A ban that’s uncalled for?

Telangana Minister for Prohibition and Excise Srinivas Goud announced that pubs and clubs in the city will be prohibited from playing “loud” music.
The Deccan Project
The Deccan Project

Independent artistes in the city have found themselves in a soup after Telangana Minister for Prohibition and Excise Srinivas Goud announced that pubs and clubs in the city will be prohibited from playing “loud” music. Many are of the opinion that the decision was made to curb the drug menace in the city.

Musicians and club/pub owners are obviously frowning over the decision. Sai Teja, founding member of popular regional band Capricio, has some strong opinions. “It is sad that pubs and clubs are being targeted for something they haven’t done. I’ve always noticed that independent artistes are looked down upon by many, especially the government. We’re not treated the same as musicians working for the film industry.

We have a false reputation of being ‘druggies’. There has always been this sense of discrimination and it’s only gotten worse with this situation. We earn our bread with every performance and feed our families with the money that comes from a single show every day. This will affect struggling artistes even more. It’s not just us who are hit, the owners of such places are at a loss too. What we need now is the government’s support, especially with the never-ending pandemic.”

Vivek, a drummer with The Deccan Project, also grieves about the ban on live music. “It has come at a very crucial time. Right when the business was picking up, suddenly, there was no intimation about why they were closing. There was no evidence as to why only live music was being targeted. There could have been a better way to handle this instead of banning it. We don’t even know when they are going to open up. We are in a wage situation. We plan our calendar a month before and all the dates get closed by the last week of January. Right now, we have 16-17 shows lined up and we don’t know what would be the situation. This week, three of our shows got cancelled. The shows were at Moonshine, Tabula Rasa and Heart Cup Café Gachibowli. Finances have been affected as we don’t get paid on a monthly basis.”

Vidyadhar Raghavan, one of the vocalists from Sarvam (@soundsofsarvam on Instagram), says this restriction adds to the many obstacles independent artistes have to face on a daily basis. He vents, “Whatever shows that we have lined up this week have been cancelled. We have no idea as to what the status would be for the coming weeks. We have been practising day and night for our upcoming shows and suddenly when this sort of announcement is made, all that time, energy and work feels wasted. We put a lot into it, and were eagerly looking forward for it to happen. We started out about six-eight months ago and have just started becoming regulars at a few venues.”

Meanwhile, restaurants are still figuring out ways to look at the issue at hand. Srinivas Samauri, the regional manager at Prost, shares how they are trying to make do without live music. “We have an internal DJ and not a lot of live music here. There is a playlist that is usually played every day. Earlier, our music was loud, but we’ve toned it down. We did get a few questions and complaints from our customers, but are trying our best to explain to them that we are helpless. Whenever we get a reservation, we’re letting guests know beforehand about the situation. This hasn’t been much of a problem now, and could be a bigger problem for night clubs that have dance floors.”

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