Maharashtra’s redundant laws have struck again. Their latest victim — the happiest music festival. Having grown well over the last two years, this time, it succumbed to certain rules that our authorities have suddenly decided to enforce with such vigour.
I wasn’t much of a live music person. That changed when I attended the second edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender in 2011. It made me want to visit again. I boasted about the awesome booze buckets; the fun of lazing on the grass while sipping a drink and watching the gigs. There were no cops with guns roaming the premises. The sound from one stage wasn’t drowning the other. And I didn’t have to go to bed with an aluminum clip holding together two sweaty wristbands (coloured bands were the entry passes, the white ones permitted you to enter the bar). It was our very own Woodstock in the making — peaceful and musical. Which is why, I convinced a lot of people to attend it this year. Let’s just say, since then, I’ve lost some credibility.
But here are a few things the festival did teach us:
Skills: Stand-up comic Ashish Shakya, for instance, learnt how to identify artistes by the muffled beats that reached the bar. All thanks to the rule that alcohol could not be carried to the stages. It had to be consumed within the few designated bar enclosures.
Sobriety: Those under 25 (the legal age to drink hard liquor, which incidentally was all that was being served) learnt how to head-bang their way to a high.
Dieting: Eating after 9.30 pm isn’t healthy. Then should the food stalls stay open? So what if Pune shuts down at 11 pm and you have to starve through the night? Eating early is imperative.
Therapy: Even those who fear dogs learnt to empathise with the poor mutts whose ears were being pounded with every beat from the stages located near the pet enclosure.
Entrepreneurship: Those ‘lending’ people their white bands that allowed access to the bars recovered their ticket prices within hours.
Few will deny that compared to 2011’s edition, this one was far from fantastic. Probably, if the organisers tom-tomed a little less about their plans, we would have expected nothing and been surprised. Regrettably, they didn’t. However, what I did (and still do), was wish that that they rediscover their mojo next year.