Watch: How the ‘Rasputin challenge’ is keeping campuses in Kerala upbeat

Students, doctors and nurses are stepping it up to the beats of ‘Rasputin’ to support two medical students targeted by communal remarks

When Naveen K Razak and Janaki Omkumar, students of Thrissur Medical College, put their best foot forward to come up with a viral video to the tune of Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’, there were a few who viewed the dance through communal lens after they came to know the surnames of the dancers. The reaction to the remarks was immediate and has been rocking the student community across Kerala.

The first to step it up to stand with their batchmates were students of Thrissur Medical College. Thirteen of the Vikings, a dance group of the college, danced to the beats of ‘Rasputin’ and they put it up on the Facebook page of Aikya College Union 19-20, Thrissur Medical College.

They posted the video with the message: “If your aim is to hate, ours is to resist #resisthate

In a jab at those looking for communal angles, the message points out that the names of all the dancers have been posted for those who might want to know the identity of the dancers to put up more comments on Facebook.

In the meantime, the IMA MSN (Indian Medical Association’s Medical Students’ Network) are also conducting a competition for “medical students, allied courses and doctors”, says Adnan Ummer chairperson of the IMA MSN unit of Calicut Medical College.

“It is not only the remarks about love jihad that we are protesting again. There were also some who wondered if doctors should be dancing in scrubs, that too in the corridors of a medical college and since medicine is a noble profession, shouldn’t we be at work and so on. We are not robots. So, doctors, medical students, interns and nursing students from the State and outside are sending us Instagram reels of them dancing in scrubs, in white coats and in civiies… That does not affect our dedication or sincerity towards our work,” he explains.

The IMA-MSN is offering a prize of ₹5,000 for the best videos. The conditions are that the 30-second entries should be of pairs (gender-neutral) dancing to the tune of ‘Rasputin’. Style of dance is immaterial and any kind of editing and special effects are allowed for the videos. The last date for entries is midnight of April 20. Videos should be sent to 8547768695.

“The prize will be given to the video (posted on @ima_msn_kerala insta page) with the maximum number of likes and the deadline is April 23,” says Adnan.

Adnan says that doctors are also sending videos to express their solidarity with the students. But those are not in the running for the competition.

The students’ wing of a political party has begun a campaign to come up with Instagram reels of the Rasputin challenge and prizes of ₹1,000 and ₹ 500 are being offered to the best video of the dance.

Meghna GR, an office-bearer of the cultural wing of the outfit, says that the idea was to show the student community’s solidarity with the dancers and protest against attempts to communalise campuses.

“We have already received a few entries. One of the entries by Daya Babraj from Devagiri College has also gone viral. She has danced to ‘Rasputin’ in a traditional mundu and melmundu,” says Meghna, a student of the University of Kerala.

Daya, an undergraduate student of Economics of St Joseph’s College, Devagiri, Kozhikode says she choreographed the number and danced to ‘Rasputin’ to participate in a contest conducted by the college unit of the students’ wing of a political party. She says with a laugh she never expected the video to go viral. “The mundu and veshti is my grandmother’s and I choreographed it in a hurry,” she says.

Government departments and public sector units have also come out in support of the two dancers. Last week, the Health Department of Kerala released an animation ad showing two bottle of vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin – dancing to ‘Rasputin’. Released by the Health Minister of Kerala, KK Shailaja to promote the vaccination drive, the ad also expresses support for the medical students’ dance video.

Prior to that, the Kerala Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (Milma) was off the mark quickly to release an ad featuring caricatures of Janaki and Naveen.

Social media is filled with messages, memes and posts expressing support for the two dancers. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra shared the video of Naveen and Janaki dancing on her Instagram handle. “More power to you guys and the entire student community for standing up against hatred and bigotry” she posted in stories.

NaveenVishnu Madhav, a.k.a, Pencilashan, a popular artist, put up a post on Instagram of the two dancing on flames and stamping out communalism. Cleverly hidden in the flames are the words ‘Vargeeyatha’ (communalism).

Author Anees Salim put up a tongue-in-cheek post that he suddenly remembered the name of the first love jihad cinema – Chemeen, a cinematic adaptation of literatteur Thakazhi’s classic novel of the same name.

At the same time, clips of yesteryear hero Prem Nazir dancing with his leading ladies are also doing the rounds to lend support to the new-gen dancers.

The medicos and all those with dancing feet are certainly upbeat about not dancing to the tune of communal elements.

And what does Janaki have to say about the outpouring of support and the sudden limelight they have been thrust into. “Very happy. Never expected so much of love and support from so many people. It was wonderful when the Health Department came out with the animated video of the vaccines dancing!” she says.


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