Former Miss India Manasvi Mamgai led a troupe of 30 Bollywood dancers from Mumbai at the pre-inaugural ceremony for President-elect Donald Trump Jan. 19 at West Lawn of the Capitol Hill. Trained by Suresh Mukund, a young choreographer from Mumbai, the dancers performed a seven-minute medley of Indian classical and Bollywood dance. DJ Ravidrums, whose given name is Ravi Jakhotiaalso performed during the evening festivities.
Mamgai was also seen campainging for Trump in the presidential elections along with Salabh Kumar, founder of the Republic Hindu Coalition. She is also an ambassador for the organization in India. According to a RHC press release, Mamgai was dressed in haute couture gowns by Ken Ferns and Gauri Nainika and contemporary Indian pieces by Manav Gangwani and Tarun Tahiliani, styled by Swapnil Shinde.
The RHC is one of the 30 groups that will be taking part in the Voices of the People concert. These groups were selected from hundreds of applications submitted, according to the presidential inauguration website.
Speaking to news agencies from Washington D.C., Mamgai, who debuted in “Action Jackson,” with Ajay Devgn and Sonakshi Sinha, said she’s been rehearsing for the show for the past 15 days. “This event was a culmination of all the efforts we’d taken for the presidential campaign,” she said.
Jakhotia has performed with Paula Abdul during the pregame show at Super Bowl XLII in 2008. He specializes in playing the drums live, while remixing songs. He has also performed with Britney Spears, Will Smith, Ricky Martin, and The Black Eyed Peas and has played at the Academy Awards in 2009 when Slumdog Millionaire was nominated for Best Original Song. He was the first Indian-American to work as a music director for an American television show – Howie Mendel’s Howie Do It in 2009.
Given the bitterly divisive and still-controversial circumstances of the election, Trump’s team struggled to find celebrities and entertainers willing to participate in the celebration, with just a handful of big names, including country singer Toby Keith and rock band Three Doors Down, taking part. Broadway star Jennifer Holliday of “Dreamgirls” fame agreed to the gig last week but quickly withdrew after her fans responded with overwhelming criticism of her decision.
Jakhotia told the Tampa Bay Times that he wants his inauguration performance to be about love. “I could have boycotted and been invisible, but I believe I’m going to generate value for people who look like me just by being on that stage and being visible. My message is peace and love through music,” he told The Tampa Times about why he decided to play at the inauguration. On his website, Ravi started the Peace and Love challenge where he asks people to shout out to someone who did something awesome and share it.
“As a first-generation Indian American, I view my participation in the inauguration as a unique opportunity to bring visibility to others like me,” he told the Orange County Register.
The majority of fans on his Facebook page were supportive, though some pushed back at his decision for its implicit support of Trump. While your intentions may be sincere, ultimately you’re validating Donald’s racism, misogyny, cronyism and tyranny,” wrote Inara Reynolds. “How do you expect to spread love and peace when Donald himself has no intention of love and peace? I’m a first-generation of Indian parents and I love my country too. Which is exactly why I couldn’t disrespect it by celebrating a bigot for president.”
In a short piece on CNN, Jakhotia reemphasized his immigrant roots and American success story background, saying, “I thought there was more benefit in someone that looks like me sharing that stage and performing for the American people.”