THE MEGA INTERVIEW
The young entrepreneur talks to Festival Sherpa about expanding Bacardi NH7 Weekender to another city, why allegations of ‘Bollywoodisation’ of the festival don’t bother him, and the challenges of ensuring that the music gala keeps getting happier with each passing year
How did the idea for the Shillong edition come about?
We had been planning for this for quite some time now. And we are very confident of the place we’ve chosen; Shillong so far has had no large music festival.
When will the artiste announcement be made?
The line-up will be announced end of December and the stages and programming will be done keeping in mind the place and the people there.
In the past few days, many fans have complained that there has been a ‘Bollywoodisation’ of the so-called indie festival. Does this criticism bother you?
Out of the 10,000 feedback tweets we received after the festival, only three were negative; so these things don’t really matter to us; they don’t make a difference. This (the Pune edition) was by far the best festival we have hosted. Plus, the allegation (of diluting the indie roots) is an exaggeration. Out of 58 acts in Pune, only two acts played Bollywood – Amit Trivedi and Mikey McCleary. Mikey plays eclectic stuff and I always wanted to showcase that at the festival. And Amit was one of the best programming decisions we’ve taken. I have never been more proud of our programming.
Complaining about the festival after attending it is a common hipster phenomenon, which we see every year.
Now that the Weekender experience has become quite familiar over the past five years, how challenging is it to ensure the next one offers something new and exciting to regular visitors?
Yes, it is a big challenge to make the experience different, as well as get the existing bands to do phenomenal sets.
There was a story in The Guardian recently that pointed out that 80 per cent of acts at the festival were first-time bands. And Amit, I must say, was a great discovery. His set in Pune was way better than those in Kolkata or Bangalore. It was overwhelming to see the sheer number of people. I have never had this kind of positive response. Over the years I have seen people jump, mosh and scream, but during Amit’s set, I saw people crying for the first time.
Raghu (Dixit) played to the largest audience ever. Post the festival, so many artistes called me to tell me how much they enjoyed at the festival.
In terms of organisation, things looked very smooth on the surface. How was it for you?
Yes, this year was really smooth for us. Everyone’s become so good and evolved at doing things, that I had absolutely nothing to do at the festival. My only contribution was that I made the site layout. Usually I come to the Pune six to seven days before the festival, but this time I reached two days before it.