When the lights came on at the Coomaraswamy Hall of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj museum on Friday, most of the audience was reaching for their handkerchiefs.
The Last Music Store, a documentary on Kala Ghoda’s beloved Rhythm House, had just been screened as part of the Snapdeal cinema section of the HT Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, marking its premiere in Mumbai.
The store shut in March 2016, and the film chronicles its contribution to the Mumbai music scene, through the eyes of its staff.
In the audience on Friday were Amir and Mahmood Curmally, the erstwhile owners of the establishment; Megha Ramaswamy, 34, director of the film; and its producer Aliya Curmally, 37, daughter of Amir Curmally.
“It’s been nearly a year and, with today’s screening, I feel we have come full circle,” said Aliya. “I cry every time I watch the film, but in a sense, this premiere feels like closure.”
It was closure for some of the viewers too.
“I would go to the store when I was young and couldn’t afford to buy anything,” said Pushpa Doongursee Bhatia, 79. “I would invariably end up in the listening booths. I also remember how I saved up to buy my first cassette, of music by Talat Mahmood. Oh, the joy it gave me. When they announced they were going to shut shop last year, I visited the place one last time and cried.”
Ramaswamy said the film had evoked similarly strong reactions in New York. “After the screening at an international film festival there, we had people tell us how they were moved to tears,” Ramaswamy said. “They too could relate to the concept of beloved music stores shutting down, rendered obsolete by newer technology.”