When Star India CEO Uday Shankar watched hundreds of innocent tourists and locals being swept away and buildings being flattened by the rising waters of the Mandakani river in June this year, he was at first horrified by the magnitude of the tragedy and then moved to action. He vowed to himself, that he would put in his best to help in the rebuilding efforts in the affected areas. He made a call to the two Bhatts of Bollywood- Mahesh and Mukesh and sought their support in putting together a fund-raising initiative which would involve the film and television fraternity.
This is an opportunity for the entire Hindi film industry to stand by people who have showered them with unconditional love, says Star's Uday Shankar
He also connected with Wizcraft's Sabbas Joseph, asking him to pitch in this with his mite. And he deputed Star India senior VP marketing Yogesh Manwani to go down to Uttarakhand to study and assess the situation and gauge the funds required to rehabilitate the afflicted areas with major NGOs working there.
Come 15 August 2013, and Uday's initiative will see the light of day at the National Sports Club of India (NSCI)'s spanking new stadium in Central Mumbai. On stage will be the biggest names from Bollywood, the Bachchan family - it's quite likely that the Bachchan bahu Aishwarya will get on stage after a long hiatus, Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit, AR Rahman, Lata Mangeshkar, Ayushmann Khurana, Akshay Kumar, Pritam, Shankar Ehsaan Loy, Ajay Devgn, Kajol and Prasoon Joshi, among many others.
The event titled Saath Hain Hum Uttarakhandwill be telecast live on a clutch of channels of the Star India network - Star Plus, Life OK, Star Pravah, Channel V, Star Utsav, Star Plus HD and Life OK HD.
So what's so great about doing another multi-starrer event with film and TV performers? Have we not seen many of them and felt like going ho-hum? The difference this time is that this one has very noble intentions. Every paisa that Star India earns courtesy ad revenues and sponsorship during the telecast will be donated to NGOs working in the Uttarakhand. The telecast is slated to run for seven hours from 12 noon to 7pm. Estimates are that Star is likely to give away Rs 20-30 crore which it will rake in courtesy the telecast.
The biggest names from Bollywood have been roped in for the event titled Saath Hain Hum Uttarakhand
Amitabh will lend his mesmerising voice to recite couplets from Prasoon's magical poetry that'll be set to Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's music. The enthralling musical act will weave Prasoon's event anthem - Mera Desh- into an enchanting song performance by acclaimed classical singer Shankar Mahadevan and a spellbinding poetic rendition by Amitabh. At the time of writing, several other stars like Rani Mukerji and Karan Johar were also approached.
Says Star India CEO Uday Shankar, "Mera Desh is an invocation by India's most revered artists with a simple and clear message to fellow citizens -- to look at tragedy squarely in the eye and overcome it by joining hands. Star India is humbled to receive support from Hindi cinema's biggest icons."
"The noble initiative is an opportunity for the entire Hindi film industry to stand by the very people who have showered us with unconditional love and have made us who we are," says Bachchan. "We have come together to ease the pain of fellow men who suffered the agonising pain that this unprecedented calamity brought with itself."
All the anchors and stars will be urging audiences at home to open their wallets and donate funds for Uttarakhand
This apart, anchors will be rotated every hour. Among some of the names from the TV industry which are being talked about include: Deepika Singh (Sandhya), Anas Rashid (Sooraj), Karan Mehra (Naitik), Mahadev fame Mohit Raina and Pooja Bose. "The show will be loaded with entertainment," says a source close to the production. Wizcraft has had the experience of raising funds through greenathons and long-format events. But they have left the fund-raising to Star which is setting up payment gateways online. All the anchors and stars will be urging audiences at home to open their wallets and donate funds for Uttarakhand."
The main choreographer for the event is Sanjay Shetty who has become the darling of most live event organisers in recent times. The creative inputs will come courtesy Star India senior vice president programming Anil Jha. Wizcraft TV head Namit Sharma is the creative head and Asim Sen has been roped in as the TV director, Anurag Dingra will be the director of photography, while sets are being done by designer Varshai Desai. Wizcraft sound firm Performance Audio has been signed on for the sound while Atul Sonpal is responsible for the lights design with the help of lights from SFX and Ulhas will look after lights. Tech gear, cameras are being supplied by Real Impact.
Technical and production crew disclosed that they were either working free of cost or at concessional rates for the event. "We are doing it for a cause," says one of them. "Star has been reaching out to all who have been working with it on shows in the past to come in at really discounted rates."
Star India has emerged as one of the front runners on the corporate social responsibility (CSR) front amongst media firms ever since Shankar took over as CEO four years ago. This initiative should take the network even further still.