By Ishan Kukreti
It’s been 50 years since people have been enjoying pakoda platter, keema parartha and pudina chai at Cafe Samovar in Jehangir Art Gallery. Artists, students, lovers and officers all have gone to this place with a view to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya and none has come back disappointed. At Cafe Samovar, poets found their poetry and lovers their love.
But soon it’s all going to be a thing of the past. Some fond memories and a coffee table book will be the only thing left of the cafe after this month.
The cafe which is being shut to allow the expansion of Jehangir Art Gallery next to it, was opened in 1964 by Usha Khanna to create a peaceful space in Mumbai for artists to meet patrons.
Khanna said she started Samovar to address the pressing questions of life in Mumbai, ” Where would artists meet their patrons? Where would poets sit and write without being disturbed? Where would young homesick executives get their ‘home food'”
Christened ‘Samovor’ by the legendry actor Balraj Sahni, Usha Khanna’s maternal uncle, the cafe has been an ‘ oasis for several generations of youth sometimes dreaming, but always struggling to make their mark in the city’ according filmmaker Shyam Benegal.
The end of Samovar is sure to break many hearts in Mumbai and two of them will obviously belong to Mr and Mrs Bachchan senior, who went to the Cafe in Kala Ghoda on their first date.