Bringing the bands back to Bandstand

The bandstand at Cubbon Park was once a meeting place for the city's music lovers. Read on about an NGO's efforts to revive its musical weekends.

Few know that the Bandstand in Cubbon park was the hub of cultural activities in Bangalore in the 60’s. The likes of Ilaiyaraaja had performed there. After a long gap Prakruthi, a non-profit organisation run by the duo M S Prasad and Praveen D Rao, took it upon itself to bring Kannada and its musical legacy back into the limelight, and revive the magic of bandstand and Cubbon park.

The revival started on 5th October this year and many musical recitals and shows have been held there every Sunday between 5 and 7 PM since then. Performances by popular Kannada singers like Mangala Ravi, Archana Udupa and Pallavi S have been the highlight so far.

Last Sunday, on 2nd November, the musical event was a tribute to the Horticultural department of Karnataka and to Dr K S Narasimhaswamy’s most popular collection of poems Mysooru Mallige. This collection of poems has inspired the movie made by TS Nagabharana and also a musical play by Kalagangothri.

The main guests of the evening included the popular Kannada music composer and exponent of Bhavageete and Janapada Geete C Ashwath and Ratnamala Prakash, also a very popular Bhavageethe singer. Also present were, Kannada film directors TS. Nagabharna (with his wife Nagini and daughter Neetu) and Nagatihalli Chandrashekar, and Dr G K Vasant Kumar, Director, Dept of Horticulture.

Ratnamala and C Ashwath mesmerising the crowd. Pic: Deepthi Sarma.

Ashwath and Ratnamala presented K S Narasimhaswamy’s poetic recitals which included Ninna Premada Pariya, Sirigeraya Neeralli, Baare Nanna Sharade and Modala Dina Mauna. The 2000-strong crowd was enthralled by the deshbhakti song naavu bharateeyaru. The programme attracted regulars who walked in Cubbon park to kids to foreigners to people who had specially come to experience this rare performance from outside Bangalore as well.

The bandstand came alive with the lighting and pillars draped in Karnataka flag colors, adding to the Rajyotsava spirit. The large numbers gathered for the programme indicated its popularity which has grown fiercely over the weeks.

Nagabharna shed light on the history of Bandstand and said that prakruthi (nature), parisara (surroundings) and language were expressions of sanskriti (Culture). He wished that Bangaloreans would absorb these facets of culture and encourage the cause and the events.

Nagatihalli Chandrashekar spoke greatly about C Ashwath and his contributions to Kannada music in various parts of the world and wished the event a success.

Praveen of Prakruti says that small but effective changes could be noticed at the park, as a testimony to the success of the initiative. The NGO spread the message of clean and green Bangalore by requesting the audience not to bring plastic items to the venue and not to loiter on the lawn.

Prasad believes that music is the best form of spreading awareness and knowledge. He calls it ecocentric infotaintment.

Prakruthi is also gaining popularity in the IT sector with its innovative ‘Star lunch Box’ – entertainment with Kannada musical programmes during lunch hours. Companies like EcoSpace and Microland have been part of this initiative. The NGO is also providing opportunity for young and emerging artists. They intend to conduct shows which provide a platform to upcoming artists (both actors and singers) and have them perform with the veterans. What better platform than bandstand with its glorious history to host this event? The auditions are conducted at Prakruthi’s office at JP Nagar.

Their future plans include a year long musical festival next year when C Ashwath turns 70. The festival which plans to cover the whole of Karnataka will have different kinds of musical performances at different places in the state, specific to the heritage and musical relevance of the given region.

During each week’s show Prakruthi distributes 50 badam saplings among the audience to spread hope, greenery and the message of building a big family of good hearted people. Next week’s show will be presented by Divya Raghavan and Uday Raghavan, who will pay tribute to late lyricist Uday Shankar.

Prakruthi seems to be achieving many goals through these shows and the biggest is the satisfaction and feeling of togetherness, feels Praveen.

At a time when the country is facing the heat of regional passion from different states, peace loving and large hearted Kannadigas have found a mellifluous way of spreading harmony, awareness and social responsibility among the cosmopolitan Bangaloreans. Music indeed brings people together.


  1. Deepa Mohan says:

    Nice to see this initiative; we have attended jam sessions on winter evenings…

    Why not approach the Dept of Kannada and Culture, which organizes concerts every weekend in Lalbagh already? They last from 6.30 am to 7.30am every Saturday and Sunday.

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