THE INDIAN EVENT PRODUCER: A SUPERHERO STORY

Submitted by admin on Mon, 11/27/2017 - 11:45

Swaroop Banerjee, CEO, Event Capital talks about the evolution of the Indian event producer and shares some experiences that have made his journey as an event producer memorable

BY SWAROOP BANERJEE
CEO, Event Capital
 

Client: Guys, I love the setup. But the stage looks shorter than what I had perceived. Can you raise it by a foot?

Event Producer: But chief, the guests are about to arrive!

Client: So what? Let’s hold them in the waiting area.

***

Festival Producer: Yaar, I had called the house-keeping team at 11. It’s 4 pm now.What’s happening?

Production: Sir, they are stuck near Mayur Vihar, bas any moment.

***

Festival Producer: Bro, kuch jugaad laga! The last few sections are not able to hear the thump. Can you increase the volume?

Sound Engineer: Bro, full hai.

***

Security: Sir, I cannot let you enter. Approved accreditations are required.

Festival Producer: Guard sahib, this is the minister’s son’s youngest daughter’s second husband. He doesn’t have a pass, but let him in.

***

F&B: Sir, Black Label is over in the VIP lounge, we need to call for more.

Promoter: What? No! Ek kaam kar, just put Teacher’s in the Black Label bottle and send it. No one will know. Do it, kar de!

***

In the past decade-and-a-half, I have worked with crews from Jamshedpur to Mumbai and from Delhi to Visakhapatnam. I have also had the opportunity to work with crews in Amsterdam’s Ajax Arena, the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Dubai World Trade Centre, The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and the Durbar Marg in Nepal. Some instances have made me believe that while we might not be the best in the business globally, as yet, Indian event producers face and overcome scenarios that are unheard of anywhere else in the world.
 

My colleague was once travelling on a road show. The obvious choice in those days was a Scorpio. His crew was halted by a bunch of political rally supporters between Patna and Begusarai in Bihar. They had a simple request. “Sahib, we need your Scorpio. Only for three days. We will use it for the elections and return it to you.” The event manager pleaded that a large event was being set up and they needed to be there, but the politicos did not relent.

They put him up in a lodge, offered some honest hospitality, and after three days, the vehicle, though battered on most sides, was returned. In Kolkata, I once needed a set-up to speed up, and asked the venue construct vendor to double the manpower, at an added cost. He rounded up all his labour, sat down in a semi-circle and wore his red cotton towel as a turban. Soon, I heard cries of ‘Cholbena! Cholbena! (Not done, Not done)’. When I asked him, “Babubhai, what happened?” He said, “We are offended that you do not like our way of working and so, we are staging a dharna (protest).” To my Bengali luck, I speak the local tongue. I managed to apologize, and work resumed.
 

One of my largest festivals in the most recent past was under way on a pristine Goa beach. Multiple stages, curated décor, etcetera, etcetera. Two days before the event, when no one turned up to erect the last stage, I discovered that the stage trucks had been halted just before the Goa State Toll, as the vendor hadn’t received all the advance payment, and only on receipt of the money would he allow his trucks to enter!
 

In spite of such challenges, the Indian event producer finally delivers. He manages labour, vendors, manoeuvres through red tape to procure licenses, haggles with artistes and faces the wrath of the Indian client, who knowing all odds, simply says, “But you are the event manager na. Do your thing, make it happen.” And somehow, he always does.
 

In stark contrast to my experience of working with international crews, an Indian event set never lacks excitement. You learn so much with these international biggies; there’s so much exposure, but there’s never a dharna, their tool boxes shut at 6 pm with an overtime hour rate twice my salary, their line drawings match the arena requirements to the T, their security details give an impression of a diplomat visit and somehow their generators never fail!

Humour aside, the Indian event producer has evolved right in front of my eyes and my respect stems from the fact that his learnings are from across - Begusarai to Goa, Visakhapatnam to Delhi. The world is now his stage and he continues to surprise global audiences.
 

@ FEEDBACK swaroop@eventcapital.in

Category: 
Volume No: 
14
Issue No: 
25