Genie in a Bottle!: Sameer Sethi

Well, not exactly in a bottle. More like zooming around on a magic carpet! Sameer Sethi, Vice President at Percept Activ takes event management to a whole new level! It’s not just booking a hall and hiring a sound system. It’s an art in its own way and he has hit a high point, that only he can up-stage. The 2.0 music launch was anything but a regular filmi affair. From sky-divers to helicopters to floating stages and chugging trains, the event had a whole bunch of novel, out-of-the-world ideas going for it and Sameer was the man behind it all.

Text: Kaanchan prashanth

SO WHAT WAS THE CREATIVE BRIEF GIVEN TO YOU FOR AN EVENT OF SUCH MAGNITUDE?

We got the opportunity to do this event thanks to Subhaskaran of Lyca Productions. And when we were brought on board we were told that we had to put on a show that was not just one of a kind, but one that could not be surpassed for the next hundred years! Lyca has put in a few hundred crores into 2.0, and they were ready to spend whatever it took to make the music launch nothing short of brilliant.

WHY DUBAI?

Everything Dubai does is legendary, record breaking. From tallest buildings to man-made islands, Dubai is the place for spectacular things to take place. And from the minute we knew were doing the event, I was only thinking big. And everything that I wanted to do, we did. We had sky-divers jump out of a plane and launch the movie’s poster. We had helicopters drop off VIPs at the Burj Khalifa which was the venue for our event. We set up a screen that was 60 feet high in shopping mall to telecast the whole launch LIVE. We had director Shankar and AR Rahman arrive on the stage on a 60 feet long train. Rajinikanth made his entry on a hydraulic lift. Bosco who did the choreography in the movie, did the choreography at the music launch too. AR Rahman performed with a live Macadonian band comprising of over 100 musicians. Floating pieces of the stage were controlled via bluetooth. Over thousand people worked for at least two weeks before the launch, piecing the event together. Nothing about 2.0 is small, so obviously nothing about the launch could be ordinary.

WHAT WAS YOUR STATE OF MIND ON THE DAY OF THE LAUNCH? WHAT WAS YOUR PLAN B, JUST IN CASE…

Plan B is for losers, for people who have no idea what they are doing. We had the resources to pull off anything we wanted, but having the budget does not mean everything goes smoothly. You have to plan meticulously. You have to know how to spend thet money effectively. Director Shankar has been to the Remo music launch and hence was aware of my work. Subhaskaran was confident in my abilities. There was no room for messing up. There never is a Plan B. And on the day of the event, I’m not one to sit around and gloat and soak up all the compliments. With blinkers on my eyes, I am fully focussed on the event and on ensuring everything goes as planned.

WE HEAR YOU WANTED TO MAKE AKSHAY KUMAR JUMP OF A PLANE AND RELEASE THE MOVIE’S POSTER!

Yes and trust me, he was game for it. Akshay Kumar is a daredevil who is ready to do anything. Unfortunately there was a press meet and Akshay had to be there, so we got professional sky-divers to do the jump instead. Actually, Akshay wanted to fly into the music launch, sadly we could not do that. But he was sportive about that. In fact all the stars performed on the stage according to our planning without a fuss. Nobody would have expected Rajinikanth to perform with the dancers. It’s not something he does, but he did it because he saw how much of effort had gone into every aspect of the launch. Having Shankar and AR Rahman perform on stage was also amazing. All of them, Amy Jackson and Akshay Kumar as well, were so professional and very enthusiastic about the whole thing. They just went with the flow. Director Shankar’s associate Pappu was of great help in directing the event on the actual day.

YOU CALLED THE LAUNCH 2.0 FESTIVAL..

Yes because that is what it was – festival! The whole of Dubai, even their royalty, had no choice but to be at the show. 2.0 is no ordinary movie. It has a global flavour to it. Rajinikanth is phenomenal beyond the bounds of South Indian cinema. So we had to make a show that live up to these aspects. So we decided to do a variety of smaller events that would lead up to the main event. So in a sense we hijacked Dubai for the whole day, because the entire city was the stage for our audio launch.

SO WHERE WOULD YOU HOST THE 3.0 MUSIC LAUNCH?

Now that’s a scary thought! The only thing I didn’t make the stars do at the 2.0 music launch was to jump from outer space. We gave them an event that cannot be beaten, even by us! If there is to be a 3.0 music launch, we will have to do it at some place spectacular – the pyramids at Egypt maybe! I can’t quite imagine out-doing this event, but in my head the only person I have to beat is myself. So I will have to figure this one out, should it happen.