By Rebecca Vargese

photo lamakaan copy

Lamakaan resonates with the sounds of music, laughter and life. Considered to be one of the hottest spots of youth culture and what the young Hyderabadi represents, it is situated in one of the swankiest parts of town, Banjara Hills. Started by a gang of friends Ashhar Farhan, Humera Ahmed and Elahe Hiptoola; Lamakaan finally turns three this year. Lamakaan, an Urdu word, translating to “an artist’s abode” stays true to its ideology by promoting pure art forms.

Situated among a beautiful natural rock formation, this house turned hangout is open six days a week from Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am to 10pm and has no less than thirty patrons at anytime of the day. Step into Lamakaan and you are surrounded by a smokey haze. The balcony, however, (also the no smoking zone) gives you the best view of the crowd who range from their teens to their late 50’s with their fancy laptops, DSLRs and guitars.

Prashanth a frequent visitor and writer believes that Lamakaan represents “freedom.”  The noisy buzz and chatter throughout, rings with the voices of the Lamakaanians saying, “We are the present, we are the future, we are the culture. We are Lamakaan!” But what culture? The dominant, elite culture? Despite popular belief of being a free platform to showcase art, culture and talent, serious questions need to be answered. According to Abhinav Gomatim, the former manager of Lamakaan, “the culture we propagate is definitely not degenerative; we do have our fair share of intellectuals.”

Ideally, a world free of boundaries where creativity springs and the well of music never runs dry, one questions the legitimacy of the freedom that this spot so ardently believes in. Music and art once considered a weapon against “the man” who wanted to run our lives now seems to have become his tool. “Hanging out here is an adda. Women get to smoke without people gawking and making a fuss, that’s the coolest part”, says a Prasad who has been long associated with Lamakaan.

Have joints like this played right into the trap of “the man”? Is this a convenient way to throw away time over a couple of samosas and friends? Akhil believes, “Culture is what we want it to be. Maybe it is lethargic,” he says pointing at a table where three youth laze over a coffee, “or it can be proactive. To me culture encompasses science and this is a great place to discuss thoughts and ideas.” Vivek Ram, a student of Mass Communication and a rapper finds Lamakaan the best place to gather up support for an initiative he plans to help women subjected to abuse.

Lamakaan is a perfect blend of the human society from the elite kids to the rapper with a social conscience. Maybe we haven’t lost our struggle with “the man”, there may yet be some hope. “Lamakaan is yours. Do what you will with it”.

So what will you do with it?