Mumbai’s landmark nightclub makes way for Ramdev’s centre

August 22nd, 2008 - 6:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 22 (IANS) A nightclub, which in its heydays was frequented by Bollywood stars, cricketers and even underworld operatives, will now be yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s city headquarters. The prime piece of property is estimated to be worth Rs.400 million.The curtains will go down Saturday afternoon on one of the most celebrated former landmarks of Mumbai nightlife - Deepa Bar & Restaurant in Vile Parle.

According to Sudhakar Shetty, the owner of the property located barely a stone’s throw from the posh northwestern Juhu area, the project will be dedicated to his parents - mother Varija and father Mallappa - who died around eight years ago.

The 8,500 square feet property would be handed over to Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogapeeth, through the Varija Mallappa Charitable Trust, at a function Saturday that will be attended by Baba Ramdev, Shetty told IANS here Friday. It will house the Yogapeeth’s city headquarters.

Pagur Desai, a realty consultant, said at the prevalent market rates for commercial premises, the property is easily worth an estimated Rs.400 million.

Deepa Bar & Restaurant, for many years considered a jewel in the city’s rocking nightlife, was also a workplace for multi-millionaire bar-dancers like Tarannum Khan.

Patronised by Bollywood stars, cricketers, politicians, businessmen, bureaucrats, foreign tourists, students, the police and underworld operatives during its heydays, Deepa Bar & Restaurant shut shop around four years ago after Mallappa Shetty died.

It had also witnessed many murky underworld dealings, including the cricketers-bookies-underworld nexus, and was the spot for some gang shootouts, according to a crime branch official.

He said that the police used to gather valuable intelligence on crime and underworld activities from such places.

Sudhakar Shetty, a prominent builder and chairman of Sahana Group, said that commercial considerations were of least importance since his father had never wanted the property to be sold.

“Almost 25 years ago, with great effort my father had started and run the Santosh Lunch Home there. The idlis and vada sambar prepared there were popular in the locality. Later, in the early 1990s, it was leased to one Ashok Rai,” Shetty recalled.

The new lessee decided to stay in tune with the times - he dismantled the eatery and converted it into one of the most glamorous nightclubs of the city, rivalling its south Mumbai counterpart, Topaz Bar & Restaurant, which was virtually a ‘must-see’ tourism destination.

A former banker, N. Pandya, who occasionally stepped inside Deepa Bar & Restaurant, said that the combined ambience of wine, women and wealth plus the music, d├ęcor and cuisine made it an instant hit.

There was a time when many such nightclubs in Mumbai used to function round-the-clock but Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister R.R. Patil ordered a clampdown and shut all dance bars and nightclubs, three years ago.

“Under its new avatar, we shall offer all kinds of general and specialized medical and paramedical services, spiritual training, Yoga, at nominal rates or totally free for the poor and needy to fulfil my father’s dreams,” Shetty said.

Shetty said that he was a disciple of Baba Ramdev since the past eight years and had been impressed by his dedication to the cause of the poor and needy.

“I felt that there could be no better monument to honour my parents than a charitable centre for the poor and needy,” he said.

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