Memories That Last - Meher Aria

What’s driven your interest in event management?
Karma is a debt that you owe or a blessing that you receive. Event management is truly a blessing for me. I was always at the forefront of all activities right through school and college, and in my early years I marked my space on the landscape of our beautiful city with an abundance of social work. Being the Leo Club President at age 18, Rotaract Club President at 20, and Secretary of the Zoroastrian Youth League enabled me to participate in a multitude of events, both national and international. I owe a lot to the social causes I was associated with back then, and I’m always eager to give my time and talent to every social endeavour, as it most definitely is payback time.

Star Ventures was thus a very natural progression when my best friend Tanaz Wadia Sidhwa and I decided to go professional. The rest, as they say, is history.

You began Star Ventures way back in 1998 when event management wasn’t even heard of. What led to it?
I’ve always been a dreamer, and for me, putting together an event is virtual poetry in motion. After helming some super fabulous and very satisfying social projects, we thought why not share our expertise with the outside world. Event management was extremely nascent at that time. One could literally count the number of names in the Hyderabad event space back then.

Tanaz and I took the plunge and were extremely fortunate to get the love and support of a wide cross-section of clients who lapped up our creations. Tanaz, however, got married soon after, and moved to Mumbai, leaving me to handle the reins myself. ”I believe that I can and I will,” and so I moved on, giving my very best to every show.

Styling an event is in a sense uplifting – turning the ordinary moments of life into something spectacular, both for my clients and for me.

What were the challenges you faced back then?
Oh, many! For starters, I did everything myself from start to finish. Initially, it was quite tough to make clients understand the need for an event manager, and one had to personally spend hours unfolding the creative and production aspects of the event. Computers were just about there, and I remember having to travel all over by myself. One did not have the benefit of the immense data available on the Internet like we do now. It was a great learning experience, one that I will always cherish.

How has the industry grown since when you started?
By leaps and bounds! It’s unimaginable. There are event companies springing up every day by the hour. The need has increased tremendously, too. Almost everyone who’s a someone, big or small, wants a professional to handle his or her event. Be it a corporate annual gala, a birthday party or the Big Fat Indian Wedding.

I believe that every event is dreamt and then conceptualised before it can find its manifestation in material form. Fortunately there are professionals in every department of event handling: decor and flowers, sound and lights, LED, production, tent house, choreographers, artistes...the list is endless.

Moreover, education and full-fledged courses in event management have helped youngsters who want to embrace the profession get a better understanding of the job before actually taking the plunge. It’s a myth that this industry is all about glamour and easy money. Take it from me that it’s far from it. Commitment and dedication, with an intense desire to achieve and excel, are the only way forward. The industry is growing everyday, and I believe there is place under the sun for everyone.

A wedding is the biggest and most memorable event of one’s lifetime. How do you make each wedding set different from the next?
It’s my endeavour to extend my ideas, creativity, experience and skill with meticulous detailing to all those who are eager to find its expression. A wedding is most definitely a once-in-a-lifetime affair. So it’s extremely important to understand the personality of the bride and groom and their families while designing a wedding concept. Constant innovation and new ideas are the order of the day. Wedding decor must be a mellifluous blend of design, structure, colour, flowers, and accessories, all seamlessly put together to make that perfect whole.

It’s amazing how a little creativity – a different way in which you place an element, a change in colour, a unique layout, or an out-of-the-box idea – can transform the look of a space.

I have a keen eye for detail and I’m a stickler for perfection. This is something that defines me and gives me an edge over others.

How do you keep up with changes in the industry?
Every day brings learning, and every event brings new challenges. Reading, surfing the Internet, and some amount of travel is a great teacher. Connecting and collaborating with different sections of the industry – exchanging ideas and concepts too helps in keeping abreast of the latest trends.

What’s the biggest and most memorable event that you have put together?
The biggest was for a corporate event last year: Mytrah Energy. Since the company is in the wind energy sector, I styled the entire show around the "Power of One" (the achievement of attaining one giga watt of wind power). From having the very enthralling Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi as key speaker, to Bollywood actors and singers performing, to production and technicals of a very high order – the entire experience was a thriller.
There have been many memorable ones. A wedding reception last year for Narendra Chebrolu’s son, to a fabulous destination wedding at the Taj Falaknuma Palace, to the more recent wedding celebrations of Shweta Keerthi and Akash Sethia. Each of these and many more have left both clients and guests asking for more.

Event management has suddenly become a preferred line of work among young people. What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out?
For me, my work is exhilarating and I strive to make every event a classic that is unique in innovation and quality. My advice to others is to work with commitment, dedication, passion and integrity. Put the client’s interest above all else and, most importantly, always remain grounded. Believe that your work is nature’s rhythm. And finally, believe that there is the alchemist within you to unleash that inner power. This is what I also constantly tell my son Daanesh, who has recently taken the plunge into events.

We surge ahead with fire in our souls to reach for the stars with newer and bigger events. Cheers to the entire fraternity!