Wizcraft International Entertainment, popularly known for IIFA, has achieved beyond one can imagine. They’ve been in the industry for 30 years and their achievements will leave you in complete awe. We spoke to Andre Timmins (Co-founder, Wizcraft) about what his journey has looked like over the years. He started as a Disc Jockey (DJ) at a hotel, where he met Viraf Sarkari, one of the directors. Post that, both of them quit and started their own club called ‘Zanedo’ with an initial investment of 1.25 Lakhs. It wasn’t a small investment back in the day and they managed it only by selling a lot of their household appliances. During his time at Zanedo, they’d organized various events. That’s when they discovered events as a possible opportunity and that’s how the idea of Wizcraft came about.
They coined the name Wizcraft back in 1988. They started from birthday parties to corporate events. In 1996, they got Michael Jackson to India (No we’re not kidding, and you read that right). “A friend of mine told me Michael Jackson wants to come to India. It was crazy, I told him to send me a fax saying that this is for real. One day there was fax that came in, somebody from the office came to me trembling. It was from Michael Jackson. That’s when we started doing our homework. Getting an international artist to India wasn’t easy then. It needed a lot of permissions and government backing. Next thing we knew, we were sitting in his office in LA. And when he entered, we couldn’t believe it. We gifted him a small Ganesh and Nataraja and made him shoot a small byte saying that he’s coming to India in Hindi, and that’s how Michael Jackson in India happened. It’s till date one of the finest concerts we’ve seen in the country,” says Andre. That’s saying something since they’re the same team who got Chris Martin and A. R. Rahman together during Global Citizen, 2016.
After all these years, sustaining in the market hasn’t been an absolute cake walk. What’s worked for them is investing in man power, and if you’re in a service based industry that’s definitely something you should make note of. “After all these years, we can proudly say that we are the Tata’s of Entertainment”, he adds. Over the years they’ve learned to take risks and bring new things that has helped India evolve within the entertainment space. One such example could be the Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon where they’ve invested almost 300-400 Crs. As a new business or a business that’s stood the test of time, it’s important to take risks, but always calculated risks.
They’ve created a brand called IIFA that’s got them global recognition, which is today in its 19th Year. Timmins says, “After our first year, we thought it won’t happen again, but look at how far we’ve come. It’s almost flattering how many similar awards have been created now, where only the first letter of the award is changed, and then replicated. This is only because of how hard we’ve worked. We’ve built IIFA for the industry. Very few people actually know that we own it, only because of how we’ve positioned it.”
The most disheartening thing that could probably happen through his journey if he looks back in retrospect, would be the Make In Maharashtra event at Chowpatty. It was a dreadful incident where a fire was caught. Although, no one was hurt. Post that they’ve created a cell within Wizcraft that looks after safety of events. So now before any event there are announcements made, there are proper exits and safety measures are taken care of. All we can say is that, you fail once and you learn twice.
What is it like to produce the commonwealth games, we wondered? Andre says, “We worked extremely hard, and won it on our merit. There were other companies pitching for it as well, but they liked our concept. We were out of complete action for one year, only because we were working on this. It was massive. When I think about it now, I don’t know how we pulled through. It was a great experience.”
If you think Michael Jackson’s concert or the Common Wealth Games is huge, you’re wrong. The biggest event they’ve held so far is the 50 years of Indian Independence at the Rajpath. They had half a million people on the streets then, 12 stages, practically all prime ministers from across the globe on the stage and A. R. Rahman launched his song Vande Mataram. What a legendary event that sounds like!
“If you’re someone starting up, you should be able to take risks. Follow your gut. Even for us, we’ve always taken risks and if we’ve failed, we’ve learned. Always be on the forefront. Be extremely passionate, and if you have partners involved, be a 100% transparent. To take our example, we’re 3 partners, who’ve always been honest with each other. Otherwise, how many partnerships last 30 years?” he says.
Good news, folks: Global citizen will be happening every 3 years, so hopefully next year we’ll have something amazing to look forward to!
He signs of by sayings, “Wizcraft is dream. A dream we’re living that anyone else would love to live.”
On that note, go get your dreams!
Find them at: Website