Anchors on Keeping Up with the 'New Normal'

Entertainment | July 10, 2020 | Feature

Gitikka Ganju Dhar Sonam C Chhabra Freishia Khyati Kava Raja RME

The COVID-19 pandemic had a sudden and substantial impact on the live entertainment industry. EVENTFAQS Media reached out to Artists/Anchors for their views on how they are adapting to the world of virtual events, difficulties faced while engaging the audience digitally and the types of events now being offered to them during the pandemic.

"Change is always more exciting!"
- Gitikka Ganju Dhar

I have a vivid imagination, so I am imagining the audience, assuming their response, and continually engaging with them. On many events, the video feed of the attendees is controlled, so the host has to continue driving the event, unabated. I am based in Mumbai, the lockdown has been re-imposed, and so, I cannot hire a technical assistant to handle the set up of lights, computers, and backdrop. And it is a huge drag to do one's own makeup and hair! Thanks to the lockdown, I cannot engage with them either! 

Also, content online can be consumed forever, so the clients have become even more particular about the script. All in all, anchors are working harder than before, for sure. And one is constantly on the edge about the internet ditching, so I have gone ahead and paid for two different internet providers, in case one malfunction on the D-Day! I am getting offered large format summits, knowledge seminars, annual R&R events, and chat shows and have executed many, many of them over the last three months. The format of virtual events is never going to fade away. In the coming future, we will all have to up our game in terms of the set-up, technology, and support systems. I sure will; this is an exciting new stream and change is always more exciting!

"Content is given priority over entertainment now."
- Khyati Kava

It's a new, exciting world of digital events; I am learning and evolving and riding on this new tide with renewed energy and curiosity. The wave of change has emerged quite suddenly but seems like it's here to stay. Virtual events are challenging as there is a huge dependency on factors that don't involve you, like internet bandwidth, software/application server and so much more. In addition, you have to be your own sound and light expert, scripts need to be even more personal and the engagement has to be really high, or else it is very easy to lose the attention of your audience digitally. I am hosting many conferences and summits as well as reward and recognition events, product launches, and customer engagement programmes. The format has changed where content is given priority over entertainment now. Brands and organizations want to have maximum engagement rather than high entertainment value.

"We need more entertainers to think like entrepreneurs."
- Raja Mukherjee

Well, a new normal is just a way to adapt and evolve, and adapt and evolve for me has never taken a break.  Sure, I definitely had other ideas and strategies for 2020 and the decade, which will still be on the move when the time is right. But for now, I think we all took a bump to the head. I am personally working on my debut rap album which is 35pc done, I haven't had so much free time in the last 15 years of my working career so you know what, I said why not start something fresh and we have a new media outlet called "Cut The Crop'. If time is money, then why not invest time in yourself when there is an abundance of it available? Time is here today, gone tomorrow but use this time to create what you want to build and own for yourself. Live in the present and build for the future. We need more entertainers to think like entrepreneurs.

A stage is a stage - no amount of webcam or internet speed or a Zoom or boom can substitute it.

I didn't face any difficulties because I treat every show digital or physical with the same love and energy. Alll my audiences love the vibe because I want to make the moment for them and for me too as we are all in this together. 

It took a day or two to understand the basics of the digital platform,  but that's all it took. We do what we do best and that's entertain.

"I miss the realism of a stage."
- Angela Rebello

A new epoch, a new age and a new normal! Who knew I would be hosting a live show with 5,000 people watching me? But as a host I am talking to a screen and virtually connecting with people; it's different but it's fun. As an Emcee, a digital platform demands you to be creative, spontaneous, and innovative to hold the attention of the viewers. I miss the realism of a stage, the lights and sound, and of course the thrill of it all. Can't wait to hop back on stage.

"Now the option of international events is also open."
- Freishia Bomanbehram

The new virtual world of events is definitely picking up. Previously, I have done various events from webinars to brand launches to R&Rs. In some cases I have seen that clients are still a little apprehensive when it comes to different ways of engaging audiences, but the more we try to innovate hopefully the more accepting they will become. I am now my own backstage manager, stage set-up, lights, and showrunner… so an artist's scope of work has increased beyond what we did regularly. It's not just about 'ghar bethe show karo'. That being said, I have always been the kind of person who adapts very fast. I already have a full set up at home with equipment so that I can take my events to another level. The one positive thing that I see from all of this is that now the option of international events is also open to us. I have already done one and I am looking at expanding my market beyond the borders of our country.

"Can’t wait to get back to business as usual."
- Sonam C Chhabra

If only we had a forewarning of what was about to hit us, we would have been better prepared for 'The New Normal'. But as they say, it’s in our will to turn challenges into opportunities. I have hosted a few virtual shows in these three months. I recently hosted a wedding that had 50 people in attendance and hundreds watching it live from home. That was a unique experience in itself; playing the sutradhaar and storyteller, simultaneously.

Apart from the work, I have been keeping myself engaged through various classes and workshops, sometimes as the student, sometimes as the teacher.  I have started my own podcast - We Give A Foxx - where we talk about the opinions of the youth of today. Still, I share a mutual love with the stage and can’t wait to get back to business as usual.

"The infectious energy of an audience in a room cannot translate on screen."
- Sarita Raghuvanshi

I have always been tech-savvy and had exposure to video conferencing apps, so hosting events on them has been an easy step. I host virtual events with as much zeal and excitement as the stage events, if not more! In the past three months, I’ve hosted over 20 events on eight platforms. To deliver a technically impeccable event, I use three internet connections spread across two laptops, a mobile phone, and a tablet; all at once so that there’s no glitch during the event.

I’ve developed customized employee engagement activities for digital events, which have been received very well by agencies and senior management of corporates. I’ve also hosted R&R events, doctors conferences, webinars, etc. and it has been a pleasant experience.

The biggest drawback of virtual/digital events is the lack of visible camaraderie and cohesiveness. That infectious energy of an audience together in a room cannot translate on screen. However, what I miss the most in this new normal is meeting the event managers who have become an extended family!

EVENTFAQS Media reached out to Artists/Anchors for their views on how they are adapting to the world of virtual events & difficulties faced while engaging the audience digitally.

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