14 Stages Of Culture
Mumbai is often known as the cultural hub of the country. One reason for this can be that people from various cities migrate here, and bring their cultural sensibilities with them. Culture can be portrayed through plays, paintings and art forms. Moreover, places such as Prithvi Theatre and NCPA present it to the audience in its best form. On our 14th anniversary, we take a tour of the places around the city that have been maintaining the city’s cultural heritage throughout the years.
NCPA, NARIMAN POINT
The National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai was inaugurated in 1969 and was the first multivenue,a multi-genre cultural centre in South Asia. The NCPA was the brainchild of JRD Tata and Dr Jamshed Bhabha, two visionaries who saw India’s need for an all-encompassing world-class performing arts centre. Artistes such as Satyajit Ray and Yehudi Menuhin have contributed towards giving the NCPA the iconic status it now enjoys.Built on a land reclaimed from the sea, the NCPA campus houses five theatres as well. “NCPA is a temple for arts, not just to the artistic community but for everyone connected to the field. It has been able to reach out to a wide range of audiences. This institution is made by the sheer hard work and dedication of all the artistes. It helps us support tradition, and through it, we support our history and our identity. It helps us bond with friends, make new friends and form stronger bonds with the old,” says a spokesperson from NCPA. Now approaching the 50th year of its existence, with an ever-expanding list of performances, educational projects, exhibitions, and much more, the NCPA continues to build on its reputation as one of the leading art centres in Asia.
PRITHVI THEATRE, JUHU
Founded on November 5, 1978, by late veteran actor Shashi Kapoor and his wife Jennifer Kendall Kapoor, Prithvi theatre in Juhu is synonymous with theatre in the city. It was founded in the memory of Prithviraj Kapoor and has shows almost every day. Kunal Kapoor, son of Shashi Kapoor and the trustee says, “I think it has been pretty successful in its objectives. We do not call it events; we create theatrical live performances, which is planned by a combination of many factors.” Udhwastha Dharmashala was Prithvi’s first play which had a star cast of Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and Benjamin Gilani, and at present, stages more than 540 shows a year.
DOOLALLY TAPROOM, ANDHERI
India’s first microbrewery was co-founded by a German Brewmaster Oliver Schauff and a detergent powder salesman, Suketu Talekar in October 2009. But Doolally is not just limited to drinking beer but is also a spot for creative curation for millenials. Tresha Guha, Brand Manager, says, “We are constantly striving to build new communities by curating and organising a versatile set of workshops and events. The idea is to create spaces that are human and pet-friendly. And what better way of doing that, than reaching out to communities that inspire great ideas.
We are all dependant on various technologies and digital tools for work, communication and even for relaxation. We need a space like good old’ times where we can unwind and keep away from technology and also, to embrace the culture. And that is what Adagio aims at. Founded in 2016, Adagio focuses to preserve and promote the Analogue Culture. They have curated events, which are a platform for people learn something new and interesting. Demetrius Newton, spokesperson, says, “Our motive is to provide people with a state of mind where they can disconnect from this digital world and explore the beauty of non-digital life through yoga, attending live events and workshops, listening to vinyl records or just reading your favourite book.” It is a great place to explore a non-digital life and rediscover yourself at ease.
Opened to the public in 1996 in Mumbai, the National Gallery of Modern Art represents the cultural ethos of the country. Anita Rupavataram, director, says, “Within the limited area, we have tried to create a beautiful space for the artworks with a spiral spin design architecture. This is basically a government funded gallery in that sense, so we are not here for profits. We just want to promote art. People who come here generally know about art, hence they are discerning.”
ROYAL OPERA HOUSE, GIRGAUM
The Royal Opera House is widely touted as the city’s cultural crown jewel and India’s only surviving Opera House. The original idea for space was conceived in 1908 by Maurice Bandmann, a famous entertainer from Calcutta, and Jehangir Framji Karaka, who headed a coal brokers’ firm. This Baroque edifice was inaugurated in 1911 by King George V and in 1925, British Pathe rented it for screening their films. In 1935, Ideal Pictures Ltd acquired the theatre and by 1980, a number of theatres were closed by the 1990s. The venue, which now one of the last remaining baroque structures in the city, reopened after 26 years in October 2016 and re-established itself as a performance space of international quality, a cultural venue par excellence and a prime example of restored and renewed city heritage. Rupali Ranga, customer relationship manager, says, “To this end, we are committed to hosting quality performances and events through meaningful collaborations spanning the breadth of culture and the performing arts. In the almost three years since reopening, we typically have the theatre booked for five to six nights a week and our programming calendar is already packed till March 2020. We aim to give Mumbaikars a space for dialogue, debate, discourse and even dance, slowly carving our own niche and becoming a creative hub in the city’s cultural fabric.” The Royal Opera House has also been recognised with an Award of Merit in the 2017 UNESCO Asia Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
ST ANDREW’S AUDITORIUM, BANDRA
Popular among theatre personalities and situated at the heart of Mumbai, St Andrew’s auditorium is one of the favourites for hosting shows and music concerts and also serves as a charity centre. It has 250 seats and conducts annual day functions along with functions and programs by corporate houses, film shootings and many more. It is well equipped with modern technology and is a spacious hall that enhances the play watching experience for the audience. “We have a set of regular clients who book for at least 14 to 15 shows a year, it goes on and has been going on since so many years. The footfall is definitely increasing with each day, it has never stopped. It was started almost 25 years back. We already have 157 bookings for 2020,” says the manager, Denis D’Mello.
