Long before Bollywood music existed, and when Gothic and Art Deco streetscapes were integral to South Bombay, even as the suburbs were still trying to create a space for themselves in the Maximum City, evenings after sunset were laced with live music from the city’s biggest bands.
Reviving this old world charm, and the bandstands (places where such performances were organised) is The Bandstand Revival Project, which has planned a series of performances at strategic bandstands around the city on Saturdays throughout April and May.
Currently in its fifth year, the project, not only aims to revive the bandstand culture but also attempts to offer live music to Mumbaikars, who cannot visit pubs or clubs, free of cost. The project will see a host of individual artistes such as Imli Imchen, Alisa Pais, Chandrasekhar Phanse and Sunita Bhuyan as well as bands such as Empty Cafe, Sparsh, Mohan and Koco, Far Out Funk and The Live Cycle among others perform live at bandstands like Hanging Gardens in Malabar Hill, Veer Prabhu Deshpande and Sant Dyaneshwar Udyan in Dadar Chowpatty, and the Horniman Circle in Fort. One of the major attractions of the Bandstand Revival Project, is a performance by the MCGM band at the Horniman Circle Garden on April 20.
Till May 25, 5.30 pm to 8 pm
At Hanging Garden; Dadar Chowpatty and Horniman Circle Garden.
How the bandstand culture began
In the 1850s, an infantry band would play every evening at the Bombay Green (now restricted to Horniman Circle) regaling the then Governor of Bombay who lived in the Fort (now known as Old Secretariat). The performances continued till the building was given in the 1860s and Elphinstone (now Horniman) Circle and other buildings were built. Soon after, the Fort walls were also demolished, and bands begun performing in hotels in the nearby areas.
When the Bombay City Improvement Trust began developing new suburban areas north of the island city, it also built bandstands (places where bands could perform) in Girgaum, Byculla, Malabar Hill, Mazgaon Hill, Sion and Dadar, even spreading to the suburbs, to areas such as the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivli. These bands continued to perform even after India’s Independence in 1947, but stopped soon after the departure of the British forces from India. The Bandstand Revival Project aims to bring those places back to life.
Best of bandstand
April 13: Hanging Gardens, Malabar Hill.
Bands: Rachel & the Plutonians and Sunita Bhuyan
April 20: Veer Prabhu Deshpande and Sant Dyaneshwar Udyan, Dadar Chowpatty.
Bands: Empty Cafe, Imli Imchen, V Ravi (Guitar Fusion)
April 20: Horniman Circle, Fort. MCGM Band
April 27: Hanging Gardens.
Bands: Dharavi Rocks, Mohan and Koco and Sparsh
May 4: Dadar Chowpatty.
Bands: Shri Chandrashekhar Phanse, Sur
May 18: Dadar Chowpatty.
Bands: The Live Cycle, Far Out Funk and Alisha Pais
Time: 5.30 pm to 8 pm