A story that began last July has finally reached its conclusion.
It was at the start of July 2015 that Coldplay frontman Chris Martin quietly came down to India along with Slumdog Millionaire actress Freida Pinto on behalf of the NGO Global Citizen and the Global Poverty Project. Not only did Martin and Pinto visit slums in Kalyanpuri and meet with people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, they also met up with government officials (including Prime Minister Narendra Modi), NGO workers and the Oxfam Indian team, among others.
What happened next was well-documented — Martin hung out with musician Vishal Dadlani and comedians from the All India Bakchod team, rocked an impromptu gig at a Delhi, Hauz Khas cafe, had a jam session with Raghu Dixit and a few other musicians in Mumbai and then flew home.
Another equally low key visit yielded Coldplay's music video Hymn for the Weekend, in which actress Sonam Kapoor was featured.
But soon enough, there was confirmation on what Martin was here in India for: To set up an India chapter for the Global Citizen Festival (of which the Coldplay frontman is curator).
Moreover, the festival would be headlined by performers like Coldplay and Jay Z, including support from Indian artistes like Aamir Khan, Ranveer Singh, Katrina Kaif, AR Rahman, Farhan Akhtar, Shraddha Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor, Arijit Singh, Dia Mirza, Shankar Ehsaan Loy and Monali Thakur. Several major artists and international guests will be announced at different stages of the campaign.
Rumours at first spread that tickets for the concert would be priced at Rs 25,000.
However, it was later clarified that tickets would in fact, have to be earned by doing acts of charity.
On Monday, 12 September, a press conference was held at which details of the concert — which will be held on 19 November 2016, World Toilet Day — were announced.
A little before the press conference however, Firstpost had a chance to meet with those who helped bring Global Citizen to India, including its founder/CEO Hugh Evans.
Evans told Firstpost: "When I was young and running a charity in Australia, we raised a lot of funds to build schools in Africa, Philippines, South Africa... but it was never enough. One thing I did understand was that no matter how much money you raise, you need to get to the heart of the issue. That's what Gandhiji, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King did. So 'Global Citizens' — instead of just raising funds — we want to end the problem systematically. That's why we are urging people to sign petitions to make global leaders aware of these problems. Raising funds might help but I want to see poverty ended in my lifetime. In India, if you visit the website, you will see the causes we are petitioning for. And it works. Last week in America, for our September concert we managed to petition (President Barack) Obama to sign the global food security bill."
Evans added that around 80 percent of the audience at the concert would be people who had earned their tickets in this manner.
"People do come to see Coldplay perform. But the reason they stay on with this initiative is, because they want to make a difference and they realise how their time and effort made a difference. We are trying to make it more equitable," Evans added.
Among the ambassadors for Global Citizen in India is Kweku Mandela (he is Nelson Mandela's grandson).
Mandela told Firstpost that Global Citizen's approach of reaching out to people via social media was well thought out.
"We have kept a relatively simple model of making the campaign and website accessible through Facebook because more than 80 million access it everyday and they can engage in this reward campaign (to earn the tickets). Using social media has its own benefits because it can engage young people in a faster way; it's free and thus better to spread information. (This is something) I've seen through the African Dream Project, that young people all have a common vision for change and bringing them together through these initiatives helps them realise this. This is what I hope will happen through this initiative (in India as well)," he said.
The press conference to announce the Global Citizen India Festival, held in the evening, was attended by Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan and hosted by Tisca Chopra.
Highlights from the announcements made at the press conference included:
That the concert was scheduled on 19 November, World Toilet Day, to highlight the fact that one in thre people the world over do not have access to proper sanitation facilities.
Chris Martin, although absent from the event, recorded a video to say that Coldplay was excited to perform in India and that, “Over the next three weeks, there will be many action journeys that will be taken towards a poverty-free India.”
Aamir Khan has shot an ad film Shuruaat Hoon Main for Global Citizens — the brainchild of Prasoon Joshi.
Amitabh Bachchan was among the 40,000 people who registered on the site; he joked that he also wanted to 'earn tickets' to the concert.
Only 10-15 percent of the total tickets for the event will go on sale, on 15 September, noon onward on the website Book My Show. Prices will begin at Rs 5,000.