Dandiya queen Falguni Pathak takes Rs 40L price cut for Navratri performance

Navratri star Falguni Pathak settles for 40-lakh price cut, pays for sound and light too. Is the real estate slump robbing dandiya-raas of its extravagance?

It’s certainly not acche din for singer and Navratri star Falguni Pathak this year. The queen of dandiya, who navratri organisers would trip over each other to book, has been compelled to take a price cut.

Also read: Falguni Pathak to perform for Rs 50L less than last year this Navratri

Pathak, who will perform at Raas Garba 2015 organised by the Ghatkopar Gujrati Samaj between October 13 and 22 at Ghatkopar East, is being paid an estimated R1.10 crore, R40 lakh lower than last year when she performed in Goregaon.

Last year too, when she teamed up with Wizcraft, she sliced her 2013 price by Rs 50 lakh. Additionally, for the first time the organisers have asked her to foot the lights and sound bill, which means she will have between Rs 90 to Rs 95 lakh to herself.

Pravin Chheda of the Samaj, confirmed, “We have signed Falguni for R1.10 crore. She will be paying for lights and sound. We are expecting a grand celebration.”

Preety Pinky perform in Borivli (W) this year before 30,000 people; expected to receive between Rs 50 and Rs 60 lakh
Preety Pinky perform in Borivli (W) this year before 30,000 people; expected to receive between Rs 50 and Rs 60 lakh

Interestingly, last year, when she performed at Goregaon, word was that she wasn’t keen on performing in Ghatkopar due to the political affiliation that its organisers carry, but was compelled to return this time after talks with several organisers, including those in Ankleshwar, Gujarat, didn’t materialise.

Percussionist Tushar Sonigra, and his group Beats 16 have performed everywhere from Zimbabwe to Spain
Percussionist Tushar Sonigra, and his group Beats 16 have performed everywhere from Zimbabwe to Spain

The main reason for this, say most of them, is her sky high price and nitpicking over lights and sound. Devendra Joshi, the man behind Sankalp Dandiya from Goregaon, one of the grandest celebrations and one that Pathak has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with, said, "This year, we also tried to forge a deal with Falguni but we couldn’t meet her demands. It isn’t commercially viable when such demands are made. Besides, the footfall is lower."

Drying up of sponsorship is being seen as one of the reasons for stars like Pathak to be unable to demand their price, said Pankaj Kotecha of the Borivali’s grand Kora Kendra Navratri celebrations where Nilesh Thakkar and Chetan Gadhavi are expected to perform this year. Until Friday, Pathak’s Ghatkopar celebration had Ruparel Realty as main sponsor, but an ad was released in papers on Saturday, announcing that the sponsor had pulled out due to “technical reasons”.

Real estate firms have traditionally been main sponsors for Navatri celebrations, and the industry’s current slump is robbing dandiya of its glamorous sheen. In 2009, when Pathak had teamed up with Joshi’s Sankalp for nine nights of revellery at Goregaon Sports Complex, she was slated to descend at the venue in a hot air balloon.

Joshi was considering roping in Bollywood choreographer Remo Dsouza according to reports, and lasers, pyro and LEDs costing lakhs were going to be employed to dazzle the dancers. Pathak was paid a cool Rs 1.5 cr. and all this was at the cost of sponsors. The organisers tended to make a profit of about 20 per cent, with most expenditure being covered by sponsorship and ticket sales.

Rajesh Vardhan, MD of Vardahaman Builders, who until a few years ago sponsored a dandiya event in Borivli, said, “When you aren’t making sales, insignificant expenses have to be curtailed. Sponsoring a navratri event doesn’t make sense for us right now.”

Interestingly, while passes to Pathak’s event are priced at R2,280, entry to Kora Kendra costs Rs 3,000. “Passes to Falguni’s event always cost more than other mandals,” an organiser who didn’t wish to be named said.

In the absence of event management firms helming the celebrations, most events are now backed by individuals with political affiliations. In Ghatkopar, Ram Kadam, a BJP MLA, is associated with dandiya, while Chheda is with the Congress.

Other than Pathak, crooning sisters Preety-Pinky also carry star power. This season, they are peforming at a newly-created venue, Pushpanjali Garden Ground, in Borivali (W). The ground can accommodate 30,000 revellers and season passes are going for Rs 800. The duo is expected to make between Rs 50 and Rs 60 lakh over nine days.

The most expensive celebration (for a visitor, that is) is being held at Sahara Star, Santacruz. Popular singer Manisha Savla will be performing here with The Beaters. Savla is likely to earn close to Rs 25 lakh. The day pass costs R1,000 while a season pass comes at Rs 6,000. The venue can hold just 3,000 dancers. On the bright side, they can dance right until 1 am.

The dandiya at Kalidas Grounds, Mulund (W), has been a go-to destination for youngsters of the Gujarati and Kutchi community. It wasn’t held last year since it’s a politician-backed dandiya, and last year, the elections played truant with the navratri schedule. This year, popular percussionist Tushar Sonigra and his group, Beats 16 will perform here and feature singers Umesh Barot, Teena Chheda, Kavita Nikam and Saurabh Mehta.

That younger revellers are willing to bet their money on newer talent, makes it easier for organisers to decide not to entertain star tantrums. Sagar Shah, 30, a entrepreneur from Vile Parle, said, Pathak is his favourite but he likes drummer Naitik Nagda and singer Viju Shah too.

Shreya Bhalsod, 20, student, Ghatkopar
I heard Falguni Pathak is performing in Ghatkopar this year, and I will try to bag a pass.

Shreya Bhalsod

Deciding where to dance is also determined by where my friends are going to be. So, even if the band and singer are average, it’s fun if you have the right company. Other than Falguni, I also like Kirtidan Gadhvi.

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