The ferriswheel of Shubhra Bhardwaj’s life runs on her love for music and dance

Start where you are, use what you have, keep your head down and do what you can. Just focus on the end prizes, nothing else matters.

With this motto, Subhra Bhardwaj started her first company at the age of 20 and kept it going for 15 years.

Wanting to create a cutting edge, niche and extremely professional venture, she started Ferriswheel Entertainment in 2009. Based out of Mumbai, Ferriswheel specialises in conceptualising, producing and directing live events, shows, exhibitions and festivals for cultural, sports and entertainment platforms, at both national and international levels. They have in their portfolio events like Games Delhi 2010, First South Asian Winter Games Dehradun and Auli 2011 and Doha Asian Games 2006.

The company currently has a network spanning 30,000 artists pan-India and across 62 countries globally. “We started at the grass root level, working with artists that I have known for over 20 years of my life and slowly built an active network and an enviable database. With the market and industry getting more structured and professional, we are bringing in artists exclusively for various projects,” says Shubhra.

“Music and dance brought soul to my life”

Born in Baroda, her early education spanned several cities all over India due to the nature of her father’s work. Shubhra was, since childhood, inclined towards art and culture.

Talking about her exciting childhood she shares,

I developed a number of life skills because of the exposure that my parents gave me through exchange programmes, camps and the wide social fabric that we were engaged in at home. Living in small districts gave me a kind of grass root understanding of life and performing arts that big cities do not allow.

She was very active with extracurricular activities at school. In fact she dropped out of college to pursue a short course in Textile Printing and Dyeing from NIFT.

A network of artists

Shubhra’s 20 years of intensive work across the globe has helped her create a network of artists and her experience has helped her to understand the performing arts industry.

“We have a massive databank of performers which helps us create original content and generate creative ideas that drive the company and the shows it executes. The company’s extensive exposure to the international market also aids us to make use of the latest state of the art technology for our events,” she says.

Her team of 40 believe in hard work, honesty and integrity. “We believe in quality, client satisfaction, respect for an individual, his growth and freedom – this is practiced across board from artists to client. The work culture in India is such that it provides no end benefit to the artists or the clients. The professionalism in the West is of another level and I’m trying to bring that to India in all my projects.”

Shubhra’s team loves to push the envelope for what the world has seen and are always geared to do more.

“I don’t believe in having all my eggs in one basket.”

Shubhra has ensured that the company has multiple verticals and each has a different revenue model. This has helped her by not having everything in one place and function in the same manner. The five verticals she mentions are- Ceremonies and Special Events (including MICE and Corporate events), Education and cultural exchange, productions, festivals and intellectual property and theme parks and performers.

“Never give up”

Shubhra’s business mantra is not to give up. “Always be sure of yourself and your idea. Believe in yourself.”

Speaking of her journey she says that her learning has not been so much from work but from the constant experiences in life. “A better understanding of life with time has helped me understand that life is a marathon, not a 100 meter run.”

Given that her work is full of challenges and last minute important decisions, she is constantly striving to keep a steady mind and focus her energy on being non-reactive to all the good or bad, “Be it people or circumstances and keep working towards the bigger picture.”

High points

Talking about the high points of her work she shares,

I enjoy large-scale public events like stadium ceremonies for games or state celebrations the most. They use up all my faculties and have me ticking. I enjoy the rough edges and the glamour of how we convert a normal stadium into a spectacular show venue. Also it’s exciting to have thousands of cast and scope to make superb props and costumes and experiment technically.

Two such big events include the Commonwealth Games 2010 and the Doha Asian Games. The Commonwealth Games involved multi-agency dynamics with coordination with multiple agencies and that made the scale and size of the cast for this event massive.

Doha Asian Games was another enormous international public event. She says that it was an eye opening experience for her and the team as they had the opportunity to work with the best talent in the world. “The stalwarts of the industry came together to create a spectacle never seen before. Working with them sent the company’s learning curve straight up,” she adds.

What challenges?

I’ve always maintained that everything is just a means to an end. It is a part of the game to raise money and handle cash flows; my decision is to make it work come hell or high water. I only think solutions, actions and ‘what next’, not about problems or challenges.

Given that Shubhra’s resolve and efficiency is constantly tested in the field, it is a good attitude to have to help you see through things. Even through extreme conditions she holds it together and keeps her focus on the goal.

Passion is motivation

While the core of her business lies in her love for music and performing arts. It is the raw and rudimentary passion which keeps her going.

She has come a long way and kept her venture growing without investors, stake holders or equity. “Sometimes there is pressure for cash flows and growth. However, these are not big deterrents as overall, we have been on a 300% growth and have been able to pick up a big chunk of the market share. So challenges feel small compared to our achievements and what is ahead of us,” she says with pride.

Her vision is to change the performing arts market in India; make it more structured, accessible to the public and mass oriented while providing maximum benefit to the artist. Her work is chalked out and she is happy to be working towards a bigger future – this according to her is just the beginning!


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