Impact Analysis-Live music ban in Bangalore pubs - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Impact Analysis-Live music ban in Bangalore pubs

Recent topic of debate in Bangalore was the ban on live music performance in pubs by Bangalore police and subsequent protests by those affected by this. I was unaware and ignorant of these developments initially, but happened to learn about it from Sandesh’s blog and Churumuri. I am not a party animal and quite ignorant to issues pertaining to night life, alcohol and related subjects. So was kind of neutral on this issue and didn’t have anything specific to comment/blog upon. However Sandesh urged me to blog on this topic and after reading few discussions at couple of places, including Muziboo and Churumuri, I decided to study the matter a bit and pen down my thoughts.

I believe the discussions at Churumuri comfortably deviated from the core issue and even Sandesh missed the main point. While those who supported the ban focused their arguments around the facts like ‘nightlife is bad for society’, ’alcohol consumption is not good’, ‘pubs facilitate drugs and other illegal activities under the disguise of relaxation’, ‘accidents and crime rates are soaring due to late night partying, alcohol consumption and related activities’ and so on. While there is near 100% truth in these arguments, the point protestors were trying to drive home was entirely different. I believe the 11.30 closure time was existing for quite some time and is nothing new-several cities have this rule. Even other side effects are obvious and no one was advocating on its behalf. What caused the fury of certain people was the ban on performance of live music, in line with live dancing which had created a nuisance earlier and was eventually banned. While everyone supporting the ban expressed relief that crime will now come under control, no one cared to explain the musicians who were protesting, as to how banning live music in pubs had anything to do with the crime rates or other previously stated side effects. The sole argument, if any, was that music triggers consumption of alcohol and subsequently tempts the audience into dancing followed by other activities, which at a high level isn’t sounding logical enough.

Let us take a little closer look:
Media reports say that police have enforced a ban on all kinds of live performances in the places that serve alcohol. From this statement, I understand the following:
1. Live performance like singing music and playing an instrument are banned throughout the day in places where alcohol is served, not just after 11.30 PM.
2. No ban on playing recorded music. It is not clear if acts of a DJ (mixing different music tracks) is also classified as live performance. I guess it is not.
3. There is no ban on serving alcohol till 11.30 PM
4. No restrictions on performing live in places that doesn’t serve alcohol

Obviously, this has taken its toll on few budding musicians who used to earn a living by singing at pubs and bars. They can no more sing live and have to explore alternate source of income or shift base to another city. There’re some alternatives for these people but they are not sounding viable. For example,
1 Bars and pubs are not the only places where music can be sung/performed. Bangalore has several places of cultural importance like Ranga Shankara (JP Nagar), Ravindra Kalakshetra (JC Road), Sheshaiyya Memorial Hall (Malleswaram) and so on. These musicians can organize concerts/live shows here. But the problem is, most of their target audience, the party hoppers, may not have the remotest idea what Ravindra Kalashetra is and where it is located. So these people are unlikely to attend a show held outside bar premises. Rest of the Bangalore public doesn’t understand the western music often played by these folks and won’t be in a position to differentiate between Rock, Pop, Jazz, karaoke and sundry other types of music played by them, let alone appreciate it. (Add to that these musics are usually too loud and disturbing, unless you're used to it you're unlikely to like it)

2 If restaurants can say “We’ll play live music, but won’t serve alcohol”, then that should be fine as per law. But the party hoppers are unlikely to compromise on alcohol for the sake of music. They would rather go to other bars where alcohol is served without music. So the musicians and singers are unlikely to get support from their audience, who would resume their visit to pubs with or without live music.

3 Other revenue sources, like publishing an audio album are not practical and economically viable for small time singers, due to piracy and lack of support from big music houses.
Because of these reasons those affected by the ban are forced to try their luck in getting the ban lifted or find an alternative income source.

