Mumbai's iconic Rhythm House music store downs shutters

02 March 2016

Mumbai's iconic music store Rhythm House passed into history after it downed its one last time late on Monday night, exactly 68 years after it first opened for business in 1948.

Rhythm House also posted a small 'Thank You' note to all its dedicated clientele in India and abroad after downing shutters for the last time.

"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 said.

The store, situated in Kala Ghoda, Mumbai's cultural heart, has been one of the city's iconic spots, which saw some of the greatest names like Pt Ravi Shankar, Ustad Zakir Hussain and Oscar laureate AR Rahman, top singers, music lovers, music collectors and commoners coming to the shop.

On Sunday, the Rhythm House Blues Band with violonist Sunita Bhuyan and tabla-player Anuradha Pal performed at the store to a nostalgic audience of mostly regular customers. Owner and managing director Mehmood Curmally also joined the performers.

Rhythm House did not explain the reasons for closure, although it has been going through hard times with waning demand for music CDs. It is also not known whether the store will be relocated elsewhere.

But Rhythm House, which stood at the same location for nearly seven decades, has closed forever, Cumally  confirmed.

Rhythm House, which first opened in 1948 in south Mumbai, catapulted music lovers into a different world with its stock of music albums and tapes, both Indian and Western, filmy and non-filmy, classical, and modern.

For nearly six decades, Rhythm House kept selling large and small black-coloured 78 rpm lacquered discs and LP vinyl discs.

Later in the late-1970s, it switched to the more manageable plastic cassettes followed by Compact Discs (CDs), and more recently, even the Blu-ray Discs (BRDs).

The store has sold it all, from LP, VHS, cassettes, VCDs, DVDs and lately Blue Rays, making transition with the times. It continued to sell LPs, to cater to old-timers.

However, as Mumbai transformed and tastes changed, Rhythm House could not keep pace with the technology revolution of digital music on mobile phones, iPads and various handheld devices that made physical music formats like cassettes, CDs and DVDs obsolete.

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