In its heyday the marble tiling and exquisite ambience at Topaz had floored many, including counterfeiter Abdul Karim Telgi, who had reportedly frittered huge sums here. Now, with Supreme Court’s backing, this Grant Road entertainment joint, along with its peers, is anxious to get back to business.
According to the Hotel and Restaurant Association, more than 350 establishments, which formerly operated as dance bars, have filled up forms for acquiring performance licences and would submit these at the police headquarters within the next two days. Meanwhile, thousands of women too are gearing up for the reopening, in order to make a comeback.
Anil Gaikwad, legal advisor for the dance bar committee of Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR), says nearly 350 establishments are all set to request for permits. “All the prominent joints – Topaz, Carnival, Night Lovers, Sunshine, to name a few – have filled up forms for licences, so they can convert their orchestra bars back into dance bars. The applications would be submitted to the deputy commissioner of police (DCP), headquarters.”
Even though the government isn’t agreeable to restarting the dance bars, Gaikwad claims that when the apex court’s verdict is in their favour, authorities should support these establishments if the latter show a willingness to recommence operations.
Meanwhile, Varsha Kale, who’s representing the union of bar girls, claims she’s happy that the court’s order came in their favour, but isn’t celebrating because the government is still in no mood to yield. “The bar girls are waiting for the joints to get the licences, so they can perform again. However, the government’s attitude towards the whole issue is unfortunate. It should now permit the bars to open, not force them to remain shut. The government is talking about amending the law, but why isn’t it talking about rehabilitating the girls at the same time?” she asked.
Kale claims that not even once did the state allow these women to present their side. She also confirmed that nearly 350 establishments from Chembur, Dadar, Mira Road, Ghatkopar and other areas have decided to apply for licences.
Chairman of the dance bar committee Bharat Singh Thakur said, “Those who had dance bar licences and changed into orchestra bars following the ban, have filled the forms. We have them with us and would be tendering them before the DCP HQ in the next two days. The fee for a license is Rs 15,000 per month, and Rs 1.80 lakh for an annual one. We are keen to open the dance bars soon, and so we came together and even distributed these forms.”