Mumbai: New series of home-hosted experience is a treat for art lovers

Updated: Jun 20, 2018, 07:57 IST | Snigdha Hasan | Mumbai

From a kathak baithak at an artiste's studio to a session by a comic book maker at his home, a new series of home-hosted experiences is bringing people together

A kathak baithak session was concluded at the Kaikini sisters' Bandra studio last weekend
A kathak baithak session was concluded at the Kaikini sisters' Bandra studio last weekend

"Mumbai is so vast, you don't know where the art lovers are!" says Shilpa Thaker, city-based kathak aficionado and a student of the dance form. Her search, at least a part of it, ended last weekend when she attended a baithak at kathak artiste Shoma Kaikini's Bandra studio. "Sitting inches away from the artiste with fellow kathak lovers, and listening to the sarangi and tabla being played with no speakers or mic in between was transcendental," she adds.

Artist Abhijeet Kini (extreme right) conducts a comic-making workshop at his Santacruz home
Artist Abhijeet Kini (extreme right) conducts a comic-making workshop at his Santacruz home 

The experience was part of a series of intimate social events curated by OpenOut, a Bengaluru-based venture that brings people together over a shared passion for food, art or entertainment in the comfort of home. The Mumbai chapter was launched a few months ago with home-dining events, a concept the city is familiar with. "While it's easier to get people together over food, not all experiences need to have food at the centre," says founder Arun Rafi, 30, who kicked off the art and entertainment components of the venture in Mumbai this month, starting with an acrylic painting workshop at the residence of a Ghatkopar-based artist. The upcoming edition is a board game night at a Goregaon home.

Guests enjoy a Kerala meal at a Marol home
Guests enjoy a Kerala meal at a Marol home

"For most metro residents, barring a two-week outstation break in a year, their weekends are spent within the city. And by a certain age, we fall into the trap of going to the same places with the same set of people. But how do you make new meaningful connections?" Rafi asks. "At the same time, many of us are passionate about things above and beyond our jobs. The idea is to share this passion in an environment where the guests and host come with an open mind," he adds.

Do people find the idea of opening up their home to strangers intimidating? "When we started out over a year and a half ago, it was a bit of a challenge. But people now use Airbnb and take shared cabs, so attitudes are changing. A stranger is not so much of an individual who is out to harm you, but a new person you could discuss a common interest with," Rafi reveals, adding that 95 per cent of their hosts are surprisingly women.

Guests were given a traditional welcome at the baithak
Guests were given a traditional welcome at the baithak

Shoma's sister and fellow kathak artiste Ashwini Kaikini, who hosted a baithak in Bengaluru before organising the one in Mumbai, agrees. "Through such experiences, you come to know people you would have otherwise never met. But you are sure that they are going to be like-minded," she says. A break from a stage performance is a welcome change for the artiste, too, she admits. "We interspersed my sister's performance with instrumental solos, and both the musicians and Shoma felt like they performed for themselves, without having to worry about other logistics," elaborates Ashwini.

The concept is becoming popular among those who are new to the city, too. Being a video production professional, Abodid Sahoo, who arrived in Mumbai three months ago, found it interesting to sign up for a comic book workshop at artist Abhijeet Kini's home. "Since it was conducted by a known name in the field, I knew I would learn something new. What I didn't expect was the warm, homely touch. What better way to spend a rainy afternoon than sipping on filter coffee at an artist's home?" he sums up.

ON: Jasleen's Friday Game Night, June 22, 7 pm
AT: Goregaon West (full address to be disclosed upon confirmation).
LOG ON TO: openout.in
COST: Rs 1.035

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