Man at work

Bhushan Bagadia (21) met 700 people to pick 34 of the very best for the Femina Miss India semi finals early this year. The organisers were looking for 18 smart people to manage the control room, the hospitality desk and the travel counter. It was a 12-hour job spread over seven days. They also required ten models who could assist celebrity judges on the day of the show. Not to mention, two energetic youngsters who could help the Femina people in putting up the mammoth stage and four people to oversee the judges rooms, which had a TV and computer for an electronic scoring system.

“I was looking for youngsters who were smart, energetic, good looking, and fine communicators. And finding all these qualities in one person is a task,” says Bagadia, who runs Men At Work, a company that provides manpower to companies and event managers. “I can get up to 5,000 people within eight hours if the criteria is not that rigid.”

Bagadia has provided people for over 70 events in the past 18 months, including such biggies as National Geographic’s Mission Everest (he provided 75 people), Channel V, HSBC and PC Expo. “For the NGC event, we even did the catering and hiring the grounds for the organisers,” says Bagadia. And the catering for the nearly 800 participants included breakfast, lunch, snacks, Glucon C and lemon juice.”

Of course, Bagadia’s men at work are not affordable to just about everyone and that ‘filters a lot of things automatically’. But he has his limitations. “Once an American cigarette company asked me for girls who could wear skirts and enter discotheques to casually chat up with people and ask them to sample the cigarettes,” says Bagadia. “There were some legal issues here and it sounded very messy to me, so I opted out though the money I was getting was in lakhs.”

Bagadia’s Men At Work happened by default. While he was doing his business management at Seshadripuram College, he was asked by a friend to get a few people for Proman, a company that had aligned with Microsoft, and looking for people who could call up a list of invitees for a conference. And the money was good (Rs 250 for two hours). And then, conferences happened every other month and Bagadia was in business. “If I didn’t like the work of someone, I would give them less money and kept the rest with me,” says Bagadia. “Soon, I made it official and began to charge 20-25 per cent commission.”

His biggest event till date is the Femina semi finals; his bill came up to Rs 1.85 lakh. “My first big billing was for Rs 84,000 and the job was to find people who could hand out pamphlets to people on the road for an HSBC promotion,” says Bagadia. “I went with my house servant to find boys studying in government schools for a job like that.”

Most assignments get him anywhere between Rs 1,000 and Rs 16,000 and his peak season is between September and February. “March to May is the driest,” he says. “When the rains come in September, we are bathed with money, too. In October 2002 alone, I did seven events.”

Getting into the society groove happened while he was in KLE College. “I started dancing when I was in my eleventh standard for a group called Hot Steppers,” says Bagadia. “In 1997, we won just about every major inter-college dance competition. Whatever confidence I have gained over the years is all because of dancing because I was a very shy person earlier.”

After a workshop with theatreperson Mahesh Dattani and Diana Tholoor last year, Bagadia became even more made-for-stage material. “I was part of two plays, Message From The Heart at JN Tata auditorium and Devdas at Mahesh’s studio in JP Nagar where there were no sets or props.”

Bagadia now intends to do a course in theatre production abroad. But right now, he’s following his short-term dream: producing Scream, a 90-minute English play premiering at Chowdiah on June 6. And that’s in answer to the call within him: ‘Don’t murder your dreams. Execute them.’

(Published in City Reporter, 2003)