What spurs them on: ‘Sound’ economics
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Dhol-tasha groups in the city are in the final stage of practice for Ganpati festival. Over the past few years, dhol-tasha groups have been mushrooming in Pune, believed to have the largest number of dhol-tasha groups in the country. An unofficial estimate pegs it at 80 this year, from the 60 recorded last year. An important reason attributed to the spurt is that it's lucrative.
Shirish Thite of Shiv Garjana, one of the oldest dhol-tasha groups in the city and quite popular going by the number of processions it's getting invited to, says, "We have 400 people playing this time. We will perform in 19 processions during Ganapati festival. We usually charge around Rs 40,000 to 60,000 for a two-hour procession. The amount is calculated taking into account the route and distance."
While groups charge 60,000 to 70,000 per procession in Pune, the rates increase stratospherically when they travel outside, to Mumbai in particular.
Shiv Garjana and Naadbrahma will perform in multiple processions in Mumbai. Thite and Behere agree that the difference in remuneration in the two cities is huge. "Mumbai processions definitely give us a lot more. While rates change with every Mandal, it is safe to say we get twice the amount for a Mumbai procession," says Thite. An office bearer of a reputed dhol-tasha group says on the condition of anonymity, "In Mumbai we even make Rs 5 to 6 lakh for a five-hour procession." Group members are not paid as it's a voluntary activity.
Naadbrahma, which will perform in 22 processions throughout the festival, is the biggest dhol-tasha group in the city with 700 on its roll. Atul Behere, who heads it says, "We charge around Rs 60,000 for a two-hour procession but we also take good care of our musicians. We provide them with clean drinking water and good wholesome food during the procession and it is for this we have to charge so much."
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