A City Unplugged! ‘No Music Licence, No Playing Live or Dj Music’- a New Diktat to Pubs/Lounges from Police

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A City Unplugged! ‘No Music Licence, No Playing Live, Recorded or Dj Music’- a New Diktat to Pubs/Lounges in Mangaluru City from the Police Department. But revellers are wondering as to when no such restrictions are in force in yet another education hub like Manipal/Udupi, why only the BIG Education Hub-Mangalore is slapped with such rules?

Mangaluru: On the outset let me appreciate and compliment the energetic police force under the able leadership of Police Commissioner N Shashi Kumar for their action on drug dealers/drug addicts, closing down illegal games centres/massage parlours/, cracking down on prostitution dens and other illegal activities. But what has left the young fun-lovers and revellers on the dark side is that the MUSIC, both recorded and live, has gone silent in the city’s watering holes after a new diktat from the police department. This has also left the stakeholders worried as the number of patrons has been reduced drastically because of such recent restrictions.

A large group of youth who make their trips from Udupi or Manipal to Mangaluru to spend their leisure time at the pubs and lounges were taken by surprise when they learnt that there was no live or Dj music allowed due to the new rules enforced by the law enforcement department. A group of ten students from a medical institution in Manipal who had gathered at a City lounge on Balmatta road to celebrate the birthday of their friend, a medical student from the City, had to use their mobile phones to play music and also sing on their own, in order to get the party move on. They had no clue of the new rules where music was banned in City pubs/lounges, without a music licence, which does not exist in Manipal/Udupi.

After spending close to two hours setting up equipment and doing sound checks at City’s popular pub/lounge, Mangaluru’s top Dj was told he couldn’t perform as planned due to the new rules. Even though the music had been stopped since 12 February 2023 evening, according to stakeholders, many of their customers were not aware of it. The police department has directed all those pubs/lounges playing live or recorded music (such as DJ) to resume playing music only after obtaining a ‘Music License’ from the competent authority. As per rumours, the police department had to impose a no music rule suddenly on all establishments that play recorded music or live music after the visit of ADGP Alok Kumar to Mangaluru, where during an interaction with the public, one of the social activists alleged that pubs are not adhering to music rules, playing loud music and are also involved in illegal activities.

If such action was taken quickly by the law enforcement authorities based on a complaint by a social activist to ADGP about loud music, etc, how about a few days ago a yakshagana play organized by the Kadri Market Association near Lions Seva Mandir went on till past midnight with loud music/dialogues, and even after complaints made from the seniors/sick old-age people from the nearby homes/apartments, the show did not stop nor any action taken.

So why do we have all these double standards? One rule for a certain section, and another rule for the stakeholders of pubs/lounges, where even if the music is played, the sound is never heard to a distance in the earlier yakshagana or musical nite cases. Seems like different rules for different people. Bah humbug! One of the lounge owners speaking to Team Mangalorean said, “Police have asked us orally not to play any music, not even ambience music without giving any concrete reasons. We have followed their order religiously, and entire facilities have gone silent. The police allowed for soft music only after a delegation of stakeholders met with senior police officials on Thursday However, they have said strictly no DJ or loud music without a license”.

Meanwhile, a delegation of pub/lounge owners met Mangaluru City Police Commissioner N Shashi Kumar and submitted a memorandum not to impose such rules on them. Yet another pub owner having a popular youth hangout place on Balmatta Road said, “The food and beverage industry, which took a heavy blow due to the pandemic and communal tension induced closure of facilities, is slowly limping back to normalcy. Imposing such a rule will again push us into trouble and hardship. Each of the stakeholders has invested heavily in their facilities. Besides, a pub or lounge cannot function without playing music. It is an integral part of the facility. They should think twice before enforcing such senseless rules, which will hurt our business”.

The police have asked the stakeholder to obtain a ‘Music License’. One of the pub owners said that the order from the police was oral, and secondly, there is no clarity on what kind of music license should be obtained. “There are three kinds of music licenses but there is no clarity as to which one we have to apply for. Also, these licensing agencies charge heavily, and the fee starts at Rs 60,000 per annum. No pub/lounge is making a heavy profit compared to facilities in Mumbai or Bengaluru, whose profit margins are high,” said another lounge/pub owner.

With the local pubs/lounges/bars/restaurants having incurred huge losses during the pandemic crisis and also due to communal/moral policing in the City, they fear with the new rules they are sure to lose their regular patrons since many have already started to spend their weekends out of Mangaluru, either at Manipal or Udupi. This also will affect the revenue for the city. Meanwhile, N Shashi Kumar, the city police commissioner has said that the department has directed pubs/lounges to obtain licenses as per the rules. “We will allow them to play regular music only after the issue of the Music License,” said Shashi Kumar who clarified that none of them have complained against pubs with Alok Kumar.

However, in the interest of the stakeholders who manage to run their businesses in hardship and revellers who want to spend their fun time at the watering holes which provide them with their favourite Dj’s or Hollywood/Bollywood music, it would be a kind gesture of the lawmakers to be a bit cooler on their side and make some consideration while enforcing the expensive licence. Until then, all you revellers who plan on partying at the local pubs/lounges carry your own digital music gadgets-your mobile phones, iPods, etc or sing Karaoke with no background music or do the Antakshari!

Pictures for Illustration Only

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