To attend a concert on a Saturday afternoon on Holi weekend during the city’s bizarre mid-March heatwave on Malabar Hill, where there are more trees than people anyway, comes perilously close to suffering for someone else’s art.
Having attended Dischordian and Rang’s performances at Kamala Nehru Park last month, I can report with the conviction of the pilgrim: Reader, the Bandstand Revival Project is worth it. An initiative of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the project, now in its third season, lures local bands and artistes out of their natural habitat to perform outdoor gigs. This year, in addition to their usual venue here, they will host concerts at Dadar Chowpatty and Carter Road, Bandra.
Musical night: Rang plays at Kamala Nehru Park. Shekhar Sidhaye/Mint
Under the spreading boughs of a cannonball tree in the amphitheatre at the park’s westernmost end, we listen to the three-man band Dischordian. Their alt-rock draws only a small complement of the sort of fans you might find at, say, their Blue Frog gigs. Pensioners on their evening walk sit down; sneaker-shod joggers and child hawkers peek in curiously. A few people look like they’ve stopped off before the evening’s parties; at least two could only have trooped in from a day at the bank.
I turn and ask the elderly couple across from me if they’re enjoying the show. “Very much,” smiles Katie Panthaki. “We read about it in the papers, so we came by to see what was going on.” The Panthakis do not wave their arms in the air when the bands ask us to. I see them applauding sedately at the end of each song.
“How are you all doing tonight?” Ronit Bhattacharya, lead singer of Hindi-rock group Rang, asks. We are too few and too diverse to chorus back in one voice. There aren’t many more people here than you would find squeezed into a BEST bus during peak hours. Project manager Stuart DaCosta tells me that last year’s finale packed more than 2,000 people in this space.
Mumbai’s film industry invented cities where heroes sing in public. Listening to Rang funk up A.R. Rahman songs under fairy lights and an enormous moon, there is a glimpse of a world where music does not need the occasion of a festival or procession or, indeed, a Bollywood shoot. We just happen to be here on a summer evening, the leaves of the cannonball tree falling into our hair and laps, listening to the music.
We are doing quite well tonight.
The Bandstand Revival Project is on every Saturday till 28 May at various venues across Mumbai. For the full schedule, log on to on.fb.me/bandrevival