Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Will It Be the End of the Kala Ghoda Festival?

Is it the end of the festival – Kala Ghoda, I mean – as we knew it all these years? The area which reverberated to sounds of flutes, loud thumping drums, loud wailing guitars – lead, bass, rhythm – dancing, is now silent and sedate with only the steady roar of traffic. Will Kala Ghoda, in the present avatar – huge success has come only recently – be told to shut shop and move on? I guess any success brings detractors, people who see success as a threat, a challenge to their existence. I loved the Kala Ghoda Festival because I was a part of it right from the beginning. I used to work in the area when I was editing the management magazine – Ambit – published by the Bombay Management Association, situated in Army and Navy Building. (Actually, long ago, in the British era, the building contained the Army and Navy Stores, right where Westside is located now. Contrary to what its name suggests, the Army and Navy have nothing to do with the building, it is owned by Tatas now.) Then I moved on to New Bombay, Andheri and now I am working in New Marine Lines. So I found it convenient to attend the festival every day, catch a very eclectic variety of movies at the Max Mueller Bhavan and Goethe Institut, visit the Jehangir Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Modern Art. I would drop into the David Sassoon Library to write my novel after work and it was a peaceful haven for me – though outside the noisy traffic plied, somewhat erratically – in those days. It still is. And, there is Samovar, where the staff was friendly and superstars dated – it's rumoured that Amitabh and Jaya dated here – and films were shot. Come to think of it, the success of Samovar was also resented and the owner is in court to save it from being evicted. Hm. Its like a successful rapper once said, "Mo money, mo problems."

The latest news, via Peter Griffin (curator of the literary section of the Festival) is that the whole area has been declared a silent zone, by whoever, I don't know. Actually, I think, some stupid old rule is to blame. So there can't be rock, music, dance and other performances, unless the authorities relent. I don't think they will relent as Rang Bhavan where I saw rock and Jazz shows is now closed for ever. However, there may be shows and programs inside the halls and the David Sassoon Garden, but not outside. Sad.


madhulika pachauri said...

Why pick on cultural festivals?
There are others causing noise pollution and they remain unchecked. This is unfair and detrimental to literary and artistic pursuits. truly sad!

ms said...

our heritage is a victim of progress. there will be no trace of any culture in the coming years. imagine, what our ancestors left for us survives to this day in the form of buildings and cultural practices. how many old monuments and cultural events have faded away to make way for modernity during our lifetime? in the last 50 years beautiful buildings have been replaced by chrome and glass monstrosities, people don't even celebrate festivals the way our parents did. the only folksy events which survive are the ones that attract tourism. Kite Festival! Pushkar Mela! some vestiges of "Viraasat" can be found in the winter months in some small cities. when i was growing up, my city saw "kavi sammelan", cottage industry fairs, musical conferences, annual classical dance competitions. a rich cultural experience. it is the duty of every govt to provide its citizens opportunities to relive and replenish our culture. we need townhalls, community halls, cultural centres, venues where we can all enjoy what is fast disappearing: our identity.