Commons, the very key element of any city, society or civilisation is under threat today. Shrinking public spaces, glass and concrete monstrosities taking over the landscape, is something that every major city in the world is dealing with. Some have had successful campaigns, initiatives to reclaim these spaces, while others have floundered. Lamakaan in Hyderabad is certainly one of the most successful experiments.
An experiment that withstood, official highhandedness, attempts to shut it down and everything else that its detractors could throw at it. The manner in which citizens of Hyderabad closed ranks behind Lamakaan, provided that much-needed strength. The outpour of love wasn’t entirely unexpected, Lamakaan is a second if not primary home to a whole host of groups and individuals. A space for them to breathe, dream and create.
At any given time, the place is abuzz with a diverse range of patrons, a cross section of the society at large and it reflects in the wide range of programmes that are held here. Having played host to writers, actors, activists, filmmakers, performance artists from across the country and the world, Lamakaan imbibed their passion and the spirit of Lamakaan serves as an inspiration to emerging talent. The neighbourhood café for some, an educational space for others, a temporary office, their first stage, an after-work hangout; the space exists in the myriad imaginations of those that frequent it. This lack of boundaries or definitions promotes unfettered creativity and unlocks young minds and hearts.
Lamakaan nested comfortably in the heart of the city ( Banjara Hills ), invites people, projects and ideas from different facets of life. Creators, Writers, Film Makers, Musicians, Dance enthusiast, all of them can be found, sipping on to warm chai (or perhaps a lemonade) and munching on to some delicious Samosas. Where else, can you find a place which encourages and pampers, thinkers to just sit and ideate. Lamakaan, of course, is a home to many popular clubs all over the city, to come and perform within its open spaces.
The cultural space started hosting events from March 2010. It was started by Ashhar Farhan, Humera Ahmed, Biju Mathew, and Elahe Hiptoola. Today, the space flourishes because of the people visiting it, and perhaps even making it home. In this regard we went about talking about itb with some regular patrons of Lamakaan, in our attempt to define the soul of the space, and what makes it stand out in the present age of chaos and confusion.
“Lamakaan is one of the very few foster houses for creativity, where one can retreat themselves to a great experience, any day. If you want to have a mental break from monotony, a creative conversation or even a good sip of chai, this is the place for you”! says Sravanthi Talluri, founder and curator of Write Club Hyderabad, one of the most popular clubs to feature in the space. She looks back at the days, when she just started the club catering to creative writing, back in 2015, and was looking for people to lap it up. And she was not disappointed. Lamakaan rewarded her with brilliant writers by the dozens.
“When I came to Hyderabad, I was struck by how small it was, and how everyone was so enthralled by Cyber City, Hyderabad’s pride and joy. It felt like Hyderabad had a new body, but somehow I couldn’t locate its soul. I couldn’t find Hyderabad’s people, those with the wicked sense of humour, those who loved art/culture as much as a true Hyderabadi should. I searched for years, but even that felt more of a page 3 embellishment than an actual soul. Until the day 2 years ago, when a message popped up on my quest to make friends. It was a simple question, ‘Hey guys, starting a writing club, need a place. Any recommendations?’ and nearly everyone said Lamakaan. And just like that 4 years later in Hyderabad, I was ready to call it home. I had found my place, with chai&samosas, with a heart so big it lets everyone in. Working overtime to protect Hyderabad’s soul, with art, with music, with comedy and exactly how true Hyderabadi’s like it “sasta aur mayari” I have no home greater than Lamakaan. It is my refuge. Without it I wouldn’t have friends that have enriched my life beyond my wildest imaginations. Without it I wouldn’t have ever been able to call Hyderabad my own” says Shazia Ahmed, a Content Editor, who found her pack, after relocating to India, half a decade ago. She not only found people who shared her interests, but also creative projects which would further help her satiate her passion.
Lamakaan, therefore, gives you all that you desire, and more. Be sure to visit Lamakaan whenever you get time. And I’m sure, you’ll make some time for your second visit and many more to come. You may visit the official website , Lamakaan, and see what it has in store for you this week.
Here’s Elahe Hiptoola talking about the origination of Lamakaan, seeking an ode to times which thrived for free thoughts of thinkers around the city.