Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why Himesh Reshammiya is India's first Web 2.0 rock star

Anyone who reads this blog knows I am a huge fan of Himesh Reshammiya. Yes, initially his songs used to grate a bit. But like the lovely Mullah ki baang that used to wake me up with a start at 5am every day in Vadodara or the Sarabhai siren that would sound off at 6am to ensure the Mullah's efforts hadn't been wasted - over a period of time Himesh's wail has embedded itself in several hundred folds of my brain to the point where it's like comforting white noise.

But outside his music, I've never had a chance to see him in operation until I started watching Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. And what I saw amazed me. Forget Himesh the producer or even Himesh the singer. Enter Himesh the diplomat. And after seeing enough of how he goes about his business I'd like to propose that Himesh incorporates the essence of Web 2.0 in his persona.

How you might ask? One of the most exciting things about Web 2.0 (you can read more about W2.0 from Tim O'Reilly who is widely credited with coining this term) is something called harnessing collective intelligence. This manifests itself in many ways but the basic idea is taking some basic content and letting the consumers of that content enhance it. This ends up becoming a highly compelling content system compared to other traditional forms of media out there - like say newspapers or online magazines.

And does Himesh squeeze this concept! First, he chatoes people relentlessly. Words like "Number One", "Great" and "Mindblowing" tumble out his mouth. And this is just when he's talking to the darwan. This behavior builds his community.

Then at every excuse he can get he gets his audience involved in his life. Mention mothers, and he'll jump up and tell you how he released his movie on his mother's birthday and her blessings were enough to make the movie a smash. Talk about his success and he'll immediately mention that it's all due to the fan's support. My talent is nothing, he seems to be saying, if it weren't for other numerous contributions like yours.

Building a community is one thing, but holding on to it is another. Our man is relentless in his support for the people in his circle. He'll promoted his gharana on SRGMP constantly, praising contestants with hyperboles and stepping in to make a case for someone who just blew big time.

Often he extends his support to select people outside his circle, thus allowing his influence to extend its reach. People feel grateful to have his support and become willing recruits, thus expanding the circle. I call this viral influencing.

Now you might call it a stretch - but I would like to borrow a leaf from my gujju brother's book and call him India's first Web 2.0 rock star.

Carry on wailing, Himanshu!

* Number one on the web too! - translated from Gujarati

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