A short telephonic chat with Sangeeta Vyas, the founder of Pitaara – The Art Box leaves me very optimistic about having more performing arts events so close to Goregaon east
‘Bombay is a city of surprises,’ gushes Sangeeta Vyas, founder of Pitaara – The Art Box. A fast-becoming popular and beloved art space, Pitaara was recently in the news for a ground-breaking Women’s Day activity. Sangeeta, who has been working towards the betterment of domestic workers’ lives in and around her neighbourhood, conceptualised a fun-filled evening for them on March 8. It led to one of the performers being lauded by a well-established professional who may even have plans of launching this talent in mainstream media!
After having recognised considerable talent amongst many domestic staff – musical, comedy, dance, dramatic and more – she organised Mere Rang Anek, a special and unique event that had all this talent up on stage at Pitaara. In an open-mic night, the showcase had a fantastic response. It left these unsung heroes of our urban setup extremely confident, the audience and patrons very elated and the brain and heart behind it all very content. Sangeeta, who has been an active part of the arts and media scene for a very long time now, has always believed that Art belongs to all people and that all people have a claim over Art.
It was this vision that led to the founding of Pitaara. In an attempt to fill the gaping lacuna of performance arts and cultural hubs in the suburbs of Mumbai, she sought out a location where she could initiate an intimate and conducive environment for the sharing of various performances. ‘When I found this bungalow in Goregaon west, I knew it was the best fit and went on to create this hub,’ she shares. Surrounded by six huge trees, the house had a natural appeal for a creative space. With her daughters painting murals and decorating the environs of the house, Pitaara was delivered as a labour of love.
It was named thus because of several reasons, each reflecting the sensibilities of the founder herself. ‘I think the creativity in Hindi terms and expressions are far more perceptible than in English. Pitaara implies a box of many random things put in together. They are not all useful in a serial order or at the same time but have their own worth at different times. So also is the case with the various genres of art,’ Sangeeta elaborates. This was a true glimpse into the soul of a great mind. Exemplary things, I believe, are always found in the simplest of approaches.
Pitaara has found great patronage in enthusiasts from Goregaon, Andheri, Malad, Borivali, Mira Road and Dahisar, with people flocking its events, what with the wonderful atmosphere and the reasonable ticket rates. In its endeavour to promote fresh and upcoming talent, include and encourage all age groups and all experiments with art, the charges don’t deter the constant stream of out-of-the-box events.
One such event to look forward to is The Different Sound of Rahman, presented by Satrangeelays. Undoubtedly Rahman fans, this is a band of three upcoming musicians who will render the genius composer’s lesser-known Hindi and Tamil songs. Wriddh, one of the performers, has been performing contemporised Baul music. When he proposed this idea of The Different Sound of Rahman to Sangeeta, he met immediate approval and acceptance.
It’s not surprising that artists feel the very positive vibe here because the space isn’t really run like a ommercial venture. ‘We are always there for every show, welcoming the performing artists and making them feel comfortable and respected. That makes them very happy,’ Sangeeta says. The happiness extends to the audience as well, what with the carpeted floor seating space, with cushions and bolsters to provide a relaxed ambience.
Pitaara has amassed substantial success since its opening in October last year. In coming times, it hopes to garner more support by way of patrons and possible sponsors. Sangeeta also wants to see more senior citizens coming in to perform and enjoy themselves. ‘I want this to be seen as a family hub, not as a place that’s a noisy space just for youngsters,’ she asserts. This articulate lady’s passion and vision is at once subtle and zealous. We wish her much success in her efforts to cull out beautiful feats from her Pitaara.