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Bandra vs Bandra

mumbai Updated: Apr 20, 2010 00:57 IST
Tasneem Nashrulla
Tasneem Nashrulla
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Nitin Gokarn (50) regrets living in one of the most desirable locations in the city.

The Bandra (W) resident says the swank suburb, which has some of the best residential — both vintage and modern — and commercial spaces in Mumbai, is also becoming the city’s new party capital. And two of its latest nightclubs, Escobar and Royalty opened on 28th Road, where he lives.

Gokarn stands for the old Bandra, which resents seeing its quiet, leafy bylanes being taken over by its brash young neighbours. “They’re a nuisance, with their loud music, and their parking hassles,” he complains.

This suburb, which is popular for its vibrant nightlife and liberal vibe, is now also a battleground between residents fighting for their peace, and nightclub owners and patrons who just want to have a nice time.

“I have no problem with youngsters having their fun,” says Manuela Saldanha, secretary of the Revival Citizens group, ALM 154, where both the nightclubs are located. “But it should not be at the cost of others,” she says.

Every weekend night, since April 9, as the city’s young and rich converge on Esocobar, 20 to 40 local residents have staged a silent protest amidst the clubbers and their expensive cars.

Residents complain that traffic snarls and noise pollution levels have escalated tremendously since Escobar opened in
December 2009, at the junction of Linking Road and 28th Road, which already housed two restobars, Dhanraj and On Toes.

On Saturday, Gokarn filed an application with the Bandra police station requesting them to patrol the no-entry road and declare it a no-honking zone.

But long before Escobar happened, the locals fought against the now closed Poison club on 27th Road.

“It was actually a parking lot converted into a nightclub with no sound proofing in place. Our window grills and doors would vibrate with the impact of the loud music playing inside,” says Saldanha.

While the civic issues are the residents’ major grouse, there’s also an underlying clash of cultures. “After 1.30 am, these youngsters would come out on the road drunk, screaming and laughing loudly. In the morning while taking their kids to school, residents found empty beer cans and bottles filled with urine and used condoms flung inside their compounds,” says Saldanha.

On Saturday, residents of the Western Railway Colony at Bandra (W), along with a local NGO, pulled down an entertainment magazine’s hoarding, claiming it displayed obscene content. They had earlier complained to the Khar police station.

While Gokarn stresses it is largely a civic problem, he adds: “As I walk with my children down the road, I see couples kissing and scantily dressed girls smoking. That’s not our culture. I am not against these clubs doing business, but everyone has to function within the parameters of decency.”

Nicky Ramnani (25), a regular at Escobar, speaks for both sides. “The club goes by the law and shuts at 1.15 am. We need these places in Bandra so we can go for a night out and have fun. I do feel bad for the locals, because the noise and traffic last as long as 45 minutes after the club shuts. The club should be ensure the quiet dispersal of the crowd and the
cars.”

Prakash George, senior police inspector at Bandra police station has been instrumental in keeping the peace outside Escobar. But even he believes this is “one of the hazards of living in an area like Bandra”. He says: “People have to get used to these things. Most of the nightclub patrons are Bandra locals.”

And he’s not one for moral policing. “If people want to go to a nightclub, or drink or publicly show affection, we can’t stop them. The police, residents, BMC and club owners should come together and work out a solution.”