Monday, January 16, 2012

Impresario makes its mark in Kochi

By Shevlin Sebastian

Photos: The winners of the Miss Kerala 2011 event; Ram Menon, executive director, Impresario

Three friends, Harish Babu, Hariharan and Ram Menon would meet up on weekends for a chitchat and fun. One day, the thought arose of starting an outfit of their own. which was different, creative, and exciting. The trio explored several options, but in the end settled for event marketing. Thus was born Impresario, Kerala's first event management company in October, 1995.

“The concept of event marketing was new to kerala,” says Ram. “To make our presence felt, we organized trade fairs.”

But their biggest impact happened when Impresario started the Miss Kerala competitions in 2000. At that time, an unknown unknown youngster Ranjini Haridas walked confidently down the ramp. During the question round, she answered with zip and panache. So, it was no surprises when she won the Miss Kerala crown. But she could never have imagined that the win would transform her life.

Ever since then, Ranjini has been part of the cultural landscape of Kerala, as the popular, long-standing anchor of the Idea Star Singer show and the master of ceremonies for numerous public events. She also appears often on advertisements on television, radio and the print media.

“The event struck a chord with the public, because there was no such programme before,” says Ram Menon, the executive director of 'Impresario'. “There were hardly any activities which gripped the youth. Secondly, since it was a competition, it held everybody's interest.”

It takes about six months of preparation for the successful holding of the event. “Initially, the impetus is to get the right sponsor,” says Ram. “The investment for a Miss Kerala is Rs 40 lakhs.”

Today, the Miss Kerala show has become an inescapable annual event, not to be missed at all costs, especially for young girls. Quite a few winners have ended up getting roles in films.

Reema Kallingal, who was the Miss Kerala Runner-Up in 2008, is a rising star. Indu Thampy, the 2010 winner, is a heroine in three Malayalam films, while Rohini Mariam Idicula, the 2007 winner, is a model in London.

Impresario organises another popular event in early December: the Navy Festival. This is the only time of the year when the public can enter the campus and have a look around. “There are amusement stalls, exhibitions, and entertainment programmes,” says Ram.

Apart from this, Impresario does product launches, promotions, musical nites like an A.R. Rahman show in Kozhikode, organizes one-day cricket matches, and what is increasingly an imitation of a north Indian trend: themed weddings.

“There is a demand for this,” says Ram. “So we do themes like Arabic, Mughul or Rajasthani.” For a Rajasthani themed wedding, there will be a puppet show, guests will get Rajasthani food to eat, and the waiters will be wearing the attire of the North Indian state, including the colourful headgear.

(An abridged version appeared in The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi)

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