On a similar note, a stroll around the narrow roads of Car Street will lead to a small shop where one can find a group of men busily engrossed in preparing music instruments especially during the peak of festive seasons.
Bombay Harmonium Works at Car Street is one of those places in Mangalore which still enlivens the good old days of Mangalore when handmade music instruments were on the height of popularity. With the changing time and lifestyle, the shop which was once frequently visited by musicians, has lost its glory, but yet is functioning on a small scale to meet the demands of few regular customers who pay visit once in a while.
Bombay Harmonium Works that was started 50 years ago by Kotiyan family is now being looked after by the two family members, Navin Kotiyan and Anand Kotiyan.
Speaking to City Herald, one of the skilled instrument makers Anand Kotiyan explained about the making of harmonium and the existing demand quotient for harmonium makers. “We prepare harmoniums mostly using teakwood which is considered quite costlier. Basically, there are two types of harmoniums, i.e., single and double sized. A ‘single’ harmonium costs around Rs 3,200 while the ‘double’ harmonium costs Rs 8,000. Unfortunately with the passing time, there is a decreased demand for handmade harmoniums and so we don’t have handful of work now,” he says.
It takes almost 20 days to prepare a completely furnished harmonium. Anand Kotiyan believes it is for the same reason that people avoid purchasing music instruments directly from the makers. “Most of the instrument buyers feel that 20 days is too long for them to wait, but then there are few regular customers like Bhajana mandalis, elderly tutors like Ram Bhat, Nagesh Pai and Shrikanth who make it a point to purchase harmonium for them and their students from here,” he informs.
In spite of having the name Bombay Harmonium Works, the shop is not restricted itself to harmonium manufacturing, but also it produces tabla, dakke and band. A group of three young men from Nalagunda of Hubli are employees of the shop, and these trained youth have engaged themselves in preparing tabla and other instruments since two years.
Talking about the making of tabla, one of the makers Durgappa informed that it takes a whole day for him to prepare a tabla. “We bring required wooden material from Sangli in Maharashtra, while leather is purchased from Sholapur. Making of tabla or dakke requires a whole lot of patience as it is an intricate job to perform. No matter what, we forget all the work fatigue when the instrument gets ready,” he says.
In the shop, though they prepare instruments based on the orders, they have also made it mandatory to produce extra amount of instruments to meet the unexpected demands.
The demand for instruments is limited to the festival season from Krishnashtami to Dasara. With the end of Dasara, the tabla makers pack up their luggage and travel back to their village for a 6 months holiday.
As far as harmonium business is concerned, Kotiyan family spends their next six months by repairing harmoniums and working on the limited set of orders.