Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How NOT to Manage an Event: Filmy / Synergy / Bollywood ka Boss

Win 50 Lakhs, they said. A show to be anchored by Boman Irani, they said. Produced by Synergy, to be aired on Filmy – well, I had reasonable expectations from the event when they sent me an SMS saying I’ve been shortlisted for the written test of this new Bollywood-based quiz show on Filmy, Bollywood ka Boss (I was shortlisted on the basis of a short-ish SMS quiz).

“Congrats! Your roll number is xxxxxx. Please turn up at Siri Fort Auditorium at 5 PM on Monday, 22nd October”. Well, I reached at 5 sharp – to find a massive queue of god-knows-how-many people outside Siri Fort. No problems, I thought, the gates should open soon, and got in line. Person behind me told me that the event is at *6:30 PM*, and I confidently told him that that’s not possible, they wouldn’t call us 90 minutes in advance. Must be the next batch, I thought.

Well, guess what – it was due to start at 6:30 PM. They did call us 90 minutes in advance. And it gets better – the gates didn’t open at all till 6 PM – which means that they made hundreds of people (that they had invited through an SMS, so they knew precisely the maximum number of people that could have turned up!) wait outside, without so much as a word of instruction or apology. At about 6:05 someone wakes up and goes around telling everyone that women can jump the queue and enter first.

I finally get in from the main gate by 6:15 – and the scene inside the compound is no better. Some 5-6 youngish chaps are sitting in one corner with a laptop, ostensibly to handle registrations (I wonder why…they have my mobile number, they’ve assigned me a roll number already – what more do they need to do? ) So anyways, registrations are excruciatingly slow. It’s 6:35 PM already, I’m still in line outside the building, and the people in front of the registration desk are getting so bugger-all pissed that there’s lots of shouting and cursing, people are jostling against each other, the staff is looking totally confused, and a couple of people look like they’re going to fall off the landing. The guy with the laptop now climbs onto something and holds his laptop high above his arms – I wonder what the crowd there had threatened to do to his laptop to make him do that, but a rather funny sight it was. Then another staffer picks up a laptop case and starts flailing it around- I think he was attempting to throw it across the crowd to one of his friends. And every time he would lift his arm to throw the case, the crowd below him would start shouting. Also at the same time, the extremely irate crowd has started throwing whatever they can find into the air. Plastic bags that were being distributed (to keep mobile phones in?), and even straws. I swear I am not making any of this up.

6:40 PM – I’m in front of the registration desk now, I can see inside the building, and what do I see from the distance? Another long line inside!! But what happened next totally takes the cake: All the staffers there, poor confused souls, grab their sheets and head off somewhere. Without a word of explanation. As it is, all of them looked like college kids hired for a pittance – I couldn’t spot a single senior guy handling the event, and these people definitely did not look like they worked for Filmy, or even Synergy. Even these staffers disappeared, leaving the crowd in the hands of the security guards…who were obviously clueless to begin with.

6:50 PM: What else could possibly happen to add to the chaos? At least the lights are still…uhh…wait a minute! Why’d it suddenly get so dark? The lights inside, the lights outside are working – but the lights in the foyer, where the remaining crowd is, are out. A vague attempt to disperse the crowd still left outside? Or simply some random thinking on the part of the college kids managing the event?

6:55 PM – The lights are back on. I’ve had enough though. The staffers are still missing, and no one is around to tell anyone what’s happening, or when it’ll begin. Also, given the horribly mismanaged affair so far, no ways can I trust them with handling my (sweet!) mobile phone and actually returning it to me later. Time for me to exit stage left. Filmy – where’s my refund for the cost of the SMSes I sent? Actually, chuck that. Where’s my written apology?

Update: Wow, that's the fastest I've ever gotten what I'd asked for...maybe I should've asked for a BMW:-) Filmy's responded in the first comment...Shailesh, I must admit I wasn't expecting this kind of response from the organisers! Kudos to Filmy for at least owning up to what happened...haven't seen too many big organisations that are willing to do that...I hope next time is more fun for me:)

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