Entrepreneur Varun Desai wants to showcase Kolkata's music talent before India
When intellectuals in Kolkata were nearly in tears that an iconic Jazz festival was about to be scrapped for the first time in 14 years since sponsors had backed out post demonetisation, Varun Desai stepped in to save the show
A moment from the recently concluded Jazz Festival in Kolkata, spearheaded by Desai and his organisation, Little i. Pic/Redbantoo
When intellectuals in Kolkata were nearly in tears that an iconic Jazz festival was about to be scrapped for the first time in 14 years since sponsors had backed out post demonetisation, Varun Desai stepped in to save the show. The 33-year-old entrepreneur and event manager found allies among cultural organisations and a music channel, and salvaged the event. He has big plans to develop partnerships at a national level to hold gigs across India that will focus on independent artistes as well as veterans. Excerpts from an interview.
Event programmer VarunâÂÂDesai
How do you plan to expand your ideas to different cities?
If there is an opportunity, I would love to showcase Kolkata’s music talent across the country. We need to show that Kolkata is a big market. It actually is but probably not at the right place economically. For example, Jazz legend Carlton Kitto passed away recently and not many were aware of his brilliance. He never got the exposure he deserved. All his friends moved to Mumbai and made money while he chose to stay back. Many like him aren’t keen to move to a new city.
Will Mumbai be on the radar?
Why not? In a first, we had a leading music channel support the Jazz fest. It was minor but it could be a start. If we develop an association, we can have advertisements of events on their channel and possibly get a gig done in Mumbai to maintain the flow. Their crew can fly down to Kolkata to shoot our events and we can go there (Mumbai) to host events with our artistes. The process has already started. Bands like The Bodhisattwa Trio, the guitar legend Amyt Datta, The Ganesh Talkies are regularly gigging in Mumbai but there should be more. The content and idea-sharing will help stabilise the Indie scene in the country.
Many Indie musicians rue about not being paid enough. What is your advice to them?
You need to work hard to earn money. Ganesh Talkies is doing great. Despite hailing from Kolkata, they are widely touring India. You need to follow the pattern of musicians. Commercial success is important to create a national footprint.
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