Mumbai's iconic music store, Rhythm House, slips into history books

Iconic music store at Kala Ghoda, Rhythm House, slips into the history books from today

The door to Rhythm House, Kala Ghoda, was opened by the guard for one last time, yesterday. The mecca of music marked its last day on February 29. Today onwards, it will be shutters down as one more SoBo institution becomes a piece of the past, nails hammered into its musical coffin, thanks to the digital revolution.

Also Read: Iconic south Mumbai music store Rhythm House to shut shop in 2016

Rhythm House closed from today, accepting defeat from the digital revolution. Pics/Sameer Markande
Rhythm House closed from today, accepting defeat from the digital revolution. Pics/Sameer Markande

Yesterday, when we visited the store early afternoon, we witnessed portions of the once crowded shelves of the store were barren. There were huge discounts on almost all music in the CD sections — ranging from 10 per cent to 70 per cent.

The red jacketed helpers in the aisle and the soothing sound of music will be missed, said loyal patronsThe red jacketed helpers in the aisle and the soothing sound of music will be missed, said loyal patrons

Many senior citizens were making their last ‘pilgrimmage’ to buy their music. Subhash Rai, 76, Ghatkopar resident who was at the store with his wife Padma, 70 said, “We do not know to download music. This was the best place for us to get music CDs. Now with Rhythm House closing, I don’t know where to go. We are buying as many CDs as we can carry to last the remainder of our days.”

Read Story: Rhythm House to shut down: Disbelief, pall of gloom surrounds Kala Ghoda store

The music store has been an iconic spot in the cityThe music store has been an iconic spot in the city
The music store has been an iconic spot in the cityThe music store has been an iconic spot in the city

A number of foreigners were also in the store. Cydell Hans from Hungary who was browsing the devotional music section said, “I was told that this is a must visit. It is sad to hear that today is the last day. I am buying some memorabilia to mark this day. Last day, last buy from here for me. The rates are fabulous.”

The low rates and discounts attracted Varun Pandit, 30, software engineer who works in the area. “It is my lunch break, I decided to drop in and buy some CDs of my favourite singers. I usually download music, but since Rhythm House is closing, I decided to come and buy some CDs at less than half the price. I do not know any other music store that has such a big collection of music,” he said.

It was a sad day for employees, the uncertainty was palpable. Rayeez Bheg, working at Rhythm House for more than 25 years said, “I will start looking for a job tomorrow. There have been thousands of people who have come and bought CDs in bulk.”

Also Read: Rhythm House to shut down: This is how Mumbai reacted

Pointing to the many empty shelves as the apt ‘Kabhi alvida na kehna’ played in the background he said, “All these have been sold. Those that are unsold will be sent back to the companies. The companies themselves have given discounts. The shutter that will close today will never open again.”

“Life in another place will be tough,” said Jitendra Asrekar who has been working at Rhythm House since 1986. “I have one skill, to sell CDs and there are not many such music stores. The downloading trend and online music has destroyed my life. Getting another job will be tough. I am open to any job. Many celebrities have walked through these doors and working here has been a joy. I will miss this place.”

Workers and shoppers were heard reminiscing about old times. Saroj Lal, 56, a housewife who was at the store said, “I live at Cuffe Parade and spent many hours here listening to music during my college days at Xavier’s. Every corner of this shop holds a memory for me. I am buying some old Hindi film CDs which I am sure once this closes will be tough to get. I made friends with the staff and a number of regulars here. It is sad that we will not be able to meet here again.”

Mehmood Curmally, owner and Managing Director (MD) of Rhythm House refused to pose for pictures and preferred to be in his office upstairs. Speaking on the store landline to this reporter he said, “You can take pictures of the store and speak to patrons. I do not want to talk about it nor pose for pictures. I have done enough of talking about it.”

Many are now wondering what will happen to the physical structure once the shutters come down. For the moment it will remain closed and there is no clarity on that. The CDs that have remained unsold will be sent back to the companies, and the racks will be cleared.

As we stepped out of the store, the bright sunlight hit us, forcing us to shield our eyes from the sun. Outside, the SoBo traffic roared past and the hum of commerce pulsated. Yet, if one listened carefully, one could hear strains of melody cutting through that noise.

A requiem perhaps, for Rhythm House.

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