The date clash of great experiences should be avoided: Siddhartha Chaturvedi on Taalbelia
MUMBAI: On this Republic Day, Rajasthan witnessed a first of its kind musical festival organised by Event Crafter in association with the Royal Family of Mandawa called 'Taalbelia.' This event was special because unlike other festivals in India, this was not genre-centric. It had varying acts ranging from classical performances to band performances. It was a four-day long event which showcased over thirty acts including our desi rockstars, Indian Ocean to Grammy award winning 'mohan-veena’ virtuoso Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhat. The festival flaunted international acts as well including American sax player George Brooks and other artists who have contributed greatly to world music. The diversity of the line-up did not only stick to live musicians but it also had DJs to keep the interest of the young crowd alive. This multi-genre festival had a lot more to offer apart from live performances like dirt biking, handicraft and music workshops as well.
Radio and Music had a little talk with CEO Siddhartha Chaturvedi of Event Crafter after the festival.
Was this the first time for Event Crafter is the music space? Do enlighten us.
Event Crafter has been a pioneer in creating offbeat musical experiences since couple of decades now. We have been actively involved in festivals like Jaipur Heritage International Festival and RIFF in its inception years. Taalbelia happens to be our first owned IP.
How did the idea of creating Taalbelia festival emerge?
Taalbelia, has been on my mind for many years. I always wanted to do a music festival for all and everyone. A festival where you may come and join for few of your favourite artists of specific genre, but then go back loving a complete different experience of witnessing the act, you never knew you may like. Idea was to create a residential boutique music festival where experiences with music change with the direction of the sun.
'Taalbelia' did not have the usual music festival format. It was one of a kind. Thus, was getting the right line-up an important factor?
Yeah, Taalbelia is for sure very unique and one of its kind. It is the only festival where your days and nights revolve around such unique and diverse experiences. It was very important for us to get the right mix of line-up at the inaugural version. Like I mentioned before, it was very important for me to draw out the best from favourites to make sure you discover some new ones at Taalbelia.
The Royal Family of Mandawa agreed on the special collaboration. How did you manage to convince them?
The family of Mandawa has had a lineage of patronage towards art and culture in erstwhile time. They collaborated with us with an open heart and mind and gave us their full support. Taalbelia will make the world look at Mandawa as a cultural epicentre of this region.
A four-day festival with royal stay means lots of investment for the ones attending it. Were people willing to pay?
People are more than willing to invest if they get the desired value, an unmatchable experience, which they found in Taalbelia.
Were you also looking at attracting foreign tourist through the festival?
Absolutely! Mandawa has that colourful charm and a great heritage history to offer. Taalbelia triggered the tourist movement to the place where they experienced all its culture mixed with experiencing all the other musical talent India has to offer in such a magnetic place.
Security seems to have become a major issue in India post the Bengaluru incident. In fact, the Bengaluru government refused to hold concerts post New Year's, till they sort security. Similarly, Goa government too had refused to have Sunburn and Supersonic in Goa due to inadequate safety arrangements. Did the Rajasthan government have similar issues or they welcomed the festival with open arms?
These developments are unfortunate. It is responsibility of both administration and people to ensure smooth conduct of such events. Cancelling such events is not the solution, behaving well in public places as a society and managing the security well by the administration and organisers is surely the way to go.
Rajasthan is a state of festivals. Rajasthan government knows and understands that festivals are the best marketing tool to draw tourists to its various exotic locations. Government here is always open to support initiatives which promulgate the culture, art music and heritage of the glorious state.
What were the security measures taken for the ones attending the event?
We had taken good security measures in our festival. Families with kids and friends thoroughly enjoyed the festival without any hassles whatsoever.
Was the event expense covered with enough sponsors?
The festival was introduced more on a self-sustainable model, in the first year. We had Pernod Ricard and Wonder Cement as our sponsor.
Will the first season decide on 'Taalbelia's' other seasons or you plan to keep this as an ongoing property?
Taalbelia has been conceptualised to be an ongoing property. We got a very encouraging response in our first season. People, who came to Taalbelia, fell in love with it.
What was the footfall in its debut season?
All our rooms for both the properties were sold out in its inaugural edition. A healthy number of people who stayed in other properties of Mandawa were seen walking in to experience the festival.
'Ranthambore Festival' took place in Nahargarh Palace, Rajasthan from 27th to 29th January. Did that affect the footfall? Weren't you aware of this development?
I'm glad that every part of Rajasthan is being presented to the world in its right form and packaged well as festivals in that region. We had announced Taalbelia beforehand and came to know about the Ranthambore festival happening on same dates much later after our announcement. Personally I think the date clash of such great experiences should be avoided, at least in the same state. If both festivals were happening on different dates, it would have ensured better footfalls to both. But then everyone looks at the right weekend window these days and at times you see dates clashing like it unfortunately did.
Now it was the Royal Family’s turn to give their take on ‘Taalbelia.’ So we penned down what Kanwar Shivarjun Singh Mandawa had to say.
How exciting was 'Taalbelia' and was there a huge list of guest that attended the festival?
We were very excited to host Taalbelia as we have always tried to put a music festival where we have not limited the music to just one genre and extended ourselves to all music lovers of all ages. We had got a mix of over 30 artists performing from all over the country and abroad. For the first time the award-winning artists of different genres like George Brooks and Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt performed together with Indian Ocean.
We did realise that demonetisation has put a strain on everyone's pockets but the encouraging aspect was that despite the shortcomings we still received very good bookings and were in fact sold out.
How did the collaboration between Event Craft and you take place? Were there any inhibitions initially about doing the festival?
Siddhartha Chaturvedi and I met at a convention and the long conceived idea instantly fell in place. We both are very passionate about music and so the birth of Taalbelia happened. There were no inhibitions at all since we have hosted many festivals in the past as well. We at Mandawa have had the opportunity to host maestros and danseuse like Pandit Birju Maharaj, Mallika Sarabhai, Sonal Mansingh, Shobhana Narayan, Shiv Kumar Sharma, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Pandit Ram Narayan to name a few.
Is the Royal family open to welcoming other festivals too?
Absolutely, we have always patronised all kinds of artisans and that's part of our culture.