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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Gorky Bhavan gets bustling once again

By C. Maya

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, FEB. 10. The music of Tchaikovsky being played on the piano welcomes visitors to the Gorky Bhavan. Visitors stepping into the new and spacious lobby here these days linger admiring the photographs of ethnic Russian dances on the wall, the paintings and yes, the dollhouse where colourful dolls in traditional attires, from various provinces in Russia, steal the show.

With the Russian embassy having taken full possession of Gorky Bhavan, the Russian Cultural Centre here is all set to take the centre stage in the city's cultural arena. The Bhavan, with a whopping 40,000 sq. ft of floor space, will now have a permanent art gallery, the House of Roerichs, an air-conditioned auditorium for screening movies or organising functions and Russian language training centres.

Says Ratheesh C. Nair, director of the Russian Cultural Centre, "We are preparing ourselves to re-launch the Bhavan as a full-fledged centre for arts, music, fine arts and theatre, with year-round cultural activities. The city residents can now look forward to a full calendar of events, including regular screening of classic as well as contemporary Russian films, visits by Russian dance and music troupes."

The House of Soviet Culture was set up in 1969 with the aim of disseminating information about the cultural and social developments in the former Soviet Union. For a long time, the Bhavan had remained a significant part of the city's cultural scape, encouraging the study of Russian language, classical music and films.

It was unceremoniously closed down by the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1991 following the political developments there. For nine years after that, it had remained a monument of neglect, its vast grounds covered with overgrown shrubs and plants and valuable property worth lakhs--including books, pianos and film projectors--going to waste.

It was in 2000 that following the efforts of the Indo-Russian Friendship and Cultural Society and other Indo-Russian cultural outfits in the capital that a `new spring' dawned in Gorky Bhavan. The sprawling building got a new lease of life with the reopening of the cultural centre in one small portion of the building, while the rest of the space was leased out to a private television channel by the Russian Government.

The Pushkin Institute of Language was opened, offering crash courses, certificate and diploma courses in Russian. This was followed by the Tchaikovsky music school, Alekhin chess club, Chekhov drama club and a film forum. In the past two years, the Centre has brought several Russian dance troupes and artists to the city and organised Russian food and cultural festivals, choir music and the like.

The air-conditioned auditorium with 300 plus seating capacity will be rented out at a reasonable fee for organising film screenings or functions. The centre is also in the process of setting up a library.

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