While the event was a huge success, many volunteers had a lot of complaints. The MHSU quickly tried to resolve the issue.
Actors Radhika Apte and Ayushmann Khurrana promoted their upcoming film Andhadhun on 3rd October at 11 a.m. in the auditorium of Miranda House. They were warmly received by the Principal, faculty, and the students at the auditorium which was packed to capacity with around 400 students attending the event. There were also bouncers, and police men in the auditorium, for security of the celebrities.
However, disagreement later ensued between the volunteers and the Miranda House Students’ Union (MHSU) as the volunteers alleged that the event was poorly managed and many of them were ‘misled’ having been promised that they would get a chance to interact with the celebrities. Amola Shrivastava, a volunteer, said, “Volunteers and audience were misled by the information regarding the event on 3rd October. It was said to be an ‘interactive session’ with the makers of Andhadhun, which ended up being a promotional event. The named and registered members to manage the event were made to dance blindfolded for around two minutes and act surprised upon the arrival of the star-cast (we were not informed earlier about this), that too in front of visually impaired students. At the end the people who were the backbone of the event were not allowed inside the venue and were told off saying that they are done with us. I understand the importance of such events but the way
it was organised and we were treated is categorically unacceptable.”
Aafreen Fathima, a student of B.A. Programme told DU Beat, “We were told that because they are avoiding bouncers and security, human chains have to be formed. We planned out strategies and got instructions for an hour and a half, but then just 10 minutes before they arrived, bouncers came out of nowhere and asked us all to move, and that there was no need of us volunteers.”
The volunteers were also asked to dance blindfolded for two minutes when the actors were being welcomed and “act surprised” upon their arrival. Another volunteer, on the condition of anonymity, told DU Beat, “Everyone, including the presidents, was under the impression that a few members from cultural societies of the college would get to talk to the actors that came today and have a good talk, but that’s not what happened. We were treated horribly, we were screamed at like children during the entire event, we were made to dance blindfolded in a room with visually impaired students and had no time to interact with anyone. After the insensitive nature of this event, we couldn’t even enter the auditorium because it was so overcrowded. It was poor management, terrible organisation, and a very insensitive, not at all thought out event.”
Other kinds of allegations were also raised by the volunteers. A volunteer told DU Beat, “The anchor didn’t acknowledge Radhika Apte’s presence during the event and kept asking girls to hoot for Ayushmann Khurrana.”
A petition was floated by the different cultural societies of the college to be submitted to the Principal. However, the MHSU held a meeting with the heads of the different societies in the college two days after the event. After the event, when DU Beat approached the elected society members for their statements about how the issue was ‘resolved’, they refused to give any statement. The MHSU members also refused to categorically make any statement even after being contacted repeatedly. It was heard that the society members and the MHSU had decided to not issue any statement to DU Beat in an effort to refrain from “unnecessarily stretching things”. However, this cannot be verified as this correspondent was not present at the meeting.
A society President, however, who attended the meeting, talked to DU Beat on the condition of anonymity. She said, “Miranda House has always been a radical space that focuses on democratic decision making. The fact that the students of the college have the ability to put forward their views in response to college activities only bears proof of the same.” When asked about how the MHSU handled the issue, the source said, “The student body confirmed of small glitches in management and the offence that the students complained of was not intended. There was an intense dialogue between the society members and the union and it eventually culminated in a settlement looking at intimating the authorities about the students and their reservations with the event, the rate of such promotional events, and the use of educational spaces for the same. The authorities are ready to listen and redress the issue.” A formal settlement for the issue is awaited by the society members by taking it up with the necessary authorities, said the source, when asked about the future course of action.
When DU Beat approached the Principal, Dr. Pratibha Jolly, she said, “The students collective from all societies worked hard and the event went rather well. I am proud of my girls. Those who try their best and spend immense time and energy on organising events. (It is) never easy to mobilise large number of volunteers at very short notice.”
“The measure of a well managed event is that despite an overflowing auditorium, there was no stampede or discomfort. Students were ecstatic and even those in the middle of the overflowing hall got a chance to ask questions. That several hundred got more time in preference to a few is good. Any big event does have a margin of error that means things not being just as planned each second,” the Principal added.
While it is true that the event could have been better organised, it is equally true that there was great enthusiasm noticed by this correspondent on attending the event among the students in the audience. Yashvi Mehra, a second year student, told DU Beat, “The event was fun. It was cool to watch Ayushmann sing live in front of me.” Sakshi Handa, another student who attended the event, said, “The event was great. It provided us a respite from the everyday college routine. We need celebrities sometimes in college too.” Another audience member, Chandrima Sarma, said, “The Ayushmann Khurrana event was like rain during the month of May-June in Delhi, surprising, amazing, and totally unexpected and full of fun.”
While the disagreement between the society members and the Union has been put to rest, for now, it remains to be seen what further steps the college takes.