The much-awaited IIT-Madras cultural fest ‘Saarang’ is back with a whole new line-up that'll attract students from all over the country.

Every year, IITians swear how the new edition of Saarang is bigger than before. “This year, it will be not just bigger but also better than before,” as Shreyas Rangan from the Sponsorship, PR and Media Core team, pitches it.

“Within a span of the last four days, the number of Likes on Facebook for Saarang (January 25-29), has gone up to 20,000.” We were informed of this just two minutes into a meeting with the Core team. “There are about 24 of them in all waiting for you,” says Shakti, who is co-ordinating the interview.  

All of them “Core”? He nods.

More sponsorship

“The numbers targeted are bigger than ever,” says Arjun AK, Sponsorships. “We approached about 900 companies for sponsorship.”

“This year it's called ‘IIT Madras and Nokia present Saarang 2011 in association with Derby',” Sruthi Chandrasekhar adds. “SBI and Nokia have been supporting us for the fourth year in a row.”

The hospitality team has sent out invites to over 600 colleges. “We are providing accommodation for about 1,500 students,” says Rahul K, Hospitality. “This year, we are also going to announce a helpline number given the number of participants expected.”

The publicity and ticket sales have their task cut out — to bring in 50,000 footfalls. “We've sent out invites to colleges in 11 different states and made presentations in 150 colleges,” Praneet explains. Rajendra adds that the strategy this year was to cover more regions in the North. “Most colleges in the South already know.”

When you are juggling funds to the tune of Rs. 1 crore, you need a separate team to keep track of the money. Ravi Kesav, Finance, says, “Our job is to maintain a balance between the inflow and the outflow and make sure it's all under control.”

As Yahiya, Finance, adds: “For every expense exceeding Rs.20,000, we make it a point to get three quotations from vendors before finalising.”

As Prashanth Pinnamaneni (Bait), Facilities and Requirements, spells out the scale: “Fifteen venues, 139 events happening in four days, 30 co-ordinators and Rs. 17 lakh to get everything done.”

“I have 200 students lined up for the security arrangements,” says Lathy, Security. “Especially, when we have personalities such as Shriya Saran and Shashi Tharoor walking in, we need to make sure the students maintain decorum. Last time, when we had a lecture by Kamal Haasan, they broke the door.”

The IITians are gunning for the ISO 9001-2008 certification.

Nishant, Cultural Secretary (Arts), tells us what's new. “We have diverse acts from Israel, France and America as part of the World Culture Show. We've identified what Saarang was lacking and brought in the Classical Arts Utsav from this year. We are getting professionals to act as judges for greater transparency.”

Ravi Teja Kanneganti, Cultural Secretary (Literary), adds, “Our efficiency has improved.  We have a quality management system in place.”

Jagadish, Quality Management Systems, elaborates, “We have 250 different kinds of feedback being collected this time. Since we are growing in size, we need to get an organisational system in place that will be useful for the future.”

Phani Kishan, Proshows, adds: “The idea is to present on a single platform a confluence of cultures. We don't forget people who have participated here. We are considering bands that have won here to open acts.”

“The ticket sales for the Proshows started on Thursday night. We need to generate Rs. 48 lakh through the sale of 20,000 tickets. Every year, we give about Rs. 7-8 lakh to charity,” says Sarur, Proshows.

“Fans can pick up exclusive fan passes from Kyazoonga.com that give them access to the pit closer to the stage,” says Anirudh, Proshows (See Box).

Keywords: IIT-MadrasSaarang

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