‘Welcome to my city, see the bright lights, diamonds on my wrists, the fast cars, the hot girls, THE NIGHT LIFE.’
Now, that’s the kind of introduction you would like to give for your city, wouldn’t you? Sadly, the quote, or in fact the term ‘Night Life’ doesn’t even come close to describing the wee hours of Mumbai today. On conducting some research, I found out that there was a time when this city had its own spark, when the youth could dance away the blues at the clubs till dawn without the sword of security concerns looming on their heads. There was a time when restaurants and eateries, which do not only consist of ‘five stars’, would remain open all night; when Dhobale and his men wouldn’t come and evacuate the people enjoying the silent bliss at Marine Drive. This was the time when Bombay was not renamed as Mumbai. Or as Russell Peters famously mocked the name changing: only after making sure the British were gone for 40 odd years did we have to balls to rename our cities. So the question here is, doesn’t the ‘city of dreams’ as it is called, one of the best cities in the world, deserve its own night life?
This issue has recently come to light since Aditya Thackeray, the president of the Yuva Sena, a youth wing at Shiv Sena, became a rebel for this cause. The proposal has been cleared by the city’s municipal corporation, which is run by Sena, but the final word rests with the Chief Minister. Arguments by the moral upholders and activists say that this proposal will bring criminal dens in the city and eventually crime will increase. I see this as a bogus argument. If at all anything, the proposal will make the streets of the city safer at nights. It holds some interesting ideas for the working population to find some ‘chilling’ time after the usual long hours of work. As a movie buff, the most tempting of all components would be 24 hour movie theatres. Besides these points, the tourist attraction which Mumbai anyway generates will get a boost, and our reputation will be of a ‘cool yet responsible’ city. To give something to the naysayers, it is completely justified to mull over the issue of the already over imposed police duties. Ever since the ban of dance bars, the idea of ‘entertainment zones’ has been floated. If a zone is marked for clubs and pubs, residents would not have to bear with the noise pollution, snarls and other issues alleged by such joints. And imagine the respite of the Khurshids and the cycle wallahs who are constantly hyper over the police van approaching. Knowing the pros of such an idea, the city faces the major issue of ‘moral policing’, which in my personal opinion shreds the concept of letting the youth enjoy. Ironic, isn’t it?
Enclosing, I would like to say, it is high time for Mumbai to get its charm back. There are obviously some genuine issues and acceptable arguments, but it is not like they cannot be dealt with. Personally, I would hope to one day stand at one of the sea facing spots of Mumbai, or in a club in the presence of loud music, in the middle of the night an be proud of the fact that now I could finally call it ‘the city that never sleeps’. And in style indeed!
(The guest author is an avid writer and a close friend)