July 24, 2010

anglos' music world in Madras

Pals. Kwalitys. Gaylords.

What is the connection?

If you lived in Madras of the 60s you may have heard of them.

They were the popular entertainment spots for those who could afford them.

Music. Dining out. Cabaret.

And all of them were on Mount Road, now Anna Salai.

All three have passed into history.

A soiled shred of the Pals avatar seems to survive today in the area where the original was on swing. But you wouldn't even want to climb the grimy staircase that promises to take you to some evening entertainment.

With a wine shop-bar on the ground floor one can imagine what to expect in that dark hall.

The past weeks I have been working on what will be a documentary on the Anglo-Indian Community's world of music in Madras.

So I have been listening to stories of pre-Independent Madras and of the city of the 50s and 60s, of the heydays of the film recording studios, of the canabalisation of orchestras by electronic music and the dominance of the DJs.

Pals, Kwalitys and Gaylords provided these musicians spaces to perform and earn some good money after dusk.

Sadly, we have not been able to get our hands on pictures of these places that must find a place in a docu-film. Our search will have to prolong.

But the stories we are recording are fascinating.

Earlier this month, we enjoyed recording a packed rocking concert at the Museum Theatre.  Themed "Blazing Guitars", this concert featured Anglo-Indian musicians and was 100% country music.

There is more to do. Beatrix D' Souza of San Thome, professor, writer and former MP promises to tell us stories of the days of the Governor's Bands in Government Estate in pre-1947 India and musician Barry Rosario will be our guide through Perambur where the Railway Institute was the music and dance hub.

If you have pictures and stories to share, do e-mail.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cool.Thanks for the Memory Walk
I lived in Madras from 55 to 65.
The first thing comes to my mind aour AIs are how they carried their dignity; however poor they may be they always greeted people with a smile and 'hello'. I met some of them during RR in Aussieland and just a wonderful time talking about Madras in the 60's Spencers, Listener's choice late at nite.
Lovely people..