Samir Pandit is pretty well known in Nagpur’s Marathi theatre circuit. He runs the event management company – Shri Siddhivinayak Publicity and Events Private Limited – which often organises Marathi plays in Nagpur and across Vidarbha. His event firm has more than once managed to bring in popular Marathi theatre and film artists from Mumbai and Pune to Nagpur to satiate the thirst of Marathi theatre lovers. In an interview with Nation Next, Samir Pandit speaks about Marathi theatre and also gives a piece of advice to other organisers of plays in the city.
You now head the event management company ‘Shri Siddhivinayak Publicity and Events Private Limited’ but basically you’re an MBA in public relations. How did you get into event management? What kind of events does your firm manage?
After I obtained a degree in B.tech in textile engineering from Bombay, I did my MBA in public relations from Nagpur. Thereafter, I was working as a production engineer in Indo Rama in 2003. But then I quit and started my own event management company in Nagpur and Pune. My event firm organises theatre plays in Nagpur. Over the years, Siddhivinayak events in collaboration with production houses in Mumbai and Vidarbha have organised a lot of plays in Nagpur. Apart from plays we also manage other events like weddings, musical shows and corporate events.
Are you creatively inclined towards Marathi plays?
Yes. I have my own production house as well. I run my business by organising events and plays but to give a chance to Nagpur youngsters to explore and showcase their talent, I provide a platform and organise various commercial musical events and plays as well.
Have you ever considered acting in one of the plays yourself?
No. I don’t have the inclination towards acting. I am a producer and I enjoy being backstage. I like exploring talent and I only finalise the star cast with the director. I am actively involved in the process of production though.
How many plays have you organised till date?
With other production houses I have organised more than 1000 plays across Vidarbha till date. My own production house has staged a few plays which were a success as well.
What do you think about Nagpur’s theatre market?
The response to theatre and other cultural activities in Nagpur is great and such activities are on a rise. Since 2003, I have seen a tremendous boost in response to Marathi theatre and it is being well appreciated. People in Nagpur are very intelligent; if the play is good it will definitely do good business here. Yes, people here are a bit choosy but I feel Nagpur’s audience is quite wonderful and have a good taste. I have done shows in Mumbai and Pune where Marathi as a language is so dominant but I feel Nagpur’s Marathi theatre audience is better, rather best all over in Maharashtra.
Would you call theatre a money making business?
Yes, it is definitely a money making business but it’s a risky business. When you organise a play you’re not sure whether people will turn up or not to see the play but if proper planning and marketing is done then it’s bound to be successful. Fortunately, I have always got a good response in Nagpur.
With such a great inclination towards Marathi theatre, have you ever considered diversifying into Marathi films in any way?
Yes, but I am taking things slowly. I do plan to expand my business in the future and produce Marathi films but right now my focus is completely on Marathi theatre.
Marathi, English and Hindi theatre thrive in Nagpur together. Which theatre sells the most in Nagpur?
It’s definitely Marathi. Marathi theatre is commercially thriving in the city and is getting a lot of recognition and success. Organising Hindi plays costs more and they don’t even flourish that much.
Since you are so much involved in organisation and planning of theatre in city, what’s your say on the state of cultural venues in Nagpur?
The state of cultural venues in Nagpur is very poor. Big cities like Mumbai and Pune have a lot of good and clean venues for organising plays or other shows. In Nagpur firstly, there are very limited halls so we don’t have many options, and secondly even the limited options are not good. The chairs at the venues are broken at most times. Sometimes there’s a water leakage problem and sometimes the AC doesn’t work! Thirdly, the venues are not easily available always. According to the rules if a government program has to happen at a venue then within 48 hours the hall authorities can cancel our booking. I’ve suffered losses as a few times my shows have been cancelled due to government programmes. The state of cultural venues should be looked into because the response from the audience in terms of attendance is good and they want to experience good theatre and cultural activities.
You market your plays well. What would be your advice to other organisers of Marathi theatre?
These days quite a few amateur groups are organising a lot of Marathi plays in the city and their scripts and acting skills are brilliant. But these groups are not marketing and promoting their plays well. I would just like to suggest them to invest a bit in marketing their shows as they can get a larger audience by doing that.