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Cutting chai, books, and a cultural oasis: Prithvi Café

Prithvi Theatre and Café were established in the 1970s but its theoretical foundations were set up decades before that.

Cutting chai, books, and a cultural oasis: Prithvi Café
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For the last 50 years, Prithvi Theatre has been a thriving hub for lovers of drama and the performing arts. Owned and operated by the film industry doyens, the Kapoors, the theatre is a welcoming space that allows creativity to blossom and gives the Indian theatre culture a platform to connect with the rest of the world. Connected to the theatre is the Prithvi Café which was initially a basic eatery for drama students to catch a bite during their break.

Mumbai’s iconic oasis 

There are some establishments that have become a part of the fabric of Mumbai’s culture. These places make Mumbai what it is, and must be thought of whenever Mumbai comes to mind. Both Prithvi Theatre and Prithvi Café make it to this illustrious list. The Café owes its popularity to the theatre as it became the logical place to stop at for some snacks and chai before or after theatre performances.

While the Café was home to drama students during the 70s and 80s, the iconic eatery welcomes college students, budding writers, the youth, and intelligentsia of Mumbai today. In a world where debate and dissent are under attack, places like Prithvi Café offer patrons a safe space to voice out their opinions or even, just to sit and think as you sip their famous cutting chai.

Origins of Prithvi 

 Prithvi Theatre and Café were established in the 1970s but its theoretical foundations were set up decades before that. In the 1940s, the head of the Kapoor family, Prithviraj Kapoor, began his travelling theatre company. The Prithvi Theatre Company went on to produce and stage thousands of plays including Shakuntalam by Kalidas and original dramas like Deewar and Pathan.

Kapoor’s youngest son, Shashi Kapoor, met his future wife Jennifer Kendal during one of the tours of the Prithvi Theatre Company. Along with his love for her, their love for theatre and drama also blossomed. In 1972, the couple hired an architect to study the best theatre set-ups in Europe, and 1978 saw the founding of the Prithvi Theatre in Juhu, Mumbai.

Visiting the Café 

Situated in the theatre compound, Prithvi Café is best known for Gulzar’s favourite Suleimani chai, Irish coffee, parathas, and kheema pav. Catering to youngsters, their menu has expanded to include favourites like nachos and waffles. A small but well-stocked bookstore gives patrons the opportunity to grab a tome or two to enjoy with chai and snacks.

Canopied with bamboo stalks and lit up with fairy lights, Prithvi Café offers you an ambience that is welcoming, unpretentious, and inspiring in its simplicity. With seating space for about 90 people, the Café is spacious and generally boasts a vibrant and fun vibe. While it is always a good idea to stop by for a performance at the theatre, don’t think twice about heading to Juhu just for Prithvi Café – this bohemian oasis offers you enough reasons on its own.

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