EDUCATION PLUS

The soul of Saarang

PROFESSIONAL TOUCH: Amman and Ayyan performing at Saarang 2005.

PROFESSIONAL TOUCH: Amman and Ayyan performing at Saarang 2005.  



SUDHISH KAMATH

Nearly a thousand students are working meticulously, co-ordinating their efforts to well-timed precision and polishing their skills at professionalism for Saarang 2006.

Given its scale, budget and logistics, the mother of all cultural festivals, Saarang, gives the organisers adequate scope to polish all the professional skills they would need in the real world. Behind a half a crore project involving at least three professional shows and hajaar (IIT slang for many) other events, there are about a thousand students working meticulously, co-ordinating their efforts to well-timed precision and polishing their skills at professionalism — undergoing their trial by fire before their tryst with the real world. On second thoughts, it probably does not get more real than this, given the stakes, the reputation and the cult that the fest has become over the years. Project Saarang starts a few weeks after the year's edition is over. There are elections in March, when the students select the core team members. About 14 core team members have working on the festival since the summer of 2005 for this year's edition. They draw up the policy for the next edition based on the review of the previous, design a system of co-ordinators and volunteers. By September, there are about 250 co-ordinators taking charge of individual events, taking responsibility for the execution from start to finish."By December, most of the big deals are closed. We usually know who our big sponsors are by then and we close the rest of the deals by mid of January," says Krishna Raghavan, who co-ordinates sponsorships for the festival.But January is also when class commence after a month-long vacation. "With placements season moved to January and the classes, it does get quite hectic because we can't really miss classes or the placement interviews or sponsorship meetings or other appointments," he adds. By January, another 700 volunteers join the action and Project Saarang goes full throttle. "It is a lot of time but most of it do it because of the passion rather than have it as a bullet point on your resume," says Krishna. "It all starts off in your first year when you see what's happening around and you feel the urge to contribute and do it your own way."Amit Shahani, co-ordinator for the pro-shows for this year's Saarang agrees: "There is a sense of pride in organising the fest. Most people here do it for the energy that the festival generates.""This is a completely student-managed event. We do not involve event management companies and in some cases, we get to the artistes directly and interact with them on a personal basis," he explains. "In terms of it helping us with our careers, it does give us a managerial profile," adds Amit. As Vijay HM, co-ordinator for Public Relations explains, "We tend to meet a lot of people, we interact with the media and the industry. We are the ones who make the deals. That gives us skills in negotiation." "We sit with the sponsors and think about how to publicise the brand. So that gives us an insight of how they go about doing that," he adds.This year, the boys have decided to reach out to those who do not read newspapers through a blog dedicated to the making of Saarang apart from the official site ( >http://www.saarang.org/).





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