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Bandra at war

Crossfire between residents and bar owners could cost Bandra its nightlife.

entertainment Updated: Jul 23, 2010 13:42 IST
Naomi Canton

Three bars, Escobar, Royalty and Bonobo, have closed down, following complaints to the BMC and police by residents in Bandra and Khar about noise and traffic.

Residents, who have organised citizens groups to fight for their cause, are on to phase two of their campaign. Their targets? Hawaiian Shack, Elbo Room, One Above On Toes, 20 twenty and Firangi Paani. They want them either shut or relocated to the Bandra-Kurla Complex. We speak to some of the bar owners, activists and residents affected.

The Activists
The bars create noise and congestion
“Outside One Above On Toes there are cars honking, drivers sitting on walls and shouting, and people making a racket,” says Anandini Thakoor, chairperson of the H West Citizens Trust.

“Ditto for Elbo Room and Firangi Paani, where you find drunk people brawling,” she says. Aftab Siddique, chairperson of both the 33rd Road, Khar ALM and Linking Road Citizens' Forum adds, “Yes, there are eateries on the same road, but the patrons don’t misbehave.”

Neil Pereira, member, Pali Gaothan East Indian Association, who lives near Hawaiian Shack, says: “Even rickshaws can’t enter the area, let alone ambulances. The noise, fighting and vomiting goes on until 3am. Practically every night, I am kept awake. I have complained directly to the police because I don’t want to be falsely accused of extortion. I have the backing of more than 1,000 residents,” he adds.

They should be shifted to the BKC, and out of residential areas “We want to have a separate zone for these places in the BKC so they can carry on their activities till 4am, not at the cost of the residents,” says Thakoor.

“I’m trying to find out through the RTO which licenses each of them has, and then we might go to court. The social services are now monitoring them. We have not applied pressure tactics yet, but we want them to know we can’t stand it any longer.”

Licences should not be given if a road is less than 40 feet and there is no parking “The roads outside these bars are narrow, often less than 40 feet. You can’t give any licence if a road is that narrow,” says Thakoor. Siddique adds: “The Elbo Room is on a 30 feet road, and there is no parking. It is taking away what parking there is for local residents.”

The bars are corrupting children
“The children of ALM members are getting lured into these bars. You see scantily-clad girls falling down drunk on the streets,” says Siddique.

Bar Owners
We have valid licences
The bar owners insist they have the correct licenses, pay taxes, and are in commercial areas. “Hawaiian Shack has been here for seven years, and before that, I was operating various restaurants on this spot,” says Sadhna Romy, owner of Hawaiian Shack

“Before Elbo Room, there were various restaurants here,” says Rajesh Sharma, director of Elbo Room. “We have all our licenses and are not contravening any laws.”

“I was shocked to see we are on the target list, in spite of the fact we have all the valid licences, are in a commercial area, and have parking in the basement,” Damodar Bindal, director of the On Toes chain, says.

Traffic and noise are controlled
The bar owners reiterate that they close on time and have bouncers and valets to ensure patrons leave quietly and quickly.

“We have a traffic license, the average age of patrons is 30-plus and you never see anyone vomiting,” says Romy. “We are soundproofed and don’t even have any windows. We don’t use the roof terrace either, apart from my private parties.” Binodar says: “Our clients are doctors and businessmen. How can they make a noise? They all leave straight away. We are a family restaurant.”

“We have employed people to ensure there are no problems with traffic or noise. Not one resident has come to us to complain about anything,” says Sharma. “So we don’t know why we are getting dragged into this.”

Harassment and blackmail
“This is harassment. I have spent Rs 2.5 crore on this venue. Is it fair for someone to tell me to shut down? I can’t move to BKC,” says Bindal. “We want these activists to come and talk to us face-to-face.”

“People make a noise leaving the theatre. Are they going to shut it down?” asks Romy. “Are they going to shut the airport? Look at all the noise and pollution on Linking Road all day long! I think we should all sit down and find a solution,” says Romy.

“Shouldn’t they be campaigning about the illegal occupation of the Linking Road footpath?” asks Sharma. “60 per cent of it has been encroached on by people that don’t pay taxes. We pay taxes and do everything legally. This is the Talibanisation of Bandra. These residents are behaving as if they own the city,” he adds. “Are they going to close the wine shops next? Malls cause more traffic than we do. Will shops be shut next?”

Bandra Residents
‘Mumbai is going to become like Bengalaru!
Places like these don’t spring up in just one day. Why aren’t the objections raised when they are opening? Curfews used to be 3 or 4 am before they were reduced to 1.30 am. Mumbai is going to become like Bengaluru at this rate! I don’t endorse getting drunk and creating a ruckus but if people are adhering to rules, I don’t see why residents should have a problem. No one raises objections to loud noise during festivals!
– Sejal Shrotri, 21, PR Executive

It’s retarded. Some bars have been around for so long that they’re a part of Bandra’s culture now. Mumbai is such a progressive city, we need to come out with solutions for traffic issues. Having private meetings would be less embarassing than publishing articles in newspapers.
– Raffael Kably, 21, Musician

Residents don’t realise that Bandra will become boring if these pubs shut down. If the pub owners make a sincere effort to stick to deadlines and ensure that the crowd clears out by the prescribed hour, then residents will not have much to complain about.
- Patricia D’Souza, 20

I’m not sure which side I’m on. If the pubs are disturbing residents, then it isn’t fair. But it’s quite a task to acquire licenses and we do need clubs in the vicinity. Most social outings tend to be at nightclubs. We shouldn’t have to go to town to party.
– Shibanee Roy, 21, Resident

I like to go out at night. I don’t tell people off for being noisy in the day when I want to sleep. This is a democracy. The only solution I can think of is that we have a non-residential square where parties can go on till morning.
– Parisa Babai, 21, Media Graduate

I think it is sad that the youth are suffering because residents can’t compromise a little. Then again, clubs should invest a little more and make everything sound proof.
- Karan Sinroja, 21, Content Writer

Youth in bandra will have no where to go during the night and may resort to drinking on Carter Road or Bandstand.
- Simran Bijlani, 22, Accessory Designer

- As told to Shweta Mehta, Jana Colaco