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Reeling in the shadows: Meet the last projectionists of Mumbai

Revisit the Art Deco theatres of the city and learn more the men behind the spinning film reels, through a documentary about them.

mumbai Updated: Mar 09, 2018 22:50 IST
Anesha George
Anesha George
Hindustan Times
Film reels,Single-screen theatre,Art-deco theatres
The documentary revisits the men who work at single-screen theatres, in a profession fast fading because of digitisation.

Do you remember the last time you noticed the silhouette of a mysterious man from the only window streaming light in a darkened cinema hall? Do you even remember the last time you went to a single-screen theatre? Probably not.

But you can now revisit the celebrated Art Deco theatres of Mumbai and the last few film projectionists via the documentary, Projectionists: The men in the shadows, as a part of the web series, 101 Traces.

“As a kid, I used to go to the movies and wonder who the magician behind the lights was. That memory stayed with me and I wanted to showcase the profession that’s fading away because of digitisation. They needed to come into the limelight,” says Zulfakar Sadriwala, 25, the director of the documentary.

The research and planning went on for about three months and the eight and half minute film was completed and released in November on the 101india website.

Sadriwala recalls how the course of shooting and talking to projectionists threw up a lot of interesting stories and anecdotes.

“One of the guys who works at Liberty cinema, told me about his long cherished desire to be a filmmaker. He even mimicked actors, especially delivering dialogues in Shatrughan Sinha’s characteristic style. After speaking to him I realised that if you really want to learn the art of cinema, you should meet the men on the fringes of film making because they are the ones watching every film closely and repeatedly,” he says.

The web series, 101 Traces, launched two years ago, looks at the last of anything: ethnic communities, folk craftsmen, disappearing trades, forgotten people.

“We have received overwhelming feedback through comments on the website and have had mails written to us specifically about this series, not just from here but a global audience. I think it is well received because it celebrates diversity and is nostalgic,” says Cyrus Oshidar, managing director, 101india.com.

First Published: Mar 09, 2018 22:07 IST