Coming back to the ban, I believe no use blaming police force on this. Shankar Bidri is one of the highly respected police officers in Karnataka (is best known for his efforts in clipping the wings of Veerappan’s gang) and he is technically correct in saying “we’re just implementing the excise act which prohibits any kind of live performance”. Yes, it is unfair to treat singers and musicians at par with bar dancers, and generalize that all party goers will behave like maniacs once they come out. But I guess protesters will have to approach the state legislature to get the law modified.

One question still bugs me-Isn’t banning alcohol altogether a better idea? Why don’t the government ask Vijay Mallya to shut down all his distilleries? Let us go to the root cause of all this and ban liquor of all kind - most of the problem would get automatically resolved. But no government ever dared to do that-both because of the tax money and because of the fact that liquor lobby is far more powerful than a bunch of musicians who are protesting because their daily bread is at stake. It is like, they want the money in the form of excise tax, but need someone else to blame for side effects of the same.

While those who imposed the ban and those supporting it claim this will help bring down crime rate, the effectiveness remains to be seen. In my opinion the side effects of alcohol consumption will not come down by curbing music, because alcoholics will go ahead with their indulgence with or without music. Mumbai police have much stricter rules-of jailing people found driving under the influence of alcohol. Such measures will be of greater impact than slapping a fine of mere few hundred rupees. Similar vigilance and actions will be required for other menaces like drugs. Bring in an atmosphere wherein each one fears law and stays in his/her limits-should be an easy task for people like Shankar Bidri, provided no one interfere in his way.

However this matter bothers only a very small segment of people and majority of people have supported the decision. For the general public, some ban is much better than no ban and they would naturally support any initiative that remotely promises them something better (provided they are not affected by it). Any attempt to explain that the decision is unlikely to have the stated impact will make you sound like a pro Jihadi fellow. Accusations such as “this move will prevent hard working people from having some relaxations and recreation” also sound baseless. There’re several ways to cheer up life other than spending whole night shaking legs in a disco under the influence of alcohol. One can buy a dozen books at the cost of one night party expense and keep themselves busy reading them for a whole month. Activities like gardening, painting, caring for pets all these are far more refreshing and fulfilling than sipping hard liquor till wee hours in the morning. But sadly most of us are not willing to explore these alternatives.

if this new ban has to work as it is claimed, then this (non availability of live music) has to either make people leave early from the pub or make them consume less alcohol. I doubt neither of it is going to happen. Those who addicted to alcohol will continue to drink as much as they want and as long as they are allowed to. May be for few days they will complain about the ban, but soon will get used to it. After some time Club owners will device new ideas to keep them entertained and hooked to the glasses and the show will go on, as if nothing has happened.

Last Sunday when the likes of Girish Karnad, Prasad Biddappa and his aides held a protest, it was said that the protest will be held every Sunday. There was no news of protest yesterday, has the resistance has died down?

I don't have a specific conclusion or verdict. Also I am not aware of ground realities and above statements are based on generic thoughts. Chances are high that I might have overlooked few aspects-feel free to correct me. Have to see how it goes-just shared what I felt. Your thoughts please.


  1. Well written. Analysed.

    I do agree with everything. All I have to say is why should we have live performances in bars n pubs? Sound is just sound, be it live or from a music system.

    Here, I'm not supporting the ban neither am i firing at it, I'm indifferent at it. All I'm saying is, those who were singing at the pubs, shouldn't get affected by this ban if at all this was only to ban live music.

    The Live music ban had also existed previously. You might recollect the police shutting down a late night orchestra during the Ganesha Festival or the Kannada Rajyothsava after 11. Even the ban on firing crackers after 11.

    As you said, Live performance outside the pubs should give some income to the musicians. Tickets at Ranga Shankara, Kalakshetra, n the Rangamandiras aer pretty good to serve a musician. (Though some performances are free, from the Havyaasi Rangamandira people)

    Those who earn their bread from performances (Vrththi Ranga Mandira) can collect money for the same.

    Regarding the ban on Alcohol, I'd like to few more points to your views like the politicians themselves (majority) consume alcohol which they don't want to ban.

