Jose Michael
on 21 August, 2013

Mal-Haar - A Fest And The Future!

Recently I visited a college fest that is reputed to be one of the best in the city. Unfortunately, I was thoroughly disappointed. There were a lot of reasons that turned my initial smile into a frown but I realised that most of those reasons could easily be fixed with a little bit of technology and a little bit of innovation. So, prepare yourself Unnamed-College-That-Also-Has-MBA, for you're about to be schooled. Altercation between artists and organisers is a common phenomenon. It should be one of the events - Hug-Of-War

First off, the fest shared a problem that the government itself is battling (sort of unsuccessfully), population. There was like a swarm of people. I took a crowded fast train from Andheri to Churchgate and I can honestly say that was a piece of cake as compared to the atmosphere inside the fest. But that was supposed to be quite predictable, I mean hey, if I ran one of the best festivals in the city I'd sure as hell expect a lot of annoying kids along with some really cool people (like me) showing up. I even read about how the volunteers were being trained to tackle flash mobs and what not, unfortunately a basic principle was forgotten. You don't have to fight the mob if you give them what they want!

Let's start off with heat. That place was like 100 times the effect the sauna at my gym gives, and I even had my clothes on! You'd expect a few pedestal fans or something to cool the crowd right? Nothing. No form of ventilation apart from trusting the architects of a century old structure to have made the place to support a swarm. So again, you leave a bunch of young people in sub-Saharan conditions and then wonder why people are mobbing the place? Blonde moment really.

The next point of regret I had was that it seemed like the whole fest was centered around selling stuff to people. The whole hour I was there I was ushered (more like driven) around from one place to another that all seemed to want to sell me something. Be it some funky t-shirt or some shavarma, I kept getting the feeling of another business trying to grab my wallet.

A festival, in my ideologically naive but perfect world, is a place that is centered around events but uses business as a means of profit. I'm not against selling stuff, I know that and sponsors is how you fund such a huge thing. But the focus has to be re-adjusted on to the events. I remember asking every volunteer I met what all can I see there, and between the few seconds that they spoke to me before asking me to follow the crowd, all they said was pick a place and we'll tell you how to get to it. They also handed me an annoying magazine and the most bizarre and useless map I've ever come across. The map was quite literally a few shaded squares with numbers on it. I know the volunteers did the best they could, but honestly I feel a question like "what can I see here" should be one of the things that should be answered most constructively. People come to fests to see things, not to buy stuff!

I'm a tech freak so the next point I'm going to emphasize on is related to tech. Technology can really be used to handle really large crowds. I recall one of the touchy points being that after I climbed what seemed like the staircase from Inception (optical illusion that never ends?) I reached a "hall" or something only to be told that the event is packed and there's no more space. I would have felt very angry if I wasn't gasping for air, unfortunately my lungs had bigger concerns it seemed. But then I thought about it later and an idea hit me. Why not use technology to save you? Instead of moving a swarm about from one place to another, if you could hook up some routers and a server that broadcasted live events (like the impromptu comedy thing) on a local area, then people could sit wherever they found space and chill out and listen to the show. What's better? It could be interleaved with a bunch of audio ads, tickles to think doesn't it MBA folks? You could make some extra cash and provide a great service at the same time!

All in all, I do realize that setting up such a huge gig must have been an enormous task. But let's try and keep the crowd engaged enough to not want them to flash mob every BMW or Audi that even took a turn to the VIP Entrance? I honestly believe that the best way to contain a crowd is to keep them engaged, which is something some really good teachers have shown me. The power of a thought or an idea is much stronger than a bunch of volunteers holding hands and making a human chain (only to be ripped off by an occasional angry mob, loved that bit).

There is no doubt that the fest could be one of the best or whatever, but I see it as becoming something even more awesome. Something truly that sets a whole different stage of its own. I'm hoping to see that awesomeness shine through sometime soon and would be one of the first to whole heartedly praise it. This is Jose, signing out.

PS: Wrote the last para to keep off hate mailers :)

Image Credits - Angry Dad and Springfield Mafia - Simpsons

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Jose Michael

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