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Vol. XXVII No. 11, September 16-30, 2017
On July 16th morning, to the strains of the nagaswaram, the chant of religious texts and to the sounds of classical music, the 89-year-old Rasika Ranjani Sabha, a Mylapore icon, opened its doors to guests and rasika-s. It now offers a well-equipped performing arts complex located on Sundareswarar Street, off East Mada Street, Mylapore. Senior Mylaporean guests will not be able to linger at that iconic statue of Lord Krishna that greeted you in the past, behind the box-office counters. The sabha team says a new marble statue will be installed in that spot.
There are three auditoriums here – the main one is a 700seater and spread across two levels. There is a mechanical lift for seniors in wheel-chairs. There are two smaller auditoriums on the second floor; a 270-seater for concerts, talks and discourses and an 80-seater which is best suited for social functions and informal events. All of them are fitted with smart-designed stages, comfortable seating and state-of-the-art audio equipment which promise the best acoustics. Says R. Nagarajan, senior chartered accountant and sabha secretary, “If we hold mike-less concerts in any of our halls they will sound great and can be heard by anybody sitting anywhere in the hall.”
The sabha hired an Australian expert to fit the halls here. About Rs.1.5 crore has been spent on the sound and accoustics plans here. The earlier plan to have an art gallery was dropped.
Soon, the R.R. Sabha complex will also have a music listening room where you can put on the ear phones and listen to the music of the masters, which has been digitally restored from spool and tapes.
There is also a small cafeteria counter for now; a bigger one will be in place in the year ahead.
The re-constructed R.R. Sabha is a Rs. 16 crore project, with Rs. 2 crore given by donors and Rs. 11 crore borrowed from a private bank.
To raise revenues, the sabha is planning to skip being part of the famed December Season and instead curate theme festivals round the year. Says Nagarajan, “Our focus is on young talent. And we will have unique, themed music and dance fests.”
Work is still going on at this campus where, some eight years ago, the JCBs brought down that iconic auditorium where famed actors, musicians and dancers had performed to packed houses. Controversies dogged the sabha when new plans were drawn. We are told that the idea of a Trust was dropped and there is only one sabha team now that will manage the affairs and that there are no legal cases to address any more. (Courtesy: Mylapore Times)