Shimla’s historic Gaiety Theatre set for comeback (With Image)

June 24th, 2009 - 11:42 am ICT by IANS  

Anupam Kher By Vishal Gulati
Shimla, June 24 (IANS) The stage at the 122-year-old Gaiety Theatre in Shimla will come alive with power-packed performances again as the famous British era building is set to reopen this week after five years of renovation.

“The renovation and restoration work of the historic theatre has been over after five years of the massive exercise. Now it will once again be ready to stage national and international cultural activities,” B.K. Aggarwal, secretary to the chief minister, told IANS.

He said the chief minister would reopen the renovated theatre Thursday.

“On the day of reopening, a weeklong Gaiety Festival in coordination with the Delhi-based Lalit Kala Akademi will begin,” he added.

“The Lalit Kala Akademi also proposes to include Gaiety Theatre in its list of the country’s best venues for staging cultural activities. It will also open its regional centre in the theatre.”

According to Aggarwal, all facilities for organising cultural and artistic activities have been created within the premises for the convenience of art connoisseurs.

“We have spent Rs.120 million on its restoration work. The central government has also provided funds for it,” the official said.

Ved Segan, a Mumbai-based architect who has also designed the Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai, has supervised the restoration work of the Gaiety Theatre, which is a historic building of the British era.

“The exteriors and interiors of the theatre complex and facade have undergone massive restoration work, keeping in mind its original architecture of the Gothic style,” he said during his recent visit here.

He said the use of slate for roofing, glazing work inside the complex and ornamental stonework on the outer walls has been done on the old pattern.

While the top floor will have a big auditorium with a seating capacity of 500 people, the first floor will have a greenroom and a hall with 200 seats. The ground floor will have a museum, gallery and library, the architect said.

Gaiety Theatre has been the centre of cultural activities in Shimla right from the day it was opened in 1887. “Time will Tell” was the first play staged there. Since then the popularity of English plays earned Shimla the nickname, Mecca of Theatre.

The erstwhile summer capital of the British in India is also known for producing some great artists like Anupam Kher and Vijay Kashyap. The likes of Prithviraj Kapoor, K.L. Sehgal, Balraj Sahni, Shashi Kapoor, Jennifer Kendall, Raj Babbar and Naseeruddin Shah also loved to perform here.

Even Anil Sharma’s hit Hindi movie “Gadar” starring Sunny Deol was shot at Gaiety Theatre.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at

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