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A pond ran through it

There was a time when residents of Juhu would wait eagerly for the monsoon to end, not because they were tired of the water-logging as they are now, but because they wanted to go fishing behind Chandan cinema.

mumbai Updated: Nov 15, 2009 01:08 IST
Lalita Iyer

There was a time when residents of Juhu would wait eagerly for the monsoon to end, not because they were tired of the water-logging as they are now, but because they wanted to go fishing behind Chandan cinema. Yes, the area where the PVR cinema complex and the Dynamix mall stand now, on J M Marg, JVPD scheme, was once a fishing pond.

“It was just 10 years ago, but so much has changed since then,” says Adolf D’Souza, the Juhu corporator and founder of the Juhu Citizens’ Committee, who has been actively involved in civic and planning issues in the area. “Earlier, even buses wouldn’t go through this route, and now suddenly, we have parking issues,” he remarks.

Which is why, perhaps, it’s dichotomous to have a Naturopathy Centre next door to PVR — a place where colonic irrigation was practised much before it became fashionable. Or the verdant Gandhi Shikshan Bhavan, a teacher-training institute behind Chandan, leading upto Juhu’s military camp.

Meanwhile, Chandan cinema next door has had a makeover and is superficially ready to take on the 75-rupee popcorn at the multiplex next door. With quite a few takers for Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani and Jail, the movies currently playing there, it looks like it’s coping well.

Compared to its counterparts in Andheri, like Fame Adlabs, Fun Republic or even Cinemax, the PVR multiplex has a tad more ambience. It’s just the right size, it doesn’t have that manic multiplex vibe, it’s off the main road, and the cinemas are, well, just cosier.

It’s also where connoisseurs of world cinema like Sonya Dutta Chowdhury (a Juhu resident since 1999) can catch Caramel, a mildly feminist Lebanese comedy, slated to be one of the biggest Arabic language hits in Europe.

Mall over matter

“It’s a luxury to live in Bombay and walk to a movie,” she says. “Earlier, for Juhu, the movie experience started and ended at Chandan, and that offered only the latest blockbuster. Now PVR offers you five films at a time. For a movie lover, that’s a huge bonus. Of course, the price we to have to pay is traffic,” she laments.

Juhu is still cut off from other malls, so the Dynamix mall does come as a boon. “It’s not a hangout mall, unlike an Infinity or an Inorbit, but it has the essentials,” she says.

With a Crossword, a M.A.C counter, a Shopper’s Stop, a Mother Care, a Café Bistro and most big clothing brands, it is pretty well stacked — except parking space, which could take you a good half hour to find.

In 2006, Croma, the specialist electronics retail chain, set up its first, sprawling 20,000 sq ft store just a few feet away from PVR, opposite the Utpal Sanghavi school. So Juhu residents now have a great electronics shopping experience too. With 6,000 products to choose from —laptops to 50-inch plasma TVs, from gaming consoles to dishwashers —Juhu residents are having a tough time not buying what they don’t need.

Even the Iskon temple, further up from Chandan, towards Juhu Church, now has banquet halls for weddings, restaurants and residencies. “The road however, is as narrow as it was,” says D’Souza. He adds, “The problem with development is that nothing adheres to the original plan.

For example, PVR comes under R1 residencies which, according to the ’70s plan, does not allow room for large shopping complexes (only schools, playgrounds and small shops, unlike R2 residencies which allow for malls and shops the scale of Croma)

Alleges D’Souza, “The promises of introducing more ‘pay and park’ slots have not been adhered to by the mall owners, people are parking on the road and there is chaos all around. People are grumbling — but they still love the multiplex.”

Meanwhile, shows for Michael Jackson’s This Is It are still houseful at PVR. And property rates which were a mere Rs 5,000-6,000 per sq ft in the year 2000 have now reached dizzying heights of Rs 20,000 a sq foot. Sadly, no one seems to be missing the fish.

A weekly column that looks at how a pioneering or iconic structure has changed the face of a locality