RAM GANESH GADKARI RANGAYATAN, THANE
Named after renowned Marathi poet and playwright, Shri Ram Ganesh Gadkari, this auditorium was built in 1979 to preserve the cultural heritage of Thane. It is a government-funded organisation and has been conducting plays and various other cultural programmes for four decades now. Vijay Joshi, manager, says, “The motive behind Rangayatan is to provide a platform for all the talented artistes to show their skills through various activities such as drama, orchestra, social programmes etc. As Gadkari Rangayatan is a drama theatre, first preference is given to the drama community. We want both senior and upcoming artistes to come and show their talent and also, everyone should get the chance to watch and learn.
CLAP CENTRE, MALAD
CLAP was founded in October 2015 and launched its first centre in Malad on January 6, 2016. CLAP stands for Creative Learning Arts and Performance Centre and although new, it curates events and workshops in a multitude of genres, not just theatre and have regular Open Mics for music, stories, poetry, photography, travel and of course, stand-up. Gayatri Jhaveri, marketing manager, CLAP, says, “The people of this country are extremely gifted and talented, we wish to play an important role in nurturing this talent and showcasing it to the world. Not all our children today have the opportunities that others do, we need to create institutions that give these children the guidance and means to flourish.”
HARD ROCK CAFE, ANDHERI
Hard Rock Cafe is one of the most popular cafes that also has the power to decide the social status of the people and is known as an iconic live music destination. Hard Rock Cafe has housed some of the biggest international artistes and boasts of a roster of 500+ events in a year across outlets. Sanjay Mahtani, cofounder and director, JSM Corporation India, says, “The reason we brought Hard Rock Cafe to India, was my love for music. We opened the first Hard Rock Cafe in Mumbai in 2006 and brought the live music culture to India. It was the first-of-its-kind, it provided a platform for musicians and talent along with a great casual dining experience on par with international standards. We take customer satisfaction extremely seriously and are constantly evolving to meet changing demands.”
MYSORE ASSOCIATION, MATUNGA
What happens when a group of young professionals from the Mysore meet and decide to create a platform to promote culture? They end up forming the Mysore Association. Informally formed in 1926, Mysore Association was started in Matunga in 1932 and is a prime spot that has been promoting traditional art and culture since then. Apart from the Gubbi Theatre, the Association is the oldest living entity in the Indian theatre, with over 75 years of continuous activity. Madhusudan BK, manager, says, “Our auditorium was started in the year 1998. It was mainly started to promote art and culture in the city. We have never been short of audiences and responses till now. We provide the auditorium mainly for performing arts. In the past few years, there is quite a lot of increase in the field of art and culture and we wish to keep on promoting it.”
DUBLIN SQUARE, KURLA
Dublin Square was formed in 2015 with the motive to create the biggest indoor multi-purpose venue in the city that will serve as a host to various genres of events. It has hosted music concerts, comedy shows, theatre events, corporate events, which goes up to more than 500 shows a year. Amit Kumar, senior center director, Phoenix Marketcity, Kurla, says, “The crowd has increased along with the number and types of events held at the location. People have recognised Dublin Square as a one-stop venue for all major events. It is an ideal location for any event in Mumbai as the destination mall is on LBS Marg which is centrally located and is a quick drive.”
JEHANGIR ART GALLERY, FORT
Its foundation was laid back in 1952 by Sir Cowasji Jehangir, Second Baronet. The gallery is named after his late son, Jehangir and is a regular go-to place for many aspiring and struggling artists. Legendary artists such as MF Hussain and SH Raza spearheaded the gallery and gave rise to a contemporary moment in art. “The booking committee examines artists’ work and only then it is selected. Every year the crowd is increasing. At the moment, we are renovating the gallery, designing it according to the new interests. We already are booked full house until 2020. This is one of the topmost galleries in India and all the artistes dream to keep their show at Jehangir,” says Mrs KG Menon, secretary.
SHANMUKHANANDA HALL, SION
It was founded in 1952 with the aim to promote arts and culture in the city. With almost seven-decade long legacy, Shanmukhananda Hall has become a prestigious platform for every artiste and it continues to be the venue for some of the finest cultural events and programs. It has an history of many iconic performances with artistes such as Dr MS Subbulakshmi, Ariya, Ustad Zakir Hussian, Pt Ravi Shankar, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, SP Balasubramaniam, KJ Yesudas, Hariharan, Shankar Mahadevan to name a few. The auditorium has been designed on three tiers with spacious foyers to cater large crowds and can accommodate almost 2700 people. It also has a society that provides training to the budding artistes in the field of dance and music.