By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: Arjun Rampal’s posh nightclub LAP in Delhi is threatened with closure. With the current national chant of safety-for-women hitting the Capital’s night spots the hardest, Arjun’s elite club finds itself in a corner.
With closure-time considerably reduced, the actor-entrepreneur is now flying to Delhi to meet the relevant ministers to sort out the matter.
Sounding deeply frazzled, Arjun says, “We’ve been badly hit. I’m not going to pretend about that. We’ve been asked to shut the club very early each night. So basically when our regular visitors are ready to visit our club, we’ve to shut down. Even on New Year’s eve we were asked to close the club at 1.30 pm. It’s ridiculous.”
Arjun feels it’s time for a serious pow-wow with the the powers-that-be in the Capital. “I’m flying down to Delhi next week for discussions with the relevant Ministries and ministers. I want to convince them that night clubs are not a den of vice. They are certainly not responsible for the rapes on the streets of Mumbai. Are they suggesting that the people who visit LAP go out and violate women? We run a club for members only. Our clientele is composed of top models, writers, entrepreneurs, sports persons and actors. I can assure the Delhi government none of them has rape or crime on his mind.”
Arjun admits the drinks can go the the club members’ heads. “We are aware that some of our visitors may overdo it. But we have an arrangement for our club members who may not be in a condition to drive themselves back home. We have valet drivers for every drunken driver. In fact there are two people for every inebriated club member. One of them drives the client’s car while the other follows the car on a mobike. Then they both ride back to the club. Which club in India provides such provisions to ensure safety on the roads?”
Arjun is worried about the night-club business in India coming to a grinding halt because of misguided moral policing.
Says Arjun passionately, “I am as concerned about safety of women as anyone else. I have three ladies (wife and two daughters) at home. So when I feel my club is being targeted, I’m not concerned about the monetary losses alone, though let me tell you, we’re losing heavily because of the current anti-nightlife campaign in Delhi. I’d be willing to bear the losses if I was convinced that my nightclub is a purveyor of crime on the streets of Delhi. It is not. And I am going with a very strong case to Delhi asking for the Delhi administration’s help in restoring faith in my club.”
Arjun feels the Delhi administration is deflecting from the real issues involved. “Clamping down on Delhi’s social life is not going to help curb crime. For God’s sake, get your policing and judiciary right. We’ve our own security, our own bouncers. But why are politicians using so much of the police force as their own security?Why does the city come to a standstill each time a minister’s convoy passes the streets of Delhi? Why are they looking for soft targets? We pay huge amounts of taxes.My club introduces new talent every day .We’ve budding deejays who get a chance to be noticed. We employ a huge staff of personnel, executives, waiters, bouncers and valets Would the Delhi government provide alternate jobs for them if I have to close down my club?”
Undeterred Arjun now has plans of a LAP outlet in Mumbai,followed by one in Singapore and then Dubai.
Says Arjun, “Rapes can’t stop on the streets by shutting down recreational places. I think the government is barking up the wrong tree.”