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Sachal Jazz Ensemble’s Bengaluru Show Canceled

After their Mumbai show was canceled, the group that comprises musicians from UK and Pakistan, decided to call off their next gig

Rolling Stone India Dec 02, 2014
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Sachal Jazz Ensemble. Photo: Jagdeep Shah/Courtesy of Sachal-music.com

Sachal Jazz Ensemble. Photo: Jagdeep Shah/Courtesy of Sachal-music.com

On arriving at NCPA’s Tata Theatre in Mumbai to catch Lahore-based world music group Sachal Jazz Ensemble, one thing was evident. Buzz about the group, featuring musicians from UK and Pakistan, had resulted in an impressive turnout at the venue for a Monday evening show. From NCPA regulars to jazz fans to actors, comedians and musicians were waiting outside the auditorium for a show that was intended to start at 7 pm.

After waiting for almost an hour, some members of the audience received information from the venue’s management that the organizers had not secured certain licenses. A little before 8 pm, well-known santoor player and event organizer Satish Vyas made an announcement on behalf of the NCPA saying that permissions had not been granted for Sachal Jazz Ensemble to perform and last-minute efforts to gain approval from the police had failed. Jay Visvadeva, the chief executive of London-based event organizers Sama Arts Network, later posted on his Facebook page about the cancellation, “On the 1st December our much awaited Sachal Jazz Ensemble concert, scheduled to be held in Mumbai, was cancelled reluctantly at the 11th hour. Whilst our Indian partners and officials at the NCPA tried to salvage the evening’s clearances, no response was forthcoming from the Maharashtra Police and only the Chief Minister of Maharashtra who would have been the final arbiter on the matter was unreachable.” Visvadeva adds that the Sachal Jazz Ensemble will be leaving India without any further performances. “There’s no point in going to Bengaluru when there’s a likelihood of the same thing happening. The musicians [in the group] don’t have the feeling to go on.”

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The group, who had previously performed at Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Delhi NCR on November 29th, was slated to perform at the UB City Amphitheater in Bengaluru on December 5th, but that show also stands canceled. Laiq Qureshi, a Mumbai-based musician and organizer for Sama Arts Network, said that they had all permissions obtained for the NCPA show, but zonal Deputy Commissioner of Police [DCP Zone I]’s office wrote a negative remark in their report while permissions were being sought. Says Qureshi, who was part of the team handling permissions for the event, “In his report, he said it [the event] was not recommended and even the Home Minister’s office was objecting to the performance.” While the Home Ministry told organizers that the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, would have the final say, Sama were unable to speak to the CM, who was busy at a function. Qureshi adds that they’ve also previously faced problems with permissions to host Pakistani musicians in Mumbai or Pune. Says Qureshi, “We’ve had gigs in Delhi with those musicians, with absolutely no problems, only Maharashtra is a bit tricky.” Deputy Police Commissioner of Mumbai, Ravindra A Shisave, remained inaccessible to answer queries about the cancellation, and city police refused to take questions.

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The NCPA’s spokesperson said that the onus for licenses and permissions lies entirely with event organizers and not the venue. They said in a statement, “However, as per agreed terms and conditions and procedures, NCPA checks all the required licenses prior to the commencement of the show. In this case, the organizers themselves cancelled the show as they failed to procure required licenses before the show started.”



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