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Proshow—An Exclusive Glimpse Behind The Scenes

Every even semester, for four eventful days, MIT basks in the extravaganza of cultural and sporting activities that define Revels. Proshow, one of the major attractions of the fest, brings in a star-studded line-up of performers to Manipal’s stage. The sheer scale of the event and the gravitas of dealing with names as big as those involved here calls for months of hard work and planning. The MIT Post takes you behind the scenes of this category.

The work begins nearly four months in advance, with the Core Committee reaching out to the performers’ various points of contact. The team starts its preparation right after the end of the odd semester exams and works throughout the winter vacation. Surveys are taken across MAHE colleges for some insight into the current trends and get an idea about people’s preferences. The team contacts several artist management agencies and personnel managers to receive multiple tenders and quotations for artists. Background checks, which involves thorough research into the number and quality of shows they have handled so far as well as checking whether they’ve been blacklisted by an institution and if any of their past events have been cancelled, are conducted on the agencies. Once the checks are complete, the team negotiates with these agencies for over two months before finalising on the best and most feasible options. Apart from the costs, it is also imperative that the manager is easy to work with.

The committee takes its time deciding who headlines the show, believing in making use of the varied Manipal demographic and its unique taste to put together a good show. “We haven’t booked any mainstream Bollywood artists because we know that the Manipal crowd has diverse tastes. Students here know and like artists such as The Local Train and Ritviz and they appreciate having diversity in the performances they watch,” said Core Committee member Kartikeya Yadav.

Rapper Divine headlines Day 4 of Proshow

This year, the much-anticipated release of the movie Gully Boy played a crucial role in the selection of Divine as the headliner. Divine became a major selling point for the event and the team was confident that they would be able to monetise the event well. Vir Das, being primarily a comedian, prefers to perform his standup specials at college events. However, the Proshow team managed to deviate from the norm and book his band, Alien Chutney, for a musical performance. Finding a manager who shared their vision of bringing something different to Day 0 was an arduous task, but following that, the band was successfully booked and the entire team was ecstatic at accomplishing the unprecedented feat.

In a place like Manipal, that is witnessing a boom in stand-up comedy shows, finding an affordable comedian who hasn’t performed here earlier is not an easy task. This has primarily been the reason behind previous editions omitting comedians from their lineups. The team was pleasantly surprised at the crowd’s roars of approval in response to the announcement of former EIC comedian Atul Khatri during the Artist Reveal, as he’d been selected after a lot of deliberation and a little bit of uncertainty.

The 2019 Proshow artists

In a sit-down with the team, the CC members talked about how this Proshow focused on making each performance exciting rather than compromising on earlier performances and going all out on Ground Zero, which is something that has happened in the past. Most days had multiple artists performing, which minimised the risks in case an artist were to cancel at the last moment. This year, the team shied away from booking international artists as the risks involved and the costs—international taxes, business class flight tickets, transportation—increase ten-fold. Revels’18, for instance, had seen Proshow tickets being refunded as DJ Quintino’s performance got cancelled due to unforeseeable circumstances, an expensive setback that proved to be quite a dampener on the event. International artists’ requests and requirements are also a lot more difficult to meet as compared to those who generally tour within the country.

Following the signing of contracts and finalising the lineup, the next major element is the Artist Reveal. The hype generated around this brings with it a need for careful planning and meticulous preparation. The team usually adopts various strategies to keep the lineup under wraps, sometimes keeping even the organisers in the dark until a few days prior to the event. However, they are not always successful in their efforts, a fact that they acknowledge. There are always a few people who let a trusted friend in on the secret who, in turn, let in another person and so on. This year, the entire lineup was leaked prior to the announcement. Fortunately, this did not stop students from flocking towards the Student Plaza for the actual Artist Reveal.

The Artist Reveal at Student Plaza

This was when the team felt like all our hard work had finally begun to pay off. Standing on the top floor of Student Plaza and looking down at the crowd’s positive reaction to each reveal was an inexpressible feeling,” said CC member Akshita Ostwal, talking about the reveal. Another defining moment for the team was the sense of gratification they felt when they finally wrapped up the ticketing booths and stood back to watch over 5000 people enjoy the night they had in store for them.

Being a part of the team brings with it the unique opportunity to meet and interact with the stars, a perk that’s hard to come by elsewhere. According to the team, most visiting artists have been pleasant in their demeanour. Both The Indian Jam Project and When Chai Met Toast were open to individual interactions with the audience and the team and were generally fun to work with, making them easy favourites. Core Committee member, Arjun Menon, recollected the moments he shared with Divine when he’d gone to pick him up from the Mangalore airport. The artist asked for a short detour so he could meet his friends and his dog, following which he had lunch with Menon at a local seafood restaurant. Arjun Menon described this as a major fanboy moment and placed it among his fondest memories of working for the Proshow team.

The Proshow team with Vir Das’s Alien Chutney

Apart from making the event happen, their responsibility also extends to managing the actual event right till the end. With over five thousand people gathered together, it is crucial to have sound crowd management plans in place to ensure safety. The Proshow Core Committee works with the administration, the Student Council, and Vigilance to decide on the layout for the venue and plans to manage the masses. From its inception to its conclusion, they see to every aspect of this grand event. When the lights go down and the music turns up, those with a hand in making all this happen, revel in the crowd’s roars—a truly pure celebration of life, energy, and youth.