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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Lights of opportunity in nights of Dhaka

11.20 PM, 6th September, 2007, Thursday

Regency Hotel, Dhaka.

Remember how many times you have watched in TV or in person famous Hollywood celebrities coming out of their lavish limousines on to the red carpet…flashes of cameras and cheers of fans and onlookers. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Well we had our fair share of attention too when we came out of our car (small Toyota Soleil though) in front of Dhaka Regency…the happening hotel in town these days…I, rather we, were stared at, scanned, scrutinized, ogled, name anything…by around 100 patient people in front of the hotel and by some from the foot-over bridge too. No camera flashes or cheers for us though, only a strange calm along with some buzz and suspicious looks…as if we were about to enter a dangerous, unholy or tabooed ceremony or something. But which Oscar award ceremony we were going to? What was it that glued general passers-by in front of the Regency entrance? Well…not Oscars this time, it was more happening it seemed in Dhaka for the time being, as JPR managed to fly in from next door DJ ‘icons’ Akbar Sami, Suketu, Aqeel and Channel [V] VJ Tina…in a bid to bridge a ‘cultural divide’….

When the buzzword is globalization, entertainment cannot seem to be any different. JPR (Jet Set Public Relations) have identified this pretty well. My maiden attendance of any of their events was the one held at Radisson on the eve of 2007. Over a span of nearly 10 months, I sense that JPR, along with their partners in rhyme, Regency, have done extremely well…to become richer, popular and happening.

With more than half of the population below 25 years of age, it goes without saying that there is immense potential, bubbling energy and exuberance in our youth…to smoke, drink and dance all night long. They are ready to work long hours, they are ready to withstand adversities over which they don’t have any control, they are eager to succeed and they are demanding to have fun too. JPR spoke in the same language and arranged the disco extravaganza. There was music, there was noise, there was fun and there was…surprise too. Thanks to an interesting collaboration, JPR and Regency managed to bring under the same roof people from all walks of life, of nearly all ages, shapes, sizes and background. Teenagers who probably used to frequent hangouts like Thunderbolt have graduated to Regency nightouts. There were people who you see travelling with you (or next to your car) in duronto, maxi or rider in the streets of Dhaka. There were all sorts of drinks and water was priced at 300 Tk. Yeh dil maange more and more was it…long queues kept the bartenders on their toes all night. Equal number of girls, ladies, aunties were seen also participating in the merry making shoulder to shoulder, waist to waist, hand in hand with their male counterpart(s)….partners in sway, smoke, swings and sips! Techno savvy mobile users were seen frantically making the best use of their handsets to take snaps and video the proceedings (music, moves etc.) from as close a distance as one feet…keep your eyes on youtube..who knows you might soon see another upload by someone who can’t help but share the heat with the world. By the way the program was sponsored by Nokia…as they care. In a bid to further make the experience of entertainment-starved Dhakaiyas, the organizers imported blonde eye-candies from apparently Eastern Europe to add glamour, taste and dazzle to the event. That as if gave the event more international flare, endorsement and the Bangladeshi male the chance to contemplate face to face the shining golden hair through the dark and smoke….right here in Dhaka!

In a bid to identify the ‘culture divide’ between social classes, JPR took the initiative to make a separate section for what it called VIPs, closer to the DJ god’s balcony. Non VIP disco dancers including myself were confined to the other half of the hall trying from time to time to peek and recognize in dark the dancing VIPs. So who were these VIPs? Very familiar looking models, singers, actors of Bangladesh, who are still finding it challenging to handle success and fame at the same time. There were also top brass executives from telecom, FMCG companies whom you see very often in TVs and in newspapers…they are the movers and shakers…who came to move and shake themselves for a change. Thanks to JPR and Regency that they gave the general public like me the opportunity to dance along our corporate idols, models and party animals. However some VIPs surely seemed irked to witness the awe-struck non VIPs who appeared to have appeared in a DJ party for the first time in life. There were some who appeared to have accompanied their wards as if in a dance school and were waiting for the class to end. Now this is where interest sets in. The elite social animals of the city attended private parties at homes and in International Clubs, Privilege, Bagha, Gulshan, Uttara Clubs. There was this cushion that they have been enjoying all along, as they could afford to attend such posh parties, and also because they knew the right people at the right places. But now things seem to have changed radically and their eliteness is decaying by the day. Globalization has made everyone aware and the average middle class Dhakaiya, are trying their best to show up in atleast one of these ‘previously elite and posh’ happenings and experience what is the big deal about it.

If you argue however that inflation, unemployment etc. have not increased the income of those who showed up that night, then I think Regency is selling itself cheap enough to be the preferred location by ‘eventgalists’ like JPR to arrange Disco Dhamakas in the heart of Dhaka. Who knows, in order to create a competitive positioning for itself, Regency wants to snatch away the party crowd from other hotels and endorse its eligibility, with the help of JPR, who made sure that corporates were invited to dance, drink and shake their ‘cashful’ booties at the Regency premises.

I am no culture police to comment on disco parties in Dhaka. But I saw opportunities for JPR and Regencies alike for lucrative growth in business. The word of caution came just because of our readiness. Just as there is no sex education in Bangladesh does not mean that we have stopped having sex and becoming happy 150 million, it does surely mean that our enjoyment of it could have increased along with safety had we received institutional orientation to it. Similarly doing business banking on something like high-end entertainment service i.e. disco parties, concerts, require maximum care so that people receive what they are ready to receive, they see what they are okay to see. Nevertheless, JPR can go a long way in establishing full-fledged discos, bars in future Bangladesh where the energy of the youth can be constructively channeled into dancing, drinking and dozing rather than picketing in streets, 'addafying' in tea-tongs all day etc. It seems we are sick of dancing and drinking in discos of Bangkok, London and New York...we want it open and available right here in our hometown! JPR can also tie up with social agencies, companies to promote safe interaction between ‘people’ in future Bangladesh. Jet Set PR is all set to take charge of our youth wagon…only during night time though….I just hope they have their headlights on and drive it well and guide us well to our destinations. I also hope they don't disappear into thin air during day time if someone looks for them.

Bemused…we came out of the hotel. The curious onlookers were staying standing up late even at 3 AM, on the footpath and on the foot-bridge. Will JPR-Regency bridge this divide too in near future? Who knows.

1 comment:

Samia said...

Yes....everything is right about JPR it is the most happening event managegment company a country can ever experience. JPR has maintain a very high profile audience, quality and style of its own. You cannot possibily company with any Tom Dick and Harry running a show. It has its own vibes and methods, strickly maintained and controlled by their own rules and those who break it, they are outta there...

JPR Rocks!!!!
Samia Islam
Dhaka, Bangladesh