    I dunno why Girish Karnad had come for the protest, but Prasad Bidappa was surely against partying. Raghu Dixit might have fought for the cause you've pointed out.

  2. Hi Sandesh,

    Thanks for the detailed comment. As we discussed in detail over chat I don't see a need to reply in detail to this comment-post the chat transcript

  3. Hi Srinidhi,

    That's some detailed post :)

    I am fan of hard rock and I tend to enjoy it better with shot of alcohol in my head. Wud love to get on to the dance floor too if there was one. But I don't misbehave or indulge in crime cos I love the above. I prefer live music bcos the energy is totally different there.

    BTW, I am a voracious reader and love to get my hands dirtied with some organic farming.

    How is it justified that myself and hoards of people like me are deprived of their recreation? I would anyday move to a place where things are more democratic!

    Hitler was a teetotaler and a vegetarian!

    Alcohol and dance are the last excuses for increasing crime rate barring road accidents in case of alcohol!

  4. Well, here is the chat transcript.

    Enidhi: ban is not post 11 PM I guess
    it is 24 x 7

    me: i dont think so
    you've got document for 24x7 ban?

    Enidhi: no-that was my understanding
    as I stated in the beginning

    me: they cannot ban live performances

    Enidhi: if it is only after 11.30 these people have no reason to protest

    me: in that case, they need to ban the political speech also

    Enidhi: I mean live performance in places where alcohol is served

    me: i'm not sure, but live performances is not banned totally i guess

    Enidhi: banned totally in places where alcohol is served
    fully allowed if u r not serving alcohol

    me: no idea
    live performances in Bar?
    you know nanga naach episode?

    Enidhi: yes-that is the place where alcohol is served

    me: may be thats the reason

    Enidhi: dance is different from music no
    may be...

    me: it comes under live performance

    Enidhi: yes-technically

    me: its basically performance

    Enidhi: same song if it is recorded in a CD and played has no difference
    I mean playing an Audio cd is allowd

    me: you dont know these fanatics, they start dancing for the song they like
    that makes a huge difference

    Enidhi: ok

    me: if you dance for an audio CD, they think you are mad, but if you dance for a live performance, ppl think that you are appreciating them
    DJing comes under live performance again

    Enidhi: I wasn't sure of all these dynamics-I have written my understanding at the beginning

    me: i know
    probably we can paste this chat history in the comment section of the blog

    Enidhi: do that

    me: okay

    Enidhi: Whenever a change is initiated some people will be affected-those who affected badly will naturally oppose-can't help it

    me: yeah

    Enidhi: but now, with music banned, do you believe people reduce alcohol consumption?
    I doubt not

    me: they'll go home earlier
    reducing the night crime rate

    Enidhi: hopefully
    but clubs can play music from CD and keep them occupied

    me: yeah! there is always hope
    clubs are meant for that purpose only till 11:30

    Enidhi: so live music or play from CD-both cases people can stay till 11.30
    me: yes

    Enidhi: what difference is it making?
    if the listen to live music till 11.30 and then go home it should be fine na?

    me: even i'm tryin to find out

    Enidhi: :)

    me: hehe! =)

    Enidhi: I guess we reached the conclusion that live music or music played from CD, both cases party hoppers will indulge themselves in alcohol till 11.30 ON

    me: yeah
    will think of any point we're missing

    Enidhi: 11.30 PM, so there is no obvious impact of not allowing singers to sing

    me: will post it once i go home
    i think we're missing something

    Enidhi: ok
    think over it. Even I am not aware of ground realities
    just discussing based on hypothetical scenarios

    me: hmm
    in theory, we're workin out with semi information which is dangerous
    we might be leading ppl to wrong conclusion

    Enidhi: no one seems to have correct information

    me: yes

    Enidhi: I wrote a comment at Churumuri asking for correct information, no one responded

    me: will try to ask a policeman on my way home! Hehehe

    Enidhi: I asked at a music community also-no reply

    me: is it?
    guess i need to head towards a bar to check a notice from the management regarding the ban

    Enidhi: news reports just have one generic sentence explaining what exactly are the terms and conditions of the ban
    come back before 11.30

    me: whats that?

