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'Preserving Esplanade would mean protecting Kala Ghoda's history'

Updated on: 07 June,2019 07:54 AM IST  | 
Arita Sarkar |

Noted lawyer Majeed Memon, who worked out of the heritage building for 15 years until 2011, says structure had always been in need of major repairs

'Preserving Esplanade would mean protecting Kala Ghoda's history'

Lawyer Majeed Menon at the office he now occupies near Kala Ghoda. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Among the many tenants who occupied commercial spaces in the 150-year-old Esplanade Mansion, was noted criminal lawyer Majeed Memon who had his office there for 15 years. During this time, he worked with some of his biggest clients including Bollywood actors and directors like Anupam Kher, Sanjay Dutt, Mahesh Bhatt and Sridevi.

While Memon started his career in Bandra taking up cases at the court there, by 1996, he had moved to cases in the Bombay High Court. "As I had to come to the high court frequently, I decided to have an office close by. The landlord, Sadiq Ali, happened to be an admirer and was happy to have me as one of his tenants. My first office in Esplanade was on the second floor. But because the space was too small, in 1998, I took up a larger space on the third floor," he said.

Memon also recalls that the building had been in desperate need of repairs ever since he took an office there. He said even back then, portions of the building that face the Sessions Court used to fall off. "Every time a part fell, other advocates who had offices in the building would come to me. I had told the landlord to take up major repairs several times. I had suggested to him that he could partially evacuate the building and repair it part by part. But he didn't take care of the building," he said.

Also read: Put a safety net on Esplanade before rains descend

Around eight years ago, he shifted to another office in Surya Mahal just across the street from Esplanade Mansion, and later opened another office in One Forbes building in the next street. Memon added that he decided to finally move out after MHADA issued an evacuation notice back in 2010-11. He recalled that many commercial tenants had made illegal additions and alterations to the building. "If an accident happened, my name would be brought up first. I needed a bigger space in any case and didn't want any controversy, which is why I decided to move out," he said.

Despite moving out years ago, Memon, however, feels that Esplanade Mansion is a heritage structure that needs to be protected. "This splendid structure happens to be governed under heritage laws and protecting it would help preserve the beauty of Kala Ghoda, an area that is historically so important. Those who are handling the situation should also examine whether its demolition can be avoided," he said.

'Best loo ever'

Majeed Memon maintains registers that contain newspaper cuttings that mention him in chronological order. As he turned the pages of the register, which includes articles from the years his office was at the Esplanade Mansion, he recalled a funny experience with the late Alyque Padamsee, a well-known theatre personality and ad-film maker. "He visited my office and asked to use my washroom. After he came out, he said he had never seen such a washroom in Mumbai. It was just a regular toilet, but he told me he liked its arrangement," he said.

During those years, Memon also remembered Sridevi's defamation suit that he had filed against Stardust magazine.

Also read: Mumbai: Esplanade Mansion's electricity meters removed ahead of its demolition

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