Percept in the News

Basking in the Sunburn Festival
10 December, 2009

The Sunburn Dance Festival is back with a promise to give you a heightened experience of a kind that has not been seen in a long time. A well-organised event that has gone on to beat the IFFA Awards and the Film Fare Awards among some of the high profile events, to the winner of the WOW Best Live Event Of The Year 2008.

The Sunburn Festival, an outcome of sessions of brainstorming between Percept Entertainment and Nikhil Chinappa has grown to be an even that is much looked forward to. The Joint Managing Director of Percept Entertainment, Mr Shailendra Singh informed, “The Sunburn Festival has become one of Asia’s biggest music festivals. It’s a home grown production. India is used to importing everything. With Sunburn, we have our very own festival.”

In its third year in Goa, Sunburn has signed up the top names in the world of Djing; Armin Van Buuren, voted the number one slot in DJ Mag’s annual top 100 and DJ Roger Sanchez to name just two. “It is not very easy to get a DJ during this peak season which includes Christmas and New Year. But we’ve snagged them and their among the worlds best,” explains Mr Singh.

Is the trend of calling out-station DJs a mere fetish or is there a strong factor that demands for it? The question arises as more and more festivals rely on big names. Mr Singh smoothly bats away the accusations of it being a ‘fashion’ to call out-station DJs. “Indian DJs have the potential but are still evolving. International DJs are comparatively a mature brand. But we do have Indian DJs performing at the festival.”

“In the first year, we created an event, in the second year we created an experience, this year we want to create a brand. We want to make Sunburn global. We are already holding smaller Sunburns in the country where the music is customised to that region but of course, Goa will always remain the capital of Sunburn. The popularity of the festival has grown to such an extent that you have people planning their holidays around it,” says Mr Singh, brimming with oodles of confidence. 

Last year was a do-or-die year for the organisers of Sunburn, who in the end pulled out a winner. A fear psychosis prevailed over the country post 26/11 attacks and Goa was no exception. “If Sunburn had stopped last year, it would have lost its momentum,” admits Mr Singh. “We got a lot of support from the government. After the terror strikes in Mumbai, events were cancelled everywhere.” Mr Singh strongly puts his point over, “Life must go on. If it stops terrorist organisations will believe they are victorious.”

With the terror trail long subsiding the organisers of Sunburn continue to maintain a stringent security cover. “We have CCTVs, sniffer dogs and the support of the local cops. We also have a strict no drug policy. Apart from that there are medical facilities and fire brigades just in case an untoward incident occurs,” inform Mr Singh. It was not only the looming security threat last year that dampened the air, discontent from locals was also an issue that emerged. “After 26/11, there were certain restrictions introduced which affected shack owner revenue. They assumed we were behind it. But it was not true. So we sat down and got things sorted,” Mr Singh said.

The Sunburn can be a money-spinner for those running business in the vicinity. “The festival generates plenty of employment through food courts, shopping stalls. We are are adding on to the sporty feel,” he added The crowds for the Sunburn festival are a smart mix of 30 per cent locals and 65 per cent tourists informs Mr Singh. “Last year we earned a profit of about 25 per cent, which we invested in this festival to make it all the more rocking. Our dream is to elevate the festival to a global platform.”

The Sunburn popularity and the earnestness with which it is held is becoming evident with the efforts that are put in, the most recent being the launch of the Sunburn calendar, shot in Goa. “It’s more than just great models. It has life in it.” And rightly so, the theme of the calendar has been called ‘lifeoholic’. “It has nothing to do with alcohol or being a workaholic. It’s about life. The calendar showcases twelve elements of life. We are so used to waiting for something good to happen to celebrate. Every breath should actually ring in celebrations,” says Mr Singh.

Apart from the calendar, a 45-minute movie is in its postproduction stage. ‘Sunburn Diaries’, a story of three girls who suddenly pack their bags head on a road trip to Goa, each in a different frame of mind. Disturbed, one may choose to call it but nonetheless find life in Sunburn.

Mr Singh reveals plans of organising a ‘Passion’ party in February. “It’s more chilled out compared to the energy of Sunburn party, more for a stable audience than an edgy one,” he states. His take on the live music festival scene in India is quite comforting. “Music fests are in a transition period in India. Live entertainment is emerging, but the mindset of nobody wanting to pay to see a live performance still persists. Sunburn wants to break the barriers. Live entertainment is the future,” predicts Mr Singh.