The Entertainment Factory


Kanishko Das speaks to Phil Bathols, the man who’s bringing Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy to Australia

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have pretty much got Australia gripped in a sense of excited anticipation for February 2012. While we recognise the holy trinity of Bollywood instantly, this time around we also recognise the familiar name Spiritworks. Yes that’s right, from Zakir Hussain to Pandit Ravi Shankar’s final tour; the production house behind these mega-concerts was Spiritworks. The man putting the hours behind the production is Phil Bathols, who has been in the entertainment business for 15 years now, bringing names like Jose Carreras, Bear Grylls, and Deepak Chopra to Aussie shores. So while Phil was in Mumbai, almost all November, doing the groundwork to set the stage for the February concert, Indus Age decided to catch up with him via email to get a feel for Spiritworks and the SEL concert.

Q. People in the community know Spiritworks for the Zakir Hussain concerts and Ravi Shankar’s farewell tour. Tell us about other experiences Spiritworks has brought to its Australian audiences.

Actually Spiritworks has been in existence for more than ten years now (since 1998) and has presented a wide variety of entertainment — everything from theatre through to rock n roll. Earlier in the year we toured icon William Shatner who most of us know as Captain Kirk and more recently we brought the star of Man vs Wild Bear Grylls out here, which was absolutely huge.

Q. How did Spiritworks actually come to be?

I knew I wanted to work in the entertainment industry from quite a young age. Over time, I realised I wanted to be a creator and this led me down the path of producing which I absolutely love and want to spend the rest of my life doing. It’s a magical process to make an idea (or dream) come true. Whilst I was able to do this to a certain extent working for other producers I really needed to go out on my own so that there were no limitations to what I put my energy behind. Spiritworks the name is almost a mission statement — we like to think that the shows we do are works of spirit, not in the religious sense but on an intention level. We feel passionate about the work and because of that we invest spirit in how we go about doing things.

Q. How special was Ravi Shankar’s 90th birthday farewell tour?

I have done a lot of work over the last ten years but without doubt touring Ravi Shankar was a career highlight for me. He’s made an amazing contribution to music on a global scale but what touched me the most was Ravi Shankar the man. I found him to be so simple, so humble — one almost felt you were in the presence of a saint. I’ll never forget the time I spent with him on that tour.

Q. You are bringing Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy to Australian shores for the first time. How was this plan hatched?

It’s an idea that was suggested to me a few years ago so when I received a call earlier this year asking whether I’d be interested in taking on the Melbourne date I jumped at the chance. It’s an incredible privilege to be working with music royalty and with Indus Age as the media partner I know it’s going to be a great success.

Q. Considering the popularity of the trio, organising the first concert for them here must bring with itself its own share of hurdles, logistical and otherwise. What are these hurdles and how do you overcome them?

There are always hurdles to overcome when you put on a show like this but we have an excellent team on board who are all the best at what they do. That’s the key to producing — have a winning idea but then assemble a world class team to execute it! So the little details are always there, me and my team would most definitely take care of them. Don’t worry we have checklists. We just want our audiences to sit back and enjoy the show.

Q. How did your Indian connection come to be?

I am married to an amazing woman from Sikkim who I met in Sydney so I am a son in law of India and one of my proudest possessions is my PIO card! I feel a very strong connection to the country and its culture and love to get there as often as I can. I’m actually answering this email from Mumbai looking over Juhu Beach. I’ve been meeting various managers in the industry over here as well as the manager for Shankar Ehsaan Loy. The guys are very excited about their visit to Australia and meeting all their fans over there.

Q. What are some of the most cherished moments you have from your entertainment career?

Ravi Shankar for sure. My recent presentation of Zakir Hussain at the Sydney Opera House was also much cherished. Bear Grylls was amazing. To be honest with you there are too many to list. I feel so grateful to be able to do the thing I love. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all smooth sailing but I’ve applied the lotto test and passed it. What’s the lotto test you ask? If I won lotto tomorrow what would I do differently… nothing!

Q. Beyond Shankar Ehsaan Loy, what other projects do you have in the pipeline?

Nothing that I can announce at the moment but I’ve got some pretty exciting ideas in development which you’ll be the first to know about.

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