History & Culture

Dream destination for artistes

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NCPA chairman Khushroo N. Suntook on what makes the institution, which celebrates its golden jubilee this year, special

He stands gratified, beaming with well-earned pride, as he explains the logo specially designed for the landmark Golden Jubilee year. “Each colour has strong attributes and verticals,” says Khushroo N. Suntook, chairman, NCPA (National Centre for the Performing Arts), Mumbai.

Vermillion projecting theatre, yellow expressing the vivacity of dance, purple reverberating Indian music, green resounding international music, and blue underscoring the global reach of Western music. So vibrant and warm, as the institution it symbolises.

Inaugurated in 1969, NCPA is the first multi-venue and multi-purpose cultural centre to be built in South Asia. The only member organisation of the International Music Council (IMC) from India, NCPA produces in-house programmes as well as collaborates with leading cultural promoters from around the world.

On Stage its in-house monthly magazine, institution’s training and research initiatives, courses, workshops, classes in Hindustani music in guru-sishya method are the icing on the cake.

As India’s premier performing arts’ institution, NCPA has hosted many icons, art forms, diverse genres and art aspirants. With a strong member and patron base, it is the pride of Mumbai city and a dream destination for any artiste.

“Art institutions need artistes as managers,” Suntook avers. “Our administration, programme heads, technicians even accountants are artistes basically. Only an artiste can empathise with another. Heads of Programming curate diverse innovative events and festivals

“In arts there are two systems, state-funded like in China and Europe where programmes are subsidised or the American system of raising funds. Besides trust funds, NCPA has found benefactors who generate funds. Art lovers attend our shows buying tickets, besides corporate support,” he says.

“I love all art forms. I love theatre and music. I know Western music. I watch dance and appreciate ballet. You can’t call me a connoisseur but I am an art enthusiast, a lover of performing arts,” says Suntook, who has served nearly two decades, eight years as Vice Chairman and 10 as Chairman.

A qualified lawyer and company secretary, he has donned many hats as director of many companies. A sports enthusiast, with a penchant for tennis and cricket, he is a member and has held posts in Cricket Club of India. While conversing, he comfortably slips into sports metaphors. “I am happy that we have taken NCPA ahead, in keeping with the vision of the founder Jamshed Bhabha.”

Now in his eighties, Suntook is a trustee in a few charitable ventures. He retired at 55 to devote full time to NCPA.

Enthused by a deep passion for music, particularly Western, Suntook launched his pet project. In 2006, he started Symphony Orchestra of India, the first professional ensemble.

“Symphony is a rage in countries like China and Japan. It is the beacon of global culture. Backed by Bhabha and funded by many patrons, it was my joy and privilege to start it.”

With an average of 50 programmes per month and at least, 600 annually across all major art forms, most notably Indian and international music, theatre and film, dance, literature, visual arts and photography, the landmark year 2019 will pack more .

Based on the programme content, artistes’ grading and the audience, the venues will keep changing. The events will be held at five theatres, Jamshed Bhabha, Tata, Experimental, Godrej and Little theatre, besides open air ambience of Tata garden, Experimental garden, Open Air Plaza and Sunken garden.

Now that the city has grown in breadth and length, reaching out is an important factor. But art enthusiasts do not mind the distance. NCPA has physical and cultural attributes that are hard to imitate or replicate.

“ We are happy that not only artistes but audiences come from all over,” says Suntook.

“The finale of the golden jubilee year will be in November end. There will be a befitting climax of 10 programmes.”

And what would they be? “Unusual.” That is the only clue . “Wait and watch,” he says with a smile.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 7:44:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/you-cant-call-me-a-connoisseur-but-i-am-an-art-enthusiast/article26598569.ece

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