The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


MSJ Ishaara’s comeback at Baazi 2024

By Staff Writer Tanvi Deshmukh

Held from 5-8:30 p.m. on February 24 at Ohlone College, Baazi 2024 made history as the first-ever high school Bollywood dance competition in the Bay Area, hosted by Showstopper Productions. Among the ten competing teams representing high schools across the Bay Area, MSJ Ishaara, MSJ’s premier Bollywood-fusion team, secured two out of seven awards for Best Choreography and Second Place Overall, with a $500 cash prize.

MSJ Ishaara’s journey to Baazi began with unforeseen circumstances at Dil Se, Irvington High School’s esteemed annual South Asian cultural show. Despite consistent past performances, the team did not secure a spot in the lineup for Dil Se. The unexpected rejection served as a catalyst for newfound motivation. “Ever since we didn’t get into [Dil Se], we [realized] that not everything will go our way. We had to focus more on achieving things based solely on our own merit,” Co-Captain Junior Aneesh Potnis said. The team embraced their setback as an opportunity for growth, starting with Baazi.

Soon after MSJ Ishaara auditioned for Baazi, they were selected as one of the top ten teams and were given the opportunity to compete. As the competition neared, the team gradually intensified their commitment and practicing schedule. “We would have early morning practices before school and even booked studios to clean ourselves with the help of mirrors … but these helped pull our whole set together,” Co-Captain Senior Harika Tammineni said. 

On the day of Baazi, MSJ Ishaara arrived with determination, aiming to deliver their best performance and redeem themselves. “[The competition] was nerve-wracking, since it was [our team’s] first time actually being judged while we were dancing,” Tammineni said. On the stage, the team poured their best efforts and energy, dancing with a clear purpose. The seamless coordination among dancers showcased a remarkable synergy, elevating MSJ Ishaara’s performance.


The team’s moment of triumph arrived during the awards ceremony, when MSJ Ishaara secured the trophy for Best Choreography, followed by the announcement of Second Place Overall, which included a $500 cash prize. “I was really proud and happy because our team worked so hard and saw all of the practices pay off,” Tammineni said. While the judges praised their cohesive teamwork and execution of choreography, they advised focusing on individual skills, refining technique, and incorporating greater complexity into future choreography. 

MSJ Ishaara plans to remain diligent and persevering for future endeavors. The cash prize will be pooled towards funding the team’s costumes and props, which team members had to pay out of pocket in years past. Reflecting on their roller coaster experience leading up to Baazi, MSJ Ishaara looks to continue pursuing diverse opportunities and showcasing their talents to the public. “[Competing at Baazi] was really rewarding and truly showed how if we work hard enough for something, anything is possible,” Potnis said.

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