Remember in the summers when you went over to your grandmother’s place and you could do anything, watch whatever you want, eat the most delicious food and just exist without any rules or impositions? That’s what Lamakaan feels like. Lamakaan, Banjara Hills is an open cultural centre in Hyderabad which is a democratic, progressive, critical and public space. If you have been to Hyderabad, you would know that people who have made it big live there while unsuccessful people like us visit it for sightseeing. Situated in an elite area, Lamakaan is a contradiction to that posh society because it is all-inclusive. Their events schedule is so versatile that they have a play, writing workshop, a talk on climate change, knife painting class and the list goes on. It might seem bizarre and all over the place but that is the beauty of Lamakaan, every day is a festival. It is a true representation of Hyderabad. In a society filled with Telugu people here is a piece of Old City with its Irani chai and keema khichdi that can be shared over conversations, thoughts, and dreams.

A World Of Its Own

Lamakaan has become Hyderabad’s very own guardian of culture. Hyderabad stands tall for it represents the amalgamation of the Telugus, predominantly Hindu and the Muslim community. You can survive in Hyderabad without knowing Telugu but you cannot without Hindi. The love for the city and its incredible stories binds the place and the people together. At Lamakaan entry fee is not charged, so you can see people sitting on the walls of the building just to catch a show. As you enter the place, you feel a different energy. The foyer with the stage and the open spaces cater to flea and organic markets as well as plays and talks. The canteen sympathizes with our ever light wallets, so every meal is under INR 100. Lamakaan menu has everything Hyderabadi right from Irani chai to lukhmi

Influx Of Creativity

When it started in the city there were not many places like Lamakaan in Hyderabad. Every time you step into Lamakaan, the aura surprises you. The vibrant and diverse group of people never fail to surprise you. Samosas and Nimbu Pani that end all your sorrows and conversations that change the world, this is what Lamakaan stands for. I discovered it in 2014 when I thought Mumbai and Delhi were the actual cultural hubs with their monuments and movies. But I accidentally bumped into Lamakaan and made an impromptu plan to watch the play they were screening and my view of the city and place changed. I was introduced to a truly liberal and welcoming world and it became my refuge from the cold world outside. The place provides a certain warmth mostly because of the accepting people but also as it is always packed and overflowing with people and ideas. I was a Literature student, so this added to my lifelong hunt for beauty and pain in words. 

Cosy Shows And Tolerant Talks

The owners of Lamakaan, Elahe Hiptoola, Asshar Farhan, Humera Ahmed, and Biju Mathew, meant it to be an open drawing room and they have truly achieved it. Lamakaan, meaning boundless in Arabic, is inspired by Prithvi theatre in Mumbai, a thriving cultural space. It was formerly Farhan’s late uncle’s house and was started in 2010. Even though it is spread over 5000 square yards, Lamakaan can get cosy and intimate during shows and performances. Lamakaan timings are not fixed but the café is open from 10 AM to 10 PM. The space is still current and relevant because of the young crowd it attracts, its liberal outlook, delicious food, and supports artists by not charging huge prices. A vibrant cultural centre, Lamakaan supports Hyderabad artists and there are diverse shows like talks about current political issues, pottery workshops, and stand up comedy in Hyderabad. 

Space For You And Me

The people and the atmosphere there are politically and culturally charged and unlike most spaces, this is a safe space for you to talk about your opinions and people will listen and give it a thought before destroying it. I have been involved in these discussions and the subjects range from our divided democracy to our least favourite director’s attempt at movie making. Among these discussions, I have made friends for life, met great directors, cinematographers and great people in the making. But most importantly I have found my voice and belonging. I have never mustered the courage to perform on the stage but I will always be their loyal audience.


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