A few years back, Deepak Cinema was almost unrecognisable. An erstwhile landmark and one of the oldest cinema halls in Worli, it was rundown and screened Bhojpuri, Hindi and Marathi movies. In February 2014, however, the 20,000sqft theatre got a makeover: it cashed-in on its vintage value, and has since evolved into a multi-function space. Among other things, it now screens foreign films (they have tied up with Enlighten Film Society to form Matterden CFC), hosts events like Feminist Rani under their brand White Elephant Arena, and doubles up as a venue for birthday parties and mehendi functions during weddings. Punit Shah, the third generation owner of the cinema house, takes us through its history.
Did you know?
* Deepak Cinema is built on an ancestral property. By the late 1900s, the land was procured by Shah’s grandfather Tokershi Jivraj, but the structure was built around 1917. By 1926, it was ready to screen films. It was earlier called Saraswati Talkies. The name Deepak Talkies has been around since the ‘60s.
* The first film to be screened at the theatre was The General (1926), an American silent comedy.
* The word ‘Matterden’ is derived from the words ‘matter’ and ‘den’ which denote dark energy; CFC stands for Center for Creations.
* The walls are made of stone while teakwood and Mangalorean tiles were used for the roof. The renovation only made aesthetic changes in terms of polishing.
* Along with films, the theatre also hosted live acts and folk dance performances. Initially, there were no seats and people would sit on the floor, chairs or wooden benches to watch these performances.
* Deepak Talkies was a one-stop entertainment destination for everybody — the British to the mill workers, labourers and mill owners.
* Several films’ mahurat shots and premieres happened at Deepak Cinema. Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! (1994) was screened here for 30 weeks with the cast and crew visiting.
* Unlike other theatres, their café does not serve samosas. Instead, they have baked and steamed dishes like momos and pita bread with hummus and drinks like chillled coconut water. The idea was inspired by the coconut trees in the compound.
* Their screenings have no intervals.
* Unlike other cramped theatres, it has a spacious 120 ft frontage, which includes a garden.