Mumbai's Iconic Music Store Rhythm House To Shut Shop
Known for its extremely rich and diverse collection of music and movies, the store was so popular it was often frequented by personalities like Mumtaz, Shammi Kapoor, AR Rahman
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Youngsters browsing through the latest rock album, an elderly couple searching for a devotional track and a tourist hunting for his favourite piece of Indian music - on any day this can be a close description for the city's iconic music store, the Rhythm House.
Except, it is the beginning of the end for the 67-year-old place which is slated to shut shop in 2016.
Situated in south Mumbai, nestled between Kala Ghoda and Jehangir Art Gallery, Rhythm House was established in 1948.
Known for its extremely rich and diverse collection of music and movies, the store was so popular it was often frequented by personalities like Mumtaz, Shammi Kapoor, A R Rahman, Rahul Sharma and Zakir Hussain.
This was, however, before the illegal music downloads on Internet became a norm, which led to the decision by owners to shut down by end of February, next year.
"It saddens us to inform you the time has come for us to bid goodbye to the music and video business for reasons that need no elaboration. We are the last of our city's large format music and video stores to yield to the challenges posed by new technologies and piracy," it says on the shop's website.
Ajay Parmar, who has been working in Rhythm House for over a decade is now looking at a blank future ahead of the shop's closure.
"We all are extremely sad. I have worked here for 12 years, and now I need to look for other jobs. The knowledge of music which I had accumulated over the years will go to waste. Where can I possibly use this knowledge now?" he says.
The store withstood the forever dynamic market - from selling vending 78 rpm lacquered disc, LP vinyl disc, cassettes in the initial years, to comfortably adapting to the arrival of compact disc, VCDs, DVDs and even the newest optical Blu-Ray discs.
But it seems the Internet age, with consumers downloading music at their finger tips, which served the final blow for the store.
"Internet downloads and piracy has killed everything. What can we possibly do about that. Online shopping lacks the one on one interaction we have here at our store. You can't get that anywhere else," says Parmar.
The store, which had a staff strength of 45, two years ago, now has almost 30 people. Even though the period from December-February has always been a "peak season", the only crowd the store is witnessing this time is that of loyal patrons, coming to take in the last few days of the place.
"A lot has changed over the years. The public has stopped coming to the store. Even today when there is a heavy sale going on, not many new people are coming. I have seen this place grow, to watch it in this state is sad," says Raees, an employee at the store for nearly 20 years.
Surprised at the half-empty racks, a regular patron of Rhythm House quizzed Parmar, "Is the shop really closing? What will happen to us now?" The visibly emotional staff replies quietly, "Even I don't know what will happen to all of us. We have people who have worked here for over 25 years. They joined when they were young, got married, had kids, all while working here. This is not just a store, but life."
If the music at Rhythm House could speak - from the latest rock albums, to devotional tracks and to Indian music- it would all sing a soft 'Goodbye' to the iconic store.