As his illustrious dynasty’s gen-next scion, Mahanaaryaman Scindia needs little or no introduction. He is preceded by centuries of Maratha glory the unparalleled political legacies of familial icons such as late H.H. Maharaja Jiwajirao Scindia, H.H. Rajmata Vijaya Raje Scindia and their trailblazing progeny. Mahanaaryaman’s paternal grandfather, late H.H. Maharaja Madhavrao Scindia was just about his age when contested and won his first election from Guna. From then on until his untimely demise in 2001, he proudly served as a member of the Lok Sabha for nine terms and never lost an election. Thereafter, Mahanaaryaman’s father, H.H. Maharaja Jyotiraditya Scindia has continued to become an eminent statesman, political and leader of the masses. At present, he is a member of the Rajya Sabha and serves as the Union Minister of Civil Aviation under Modi’s regime.
Evidently, these are enormous shoes to fill for a budding youth in his 20’s. Or so I thought until I drove past Gwalior’s busy streets this November to find prominent banners affectionately put up by his doting people to express their wishes on Mahanaaryaman’s birthday. Donning the Indian kurta pyjama, Aayaman is seen waving back on printed flex boards with an uncanny resemblance to his grandfather. An alumnus of the Doon School and Yale graduate, Mahanaaryaman has immersed himself in many meaningful ventures with Softbank Group and Christie’s, Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Commission. Following his forefathers’ footsteps, he has interned under veteran politician Arun Jaitley, has counted as a key component to some of his father’s political campaigns and developmental activities.
He is also a board member at the Scindia School, Gwalior. Post graduating he worked at Boston Consulting Group in Mumbai and gained corporate exposure working on cases with companies such as SBI, Jindal Steel Works and Tata Motors.
More recently, he has made a notable presence as a curator of immersive journeys. Having had founded Undersounds Entertainment, Mahanaaryaman has helped put together and host numerous events at heritage locations in association with Cercle, Cymbal Rotations and Oscillate. His newest venture, titled Pravaas is due to unfurl its first edition in Jai Vilas Palace, Gwalior on the 18th of this month.
In other words, not only is Mahanaaryaman filling into the Scindia shoes, but is also crafting his own legacy as a new-age curator and entrepreneur. In a virtual conversation with Rajputana Collective, the newest generation Scindia introduces us to the truly inventive and futuristic concept of Pravaas, which is also deeply reflective of Mahanaaryaman’s rich sensibility of age-old heritage and values of its preservation.
Q. In recent times, India has witnessed several music events gain rising popularity. Be it Magnetic Fields, RIFF, WSSF, Ziro, Sula fest, NH7 chapters or others, each of these is embraced by a buzzing counterculture of its own. What caused the creation of Pravaas?
A.In the last few months, we have seen many changes in peoples tastes, preferences and travel destinations. There has been a huge surge in domestic travel. Like me – many want to travel within India and discover unique destinations that they haven’t heard of or been to in a more experiential way.
Pravaas essentially means journey in Marathi and through this brand, we hope to take our audience on an immersive journey like-no-other. Each Pravaas Edition is designed using three key pillars—Bespoke Novelty, Unparalleled Nativity & Once-In-A-Lifetime. Every event element is handcrafted, each experience is infused with the nativity of the region through R&D trips & the overall event is never repeated. Through Pravaas we hope to create a community of like-minded explorers of novelty.
Q. What specific audience pockets do you envision to draw together through Pravaas?
A. We term our audience as ‘Explorers of Novelty’ which includes creatives, travel seekers, food enthusiasts and a lot more.
Q. At a first glance, Pravaas resembles Cymbal Rotations in many respects. Both fall under the Gig Hub Club banner, both curate a multi-concert escapade for a limited audience in a distant heritage location. Would you call Cymbal Rotations an inspiration behind your own idea? If not, is there a particular global event that inspired you?
A. Cymbal Rotations & Pravaas are connected but also entirely different. They’re connected because they both aim to take audiences to places they’ve never been before. However, Cymbal Rotations is more music-focused and is based on the ethos of exploration of India through the lens of music. It will also remain a slightly higher-capacity event of up to 300 people as compared to Pravaas.
Pravaas is a very intimate curation of multi-sensory experiences with a highlight on food, supplemented by music, art, heritage and culture. For Pravaas, there is a lot of research that goes into the native region of the event location. All experiences are curated & created to help audiences discover nativity like never before. Pravaas is a shared vision between ourselves and Masque – a vision to dig into the roots of India and present it as a shared DNA.
However, Pravaas, mentions circling around not just music, but also food and art.
Q. What is a pop-up ten-course? Will it centre around a specific cuisine?
A.The pop-up 10-course meal that we will be presenting will be a one-time menu that will not be featured again. It will be designed by Chef Prateek Sadhu and his team from Masque exclusively for Pravaas through his experiences during our R&D trips where we taste different types of food from the location we have chosen.
For this edition, we will be focusing on street food, tribal cuisine (from the Gwalior-Chambal region), and recipes from the royal kitchen in Gwalior (Maratha-Nepali cuisine).
Q. What kinds of art displays is Pravaas curating?
A.The displays take place at the HH Maharaja Sir Jiwaji Rao Scindia Museum. That itself is the first time a museum has collaborated with music, art, and food immersive experiences. Art & heritage curations can be found at The Baraamda, The Aaina Hall and the Safarnaama-E-Alijah experiences, or as we call them—Journeys at the event.
The Baraamda is a corridor leading to the Masque pop-up restaurant and has been filled up with 25+ legendary objects. Each one will be QR coded that can be scanned to lead up to a landing page for more information on that piece. All pieces are brought into the corridor from the museum itself.
The Aaina Hall features a mirrored silver bar that has been brought up especially for the event. This will be used to serve Blue Label. The Aaina hall also features a vintage bar serving Stranger & Sons bespoke cocktails created just for Pravaas. The entire hall has been adorned with mirrors belonging to the royal family’s museum along with many other artefacts and pieces of furniture.
Q. Unlike many of its national counterparts, the heritage city of Gwalior is yet to be optimised as a prime cultural destination. As a younger generation Scindia, how would you like to lead your city into the future? Furthermore, how would events such as Pravaas help further that?
A. Gwalior is definitely one of the hidden gems that are yet to be uncovered. Over the last 10 years, I myself hardly spent any time in the region as I was in boarding school and then went to the states for college.
Just before the Covid-19 pandemic, I started spending a lot more time in the city and started rediscovering it for myself and really understood how much it has to offer whether its—history, art, music or nature. The city can offer it all. I have therefore been speaking to a lot of the youth in the city and urging them to do the same and be proud of where they come from along with keeping the city clean. I think when that happens, and we start inviting friends, family etc and take them through the city through our eyes tourism will definitely be boosted. I am also working on events like Pravaas or bringing in other companies to do events that involve all stakeholders—artisans (making crockery, installations etc.), local restaurants, musicians and startups so that they started understanding the value of tourism and work towards promoting it themselves.
Q. Lastly, since the world stands at the brink of the pandemic’s mutation, what safety measures would you prescribe as a prerequisite for all those attending Pravaas?
A. Firstly, we require all guests to provide PCR tests that are taken no more than 48 hours prior to the event or submit a double vaccination certificate. Secondly, as I said the event is much smaller so people feel safer since we have only 150 guests and in certain locations, we might have even fewer numbers. Lastly, we require everyone to wear their masks except when they are dining.