CHENNAI:A cosy pink building sits intimately in the middle of a crowded Moore Market. As I made my way to it, the busyness of the market ensured I was lost in its bustle. Thankfully, the faint sound of 80s music brought me closer to the spot. It was Gazab ka hai din from the Aamir Khan-starrer Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) played loud and clear now from the gold-shaded speaker of a vintage gramophone. A tiny shutter opens up to a room that is sure to sweep music lovers off their feet. Stacked up on the little shelves within the room are thousands of vinyl records from different generations, genres, and languages.
“We have at least 5,000 records just in English. And then a majority of the records include Raja sir’s (Ilaiyaraaja) music. We have all the movie songs, at least one piece will definitely be there with us,” says Venkatesh, the shop owner’s nephew, who now manages the store. ‘Rhythm’ (earlier known as Rhythm house), began as a small store in 1970 at Nungambakkam and sold everything from gramophones, records, and books to musical instruments. It was only after two years into the business that the owner, Shriram, decided to only focus on the vintage collection such as gramophone and vinyl records. A few years into the business, Shriram decided to vacate the Nungambakkam store after sales began to drop. He then opened a store at Mount Road, before finally shifting it to Moore Market, about 15 years back. Venkatesh has been working with his uncle since the 80s.
Business, he says, started dwindling between 2000-2010. “It was the time when other mediums started coming in, and vintage pieces like gramophones lost its market. But, from the time we shifted to Moore Market, our sales have been going good,” he says. Patrons, according to Venkatesh, are now re-exploring vinyl record as a lot of music companies are rereleasing them — with Bollywood films like Don (2006), Hum Aapke Hai Kaun (1994), etc. The size of the shop is presumably small, and the number of records housed here are countless. Ranging from collections in English, Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu, the store also caters to a number of genres such as film songs, ghazals, classical, pop, country and jazz music. While some of their stock is kept in the store, the others are safely stored in their godown. “Every month, we check the stock that’s available here, and arrange them accordingly. So whatever is less in number, I make a list and give it to my uncle, and then bring in more of the same,” Venkatesh says.
Even though the collection has been updated and a number of records have been added to the list, Venkatesh points out that people still love to listen to the music of late 60s and 70s. Music buffs often come in search of the records of The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Pink Floyd, Boney M, Abba and Scorpion, among others. But, as far as regional music is concerned, Raja sir’s (Ilaiyaraaja) music is the most preferred one. “The other day a customer came in search of two-three records of Raja sir’s music, and ended up purchasing for around Rs 40,000. That is the kind of impact his music has on people,” he shares.
(Rhythm is located at Moore Market’s Lily Pond Complex. For details call: 9941445438/7010317191)
The prices of the vinyl records start from Rs 300 onwards and go up to even Rs 5,000. The limited editions cost more.