A classroom full of arguments about what its name should be – finally it came down to a vote… like everything else about this seminar-turned-mammoth-media-show, we voted for its name as well and the final choice (never a consensus!) was ‘Media Melange’.
And so was born the first of its kind media student seminar that brought together journalism, film, advertising and media research professionals and students under one roof over two days where they could interact and debate before a live and responsive audience. Put together by a bunch of students who did not want to uphold a tradition of boring annual seminars where someone read out some research paper while others dozed comfortably in a rather empty auditorium. No… we didn’t want that. We wanted some action, some headlines and more than anything a sense of purpose. Media Melange gave us that and more.
As a batch of students selected through an all-India entrance examination and gruelling interviews, we had expected the world out of our post graduation course at Pune University – a Masters in Communication Studies. But to our surprise, quite like the makeshift classroom, everything was makeshift about the Department in those days. All the equipment and studios and murals that we had been sold on weren’t actually ours… no permanent teaching staff, no equipment, no proper premises – all we had were a bunch of guest lecturers in a temporary cabin classroom who would give us time they could spare and photocopied notes they couldn’t spare. Ouch!
A hotchpotch course + borrowed facilities + a young and restless batch of students with too many opinions and too much time on our hands = a very frustrating combo.
So when the annual seminar preparation was launched on us, it was turned on its head and before the authorities could fathom what we meant by “let’s do it a bit differently”, we had flown with the bird. No funds, no infrastructure, no contacts but there was plenty of zeal which made up for everything. In a month, we raised funding through corporate sponsorships, mobilised existing resources, charted lectures by star speakers, organised panel discussions and finally sold houseful tickets and made a neat profit on the whole thing. Names like Shyam Benegal, Kiran Karnik, Jerry Pinto, Robert J, Prahlad Kakkar were on the confirmed guest list for the D day. In sleepy old Pune of pre-internet days, this was enough to make headlines in every newspaper and a huge audience filled the beautiful Charles Correa-designed IUCAA hall. An absolute success! 🙂
Each of us learnt from that experience and most of all was the pride in having together, made something out of nothing at all. Yes we, the crazy goofy irreverent madcaps had done it! The only consensus that we arrived at then and are still on – is that the authorities did a great job in their selection of our batch 😉 Media Melange has since become an annual event at the Department with students organising it every year.
Back then I remember Jerry Pinto telling us how great he felt coming back to a University space and interacting with young blood. Now I know what he meant – on January 10th, I am doing a lecdem at Saarang, the IIT fest in Chennai. And am so looking forward to touching that kind of energy again.