Every year thousands of people flock to Mumbai to get a glimpse of their favourite filmstars. But that is real life.
On Wednesday evening, a group of 40 Mumbaiites gathered to explore the city’s most iconic cinema houses, which have captured these stars in reel life for over a century.
The walk was organised a part of the Epic Channel heritage walks section of the Hindustan Times Kala
Ghoda Arts Festival, and was conducted by conservation architect Kruti Garg.
It started at the oldest theatre in the Fort area, Capitol Cinema near CST, and ended at the Eros theatre opposite Churchgate station.
Along the way, the group halted at New Empire and New Excelsior, and Garg took a moment to talk about Sterling Cinema at Azad Maidan, which was set up in the 1960s.
“Most of these legendary buildings started out as theatres where live performances would be stage. After the introduction of moving pictures, they places gradually transformed into cinema houses,” said Garg.
“Sterling, meanwhile, was the first theatre to introduce caramel popcorn and Dolby digital sound in Mumbai.”
Eros and Regal were the first to introduce multi-use of their space, in the form of retail and eateries fused with the cinematic experience — in a time before the multiplex.
“There are so many fascinating things to find out about Mumbai. I’m not a movie buff but it was the rich history of cinema that drew me towards participating in this walk,” said participant Hillary Newn, 59, a retired trader and resident of Colaba.
“It was an enlightening experience to look back at a different era altogether,” added Ashwin Nagpal, 42, a filmmaker and photographer from Churchgate.
“The walk has inspired me so much that I am now flirting with the idea of making a documentary on the city’s cinema houses.”