The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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And now for puja managers
- Proper packaging boosts popularity, believe organisers

An innovative theme, a striking idol, attractive lighting… all these could still add up to pandals more half-empty than half-full.

Enter, the event managers. With the same products, a brand new package is worked out. The result: space jam at pandals.

From organising a press conference to managing external communication and preparing the roadmap on the theme and its proper marketing, they are there to create a huge hype surrounding the puja.

Two puja committees — Aaikatan at Selimpur and Sanghamitra Club of Ichhapur, Howrah, separated by several kilometres and a river — are among the ones to rope in as event managers Relation Makers, promoted by Partha De and Arindam Mukhopadhyay.

“The decision to hire an agency increased our budget. But their performance has proven that we took the right decision,” says Shankar Majumdar of Selimpur’s Aaikatan.

Inspired by Tagore’s Raktakarabi and Utpal Dutt’s famous theatrical essay Angaar, the theme of the south Calcutta puja this year revolved around the lives of colliery workers. The live audio-visual show, based on Dutt’s play, at the simulated Sheldon Colliery was a major draw with pandal-hoppers.

“Last year, we had a unique theme, with Tagore’s kumorparar gorur gari, but it did not get noticed. This year, people are talking about us. Both crowds and corporates have shown interest in the puja,” adds Majumdar, giving credit to the ‘managers’.

“We liked the concept of managing pujas and decided to experiment with it. Durga puja is the biggest annual event in Bengal and we think the role of agencies like ours will see a fillip in the Pujas ahead,” says De.

Market researcher Shiloo Chattopadhyay supports the view. According to him, with corporates lending their weight behind organisers and committees competing against each other to attract pandal-hoppers, the “game of eyeballs” — which, in this case, is first footfall — will further intensify in future and the role of event managers will increase.

The organisers of Ichhapur Sanghamitra Club, the event manager’s second client, believe that the decision to hire the agency gave them the “much-needed” visibility.

“The big pujas hardly need any publicity. But those who are not in this elite league can gain a lot by hiring professionals,” says a member of the club.

While organisers recognise the logic behind hiring an agency and accept that a professional approach will bring in transparency in baroari pujas, some fear it will spoil the flavour of the festival and curb the camaraderie. Relation Makers De and Mukhopadhyay, however, believe that agencies will gain in importance with time because of “a definite need gap” in the system of puja packaging.

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