Back pack hostel in Bandra is the new talent hub in Mumbai
A hostel tucked away in Bandra's Ranwar village is now a haven for the city's up-and-coming comedy talent
It is easy to feel like a tourist in your own city. We know we feel that way when we reach Ranwar village on Bandra's Chapel Road — because we're wandering around staring at house numbers, until we finally find number 43. The space is called Cohostel — a hostel for backpackers that's around six months old.
The managers Ashu and Shekhar welcome us in, through a passage where doors on either side are named after Bandra's villages — Malla, Waroda, Ranwar, Boran, Pali, and others. "Our visitors are always curious when they observe the name plate, and ask us about Bandra's history. Some of the villages aren't even seen anymore but we thought it was important to at least put it out there," Ashu tells us. But there's a space beyond the standard dorm rooms, too. A rooftop area that plays host to comedy gigs by new collectives such as The Squibhouse Comedy that will host one called Knocktale Night tonight.
Managers Ashu (extreme left) and Shekhar (extreme right) interact with tourists
"Other venues tend to be more professional so they charge for the entry, equipment, etc. Our events are complimentary for the guests and for outsiders, we have a small cover fee for pizza and soft drinks. The comedians are also from small groups and we give an opportunity to anyone who wants to showcase their talents. It's an intimate setting," he says, while a backpacker from Iceland enters the room to check out.
Prashant Nihalani, who helms the hostel with his father and partner, tells us that the idea was to create a social space with cheap accommodation. "The rooftop setting is so fluid that when we host a movie screening, we just move the chairs by the kitchen to create a theatre setting. We wanted this to feel like home and not intimidate anyone as even travellers want to make friends." In addition to stand-up and screenings, the venue will continue to host storytelling and poetry performances.
The doors of each room are named after Bandra's villages — Malla, Pali and Boran among others. Pics/Atul Kamble
For comedians like Prasad Mathkar, who will perform tonight along with nine others, the hostel provides a diverse audience that you wouldn't get to meet at other mainstream venues. "It is fun to perform for an international audience. You have to try to get where they are from and tailor your set accordingly. This is the fourth time that I'm performing here and the audience has always been very receptive because they treat this like their own homes," he shares.
For Rs 800 a night, visitors get stay and breakfast, but they are free to order what they like or cook in the kitchen on the rooftop. Books and magazines are also stacked in a shelf and the managers, who have moved to the city from Varanasi, interact with guests as if they've known them for a long time — and that's perhaps what it means to be home away from home.
ON Tonight, 7.30 pm to 10 pm
AT Cohostel, 43, Chapel Road, Ranwar village, Bandra West.
LOG ON TO www.eventshigh.com
Cost Rs 200
Expensive things Mukesh Ambani spends on