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Picking Ric: panel fields ‘best man’ in business for Games

At eight minutes past eight on August 8,2008,China flagged off the Olympic Games with arguably the most spectacular show till date in a sports event.

At eight minutes past eight on August 8,2008,China flagged off the Olympic Games with arguably the most spectacular show till date in a sports event. There were 10,000 performers,and the spectacle was watched on television by nearly 1 billion people across the globe.

Come October next,and Delhi could well be the host to an equally magnificent show,for Ric Birch,the international consultant who helped put the Beijing show together,has been hired by the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.

Ahead of the first milestone — the general assembly in October when representatives of all Commonwealth countries would check the Games venues in Delhi — the core committee of the organising committee is slowly giving shape to the grand event. As per plans,the opening ceremony will be nearly 40 minutes long and will bring together all Indian art and dance forms.

“There are only a half-dozen experts in the world who have the capability of organising events of this scale,” filmmaker Shyam Benegal,who is part of the Games organising committee’s core group that will oversee the ceremonies,said. “We had seen presentations made by others before zeroing in on Birch — he is one of the most experienced in this field.”

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Besides Benegal,the core group includes lyricists Prasoon Joshi and Javed Akhtar,and is headed by Bharat Bala — the panel’s creative director.

The organising committee has shortlisted five event management teams based on an expression of interest to manage the Games opening and closing ceremonies. The firms — all of them Indian — will execute the ideas on field.

Ric Birch’s production house has already held a three-day workshop with the Commonwealth Games core committee. “We had a brainstorming session with eminent people from performing arts,theatre and other fields,” Benegal explained. “A blueprint of both the opening and closing ceremonies will be ready by the end of this year,after we hold a series of such sessions. We are now in the process of hiring specialised people who work on both ideas as well as hardware required for the event.”


The organising committee has finalised Bharatiyam at Pragati Maidan and Delhi Cantonment as sites for rehearsals.

Who is Birch?
An Australian,Ric Birch’s production house,Spectak Productions,works out of Milan,Los Angeles and Sydney. Birch began his career with the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games.Since then Birch has been involved in several events,including the 1984Los Angeles Olympics,1992 Barcelona Olympics,2000 Sydney Olympics and last year’s spectacle in Beijing.

First published on: 25-08-2009 at 00:54 IST
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