Chalkaa highlights Indian culture

Team brings Bollywood dancing into the limelight with flair-filled poses and pizzazz


Photo Courtesy of Irvington High School

Members of Cal High’s club Chalkaa perform a dance during their Dil Se showcase at Irvington High School in Fremont.

Bollywood dancing has gone from the big screen to the small stage with Cal High’s official club Chalkaa.
Chalkaa is a club where students practice, perform, and perfect different styles of Bollywood dance as well as a fusion of Indian dance styles.
The club was founded in 2018, and the current captains are seniors Piya Devidasani, Mahima Simha, Aryan Desai, and Diya Mistry.
Devidasani has been part of the team since her freshman year and been a captain for three years.
“I would say more than a club, more than a team – really, it’s kind of like family,” Devidasani said.
The captains have the responsibility of choreographing routines, instructing team members, organizing events, and raising awareness for the club.
Though Chalkaa’s captains have been dancing for much of their lives, auditions are open to all Cal students at the beginning of the year. About 25 students are part of Chalkaa this year.
Aside from classical Indian music, the team also choreographs routines for western styles of music.
“We do Bollywood, yeah, but also some hip-hop,” junior Menaka Raj said. “There’s a lot of rap involved and we even danced to this one song by Lil’ Wayne.”
Chalkaa participates in events and showcases around the Bay Area. They competed in Irvington High School’s annual Dil Se event on Feb. 11 with several other teams.
“We perform at Dil Se almost every year,” Devidasani said. “I would say it’s like the biggest showcase for the Bay Area.”
Added Simha, “My favorite performance we’ve done was definitely Dil Se. That was the best we’ve ever done and it was so good for the entire team.”
Chalkaa danced to a medley of popular Bollywood songs at Dil Se, including “Laapata” from the film “Ek Tha Tiger” and “Husn Parcham” from the film “Zero.”
The team also is preparing for upcoming performances in the Bay Area, including one at Cal for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life on Saturday and Sunday.
Chalkaa practices diligently for these showcases, often spending hours every day after school preparing for their next performance.
“It does require a lot of practice,” club advisor and math teacher Namita Vakil said. “They’ve been working very hard and they’re dedicated to it.”
From practice to perfection, the Chalkaa team adds to the wave of popularity the Bollywood dance genre enjoys. Members of the team hope to introduce a new aspect to Cal culture in years to come.