Complaints have poured in that Ilaiyaraaja’s 76th birthday concert that took place at EVP Film City in Chennai yesterday was poorly organised, with problems in seating arrangement, traffic and delays.
Tickets were priced at Rs 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000. However, the seating arrangements were not demarcated properly. People with Rs 2,000 tickets were allowed into the Rs 5,000 ticket area, and Rs 500 ticket holders into the Rs 2,000 area. No organisers were around to sort out the chaos, and the police present did not do much.
Ilaiyaraaja acknowledged the issues when he went on stage. The spokesperson for the composer told Silverscreen that there was nothing his team could do because they were not part of the organising team. He said, “The seating arrangement was for 30,000 people, but about 50,000 turned up. There was a 10,000-strong police force. We cannot blame anyone. Ilaiyaraaja sir himself was stuck 4 km away from the location. We had to go and receive him. The police supported us a lot. People were rushing in. However, we were happy that even though the event took place 23 km from the city, so many people came to attend it.”
Complaints about the poor organisation have been doing the rounds on social media since yesterday.
A video circulating on WhatsApp has two people saying that they bought tickets for Rs 2,500, but by the time they arrived, their section was already full with Rs 500 ticket holders. “If there were only 10 seats why did you sell 20? This is not a way to make money. We have been cheated. Don’t organise an event if you don’t know how to,” one of them said.
Writer Adithya Shrikrishna, one of the attendees, said, “My friends and I had booked three tickets. One of them reached at around 3.30 pm. He was allowed inside and it turned out that where he was sitting was the Rs 5000 ticket section. We had paid for Rs 2000 tickets. I don’t know what the organisers did but people were not aware of their sections.”
He said by the time he reached EVP with his other friend, there was already a huge crowd trying to get into the VIP areas. “Only the police were there at this point. I told them that my friend inside is a Rs 2,000-ticket holder. My friend also came out and vouched for the fact that the people around him were all Rs 2,000-ticket holders. But, the police flatly refused to go and check. It’s fine that you’re not allowing us because we have Rs 2,000 tickets. But at least go and check on those already inside, so you know that we are not lying and we don’t want to jump sections. There was one organiser with a few bouncers and one constable who did go and check, but they couldn’t do much.”
Because of the chaos, he and his friends missed the good seats in the Rs 2,000 section, despite having arrived early. Further, the concert was scheduled to begin at 6pm, but started only at 8. “There were severe parking and traffic issues since 4.30 pm. At around 7.20 pm singer Mano announced that singers such as SP Balasubrahmanyam and Bombay Jayashree, who were going to perform at the event, were stuck in traffic,” he said.
Twitter user Thiru said that while the tickets were differently priced, the entry to the different sections was not separate.
ராஜா நிகழ்ச்சியில் நேற்று நடந்த சம்பவம் பற்றி:
It was poorly organized concert in terms of seating arrangement and security. 500, 1000, 2000, 5000 ம் டிக்கெட் பிரிச்சி வித்திருந்தாலும் அங்க நுழைவு மட்டுமே தனித்தனியா இருந்துச்சு… உள்ள வந்தா எந்த பிரிவுக்கு separator இல்ல…
— திரு (@thirumarant) June 3, 2019
Videos of the slow-moving traffic outside were also shared.
— இளஞ்சூரியன் (@ilanchoorian2) June 2, 2019
— R. Kannan (@mughavaikannan) June 2, 2019
The five-hour live concert featured performances by SP Balasubrahmanyam, KJ Yesudas, Mano, Usha Uthup, Bombay Jayashree, Sudha Raghunathan and others. The event started at 8pm, and ended past midnight.
It was organised by Ilaiyaraaja in association by Mercuri, and was a fundraiser for the South Indian Cine Musicians’ Association. The composer announced at the end of the concert yesterday that all proceeds from ticket sales would go towards the construction of a building for the Union.