Kinky Ski Munky were playing the night seventeen-year-old Vijay Nair was invited to his first-ever Razz gig. He turned up in his nicest shirt and pressed jeans. Think of Donald Glover returning home with pizza. Everyone has a first-evening-of-the-rest-of-my-life moment, and that was Vijay’s.
The first evening of Razzberry Rhinoceros’ new life occurs Tuesday, when it opens in its new incarnation, upgraded from Vile Parle Gothic to Mykonos-on-the-Arabian. In spite of the whitewash and swank garden furniture, there’s still something a bit louche about it in that old Juhu way. We’re secretly glad our rendezvous is with gents we know and like — Vijay, now the boss of Only Much Louder and so important that he could get away with wearing ironed jeans anywhere; and OML’s enforcer Anuj Gupta.
Back in the day, the deck overlooking Juhu Beach was a softly crumbling wedding venue, and the porch near the parking lot was where cheerful ladies with fierce amounts of lipstick hung around in hopes of meeting creepy uncles with money. In keeping with the times, Razz's new avatar has a wood-fired oven, drapey cabanas, and the beeping sounds of tropical house drifting through its swaying palm trees. Rajesh the settlement manager isn’t around to pay up a portion of the gate receipts anymore —a snazzy ladies’ loo has replaced his desk. In short, Razz is all kitted out for our brassy new decade, up-to-date with everything from root-to-fruit cocktails to — brace yourself — a wine and coffee bar. Did Metakix get Chardonnay when they performed here?
The root-to-fruits aren’t thrilling, so we abandon them quickly for beer and stories from Vijay and Anuj, habitués of the rock “scene” from back when it was pretty much headquartered at Razz. In 2011, OML hosted a blowout party here to inaugurate that year’s NH7 Weekender line-up, but by then Razz was already a ghost of itself. Gone was its hot, heaving moshiness, the incubator of a thousand Bombay bands with names such as Bitchslap and Skincold. Gone were the ragers tearing apart bamboo barricades to beat each other up in the pits. Gone were the queues at the Pin Drop Violence concerts that snaked all the way out on to the road, even on that evening bassist Rohit ‘P-Man’ Pereira had to leave early to take his mother to the airport.
Gone was its hot, heaving moshiness, the incubator of a thousand Bombay bands with names such as Bitchslap and Skincold.
It’s all staying gone. Razz is grown-up now, the cheerful, sensible management assures us. The glassed-in bistro will be a co-working space in the daytime; there will be book readings and zumba events in the performance area. The mezzanine where kids once traded joints and blowjobs is now a sleek suburban den – they’ll be serving single malts there soon. Our dinner companions look wistfully out onto the raspberry-coloured lights of the bar below, once a stage from which Sahil ‘the Demonstealer’ Makhija dived into his adoring crowd. “People even jumped from this balcony into the crowd,” Anuj says.
A Berry Long Engagement
Aggressive nostalgics may find the upgrade — with nary a rhino-tail door knocker in sight — distasteful. So will snobs who tend to dismiss Juhu as Delhi with a coast (more rhinestones than rhinoceri). The sweet, soulful thing about the new Razz is its massively comforting food menu, designed as though consulting chef Ranveer Brar personally knew all the ragged, hungry underage drunks who mooched through here. Subz shami is almost good enough for his fancy vegetarian eatery, TAG; and lamb koftis (with potato salli) and coin-sized chicken nukhti tacos are fresh and fragrant, if only a bit too prone to dry out quickly in the seabreeze.
The sweet, soulful thing about the new Razz is its massively comforting food menu, designed as though consulting chef Ranveer Brar personally knew all the ragged, hungry underage drunks who mooched through here.
“I can’t tell you how many times people slipped away from the gigs and gatecrashed the weddings on these lawns for late-night food,” Vijay says. We’d be nostalgic, but for the dark, satin-y dal makhani and cardamom-scented Hyderabadi biryani that comes with a ridiculously well-balanced white salan. Even if the butterscotch kheer strikes a false note at the end of the meal — tasting faintly of onion! — we can only feel a dutiful regret for the club sandwich and palak khichdi that once kept patrons alive here. The Razz Age is over — but so, we suppose, is the Depression.
Getting there: Razzberry Rhinoceros, Juhu Hotel, next to Mahesh Lunch Home, Juhu. A meal for four with a round of drinks costs approximately Rs 6,600. No entry fee — no, not even the 100 bucks you used to pay to get into a gig.
Accessibility: Ramp access and smooth walkways all through to the deck, but loos are non-disabled only.
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