If you’re part of the city’s drinking community, chances are you’ve either been to Janata Bar in Bandra (West) or you’ve thought of checking it out but reached after 9 pm and didn’t get a table. The dive has become an anomaly on the scene. On any night of the week, there’s always a crowd lined up outside.
It’s been around for years, but in the last two, Janata’s popularity has gone way beyond just Bandra and Andheri. I mean, it’s being used as a landmark for those locating Pali Village Café. Back in the day, it used to attract the crowd that any other ‘quarter bar’ does. But of late, it’s been taken over by a majority of young drinkers; many of whom now call it names like “sophisticated shady” (whatever that means). A friend heard a girl calling it that, describing the bar to her ditsy pal, while expressing shock at the fact that she’d “never been to Janata?!” There’s this unsaid stamp of approval that having drunk at this place grants you, making you a certified drunkard or something. And if a waiter there recognises you or knows your name, you’re truly the boss.
Then a few months ago something funny happened. I saw a brawl really get out of hand there. Though it should hardly be surprising — I was at a dive and brawls are a part and parcel of these places — many people were taken aback. “Dude, this doesn’t happen here,” a guy said. Sure, it doesn’t.
A few weeks later, I heard about another such fight, which almost broke out at the same bar. This time, it wasn’t just limbs pitted against each other. One man had an ice pick, which he was amusing co-drinkers with. The other, had a loaded gun! He was showing off the bullets, running them up and down the table. Filmi stuff you’d think. As much as it may disappoint, and ideally it shouldn’t, things like these can happen at such joints. Luckily, a lot of the young crowd just hasn’t had the opportunity to witness these encounters. Thus, they’ve chosen to forget that the true face of this beast can easily rear its ugly head without prior notice.
A veteran found the right time to point out at the end of that ‘gun brawl story’, saying, “And that’s also why you never get into bar fights.” All I could think of was, ‘Whatever happened to the traditional beer bottle breaking on the head?’ Must not be “sophisticated shady” enough, I guess.