Deeba Hasan meets the man behind the Sunburn music festival that is set to rock Muscat tonight (Aug 20) to find out more about what’s in store
With a friendly voice, immense energy and a cheerful demeanor, Harindra Singh is definitely not like the traditional businessman. He is a fitness buff, a techie and likes anything to do with music, which led him to found the Sunburn dance festival in his native India, a taste of which comes to Oman for the first time today (August 20), in Sunburn Reload at On The Rocks.
Harindra started his career in the 1980s by joining an advertising agency where he quickly rose up through the ranks to become regional manager. With a bachelor’s degree in science and diplomas in hotel management, advertising and public relations, Harindra started his own venture, Percept Limited, in 1984.
Although it was not initially a smooth ride for the media and communications business, Harindra now has offices across India, the UK, Japan, the USA and the Middle East, with a staff of more than 1,200.
A short time after this and due to his passion for music, Harindra started Percept Live, which gave birth to innovative intellectual properties in the entertainment, sports, fashion, digital and media space including Bollyboom, Windsong and Fight Night, as well as the immensely popular Sunburn music festival.
“I thought we were doing events anyway. We were making efforts and were also involved with the concept and marketing, but because someone else paid for it, it belonged to them and not us. This is why we came up with Percept Live, which would help us build our own assets,” Singh tells me.
Apart from his interest in music, he also started Sunburn to engage the young people of India, and of the world. He says, “Sunburn today is one of the top five electronic dance music festivals in the world and we wanted to engage the youth over something they liked. So it’s not only about music, DJs and international artists, it is also about having a good time, with bungee jumping and a mix of other fun activities including helicopter rides and food courts with delicacies from various parts of the world.”
When it launched in Goa in 2007, around 2,000 young people attended Sunburn. Since then, it has entertained hundreds of thousands more.
In Sunburn events last year alone, the total crowd was more than 700,000 people and this year, according to Harindra, they aim to pass the million mark.
As a businessman, Harindra feels the need to influence the younger generation. “When you are very young, it’s not your decision. When you are older than say 35 or 40, you already have your loyalties and can’t be influenced very easily so it’s the younger population we aim to attract and influence.”
At 55, Harindra is very much on the go and enjoys playing tennis, badminton and cricket. He likes to participate in competitive sports and believes in keeping fit. Like most other modern businessmen, Harindra also makes the best possible use of technology. “Given the technology part, I do most of my work when I am on the go and it really helps me with doing things faster.”
To the people who don’t find enough time to do their everyday stuff, Harindra says: “If you want to do something, you will find a way.” His own day starts at about 5.30am and even when it’s a holiday, he is still working.
“After I get up in the morning and freshen up, I make sure to spend some time at the gym or do some cardio, and then I work and also make it a point to spend time with the family either in the morning or evening. Given the technology these days, I make good use of it to get a lot of work done, I also give interviews on the go and evenings are usually for socialising.”
Harindra is married with two children aged 29 and 25. His daughter is due to get married next year. He credits a large part of his success to risk-taking and hard work.
The Sunburn Reload event in Muscat is like a teaser for a three-hour movie, according to Harindra. “We want to see how it goes here and we can take it from there. As far as the real event is concerned, that’s something you can only find in Goa, so people need to make a point to come to Goa this New Year for the real experience.”