Monday, 22 December 2014

Walking around December Season Mylapore . . .

What does a music and dance season feel and look like in Chennai?
In Mylapore, which is said to be the heart of the December Season festival.

This evening, we took a casual tour of the Mylapore zone, the hub of concerts and lec-dems and all the buzz.

We began from Nageswara Rao Park, Luz which is the hub of fitness fanatics, walkers and couples, sales reps and bums. We walked past a few push carts doing slow business in the darkness of Luz Church Road, shadows that can put off many people. The Srinivasa Sastri Hall is a hub for concerts - it has been redone, painted and bright. Arts promoters hire this place because it costs small. The music of a concert floats down to the library on the ground floor.

This is an intimate space. The audio is below average. But the entrance is not inviting save for a banner strung across the pillars of the gates. People hurrying home from work, headed to a bus stop do not even turn to the hall campus.

It is a long walk down the hawkers area and the shops at Luz Circle and down the mada veedhi to the Sri Kapali Temple area. Pilgrims and local residents keep the stream to the temple steady. At one or two junctures this evening, rasikas float in and out of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Here, the three auditoria - one large, swank one and two small ones are hosting dance and music concerts of Kartik Fine Arts.

The walls of the Bhavan display many flex banners of a variety of arts tests but they look faded in the December darkness. There is nothing grand at the gate that tells people that a festival is on. In the swank lobby, tired sabha team members manage concert-goers - the dance by a less known dancer in the main hall has about 50 plus people. Many walk in and out.

We turn off from East Mada Street and head to the auditorium on Sundareswarar Street where R K Swamy Auditorium hosts a dance festival. A handful of people sit through the recital - junior dancers who must be content with family, relative and friends.
The floodlights are stark. But the entry certainly isn't what a arts festival venue should be - colorful, inviting and welcome.

In the corner outside this hall, we sweep the dark insides of a building under construction - in the plot of what used to be Rasika Ranjani Sabha - R R Sabha. A divide between sabha honchos severely delayed and froze this project. Now, things are on track and we are told the main auditorium will be ready by June 2015. Perhaps, the new life will brighten the arts space on this street.

In a community hall off Chitrakulam where bunk shops sell fresh flowers, tiffin, veggies and platain leaves, a music series in connection with the Sri Panchamugha Anjaneyar celebration is on - a notice board tells us that well known artistes will perform in this hall, without any frills of decor and lights.

Past the shrill cries of the vegetable sellers on South Mada Street, we head to the P. S. School campus. We cannot make much of the banners strung here, welcoming us. A dull orange floodlight lights the front campus. At the rear, behind the school blocks, the renovated, air-conditioned hall with plastic bucket seats. It is being cleaned for an event the next day.

Outside, Mylapore slips into the darkness of the night. There is lots of music and dance but the festival zing does not seep into us.

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