Balgandharva repairs leave theatre lovers high and dry

Theatre enthusiasts in the city are an extremely unhappy lot. No less than three theatres in the city are undergoing renovation work during peak show season.

The PMC-run Balgandharva Rangamandir as well as Tilak Smarak and Bharat Natya Mandir are closed for repairs and not likely to open before the end of this month. The 43-year-old Balgandharv Rangamandir is facing rough weather due to mismanagement by the civic body.

Need fixing: Ugly water leakage marks on the ceiling near the staircase that leads to the balcony of Balgandharva Rangmandir 

In order to repair the recurring roof leakage, the theatre management had been forced to cancel many shows, including Marathi plays and cultural and musical events.

Some 32 shows were slated between April 5 and 20, but theatre management decided close down and go ahead with replacement of tin sheets on the theatre roof, as rainwater leaks directly onto the stage when it rains.

PMC’s standing committee had approved Rs 3.50 crore for repair and replacement of 989 chairs and 200 tin sheets at Balgandharva Rangamandir.

Over 16 drama groups and musical and cultural organisations that had booked the theatre to use the hall, have to wait for suitable dates.

Bharat Natya Mandir and Tilak Smarak Mandir are also shut down for repairs and maintenance till May 1. Representatives of various theatres groups have asked for alternate dates in May. “Shutting the theatre for 15 days is leading to heavy losses for me,” said Bhagyashri Desai, producer and actor of Bhagyashri Productions.

She had planned a grand opening for her new drama ‘Chakwa’ (puzzle) on April 15. She further said that theatre groups invest between Rs 30,000 to 40,000 for each show, which will now translate into losses. Desai said, “If we calculate the losses of all the 32 shows in these 15 days, it may go to Rs 4 or 5 lakh. 

We can understand the repairing problems of the theatre and the management should give us alternate and suitable dates as a replacement.”

About the theatre
Named after veteran stage actor Narayanrao Rajhans who was popularly known as Balgandharva, Balgandharv Rangmandir has remained a legacy in the minds of many theatre groups.

Built in 1968 by the PMC with meticulous planning by noted Marathi playwright and humorist Pu La Deshpande, the theatre was designed and built by B G Shirke within the available budget of Rs 50 lakh and was the city’s first air-conditioned theatre. 

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