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Masala Radio and Naach Houston Bring Bollywood to IKEA

Masala Event Coordinator Riya Sangani, Masala Radio CEO Sunil Thakkar, IKEA Manager Kim Castillo, Masala Radio Traffic Manager Nimi Lokhandwala Photos: Krishna Giri

By Kalyani Giri

HOUSTON: Masala Radio’s Sunil Thakkar is a born showman, a quick-thinker with an irrepressibly upbeat personality that can easily coax a smile onto the most stoic of faces. This past weekend on January 15, he brought his bonhomie and bold Bollywood beats to the Swedish superstore IKEA at Katy Freeway and regaled a diverse, multi-cultural and multi-generational crowd for several hours on the store’s busiest and biggest sales event of the year. With the Masala Radio Hummer occupying a visible spot on the sidewalk in front of the store, Thakkar teamed up with vibrant young dance company, Naach Houston, and commandeered the upper level of IKEA for a rousingly fun afternoon.

With popular movie songs permeating the store and shoppers stopping by to try out the moves, it turned out to be a largely interactive event that saw Thakkar encouraging people of all ages to try the Bollywood dance steps under the tutorship of Naach Houston’s Star Gilani, Hasina Sadiwala, and Shahbaz Rajabali, to tunes spun by DJ Zee. Special guest artist to Naach Houston’s endeavor was popular Bollywood choreographer/dancer Mahesh Mahbubani. With Thakkar urging the participants to dance with “energy, enthusiasm, and excitement”, the revelry was infectious. He did on the spot interviews, asked contestants what they liked about IKEA, and got some surprising answers; many responded that they liked the food at the store’s cafeteria best, while others talked about the “cool stuff” that the store sold. Thakkar gave winners gift certificates to restaurants, month-long dance classes with Naach Houston, and CDs of Bollywood music.

“This is all about being out here and getting involved with the larger Houston community,” said Thakkar, who along with his wife Sandhya branded Masala Radio into a household name through astute marketing and a hard work ethic in the past 18 years.

Anil Rana, president of Naach Houston, was glad for the positive message generated by the event.

“It’s a multi-cultural experience and we are about connecting communities and bridging cultures, it’s truly been a great afternoon,” said Rana.

IKEA advertized their annual sale with only two radio stations, Masala Radio, and with 104.1 KRBE. Earlier in the day, 104.1 KRBE’s Roula and Ryan were on site, followed by Masala Radio’s program. IKEA recognized the significance of drawing the flourishing South Asian clientele to the store, said Sandhya.

“We’ve had more affinity toward the South Asian market from 1993, when we started, but after 2011, we’re broadening our reach,” said Sandhya. “Sunil has the ability to straddle the cultures and find common ground with just about anyone. While we may not become mainstream anytime soon, we are trying to make our presence felt, and the radio is a strong catalyst,” she added.

Kim Castillo, Marketing Manager at IKEA, said that she hoped Masala Radio would be more than just an annual appearance at the store.

“We’re excited and thrilled to be working with Sunil and his team,” said Castillo. “They echo the creative spirit of IKEA with their fun attitude and innovative ideas,” she added. Masala Radio broadcasts Mondays through Friday from 4.00pm – 8.00pm on 10.90 AM. And Saturdays from 11.00am – 5.00pm on 14.80 AM.

For more information visit http://masalaradio.net/.


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