Controversy has dogged the Sunburn festival in Goa but that has not come as a deterrent to its founder, Shailendra Singh, who is ready to tell the world what went into the making of the festival in a brand new OTT series that’s scheduled to be released in 2025.
Besides the series, Singh will also release a book titled ‘The Sunburn Man’ and a merchandise line in mid-2024. Singh made this announcement, a much too early one some would say, at a five-star hotel in Panjim to mark his birthday (October 16) and Navratri.
Having shot his first commercial at Dona Paula, Cidade de Goa beach, his first feature film Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi (1999) and launched his first music festival, Sunburn (2007) – all in Goa, the state is special to him and hence making the announcement in Goa was important to him.
“The intellectual property called The Sunburn Man is divided into three parts – an OTT series of six episodes that tells the journey of 10 years, there’s a book and merchandise. It’s a human story, a journey of the trials and tribulations, all that went into making an ambitious dream into reality,” Singh stated.
Giving the media an insight as to what the OTT is about, Singh spoke about the many setbacks the festival witnessed from 2007 up to 2017, post which a different management took over.
“In 2007, a drastic incident in my business at Percept didn’t stop the launch of Sunburn. In 2008, I was persistent to have the festival in December right after the 26/11 terror attacks and the same year I lost my father to lung cancer. November 2009, I had a heart attack with 99% artery block. I spent six days in the ICU but made it on December 24 for the festival in Goa. There were attempts by a competitor to shut down the festival and we had to shift from Candolim to Vagator – but Sunburn was carried out even during these challenging times,” he said.
An important business under Percept, Sunburn as Singh believes, has the power to make a social difference as he sees it being a way of life, where music, regardless of its genres, brings people together.
“The reason behind telling the story is to inspire Indians, especially the youth to create intellectual property like the IPL or Sunburn for the world. Being a land (India) so vast in culture and art, we fail to articulate stories and journeys and put it down on record books. I don’t know how long I’ll be alive but I want to leave behind a legacy that inspires the youth to dream big and that nothing is impossible.”
Responding to media queries on drugs and other controversies at the festival and how Goa will be projected in the series, Singh said that Goa is the soul to everything he has done so far and has been very lucky to him.
Without directly commenting on the drug subject, he said, “I don’t know how to answer the question beyond the fact that there are a few bad apples in the orchard, don’t spoil the entire orchard.” He also side stepped rumours regarding Sunburn’s venue close to the airport or being held on New Year’s Eve.
Singh who has produced and released about 72 feature films and won 10+ national awards will also be making his first official visit at IFFI 2023 in Goa. “I’m excited because it’s my 25 years in cinema and my friends from Hollywood like Michael Douglas are coming to celebrate the moment and there’s something big coming at IFFI this year.”
The OTT series that’s autobiographical, has been Singh’s preferred genre because to him they entertain and go on to give out a lesson. “You know, biopics tend to get popular only when you die or go to jail (he chuckles). This human story is behind the brand and business, will include everything, the good, bad, ugly and dramatic.”
Today, after giving Goa Sunburn for 14 years, Percept has around 200 events a year across the country. With The Sunburn Man that’s currently written for the OTT series and the book that’s under production, Singh wants to focus on the story. “My little contribution before I go is to tell my stories quickly, patha nahi kal ho na ho,” he concluded.