An uncrowded spot that offers a sweeping, uninterrupted view of Girgaum Chowpatty on visarjan day, and a panorama of the entire expanse of road stretching from Opera House to the sea, with innumerable visarjan processions dotting it — this is a dream location for lensmen and photographers from the print media and TV channels.
What a relief it must be for photographers to learn that the terrace of the three-storied La Kozy Mansion, located right opposite the beach, is offering them just that. If their bosses are willing to pay Rs 2 lakh for half a day of occupancy, that is.
That’s Rs 2 lakh for 12 hours of occupying a 200 sq feet area.
Pay more for the best view — that is the mantra adopted by managers and caretakers of residential buildings around Girgaum Chowpatty, who are cashing in on the media’s desperation and quoting eye-popping rent rates for their terraces which will offer an unbroken view of the lord’s many processions on Anant Chaturthi.
Mahendra Chawda, manager of La Kozy Mansion deployed at the building, justified the prohibitive rates, saying, “The best view comes at a price and our building is situated at a strategic location, from where one can capture the uninterrupted panoramic view of Chowpatty and at the same time capture the entire stretch of road all the way from Opera House, which leads to the sea. We charged the media Rs 1.5 lakh as rent last year.”
Asked why the rate had suddenly shot up by a whopping Rs 50,000, Chawda explained that real estate rental rates have gone up this year across the city, leaving him with no option but to hike the rent.
The tenants occupying the premises have no say in the matter. The woman who owns the building now stays outside Mumbai.
Chawda claimed that usually, only three news channels or print media photographers are allowed to use the space. And what about amenities offered in return for the exorbitant rates? The building would be offering lesmen access to electricity from the ground floor. And that’s it. This means that effectively, they would be paying Rs 2 lakh just for a good view from the top.
Chawda said, “This is the only time that we get to earn profits, as many news channels are keen on shooting from the top. We can’t let anyone and everyone enter; the clients have to obtain prior permission from the local police stations as well. Applicants have to go to Gamdevi police station and take the permission from the senior police officer there. We need to check photo identity cards of those who approach us for coverage, and an office letter requesting permission. But unless and until the police certify their consent, we cannot give permission to any media house. We take money only in cash a day prior to immersion, as if the cheques are not cleared we would have to incur loss.”
Apart from the lensmen who can cough up the money, cops on bandobast duty will also be populating the terrace, which will afford them a good aerial view of the crowds below.
Chawda said that he has already received inquiries from some news channels, but won’t be finalising the deal until he receives cash amount of Rs 1 lakh as advance by Friday. The balance is to be paid soon after the immersion. No legal agreements would be drawn up to this effect.
Senior Police Inspector Pradeep Lonandkar of Gamdevi Police station said, “First our permission is taken as they have to make proper application as to how many people will be involved in the coverage. If any building is found giving permissions without prior intimations to us, they could be fined for security reasons.”