The century-old Opera Theatre here, which once reverberated to the stirring speech of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and jhalas of Alauddin Khan's magical sitar, is now counting its last days.
Though a new building will take its place, emotions are running high over the proposed demolition of the British-built building at Police Bazar, located in the heart of the city, housing the Opera Theatre.
Carved out in wood and occupying an area of 7025 sq feet allotted by the then deputy commissioner of the erstwhile Khasi-Jaintia state, the building was conceived in 1900 by a group of drama enthusiasts who sought a place for recreation and leisure.
Subsequently, it became the centre of art in this hill city witnessing a host of activities over the years ranging from national table tennis competition to musical shows, political events and dramas.
“The hall was the nucleus of all cultural activities. Not less than 2000 dramas were staged at the hall over the years,” says A Dasgupta, secretary of Giti Natya Samaj, who is spearheading a campaign against demolishing the structure and erect a new one at its place.
“This was where Netaji had addressed the people when he had visited the city in 1938 to install the then Congress-led government of undivided Assam,” Dasgupta quotes from history.