Though free, some events see empty chairs while others draw packed houses

As Bengaluru Habba, the city's signature cultural festival, draws its curtains on its 9th edition on Sunday, it is actually tricky to analyse if it was a huge success. Throughout the series some halls saw audiences pouring in, and some were embarrassingly empty.

The 10-day habba saw the city playing host to performances from varied fields of art, dance, music, theatre, folk arts and more. Despite entry being free for all the programmes across the eight venues, some events received lukewarm response.

Good performance but…

“The programme was really good, but we were upset with the crowd response,” Shilpashree K.P., who was among a handful of audience that witnessed Sangeeth Sambhrama on Thursday at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, told The Hindu. Similarly, Mahima Subbana, who travelled from Mysore, expressed surprise over the poor response for the concert by Malasri and Kumar Kanvi during the Sangeeth Sambhrama.

Flagged off with Sankranthi Sambhrama on January 13, the habba provided a platform for dance, music and folk arts from Karnataka, and the festival brought in classical exponents for solos, duets and jugalbandi.

However, the jazz and rock sessions were packed, with people wanting more of Sanjay Divecha and Moon Arra, Caesar's Palace and Bhoomi, Groove # 3 and Chronic Blues Circus. Performances by many prominent artistes also received a good response.

Artists and artistes

Indian Art Trail and Kala Sambhrama, in effect, was a culmination of the best of arts that brought in nearly 800 performers and artists, a majority of them from Karnataka, to the city.

Padmini Ravi, who has been associated with the habba as an organiser for long, said: “Most of the famous names drew good crowds, but the not-so-known yet talented were more than happy to be part of the mainstream cultural extravaganza. In a huge cultural bonhomie of this sort where audiences get divided according to their artistic inclination, one has to revel in the enriching force.”

When pressed to come out with figures of the audience strength and the cost of the habba, her spokesperson did not provide the information.

Keywords: Bengaluru Habba

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