Men changing the face of Pune: Vijay Nair, Karan Singh, Saugato Bhowmik

The former seat of the Peshwas, and the Governor’s monsoon retreat during British rule, Pune came into fame on acquiring the position of the 2nd smartest city in present India. Besides the lavish green surroundings and fantastic weather, it also boasts of long wide roads, fast growing industry, active nightlife, a thriving student community and a commendable safety standard. And tapping all this to their advantage are the three young kingpins of music festivals- Vijay Nair, founder, NH7 Weekender, Karan Singh, CEO, Sunburn and Saugato Bhowmik, business head, Supersonic.


India's three most popular music festivals will attract visitors this season from all over the country and encourage the good citizens of Pune to let their hair down: Bacardi NH7 Weekender, Sunburn and Vh1 Supersonic. As Saugato Bhowmik, Business Head-Live Viacom 18 and Consumer Products said for Supersonic, "We are excited to build India’s youth capital as the newest party destination!”

To be fair, maybe, the city does merit all the adulation. It seems to fit the cards for everyone. “The thought behind Bacardi NH7 Weekender when it first started was to have people break away from their routine and drive out to the festival. For everyone in Mumbai, Pune as an easy to get to destination, was a natural fit. Then of course, there's a massive student population in Pune that supports the festival,” said Vijay Nair, CEO, Only Much Louder.

Speaking in the same strain, Bhowmik said,” The city is deep-rooted in culture and traditions and is known for its openness towards modern influences and thought. The multicultural and cosmopolitan environment of the city facilitates understanding and appreciation of other cultures. The city also has a rich infrastructure that supports commute from metros across India, thereby making travel convenient for outstation attendees. The seamless blend of local culture and global influences makes Pune an apt destination for the upcoming edition of Vh1 Supersonic.”

Especially on the subject of venues, Pune seems to be an organiser’s Paradise.
“After the 2015 edition, we realized we needed a bigger venue to accommodate the increasing number of fans attending the festival. That's why the change in venue this year,” Nair added.

“Convenience has played the biggest role in selecting Laxmi Lawns as our venue for the upcoming edition of Vh1 Supersonic. While the venue is closer for travelers from Mumbai, there are also several accommodation facilities around Laxmi Lawns, making it convenient for the outstation audience. While it is not too far from the main city, the venue is strategically situated away from the daily bustle of the city,” elaborated Bhowmik, on the choice of venue for the first edition of Supersonic in Pune .

Karan Singh, CEO, of Sunburn which recently debuted in Pune is effusive about his catch. “Sunburn Hills, a privately owned 90 acre land at Kesnand on the Pune-Ahmadabad highway provided the perfect setting to celebrate the decade long dominance of brand Sunburn. Not only is it nestled amidst nature and has a breathtaking view of the city of Pune but is also well-connected to the main city with a drive time of 30 minutes to the venue. The strategically located venue provided a greener and pollution free climate that is fit for the Sunburn experience. The new venue is complete with excellent infrastructure along with health and safety amenities. Pune is a great city with a lot of young crowd and it is also a city which has the infrastructure to support a festival of the magnitude of Sunburn. Our 10th edition was a promising start to a long relationship with the city” he contributed.

To be mentioned here is the fact, that Pune knows what is good for it, like a smart city should. As Singh rightly expressed, “Festivals are usually destination events and are planned around a suitable destination so as to enable the growth of the festival as also ensure that the entire eco system around it works towards making it successful and mutually beneficial to the location, local economy and the State. Festival organisation and development of the local Eco system go hand in hand. I must add here that one big beneficial factor was the amazing support extended from the Maharashtra Tourism Ministry, the Pune Collectorate, Police, and all local Administrative departments.”

The Punekars are being amply rewarded for their brilliant hospitality. While NH7 Weekender has already blasted its way through 2- 4th December, Sunburn ushered in the new year with 5 stages this year with some interesting labels like MonsterCat, District 808, Soma Project, Shaan & Friends, and Hill Top Records. Leading Dj’s like Axwell Ingrosso, Armin van Buuren, Dimitri Vegas Like Mike, KSHMR, Afrojack performed at Sunburn 10. In addition fans enjoyed a world class experience with on-site camping options, the fan village, an extensive array of food courts, 40+ experience zones comprising archery, badminton, board games, card games, paintball, human slingshot, chill out zones with recliner beds and sheesha, workshop areas with experts, open air theatre, karaoke sessions over evening bonfires and barbeque. And apart from the main festival, there were massive after parties on all 4 days at multiple venues,” narrated Singh.

And for those who were not able to haul themselves to Pune for the year-end, do not be disappointed. A month down the line theres Vh1 supersonic with its own cornucopia of musical treats. “We will have an eclectic, exciting line-up of international and local artists. We are also looking at organizing numerous hangout zones, filled with fun and adventurous activities, engaging art installations, flee markets and a lot more,” hinted Bhowmik.

So, is there a possibility of saturation?

All three men seem unanimous in their opinion against it. Apparently share, care and hold hands is the new motto. “We're glad to see more festivals come to Pune, and for fans to have more options in festivals to attend. OML has spent a lot of time over the last 7 years building a legacy festival in Pune, and given the rate at which Bacardi NH7 Weekender has grown, it'll be fair to say fans have dedicated time to it each year. That's where we wanted to be, and with everything new being worked on, and improved, we don't think this will change,” said Nair.

An optimistic Bhowmik said , “While NH7 Weekender has been a part of Pune’s music festival scene for years, we feel there is space for more music festivals in the city, each providing unique experiences to the audience. The upcoming music festivals taking place in Pune are not clashing at all; each has its own unique flavor and are scheduled to take place on different dates, we have ensured that there is no festival taking place in the region at least a month prior and a month after Vh1 Supersonic”.

Singh, taking confidence a notch higher, had the word,” We believe we have an established festival, one of the biggest in the world, so we don't see any problem as such. We are very passionate and excited about the festival. We are very happy that Sunburn has moved to Pune, it is now more affordable and accessible for our audiences. The new venue is absolutely spectacular and fits the vibe and character of Sunburn. We are very excited for the future of the festival here.”

Seems Pune is in for a stupendous ride. Time to buckle up?

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