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The 17,000 sq. ft Saregama office in Tardeo, Mumbai, with rooms of varying sizes spread across two levels, has been designed entirely by its staff. “Office design is less about the aesthetic value; it’s more about employees taking pride in the fact that they are part of the biggest cultural heritage of modern India," says Vikram Mehra, the managing director, who takes us on a tour of the office where over 180 people work.

Saregama, India’s oldest music label, has also become a film studio and has ventured into TV content. Last year, it launched Carvaan, a portable digital music player with 5,000 pre-recorded songs.

Films and music: To first-time visitors, the office may seem like a maze. Narrow, long corridors connect large (employee-occupied) and smaller (for edits, screenings, meetings) rooms. These corridors are adorned with framed charcoal sketches of movie stars, singers and composers of a certain vintage.

Vikram Mehra at the Saregama office. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
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Vikram Mehra at the Saregama office. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

There is no single theme or colour combination connecting all the zones in the office. So, a Mehfil, a waiting area inside, has blue glass walls and blue/black furniture, while the screening room, Chalchitra, has red and black sofas with thick red curtains, reminiscent of cinema halls from a bygone era.

But most places have at least one symbol of music or a movie the company may have been associated with. For example, the large conference room, Darbaar-e-Khaas, has drums for light fittings, while the common office space with workstations has a miniature car sticking out of a wall with the words “babu samjho ishare…" There are several such fittings.

Break-out areas: Mehra points to several “break-out" areas in the office—unconventional workspaces. Just outside Mehfil, a young employee sits with what looks like a bound script on a colourful sofa. Next door is a small library, usually used by people who want some privacy—and not to read, much to Mehra’s chagrin.

Outside the biggest conference room, which everybody hates because a meeting there usually implies a collective reprimand, is a coffee kettle with two framed guitars behind it. “This (the conference room) has a Mughal-e-Azam colour scheme, which we have tried in other places too. The guitars are not special—we don’t want to turn this into Hard Rock Cafe," he says, laughing.

Vikram Mehra. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
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Vikram Mehra. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

Since Saregama is also in the business of creating content, creative people work along with innovators, one reason why there are several zones in the office. “Our ability to attract more talent from outside would have been impossible half a decade back and I believe the office has something to do with it," Mehra says.

Fun and frolic: Go up the stairs to what feels like a mezzanine floor, and you reach Chillax, which has a table tennis table, surrounded by walls with graffiti. Further ahead is the terrace area, with a bar platform, casual seating, potted plants, and a view of Altamount Road.

The only places still to be finished are the washrooms, which are being redesigned.

Vikram Mehra. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
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Vikram Mehra. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

Mehra believes that the surge in the company’s fortunes is due in part to the office. “The energy has to become positive in the company for something like Carvaan to come along. We are going to post close to 75% growth in our top line this year…it doesn’t happen just like that, or with a Carvaan."

The Work Tour is a series which looks at how people are engaging with office design and how it impacts their productivity and positivity at work.

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