    Enidhi: meaning police are enforcing ban on all kind of live performances including singing

    me: yes
    i dunno

    Enidhi: no one seems to have full details-they have taken a stand-either to support it or to oppose it
    and finding arguments to support their stand

    me: okay

    Enidhi: that's what I wrote at the end-general public not affected by the ban is readily supporting it, while those affected are protesting

    me: thats true

    Enidhi: if govt can offer to talk to naxalites and likewise people, these musicians very much deserve a discussion and explanation

    me: i think the explaination has been provided in the formal law being made
    i think the explaination has been provided in the formal law being made.


    Sorry! couldnt go to a bar. It was about to rain. =) Will try to get the information asap (As Safer As Possible) J

  5. @Nithya,

    Welcome. That was your first comment in my blog.

    I understand how it feels from your angle, however am not in a position to trigger an argument or defend/justify the ban.

    I've written that the ban is unlikely to have its desired impact and also mentioned it is wrong to generalize.

    I just wrote what I felt-I'll leave it for other readers to take this discussion forward...

    btb good to know that you enjoy farming.

    Thanks for taking the trouble...

  6. I cannot believe your assertion that all arguments against the ban are 100% true. Most people are passing these statements as absolute - and I am not sure they are fully aware of the reality. While I do not frequent pubs in recent times I am sure most people who come there are not out to hurt others. The few who do, will do anyways, even after drinking at home. Its odd to see people making pubs seem like source of all crimes or unruly behaviour? The only problem I see is that of drunk driving and that continues as drinking is not banned. That needs to be tackled and there are ways to restrict it. As for drinking there are many communities in India which handle it well - especially those who join armies. Its not such an evil as some make it out to be. My father drinks a peg each day till date and he is 86 and fit - thank God..and an army person who remembers Bangalore with great love in his heart. He cannot believe that Bangalore has restricted pubs so. He has never been to pubs or bars, or danced, but he wants to see an energetic and responsible youth and believes that is possible. I think its that spirit with which we should find solutions and not simply ban things every time we face a problem.

  7. @ Rath,

    I said near 100%. Have also said it is not fair to generalize. Yes, we can give examples and logical reasoning both supporting and opposing the ban- you can refer the post at Churumuri for nearly 100s of them...

    I've emphasized the need for sticker law enforcement... What else can be done for a better society?

    Thanks for sharing your views

  8. Well written post... I think people are simply making it a big deal out of nothing.

  9. 1. What has singing to do with excessive consumption of alcohol? How do they conclude this? Who has done any study on this?

    2. Tomorrow, another person will say that people who sing in bathroom tend to consume more water during their shower/bath, so we should ban that since there is a shortage of water in India.

    you might find the second one to be ridiculous. I find both of them to be ridiculous.

  10. @ Sahasi


    @ PTCBus:
    I agree. I clearly stated the reasons quoted in support of the ban are not sounding logical enough...

  11. I know this has nothing to do with the actual ban on live performance.

    But let's not forget one thing:

    There's no fundamental right for people to get drunk, dance to loud, disturbing music late at night and make a nuisance of themselves to the general public.

    By all means allow people to enjoy themselves. Up to a point. But not beyond certain hours and not when the general public is disturbed.

    Get over it people...

  12. It all boils down to an individuals life style. All have equal rights to say Yes and No to such a move, but the question remains in this democratic world is who has a better backing to amend the law.

    It is also know that people below 18 are not allowed inside a bar. When that is the law, why not the rest hang out as long as they want and drink throat full? We have good number of acts to grill the defaulters if they are rude while driving home back or causing nuisance to others. Let everyone enjoy in the frame of the available laws and live the way they want!

  13. I too am indifferent about this whole issue. Any where in the world there will always be wide variety of people whom we can categorize into different slots, good or evil, happy or sad, drinkers and teetotalers. So any action will have some people who support it and some who don't.

