As part of the University’s ongoing golden jubilee celebrations, the Sarojini Naidu School of Arts and Communication organised a fest- The Essence, on March 1st and 2nd. Students across the five departments of fine arts, dance, music, theatre, and communication came together for a varied display of art, creativity and intellect.

This celebration of youth, culture and collective passion commenced with Prof Vinod Pavarala’s inaugural speech at the Ambedkar Auditorium at 10:30 am. in which he offered a brief history and remarked upon the unique nature of the school.

Events organised as part of the Essence included- HUFF- A University of Hyderabad Film Festival

Essence created the platform for the University’s first-ever film fest. Spread across two days, the HUFF screened a catalogue of eight unique contemporary movies by independent filmmakers. Inaugurated by Prof. B. V. Suresh, the event took off with the movie Pokhar Ke Dunu Paar. As students with keen eyes crowded the Auditorium space, the cinematic canvas brightened up with films like Sheesh Mahal, Kayo Kayo Colour, and AppleChedikal, followed by offline and online Q&A with the directors.

Prof. B.V. Suresh inaugurating the HUFF

At noon, as part of the film fest, the students hosted a panel discussion on “Breaking into the industry”, moderated by Prof. Vasuki Belavadi with successful alumni from the media industry Priyadarshi Pulikonda, Gautami Challagulla, Geeta Golla, Hriday Ranjan, Haribabu Dasari.

Panel discussion on “Breaking into the industry” with Priyadarshi and other guests.

On the second day, the festival took an early start with the film A Night of Knowing Nothing at 8 am, followed by Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon, Jonaki, climaxing to a beautiful end with The Leftovers and a Q&A with its directors.


A two-part “Conversation Series” was hosted as part of the Fest, bringing in guests from the diverse fields of journalism and film studies.

The first conversation took place between Uma Sudhir, a distinguished journalist and the Executive Editor of NDTV, and Prof. Anjali Lal Gupta on the topic, “Navigating media realities: Women breaking barriers, media literacy, and journalism’s role in accountability.”

Uma Sudhir receiving a token of appreciation from Anjali Lal Gupta

Dr Hariprasad Athanickal, Professor at EFLU, Hyderabad, was invited for the second part of the conversation series. Moderated by PhD Scholar Nikhileswar Reddy, a group of research scholars and film enthusiasts swarmed the hall for the talk on “Identity and cinematic spaces: Navigating associations in South Indian cinema.”

Dr Hariprasad Athanickal in conversation with Nikhileswar Reddy


As part of the Essence, the students from the theatre arts department planned two dramatic performances.

On the first day of the fest, a movement-based performance inspired by four letters written by Virginia Woolf was presented by Vighnesh Jayakrishnan and the team from the Department of Theatre Arts. This continued on the 2nd day. The visual effects, the sound, and the powerful acting all added up to make the atmosphere eerie, mirroring the anxious mind of the author and thereby creating a lasting impression on the audience.

A still from the drama “V- Inspired from the letters of Virginia Woolf”

On 2nd March, a storytelling session written by Tariq Chhatari and performed by Mohammad Nawaz Khan, in his Urdu blended Hindustani language grabbed the attention of the audience.


Students from the Department of Fine Arts exhibited a collection of photographs and handmade art pieces while also setting up stalls that offered tattoos, live portraits, caricatures and mehendi. Visitors were also treated to a range of food stalls.

A glimpse of the stall organised by the students of the Fine Arts Department


Students used the opportunity to orchestrate a couple of Workshops on the 2nd March to satisfy the curiosity and creative urges of attendees. A music workshop on “Harmony of Traditions: Unveiling Carnatic and Hindustani Musical Forms” was conducted by B Santhoshini, Saugat Mani Rasaily & Kaushik Lahoti.

PB Vaishnavi conducted a Dance workshop on “Understanding Body with Dance.”

The fine arts department in addition held a Workshop on “Clay Modelling and Painting” by Naresh Halder, Prashant Mallik & Debenboina V Raj, and another workshop on “Origami” By Vaishali.

A Qawwali program by Ustad Najmuddin Javed & Shams Tabrez was organised on 1st March.

Bol Hyderabad, the community radio station of the University opened its doors and mikes to students so that they could express their voices in the form of poetry, podcasts, music, etc., as part of the ‘Essence’.


A classical dance performance

The skilful and energetic zeal of the fest took centre stage, quite literally, on the evening of 2nd March with a range of performances, which included a classical music concert, contemporary, classical and folk-dance performances, poetry and stand-up comedy shows, music band and a ramp walk.

A student performing ‘Vattamudiyattam’- a folk dance from Kerala

The “essence” of the night brought people across the whole University together. Surrounded by the walls of the Sarojini Naidu Schools, the audience stood awestruck by the dark elegance that shone through at the gothic-themed ramp walk as the night came to an end.

A still from the dramatic display of ‘dark elegance’ in the Essence-Ramp walk

Contirbuted by Ms. Ishika Mukherjee – M.A. Communication (Media Studies)