In a first, India’s first transgender band, the Brooke Bond Red Label 6 Pack Band, will perform live on the Cannes Lions stage today. The band will also be part of the ‘Talent without Prejudice’ session at Debussy Theatre at 3pm, hosted by Mindshare. The band, that won the Glass Lion Grand Prix at Cannes Lions 2016, will repeat the stage performance when the awards ceremony begins at 8pm.
“It’s an honour to have the Brooke Bond Red Label 6 Pack Band live on this global stage. It's been a fabulous journey for all of us in India, and this is certainly one of the firsts - a great idea being showcased on the international stage. We all are eagerly looking forward to it,” said Prashanth Kumar, CEO of Mindshare South Asia, describing the band’s tough journey.
THANKS TO BAND, SCHENGEN VISA FORMS NOW INCLUDE THIRD GENDER
For band members Fida Khan, Ravina Jagtap, Asha Jagtap, Chandni Suvarnakar and Bhavika Patil, it was indeed a challenge to reach Cannes. While five of them are now all set to perform, Komal Jagtap could not make it due to lack of a passport. Recounting the hurdles, Shameer Tandon, MD of Music Boutique, that curates the band, said, “When we went to get the passports done, we were extremely proud that Indian authorities have three columns - male, female and transgender – on the form. But, at the French Embassy, there were only two columns, male and female. During visa application, the staff did not know where to accommodate the band members. They took a few hours to write to their seniors in France to figure out what needed to be done. Thanks to the Brooke Bond Red Label 6 Pack Band, the French Embassy and the entire Schengen visa authorities have now introduced a third column in their visa application process, so now it’s ‘M’, ‘F’ and ‘T’ for transgender.”
Amin Lakhani, Leader, South Asia, Mindshare Fulcrum, and Ajay Mehta, Head, Content+, Mindshare Fulcrum, who have accompanied the band to Cannes, too said the journey so far has not been very easy. “The first hurdle was to get Cannes to invite them. Now that they have the stage, there are various challenges. At each stage of the entire travel conversation, there have been very interesting challenges and stories. But, finally they are here. And we have just finished a rehearsal. India will perform at Cannes through the Brooke Bond Red Label 6 Pack Band. There can’t be a bigger high than that. Brand ideas will come and go, but this is something that is here to stay. There have been very meaningful experiences,” Lakhani said.
Indeed, all the band members have travelled out of the country for the first time, and it clearly appears to have given them a confidence boost. As they went about their rehearsal, and then entered the speaker lounge of the Palais des Festivals, the conversation was in hushed, excited voices about what to wear on stage – nauvari sari or chaniya choli - even as a few band members struck poses and took selfies.
“Last year, there was glory and all of that. But what bigger occasion than to walk the talk? I think this is just one more testament of the brand, of the agency, and the team walking the talk - that we are so much in it and making it happen,” Lakhani said.
‘NOW, GET READY TO HAVE AN uncomfortable conversation’
Apart from the band members, the other speakers on the ‘Talent without Prejudice’ panel are Nilufar Fowler, Global Client lead, Mindshare; Charlotte Beers, former CEO, Ogilvy & Mather; Maggie Semple OBE FCGI and Ida Rezvani, Senior Partner, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. The descriptor of the panel topic on the Cannes Lions website terms it as: “Talent isn’t gender specific. Talent isn’t defined by ethnicity. Talent has no prejudice. We will explore how the equality debate is evolving to be more than a focus on gender and statistics to be about how to spot talent, how to understand different perspectives and how to get to where you want to go. It’s a story of transformation. Get ready to have an uncomfortable conversation.”