Now screening: A music gig

Published: Oct 15, 2019, 07:00 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

A keyboardist will play a stripped-down piano set at an unusual venue, an Art Deco cinema hall in Marine Lines

There is a simple enough reason behind Liberty Cinema's name. It's that the construction for the theatre in Marine Lines started in 1947, the year India gained her Independence, or liberty. And for 65 years after that, the space was dedicated solely to the screening of movies, says Errol Lobo, its administrator. But then something happened in 2012 that turned things around. "The Australian High Commission in Mumbai was hosting a celebration of their country's culture, part of which entailed a viewing of Fearless Nadia, a documentary on a yesteryear Bollywood actor of Australian origin. It was a silent film. But what the high commission did is that it flew down a full 13-piece orchestra to play live music that would accompany the scenes in the film," Lobo says. Then, a few months later in December, the Alliance Francaise also got a solo pianist to play accompanying music to Cagliostro, another silent film screened there. So, that's the year that marked this historic Art Deco cinema hall doubling up as a venue for live gigs.

The lobby inside Liberty Cinema

Stage set for music again
There have only been a handful of sporadic concerts since then. But the good news is that this weekend will witness the space being opened up for a musical performance featuring Sanaya Ardeshir aka Sandunes, one of the best-known electronica artistes in the Indian indie circuit. In it, Ardeshir will go back to the basics. She will return to her root instrument, the piano, and strip her tracks off most of their electronic elements, replacing the sound with a live set-up that has multi-instrumentalist Shirish Malhotra, arranger Neil Waters and saxophonist Rhys Sebastian. "I'm going to play a show that's centred totally on the piano after many years. I haven't done this since I was a little kid playing classical music recitals. It's a body of music that I have been working on sporadically for the past two to three years. And we are now presenting it in a live format with a horn section and some amount of routing the piano through different effects," Ardeshir tells us, adding, "I've been telling my friends that this is a parent-friendly show since the music is more mature. But I guess that's what happens when you throw a piano into the mix."

The space for the stage

She adds that the reason she chose Liberty Cinema as the venue is the lineage and old-school character it embodies, since that is in line with the event's theme of going back in time, considering Ardeshir will play her childhood instrument. She says, "To be honest, getting into [electronic music] production took me away from playing the piano and stripped-down musicianship. So there have been a lot of fear and vulnerabilities since then, because it's difficult to keep all our musical gears at par at once. As a producer, my actual playing suffered quite a bit. So, the time feels right for me to now dispel that fear and embrace my vulnerabilities."

Shape-shifting songs
This concert will thus essentially entail Ardeshir rolling back the years and returning to an instrument that shaped her musical career. And the plan is to now polish this routine and play it more regularly in the future. But at the same time, she has also recently released an EP called 11:11, in which Ardeshir has concentrated on building the sort of electronic soundscape that she's known for creating as a producer. "What I have done for this show is restructured a couple of the tracks from the EP — Shift and Glock — to fit into the piano world. And I am quite excited about seeing how the different avatars of the songs shape up," she says about a gig in which the musician will travel back to the past in a venue that's as old as this country is.

ON October 20, 7 pm onwards
AT Liberty Cinema, Vithaldas Thackersey Marg, New Marine Lines.
Log on to
Cost Rs 499

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