TC/3: Knocking on Heavens door; Roshan Abbas Reviews #TheCoalition

Business Events | March 8, 2016 | Guest Article

The Coalition Roshan Abbas Vijay Nair OML

By Roshan Abbas

For three days, if all cities in India apart from New Delhi felt a cosmic vacuum of creativity, you can blame it on The Coalition 3.

As Scott Cohen, Co-Founder of the Orchard told me, “This place blows away every preconceived notion the West has of India. This could be Berlin, New York, Amsterdam for all I know. The hip vibe, the energy, the talent is all so global”

Over 2000 young creators gathered at TC3. While the big daddies of OML: Vijay Nair, Ajay Nair, Girish Raj, Arjun S Ravi, and Shreyas were all at hand; so were Laura Quinn (the cofounder of the festival) and Lynn McGuire Raj who is possibly the guardian mother of the Coalition with the entire OML crew.

Kids proudly wearing Nucleya T-shirts buzzed around handling stalls, streams, entry, speakers etc. And in the midst of this were the creators who had bought a ticket or been lucky enough to get a fellowship. Everyone looking to learn, listen, collaborate and to harness their creativity. Talkatora stadium was the gateway to a creative heaven and OML was playing guardian angel to the community knocking at the pearly gates! 

I arrived late on Day One, but heard about the awesome panels from my friend and comedian Vikram Sathaye. It seemed that content creation, food, comedy, and music were the toast of the festival, with all sessions running to capacity. There still is some way to go before design, publishing etc. find their feet. The telling fact was that Shekhar Gupta had only 20 people for his session, while Rega Jha of Buzzfeed along with Miss Malini had a 500 strong crowd. The times they are a changing. Everyone at coalition believes in the power of now. And it seemed that many of those still holding up a flag for the institutions of yesterday are fighting a lonely battle. This is the age of reinvention. 

The speaker line up was stellar. Where else can you find Anurag Kashyap, Guneet Monga, Arunabh Kumar, the AIB crew, Geoff Wills of Live Nation comedy, Florian Klaass from Red bull, Vijay Shekhar from PayTM, Richard Nash from Cursor the baap of publishing, TL Taylor from MIT, Ritesh Agarwal from OYO, Anjula Acharia-Bath (for those who don’t know who…the co-founder of Desi Hits and manager of Priyanka Chopra instrumental in the actress’ international breakthrough).

As for the arrangements, for the first time the speaker food left a lot to be desired. The Blue Tokai coffee quite made up for it and the stalls outside were a delight. From Sushi House Mafia to Inner chef they were all there. And you could even enjoy some chola kulchas if you wanted a flavour of Delhi! It was wonderful to see companies one had mentored in TC1 (two years ago) having full fledged stalls and selling their wares.

Coalition is a creative melting pot. If you have the patience to meet every young startup and creator you have the most incredible conversation. Who knows what you may come across, I met guitar amp makers, table magicians, young comics and musicians, graphic designer, food entrepreneurs, some pseudo startups who are after your money and many real ones who want mentorship. The backstage speaker lounge was often the setting for a long lost reunion at a Kumbh mela. People who have been work colleagues and business associates, school friends and clients all bonded over endless coffees and cigarettes. Varun Duggirala co founder of the Glitch was in animated conversation with brethren from the content industry. I could see many new collaborations blossom. 

There was plenty of learning and a lot of chuckles. Abish Mathew spoke of his struggle with convincing his parents that he wanted a creative career, Neelesh Mishra admonished brands on interfering with content, creative pitches were made to fund startups and all was well in the world of creative entrepreneurship. The session with Arvind Kejriwal was illuminating. He asked for solutions and his team was at hand to note them and to work on implementation. The EEMA initiative of one window clearance for events was spoken of. It has become one of the major reasons Delhi seems so event friendly. The upcoming Delhi Festival was spoken of and everyone invited to participate! 

Rain and a dust storm played spoil sport with the first evening at BCL for a bit, but everyone was too high on life to bother. 

When the rain came down again on Day 2, I saw Vijay personally supervising some arrangements. The sessions left one wanting for more. My only observation was that the quality of questions from the audience still seemed very amateur. Can't blame the 20 somethings for still looking for a quick break into Bollywood or comedy. Some panels would have been better moderated by experts as the use of comedians sometimes make them search more for a punchline than a dialogue to take the chat forward. Here too, I saw Vijay take the lead and steer a bunch of the chats. This is quite the one man show on stage! 

From 200 pioneers in year one to 2000 in its third edition, the festival has grown! And this time it was multi venue. From MTV Flyp hosting the food track to Akshara theatre where the gaming track was held it was a riot of ideas and a triumph for the imagineers. 

OML has worked hard through the year to curate not only great content but to get creative entrepreneurs from across the country to join in a revolution. My mind still boggles at the scale and what must be the monetary investment but they seem to be in this for the long haul. Vijay is keen to make this into a South by South West and knowing his vision, he shall! It's a marathon to create a festival not a sprint. And OML is off to a running start.


About the author:

Roshan Abbas is the founder and MD of Encompass, one of India's largest event and expereintial marketing agencies. Roshan also dons the hat of a Radio Jockey, FIlm Director, Theatre Actor, Writer and Story Teller. 

Engage with Roshan on twitter.

*From Meetings, Incentives, Conferences to Conventions and Exhibitions, click here to view the full list of categories in MICE & Buisiness Events at WOW Awards Asia 2016. 

The Coalition brings together the entire creative community to collaborate, innovate, and fuel the next wave of creative ventures.

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