    I agree with you on banning alcohol completely or at least making access to it a little difficult. I have seen lives being wasted to alcohol, cigarettes & drugs. But somehow i feel most of us, including me, live in a semi paralyze, semi coma state by choice where the heart tells what is right and wrong but our lust, ego and desires make us do something else. example being most of the elite educated individuals have a liquor baron as their role model. I don't have anything against him. He knows what he is doing and he is quite good at it.

    One more interesting article from you.

  14. @ Hari,

    Yes. there is no fundamental right to drink...

    But i hope most of the places have enough aucostics in place to ensure that loud music doesn't escape outside the walls of the building (not sure, but hoping)

    @ Mohan
    OK...well said



  15. Being a Bangalorean, I'm tempted to comment on this topic! I'm indifferent to this ban and found that there are similar ones like me from the previous comments!
    My view is that the problem occurs because of pubs/restaurants that misuse the term 'live music' and indulge in other banned activities. If only our policing system was effective, it might have been easier to nab the convicts without such a ban.
    I feel bad that eminent personalities and resposible citizens staging protest over this ban, when there are more sensitive social issues that demand our attention - traffic, lane disciplines, pedestrian rights, cleanliness to name a few!
    Till this issue is resolved amicably, party-goers: enjoy ur music with drinks during daytime and weekends - that might help you with the rising inflation and a good night's sleep!

  16. @ Laddoo

    If the music ban is only after 11.30 Pm then there shouldn't be any concern from anyone. but I guess the ban is applicable 24x7.

    yes, police have their own set of problems and hope to reduce their workload by bans like this, but will it have desired effect? remains to be seen.

  17. The ban is just overhyped by media its not that a big deal, ppl still party the point is how does it matter when u enter a pub at 9 and have to leave at 11:15 u r not even high to get crazy over live bands. The point is when did the protest happen??!, i do not care for party life if i want to have it i get together with friends and enjoy by playing music. Just a media hype, media should concentrate more on improving bangalore infra rather than shouting about live bands.

  18. Dont all citizens in a democratic country have rights? In the same way I have my rights to party as in the same way i have my rights to sleep peacefully.. sadly we have come to a situation where the government decides what is right and wrong for me, and i am forced to do it.

    In almost all of Europe there is no deadline as this.. but they are living with it. Simple solution: concentrate all the entertainment business to a specific area/streets in different areas and let it be under close police watch. That is the best way for Bangalore. As it is in Amsterdam, Zurich, Brussels, Milan, Paris, Madrid, Bangkok and all. In this way no one will be deprived of their rights to party and to sleep.

    Each and every individual is different, and to classify yourself as 'higher' than others because others have habits you loathe harks back at egoism and was one of the building blocks of Nazism. Let everyone live their life.

    And I am not suggesting here that just because you support the ban you are a Nazi. Just that look at it in a more proactive way, from everyones point of view.

  19. @ Mindgrinder- point noted

    @ Vadakkus-Live and let live policy.. Ok...

  20. Thank you! Very interesting information in this blog, I will return often.

  21. As for reducing the crime rate, are we accepting that our law enforcement officers are no good they only can take bribes but not s can not be stricter and cops more proactive than to stop the citizens of "independent, Democratic" Indians to stop enjoying them selves and be the moralist since our government is week and cant take a strong stand on the people who violate the laws?

  22. A little late, but here;s my worth.

    If I wish to sit with my close friends in a private place where I can listen my favourite loud music, drink my favourite alcohol, dance, and watch a live music performance - without disturbing anyone else.... and if someone is providing me with such a place where I can do the above..... then - respectfully - why is it anyone's (especially your) business???

    You may not like the music, the dancing or the alcohol, and you are entitled to your preferences. But as long as I am not disturbing anyone with loud music or doing dangerous things like driving under the influence, I think its none of your business.

    And frankly, the job of the government is to govern, protect and serve the public... not conduct moral interventions in my private life.


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