Sutradhar

This blog is about being a “Master of Ceremony”. Wait, is it called “Master of Ceremony” or An Anchor? EMCEE or MC? Compere

In Indian context, the terms are Sutradhar, Sutra Sanchalak, Nivedak, etc.

Let’s understand the term Sutradhaar * Sutradhaar – Sutram dharayati iti – sutradhaaarh;

Sutra = Thread (connectivity)

Dhaar – the one who holds it (dharayati – is to hold, to keep in control, to support, to nourish)

Thus, a class monitor or captain of cricket team, both can also be called Sutradhaar. We will try not to drift away from the base topic of this podcast though there are various interpretations for these terminologies. 

In Sanskrit nataka, Sutradhaar is special person who narrates the story, or a party of story to audience. He has to make sure that the whole story presented to audience marks an impact on minds of audience without any loopholes in the message being delivered.

 In the entertainment world, Sutradhaar keeps it going on with the flow. He is the one who makes sure that people are not getting bored. He connects missing links.

There are some more examples of the Sutradhaar. But to keep it simple, we will consider terms that are used in recent times in the entertainment industry. Phewww…. or else it will be a lot to take.

Let’s take a pause here.

All these terms are interchangeable. However, there are few basic differences in each one. Some of the mentioned terms have specific meaning. The small difference is worth understanding so we know which one to use. Let’s try to understand each one.

My name is Sushil Atre. I have experience in this magical world of speaking to inspire & entertain an audience for last 10 years. Present day is DD/MM/YY. Whenever you are listening to this podcast, you can add the difference in the experience. It’s my humble effort to understand this fascinating art, for which I am so grateful. That it allowed me to understand myself better. I hope that this little podcast will add value to you in some or the other way.

Let’s get started. 

First let’s try to understand the term MC or EMCEE.

Emcee is phonetic spelling of MC. MC is abbreviation of term “Master of Ceremonies.” 

The earliest documentation of this term is in 5th Century Catholic Church, where Master of Ceremonies was & still responsible for smooth & the proper conduct of elaborate rituals. 

Let’s understand different type of events where the term Emcee is used. 

Stand Up Comedy-

 “Ladies & Gentlemen, please put your hands together for Zakiiiiirrr Khaaaan.” Well that was me. In the last few years, Stand Up Comedy is becoming popular. So, whenever you attend any Stand-Up Comedy Show, there is one person who builds up enthusiasm in audience & introduces supporting & feature acts. They set up the tone of the night. They are often called MC rather than a Master of Ceremony.

Corporate Event –

A corporate emcee will have different responsibilities. He may have to moderate a session, interview a special guest, to understand the time schedule and strictly follow it, inform the guest speaker about the time limit, and the list will go on and on. Within this segment, there are many types such as conference, employee engagement, promotional event, award ceremonies, festive celebrations, sports day, family day, so on and so forth. Terminology of the role will keep changing here. Different decision makers in this segment, use different terms such as Host, MC or Emcee, Anchor, etc. When I receive scripts for corporate events event managers, it’s always different. 

Wedding Events –

In recent years, as the wedding management industry in India reached to another scale. With this, role of Master of Ceremony also became a crucial one. In wedding events few important responsibilities of Master of Ceremony are – MC skillfully captures & maintains the attention of guests. He keeps attendees informed so that they know what is happening. He or she guides friends & family members of bride & groom, so they know what they are supposed to do to participate. In India, every state has a different ritual. I know few MC’s who study these rituals in depth & believe me, the way they perform in weddings is phenomenal. Few ceremonies in Indian weddings are, Engagement Ceremony, Mehendi ceremony, Sangeet Ceremony, Tilak Ceremony, Haldi Ceremony, Roka Ceremony, Viddai, Reception, Phere….. & the list will go on and on. These were for Hindu Wedding. For every religion these rituals will differ. With some influence of western rituals, few events are added in Indian wedding events, such as Pool Party, Cocktail Party, Pre wedding Bash, etc.
When I come across few of known social media profiles, the popular terms used are Wedding MC, Wedding Host, Wedding Anchor. But the role remains the same as explained above. No doubt this is a glamorous job of being a wedding MC, but they all go through a tough road before becoming a well-known face in wedding management industry. To host a wedding event is always fun. You become a part of family of bride & groom. You no more remain an artist in the wedding. And if you be in touch with them, you just feel like a family in journey of their life. You will feel happy for them when they have a baby. Sometimes, I have been called to host next wedding in family. Or baby shower of bride and all future events.

Hip Hop & Electronic Dance Music Festivals

With growing Hip Hop scene in India followed by Bollywood film, Gully Boy starring Ranveer Sing we all have come across the term MC in Hip Hop world. We all fell in love with the character MC Sher in Gully Boy. This term MC is often used by Rapper. Some of the Hip Hop artists use MC as the abbreviation of Mice Controller.
Also the popular music festival such as Tommorowland or for example, Sunburn in India, we came across the term MC. The one who announces – Alright Alright..attention, attention….people of Tomorrowland, are you feeling? Get ready & make some noise for Dimitri Vegas & like mike. And then crowd is all pumped up, people go crazy, & from the first song of dimitri vegas like mike’s set, they are on fire.

