Comedian and director Omi Vaidya, famous for his role in India’s 10th-highest-grossing film 3 Idiots, will come to Cornell on Nov. 9 for Society for India’s 57th Diwali Show, “Diya Jale” — making it “the oldest running Diwali Show in the entire world.”
3 Idiots debuted as the highest-grossing film in its opening weekend in India and netted the highest opening day collections for an Indian film to that point, receiving widespread critical and commercial success. The 2009 film also succeeded in Chinese and Japanese theaters — one of the few Indian films to do so.
Recognized for its prolific impact on attitudes and education in India, 3 Idiots follows the story of three young students at one of India’s top engineering colleges, satirizing the social pressures imposed by an Indian education system. Playing the role of Chatur Ramalingam, Vaidya starred as a Ugandan-Indian student who consumed pills to enhance his memory — resulting in excessive flatulence and earning him the nickname “The Silencer.”
Society for India picked Omi Vaidya after searching through prospective guest speakers and deciding they wanted to “bring in someone different to bring in a different crowd,” specifically “people who know comedy,” according to the organization’s president Aashna Kaur ’21. Having appeared in The Office, Bones, Shameless and Arrested Development, Vaidya has touched a breadth of genres, even having directed two short films himself.
“We make it an event for not only the South Asian community, but everyone on campus, even outside of campus, too,” Kaur said.
“We’ve been trying to do outreach for Binghamton, Syracuse and NYC because we know that Omi Vaidya is well-known. We want to make sure that whoever can come can definitely come to this event because it’s open to everyone,” Kaur continued.
With the event’s focus on celebrating the festival of lights with a range of performances and people from different backgrounds and interests, Kaur hopes to “bring a little bit of diversity” with the keynote through comedy, while still fostering the traditional musical and dance performances.
“The showcase is actually after the Diwali holiday, and Diwali is the largest holiday that South Asians celebrate, and so we really emphasize it every single year,” Kaur said.
“I obviously have been here for only three of those years, but for 57 years, this is the largest showcase that a student organization has put on college-wise,” Kaur said. “We want it to reach its hundredth year.”
Kaur, having been a member of Society for India for the past three years, beginning as a Freshman Representative in her first year, realized the event requires “all hands on deck” due to extensive work and planning required to coordinate the event, so she expanded her executive board this past year.
“I just felt like I had done something right with recruiting all these passionate, hard-working people,” Kaur said.
Some additional music and dance performances include dance group, Break Free, and music group Yamatai, who all bring an additional element of artistic creativity and joy to the event.
Tickets are available for purchase on the Bailey Hall events website, as well as through Society for India’s board members. The event will take place on Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.
“This is an event that is celebrating diversity and culture and inclusion and creating a safe space for everyone to perform. It’s just pure entertainment and pure joy of people being there together,” Kaur said.