Tamil Nadu government as a partner at the Global Investors meet in September, Joshi said that in all, £2.43 billion worth of MoUs and business deals had been signed.
Lauding the “extraordinary achievement” of the Queen and her consort Prince Philip’s service to the British crown, Joshi raised a toast to the monarch and drew everyone’s attention to UK’s most popular dish — the “exalted” chicken tikka masala!