In a race to produce excellent breed of Engineers and Doctors, art and culture often takes a backseat. If you take a cultural and art tour of India, you will be surprised with the rich heritage that exists when it comes to handicrafts and handlooms and artifacts. It pains me more when I see the degree to which rich heritage is ridiculed and neglected, upto a point of extinction. Mumbai is slowly reaching the state where prominent landmarks that are inherent part of the city, can never be cherished and enjoyed again. The glamour of Mumbai has always appeared to be a facade to me, hiding its true colors of a rich past and culture. At a age of 7, I recognized this and I fell in love with this city.
In my first feature post, I spoke about the Victorian carriages that are soon going out of trend. Today I would like to bring your attention to the glorious history of another iconic feature of the city that will soon cease to exist –Rang Bhavan.
This 50-year old heritage is an amphitheater of one of its kind to exist in South Mumbai. Located in Dhobi Talao, Fort this amphitheater was the ultimate haven for the rock cult of 1980s in India and was the premiere destination for its illustrious line of artists and celebrities who played here like The Police (first British rock band to play in India), Sting, Jethro Tull, and landmark music festivals such as Independence Rock, Jazz Yatra and was also responsible for hosting numerous folk concerts like Lavani and Tamasha. The privilege of hosting talents such as Pandit Zakir Hussain and Pandit Shivkumar Sharma has also been bestowed to this place.
Why am I talking about this place with a tinge of nostalgia? Mainly because as of 25th September 2003, in response to the petition filed by Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG), the high court has implemented a ban regarding the use of loudspeakers in silent zones. ( A silent zone is an area within 100 metres of either a hospital, court, religious structure or an educational institution) Since then, no concert has been performed in this theater because of which the whole place has gone into complete derlict.
Listed as a grade 2 heritage structure, it has recently come up in the news following the submission of a recent proposal by the state’s Marathi language department (Marathi is the native language of the state of Maharashtra) to construct a four-story language research center, equipped with an air-conditioned auditorium after razing down the original structure.
I know it is said that the history often repeats itself, but the ones that enrich the culture of the city and should be immortalized are the ones that are treated with no respect.
Disclaimer – All the pictures have been because of the sneaking effort of my friend Nitish Thomas and have his full permission to be used here.