Officials sitting on plans or standing on ceremony? | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Officials sitting on plans or standing on ceremony?

Just a year away from Commonwealth Games, the organisers still don’t know the specifics of the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies — considered a matter of prestige for the hosts, reports Avishek G Dastidar.

delhi Updated: Sep 18, 2009 23:32 IST
Avishek G Dastidar

Just a year away from Commonwealth Games, the organisers still don’t know the specifics of the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies — considered a matter of prestige for the hosts.

So far, they have just laid down the “broad contours of a concept” and the creative team does not yet whether the facilities available can handle their ideas.

“We need to examine the facilities first. The specifics have not been worked out yet,” veteran film director Shyam Benegal, who is in the Creative Core Group of the Organising Committee, told HT.

Benegal is part of a team comprising Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar, lyricist Prasoon Joshi and ad-film director Bharat Bala, who is Creative Director for the ceremonies.

The group met once for a brainstorming workshop in Mumbai last month and worked out, as Benegal said, “three-four ideas” and presented these before a group of ministers.

“It is too premature to talk about specific requirements.”

The group was formed eight months ago. Beijing, on the other hand, had finalised the finer details of its ceremonies for the 2008 Olympics almost two years before the event.

Asked about the big jobs done so far in preparing for the ceremonies, danseuse Shovana Narayan, who is Joint DG (Ceremonies) for the Games, said they have “identified the right people”. “We have also drawn up a concept,” she said.

Ric Birch, special-event manager who has conducted ceremonies at seven Olympics, including Beijing last year, has been hired as an international consultant. He will work with the event management firm and Bharat Bala’s creative team.

But the real job of getting down to doing things is yet to begin.

The Delhi government, for instance, does not yet know how many schoolchildren it is supposed to pick to participate in the ceremonies.

“We may need almost 30,000 children, including for the opening and closing ceremonies. But the organisers have not yet informed us exactly how many,” said a senior official at Delhi’s Department of Tourism.

“We will mobilise children from schools. Many private schools have approached us to participate.”

Organisers are now invoking the secrecy factor to keep the progress of their work away from public glare.

“Matters related to opening and closing ceremonies usually remain secret in all events. They are unveiled only on D-day,” Narayan said.

Insiders have confirmed that apart from fireworks and acrobatics, the marching of athletes and the baton would be included in the cultural show, which will be for 40 minutes each.