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Come March every year, it is only a matter of time before one is going to get bombarded by indications of the arrival of the Performing Arts Festival (PAF), through the ubiquitous chants of ‘PAF God Hota Hai’. PAF is, undoubtedly, the biggest annual cultural extravaganza to take place at IIT Bombay, where a multitude of students with diverse skills and interests come together and play their part in helping unfold the grandeur of the festival. Whether it be coming up with scripts, music composition, the late-night hours put into practice, or even the demanding prod work needed for the setups and ambience, everyone involved in PAF works with great dedication and fervour.

In retrospect:

The inception of PAF actually occurred in the 1970’s, and it was called the Entertainment Platform then. However, it was not until 1991, that PAF assumed its current name and form. Growing continuously since then, PAF has had an illustrious history. Initially, PAF plays used to be held in the convocation hall, and they were restricted mainly to English. This was mostly the case till 1998. The following year saw its first-ever Hindi play, Abhimanyu, which brought about a paradigm reversal of the language of the acts. The same year also witnessed a shift in the venue to OAT (which is now well-associated with everything PAF), and this in-turn triggered the onset of large productions as a consequence.

There were five acts every year, each act by a team comprising of 2-3 hostels, but this number was brought down to 4 in 2006 (and further down to 3 by 2016, owing to budget and resource constraints). This, paired with the introduction of newer hostels, caused an increase in individual team size.

Over the years, PAF has played host to some fine works of art. Some of them include (in no particular order) Al-Qasas, Dastak, Déjà Vu, Golden Quadrilateral, Antbahaar, and the most recent Rannbhoomi.

Teaming up: 

The process of team formation in PAF involves a lot of considerations and elaborately laid-down rules, with the aim of making sure that each team to be formed is of equal calibre. This is majorly based on the hostel rankings in the culturals scoreboard. Let us look at this year’s team formation rules.

There were six pools A-F, each of which consisted of three hostels, and this grouping was done on the basis of the ‘hostel index’, which is the GC-based score system, and on the basis of the hostels being girls’ hostels or PG hostels, etc.


Group A Group B Group C Group D Group E Group F
A1 (H6)B1 (H4)C1 (H8)D1 (H12)E1 (H11)F1, F2, F3

(15B,16B, Tansa (in


particular order))

A2 (H7)B2 (H10)C2 (H2)D2 (H13)E2 (H15C)
A3 (H3)B3 (H5)C3 (H9)D3 (H14)E3 (H1)


Firstly, teams were to be formed within groups A,B,C and then further groups were to be chosen accordingly. A1 being the highest on the tally, got the first chance to pick any hostel from B,C except B1. A1 can take any hostel from B2, B3,C1,C2,C3. After this, A2 was to choose any of the remaining hostels from B,C; followed by A3, which had to choose any hostel of the remaining 4 hostels in Groups B & C.

After this, the order being reversed, A3 got the first chance to pick from remaining 3 hostels. Then, the chance moved onto A2, and the remaining hostel was allotted to A1. By this stage, the 3 teams formed from the three groups A-C became ‘equal’.

The teams by the end of this stage were as follows:

Team 1: 3,10,8

Team 2: 7, 2, 9

Team 3: 6, 4, 5

Remaining by each was to choose hostels from D, E and F. The team having H10 is being given H1 (from E) for the past few years, and this meant team 1 got H1. The rest of group E would be distributed either based on mutual consensus or by picking up from a set of chits at random. As a result, 15C went to team 2 and 11 went to team 3.

The team with Hostel 11 in it (team 3) was given the first chance to pick from the D and F pool. Remaining hostels from the D pool were to be selected by chit picking (if not mutual consent), the reverse order of which was followed to select hostels from the F pool.

This seemingly tumultuous set of rules finally led to the formation of the final PAF team structure as follows, along with the scheduled dates of the performances enlisted here.

Team 1: 3, 10, 8, 1, 12, 16B to perform on 28th March

Team 2: 7, 9, 2, 15C, 14, 15B to perform on 2nd April

Team 3: 6, 4, 5, 11, 13, Tansa to perform on 7th April


The dates and slotting order were decided on the basis of mutual consensus among the teams. The trailer of the first act Sandarsh has been released recently, and it seems reasonable to believe an exciting lineup of acts is awaiting the audiences. With practice and prod under full swing, it is only a matter of time before the themes of the rest of the acts get released. We have every reason to wait with bated breaths, and expect some spectacular displays of colour, music, drama, and talent.