Will Rhapsody, MCK come back?

The word Rhapsody reminds you of the original masterpiece by the British rock band Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the first of its kind due to the lack of a refraining chorus and consisting of several distinct sections appealing to the wider masses and solidifying their place in the world music history. Maybe based on that premise of everlasting impact, the annual fest of Medical College Kolkata (my alma mater) was renamed “Rhapsody” in 2009-2010.

Come September each year, the explosion of festivals one after the other is something everyone looked forward to in Kolkata, and ours always started with Rhapsody, the MCK students’ festival of lights, sounds, and colors. The college would be awashed with large banners on the spotlight performances, bright lights over the alamedas, food stalls with street food like pizza, phuchka, kebabs, shwarma and kathi rolls. It was an annual week-long festivity, lasting effectively five and a half days, starting with the inauguration and fashion festival, and ending with a dip in the College square pond (akin to Mother Ganga for MCKians). It is very expected of you to do a double-take here. Like, how can a fest end in mass baptization? Well, that’s how crazy Rhapsody was. Let me show you.

The logo of Rhapsody was the same from 2014 to 2018, which inherently showed the colorful nature of the festival. A medico in MCK looked forward throughout the year to get the news of performances and competitions being finalized in the final two months. Some looked forward to submitting art, some in virtual gaming, some in photography, some in literary competitions, while others wanted to just have good food, watch amazing performances and street art (including street plays and dance), and enjoy the celebration of it all! The annual fest might have started as a celebration after Indian Independence in 1947, but it persisted as a cultural heritage every MCKian is proud to call his/her own. Events consisted of Inter College Fashion Show, Creative Writing, Logo Designing, Antakshari, Ad Spoof, Quiz, Debate, Cyber Gaming, Street Dance, Battle of Bands, Street Play, Drama, Short Film, Solo Vocals, T Shirt Painting, Nail Art, Face Painting, Tattooing, Non-Gas Cooking, Mehendi Art and Hair Styling.

A celebration of the bounteous joy of expression!
An exhilarating exuberance of emotion.
Something which every student of Medical College, Kolkata eagerly waits for, throughout the year.
Rhapsody is an embodiment of our spirit, our vivacity, which truly breaks all barriers and unites us all.

— Rhapsody, The Annual Social of Medical College, Kolkata, 2017

The high budget fests I know of is Calcutta National Medical College… Agon, with best artists performing every year .. .Then there is Lobelia of RG Kar… And Ecstasy of NRSMCH…. I have been to these fests and they are all magnificent…I graduated from Medical College and Hospital Kolkata…. Our annual fest is“Rhapsody” that continues for 6 days.. and now recently 7 days with pre-fest events. The fest ends with Prize Distribution, DJ performance, grand dinner post which there is a Bonfire all night with students sitting around it that continues till dawn… finally after which we go to the College Square Swimming pool… take a dip (Holy dip) and go to College Street and have breakfast and this way the fest ends… it’s a festival for us… So called Durga Puja of Medical college.

— Raja Brahma, MBBS graduate, MCK
We were basically inducted within the folds of Rhapsody on our Orientation day at MCK (1st week of August)
Performing at the inauguration of The fest in 2014, the year our batch organized Rhapsody
As the young lady with eyes lit up with enthusiasm 8 years back

The score of celebrities at Rhapsody whose performances are still etched in our collective minds (From left: Anupam Roy, Md. Irfan, Aditya Narayan, Rupam Islam with Fossils)

Arguably the best guest performer in the history of MCK, KK…we miss him! Here’s a glimpse into the big night.

While we all had our memorable times over the years, the best has to be this performance! I have many fond memories of hanging out with everyone from my class after months of exams, studies, and just sheer hard work. All the seniors and juniors used to mingle, while forgetting the underlying political rainbow, and just trying to enjoy the best celebration on these six nights. Rhapsody was the other interpretation of the word “festival” for us in the truest sense. Nothing more was needed for the MCKians, only fest pleasure was enough in itself. Before I knew it, the years of my MBBS from 2012 to 2018 passed in a blur, and I ended up attending six annual fests involving the participants of several hundred kindred souls over the years. Those were the best days of my youth.

Rhapsody was also the time for an extensive dress-up game. The women saw MCK as the ultimate red carpet that week, and we all indulged in a bit of party wear. Most of us came from conservative families, and our college dress code was unsaid and strict, thus Rhapsody was the time we declared hiatus on our usual lifestyles. Essentially it was a week-long celebration, much like the Durga Puja, or the week between Christmas and New Year, only it symbolically and emotionally meant so much greater to us. So why did it all stop?

The fest never resumed after 2018. Maybe COVID was one reason. Maybe it was an internal administrative issue. The latest news of college students fasting and protesting for Students’ union elections came into the news. These were preceded by hostel issues and a countrywide strike of doctors in 2018-19. These problems have been fortunately resolved by the passionate students studying at this prestigious college, but one thing still remains. The return of Rhapsody. With COVID again at the gates now, I reminisce about those years and wonder whether it will be a decade before Rhapsody makes its comeback. We need to remember that through these annual celebrations, a college anchors its identity in the vast cosmos of academia and culture. Rhapsody cannot be ignored or put off for very long. As the final lines of Aguner Parashmoni (Rabindrasangeet), which we would sing around the bonfire on the last night of Rhapsody, say:

আগুনের পরশমণি ছোঁয়াও প্রাণে।
এ জীবন পুণ্য করো,
এ জীবন পুণ্য করো,

এ জীবন পুণ্য করো,
এ জীবন পুণ্য করো দহন-দানে।
আগুনের পরশমণি ছোঁয়াও প্রাণে।
আমার এই দেহখানি তুলে ধরো

তোমার ওই দেবালয়ের প্রদীপ করো
নিশিদিন আলোক-শিখা জ্বলুক গানে
নিশিদিন আলোক-শিখা জ্বলুক গানে
আগুনের পরশমণি ছোঁয়াও প্রাণে

আঁধারের গায়ে গায়ে পরশ তব
সারা রাত ফোটাক তারা নব নব
আঁধারের গায়ে গায়ে পরশ তব
সারা রাত ফোটাক তারা নব নব

নয়নের দৃষ্টি হতে ঘুচবে কালো
যেখানে পড়বে সেথায় দেখবে আলো
ব্যথা মোর উঠবে জ্বলে

ব্যথা মোর উঠবে জ্বলে
আগুনের পরশমণি ছোঁয়াও প্রাণে
এ জীবন পুণ্য করো

Purify my life
with the purging touch of fire
Purify my life
With your blessings of searing pain
Make it pure like the gold
That passes the test of fire

Take unto you my mortal form
Make it a lamp of your divine abode
Let the flame of my song glow through night and day

The slightest of your touch on the dark frame of the night
Let it spark a new star one after another
To illuminate the darkness

Let my vision be cleansed from all darkness
Whither alights my gaze may it see the light
Let my pain be ablaze and rise above despair


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