“In the 100 years of Indian cinema, Bombay has played a central role not only as a backdrop, but also as a character,” said Rafique Baghdadi, film critic and historian, while speaking at the Bombay Local History Society’s seminar on 100 years of Indian Cinema at St Xavier’s College on Saturday.
Baghdadi described how the city formed the cradle of Indian cinema with the first Indian feature film, Raja Harishchandra (1913) directed and produced by Dadasaheb Phalke, shown at Olympia Theatre, Grant Road.
However, over the years Mumbai has lost several landmarks of cinema such as Majestic cinema, which screened the first Indian talkie Alam Ara, and other theatres.
Film studies professor Narendra Panjwani stressed that it was time there was a film museum in Mumbai, the home of Indian cinema.
Referring to Kedar Kapoor’s Miss Coca Cola (1955), Panjwani said, “These films exist in the records, but copies are not available anywhere”.
Writer Sidharth Bhatia presented a slide show of film posters and stills from iconic films such as Taxi Driver, Shri 420, Deewar, Amar Akbar Anthony, Slumdog Millionaire and Dhobi Ghat to showcase how Bombay was represented in Indian cinema.
Answering a query on whether Bombay as a story was over, Bhatia said, “Whenever an Indian film showed a city, the default place was Bombay. Nowadays, fewer stories are being made in Bombay. I hope filmmakers continue making Bombay-centric films, with newer ways of looking at the city.”