I had opportunities to host few music festivals & one Hip Hop festival. Trust me guys, the feeling of the crowd going crazy over your one announcement, gives you goosebums. the madness, the energy, the vibe is beyond imagination when you are on the stage holding that mic.

Host

In my opinion, a host is the person who introduces various acts in the event. These can be dancers, singers, magicians, comedians, clowns, etc. The event is often live in the theatre or on TV. The host welcomes the guests in the event or to the TV show. My childhood memory of listening to the word host for the first time was, watching Movers & Shakers on Sony TV. Shekhar Suman used to host the show. He was brilliant in what he used to do. For me, no show could ever achieve the benchmark in the segment.

 I personally relate to this term. When hosting an event, you, as a host, become face of client. For audience you are the organizer of the event. I will share an incident with you all. Once in an event, a small kid from nowhere came up on stage. His parents were looking for him. He came to me and asked, “Uncle su-su lagi hai?” This translates in English – “I want to pee. Where should I go?” Guests feel that as a host you know each and every detail. I try to get every detail of the event, and the venue in my events. For example, where are restrooms, where are the alternate exists or where the food is being served, what time the bar is gonna open. I also try to remember names of Banquet manager, DJ, coordinators so that I call them by name whenever required, instead of calling “Banquet manager, could you please…?” That way, you become the face of the client. 

Spokesman 

This is niche category in this profession. I have never got the chance to get perform in such type of event. Such role is required at events such as trade shows, industrial show or infomercials. Part actor, part salesman, the one who is the spokesman of the event delivers specific information about may be a new product or service. It can be a new initiative of the NGO or Govt. Institution. Its very serious & responsible job to be a spokesman as you are responsible for the communication on behalf of clients.

Announcer 

Sometimes, we don’t see that person in the venue, but we hear his heavy, godly voice. Maybe he is introducing the next artist on the stage, in a large stadium, in a sport event there are announcements apart from commentator. This voice is of the announcer. But I have also heard few Indian Orchestra industry professionals calling the host of the Orchestra as announcer. These announcers in the orchestra have in depth knowledge of music, some phrases, shayaris, etc. I remember attending a few orchestras. These orchestra announcers have a typical or very different way of speaking on stage. I am sure that you must have attended such orchestras.          
Anchor

This is the most popular term often used in recent years. What I understood in my small research, that this term was used first in TV shows, specifically news broadcasting. An anchor is a heavy metal object used to moor ships to the sea bottom. In industry context, an anchor holds the control of the discussion as the anchor of ship keeps the ship anchored. Presently, we see one or more anchors conduct the debate, discussion on the specific news segment.

 When we talk about events, this term is widely used in recent years. Majority of professionals use this term before their name. In fact, I am using the same.

 Now some terms are totally different from this, but, you can say they are added on professions. Along the way, you get a chance to do such events, and you learn those skills as well.

Team Building Facilitator

 Many EMCEE’s have turned to a professional Team Building Facilitator, who provides Team Building Solutions for organizations. They call themselves Trainer, Team Building Expert or Team Building Facilitator. I use the term Team Building Facilitator, as I feel that I do a job of facilitating the execution model either created by me or my event managers. Whereas, training is a separate profession altogether

One last bit, as this is close to my heart. I started this career as a Game Host, I guess at the age of 19 or 20. I used to enjoy those events as I was the one responsible person for making kid’s birthdays a memorable one. The term used for this role by the Birthday Party organizers was Game Host. A host who will conduct games for kids. During the journey in this profession, this magical Art allowed me to evolve as an artist and as a human. 

I am sure there are some more terms someone is using in some part of the world. That’s the magic of words. 

So, what is it finally, I believe Sutradhaar, a Sanskrit word embraces all the terms. The one who holds all sutras (threads) together, throughout the event.

A Diva

It gives me an immense pleasure to write this testimonial, cause your work was all worth it. It was such a pleasure working with you and I did not have to spend time explaining the concept to you at all.. We were always on the same page.
I would definitely like to compliment your involvement in this event, everything was looked after so particularly. The show flow everything was planned almost flawlessly. Smallest of suggestions from my side (sometimes even last minute) were incorporated so well.
Everything was perfect and just the way I had imagined it to be. I wanted the celebrations for Iraa’s 5th bday and Jahangir’s 2nd bday to be very special and had it not been for you I am quite sure it would not have been as special and gorgeous as it turned out to be. Besides, all the communications which happened between me and you  happened so systematically..the response used to be so timely. Extremely professional.
Looking forward to working with You again. Wish you all the very best..Its a pleasure to see such dedicated young man trying to take their work to newer heights.. God bless..
Neha Mandlekar