One of the important cultural landmarks in the city, Ravindra Bharathi, might not live to see its 55th birthday this May, if the TRS government has its way. In a bid to modernise the city by recreating a brand new Ravindra Bharathi, which is being touted as the cultural icon of Telangana, the government has grabbed eyeballs. Artistes who have made this iconic auditorium their second home are divided on this move.
A day after government released an approved design of the pearl-shaped Ravindra Bharathi, some artistes have opposed the idea and are branding it as a plan that will hurt their sentiments and ruin the cultural identity of the city.
Laxman Aelay, Painter
I think transformation of Ravindra Bharathi is a very good idea but before the current structure is razed it is essential to provide an alternative space of the artistes. The city has does not have any other cultural centre barring this auditorium. The only one being Shilpakala Vedika which again is far from the city centre. Revamp of Ravindra Bharathi is required and a good move by the government. But, before the edifice is erased, a little planning needs to be done.
Vijay Marur, Theatre expert
I am very passionate about Ravindra Bharathi. Yes, it is not the best place, doesn’t have the acoustics or accessibility but for years it has been the pinnacle of art in the city. And, being able to perform there was like an great opportunity. I have many fond memories associated with the place and demolishing it is like playing with my memories, and I don’t like this. For four years that I was battling death, each day I told myself that I have to recover and perform at Ravindra Bharathi. So, its not just a structure but a flag of my survival as well. Instead of razing it, I feel making improvements to the structure would do the government and artists like me good.
Ram Mohan Holagundi, Actor & theatre artiste
Twenty five years ago this was the place that I started my career from. Presently, Ravindra Bharathi is the only good auditorium in the city. The decision of erecting a new structure in place of the existing one is a not only pain for the artists and dancers and others but also a sheer waste of public money. The decision is hurting the sentiments of not only city-artistes but those across the country. A lot of big names have give fabulous performances in this auditorium. Like several other promises of the government, I sincerely hope this project also remains on the paper.
Vaishnavi Sainath, Classical dancer
I have grown up performing at Ravindra Bharathi. It was in this auditorium that I performed mine and the city’s first rope Mallakhamb. So, it has a special place in my heart. Personally, Ravindra Bharathi has come to be a historical monument. While the place certainly need to be revamped, I do not favour its demolition. I am also surprised that the TRS government which often says that we need to learn more about the culture of Telangana, is itself bent on razing an important structure of its cultural identity. It’s ironical.
Glimpse of history
Ravindra Bharathi named after Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore was inaugurated by the then vice-president of India Dr S Radhakrishnan on May 11, 1961 as part of his centenary celebrations. Its foundation was laid on March 23.
Yamini Reddy: Every cultural centre needs to be revamped after a while to enable artists to avail the latest technology in music, lighting, etc., Likewise modernisation of Ravindra Bharathi is wonderful idea but its cultural identity should not be lost in the transition. I have heard that the new structure will be made into an entertainment centre. The city does not have any other cultural centre and I am worried where we will perform till the new Ravindra Bharathi because Shilpakala Vedika is too expensive. I give one performance in the auditorium every year and sometimes all five of us perform together. I hope this platform where people can get serious art does not die out.
Jaywant Naidu, Hawaiian guitar player: The idea certainly is good and I am hoping that something good and positive will come of it.
The city definitely needs a cultural space and if the government is planning one we should support it. The last time the auditorium was renovated it failed to please anyone. So, I feel it’s a good idea to give it a new and modern look, preferably on the lines of the India Habitat Centre in Delhi. But, yes the government should during the intervening period provide for an alternative arrangement for cultural events.