BANGALORE: This year’s Bangalore Literature Festival (BLF) is teaching a lesson or two in communication and public relations to the students of Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication (SIMC) who are working hard to put together the event.
For the second year in a row, BLF has roped in SIMC students for volunteer works that include venue management, author liaison, book signing, production, decor and infrastructure among other things.
A total of 130 students across 15 volunteers teams from the institute are engaged in pre-event work. The students have been pulling off late nighters to keep track of the authors’ arrivals, their schedules, accommodation and hospitality.
“It is a lot of work, but we are excited. Apart from getting to meet our favourite authors, the BLF experience helps us academically as well,” says Niha Zaman, a second year MBA student specialising in communications management. Niha is heading the author communication team, which is involved in getting in touch with the authors who are scheduled to participate in the BLF.
The students have formed numerous teams to manage various aspects of the fest, including the all-important backstage team. “We have a lot of work to do,” says Rohit Arora, Niha’s classmate, heading this team. “We need to get the authors here well before their scheduled panel discussions. It is also our responsibility to ensure that the discussions end on time. It is a difficult job that becomes shady sometimes.”
This edition, scheduled to be held from September 26-28, will feature 150 authors and speakers, including several distinguished names like Girish Karnad, Arun Shourie, Leila Seth, Natwar Singh, Gulzar, Chandrashekhara Kambara, Sanjaya Baru, Ramachandra Guha, Jerry Pinto, Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi, Arun Maira, Sundeep Bhutoria and others. There were 80 authors last year with a footfall of more than 7,000.
The students are also charting out strategies for effective crowd management, which is a challenging task. There were some moments of concern last time when actor-singer Farhan Akhtar took the stage. Kirtiman Phadke, who is on the author’s lounge team, says, “We have more volunteers for this aspect and we are preparing before hand. We will have walkie-talkies to coordinate with the BLF event management company.”
With days remaining for the fest, the SIMC team is focusing on marketing, with a dedicated social media team. “We want it to be bigger than last time. It has become a very personal thing for us. We have prepared a teaser video that is on YouTube. A flash mob is also on the cards,” Niha said.
The BLF will be held in Crowne Plaza in Electronics City, an area where SIMC is also located. “The students have been involved with us not just for those three days, but over several months throughout the planning phase. The institute has given us office space within the college and a bunch of really hardworking volunteers who go about their work with a song on their lips,” said Vikram Sampath, co-founder of BLF.