• Why Classy Violins Made in UP’s Rampur Are Falling Silent

    Saurabh Sharma

    April 22, 2019

    “Violin is the only instrument in the world which expresses the feeling of love perfectly,” says Gayasuddin, one of the last few violin makers in Rampur city.

    ‘Made in Rampur’ violins were once considered as the world’s best. Sadly, the industry is breathing its last.

    The world famous four-string Rampur violin was only made in Rampur earlier, but in the past two three years, Chinese players have captured the market of musical instruments, says Gayasuddin, sitting in his small workshop in Nankar area of the district.

    “Rampur violins were so famous that musicians even from the Berkley Music Academy played these. Our violin was used in the Hindi film, Mohabbatein, many other Hindi films, but now there are no takers of our hand-made products due to cheaper products available in the market from China and other nations.”

    The Violin Math

    Gayasuddin says violins are totally a game of math, as measurement plays a very key role in its making.

    “Each part of our violin is measured very carefully. The four strings that produce the beautiful sound, the base from the maple wood which is exported from Brazil, spruce wood from Himachal Pradesh is used on the top area, and ebony wood is used in other parts,” says Gayasuddin, adding that even a little mistake of one centimeter in anything can ruis the entire .

    Explaining the financial aspect of the instrument, he says the production cost of a low -ost violin is between Rs 1,000-1,500, while the average one costs about Rs 2,500 and the best one can go up to Rs 15,000.

    “There is more demand for cheaper products now owing to the low cost of imported items. Our buyers in Mumbai, Kolkata and other places have been demanding to deliver the low cost violin to them at Rs 1,200 and they sell it at nothing less than Rs 3,000 by showing them the Made in Rampur tag,” he says.

    How Demonetisation Took A Toll

    Gayasuddin, who recently separated his business with his cousin and Rampur’s famous violin maker Zamiruddin says that now hardly 200 violin makers (including labour) are left in the city.

    “There were more than a 1,000 people who were into violin-making in the city. Now, there are five big violin-making industries with over 40 people working there, as the business has not yet picked up pace after demonetisation. Many of our skilled labour left, as were not able to pay them for months after the noteban since we did not get any orders during that time. The industry was hit badly, as suppliers also denied us maple wood, strings and other products that we needed. The condition became so bad that our workshops were closed for many days and every businessman incurred a huge loss,” he says.

    An Anecdote On Rampur’s Violins

    Narrating the history of Rampur’s violin, Gayasuddin recounts there were two brothers, one of them was a carpenter and the younger one used to play the violin that he bought from Mumbai. This was about 70 years ago. One day, the elder brother accidentally dropped the violin, after which the younger brother slipped into depression. The elder brother was so upset by his condition that he decided to make a violin and took great care to measure the instrument properly. The violin that he made was so perfect that many people started demanding it.

    Grudge Against The UP Govt

    Aftab Alam, a carpenter who works at Rajak Musicals in Rampur city, says despite producing one of the world’s best violins, the industry could not make it to the ‘one district one product’ flagship scheme of the Uttar Pradesh government.

    “I am too small a man to raise my voice, and big people into this trade also hesitate to raise g their voices. Neither the government nor anyone else is paying heed to us,” he says, adding that a few weeks ago, the district magistrate, along with other senior officials, visited the violin industries when they got to know about its condition and assured them help and assistance after elections, saying they could not do anything now due the election code being enforced.

    “We do not get loans. We get zero help from government and the government has taken whatever we had by imposing goods and services tax and demonetisation. The start-up scheme is a bluff,” he added.

    Anand Sharma, an associate professor at Lucknow University’s film-making department says the Rampur violin is famous for its low cost and finesse.

    “These violins are classy. There are only few industries in the city, but they have made Rampur violins famous in the world. It is very sad that they are suffering. The government should immediately step in save these,” he said.

    As Rampur goes to polls on Tuesday, the main contest is between Samajwadi Party’s Mohammad Azam Khan, who is known for making controversial statements, and actor Jayaprada, a former SP leader, who recently joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.


    First published in Newsclick.

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