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A Second life

Sitara Studio, where Marathi talk shows and ads are shot, held its first music event a week ago. It is among many venues that have evolved over the past year to cater to burgeoning demand for cutting-edge culture, says Humaira Ansari.

mumbai Updated: Oct 07, 2012 00:52 IST
Hindustan Times

Sitara Studios, Dadar; founded in 1995

Sitara Studio, where Marathi talk shows and ads are shot, held its first music event a week ago. It is among many venues that have evolved over the past year to cater to burgeoning demand for cutting-edge culture, says Humaira Ansari.


The studio resided in a 3,500-sq-ft split-level warehouse. The 1,800-sq-ft- lower part, the main hall, was air-conditioned and studio lights hung on its 20-foot-high ceiling.

Function: The studio was and continues to be a popular place for Marathi television and films shoots, partly because of its location in the Maharashtrian heartland of Dadar. Before 1995, it was known as Natya Sampada and was used as a rehearsal hall for Marathi theatre artistes, and was especially active in the 1960s.

Events: Actors such as Sanjeev Kumar rehearsed here for plays, says the current manager, Nikhil Hemrajani. Bal Thackeray and the late state chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh have also visited the studio to participate in Marathi talk shows.


To achieve a grungy warehouse look, the fading interiors have been retained. The console room and resting room for artistes, both on the lower level, will be upgraded.

Function: The main revenue will continue to come from shoots, but it will now also host gigs, art and photography exhibitions and film festivals. The owners are setting up a 900-sq-ft room on its mezzanine floor in which musicians can practise. It will have a small stage, microphones and amplifiers.

Events: On September 30, the studio hosted its first event, Ctrl+Alt+Del, a crowd-funded concert at which ten indie bands played to a crowd about 350 people.

Coming up: From October onwards, the studio will host a monthly underground gig, B69, which used to take place in a run-down garage in Andheri (East).

Edward Theatre, Kalbadevi; founded in the mid-1800s


There appears to be no record of who designed or built the 20,000-sq-ft theatre. Except for the wooden chairs that have replaced benches, over the years few structural alterations have been made to its white and pastel blue interiors, embellished by fading gold gilding. The two VIP boxes on each side, three tiers of seating and an orchestra pit in front of the stage remain intact.

Function: It was initially a popular venue for Gujarati and Parsi plays. Starting in the late 1950s, the theatre also started screening Hindi movies, such as Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa, and reruns of American shows, such as Captain Marvel and Spy Smashers. In the 1970s, it began screening reruns of racy, old Hindi movies.

Events: Mahatma Gandhi gave an underground speech at Edward Theatre, according to its co-owner, Fred Poonawala.


The owner plans to use revenue from cultural events to upgrade the theatre without altering its interiors. He hopes to eventually air-condition the theatre.

Function: It continues to show reruns of old and B-grade Hindi movies. But since August last year, the theatre began hosting film screenings, b-boying championships and other events.

Events: In February, Light Surgeons, a British multi-media production company, played live music while screening Super Everything, a film shot in Malaysia that explores global deforestation, industrialisation and consumer culture.
In September, 300 street dancers from Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai battled for the UK b-boying Championship, which, contrary to its name, is actually a pan-Indian event.

Coming up: In November, the Taj Enlighten Film Society will return with the second edition of the Naya Film Festival, which will showcase world cinema, documentaries and short films.

Liberty Cinema, New Marine Lines; founded in 1949


This art-deco style theatre had Canadian cedar and Burmese teak wooden interiors, which remain unchanged as do its red-carpeted hallway and opulent stairwell.

Function: In 1947, when other south Mumbai theatres such as Regal and Eros took pride in screening English movies, Liberty Cinema was built by Habib Hoosein, the current owner’s father, to show Hindi films. Movies such as V Shantaram’s Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje (1955) and Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957) ran successfully here.

Events: On March 21, 1949, Liberty Cinema opened with a premiere of Mehboob Khan’s Andaz, starring Raj Kapoor, Nargis and Dilip Kumar.


Even though the state’s entertainment tax and the multiplex boom make running the place a challenge, the owner, Nazir Hoosein, wants to uprade the place.

Function: It continues to show new Hindi films. From June, the theatre has also been hosting film festivals, plays, press conferences and gigs.

Events: In September, Only Much Louder, a music event company, organised Loudest Day of the Year

In June, Indian rapper Tanmay Bahulikar, aka microphon3, performed here.

In June, Alliance Française de Bombay hosted a two-day film festival, including a tour of the cinema by Hoosein.

Coming up: Today, the theatre will host its first play, The Class Act, directed by Meherzad Patel. From October 19 onwards, it will screen one movie a day as part of the Mumbai International Film Festival.

In November, it will show Fearless Nadia as part of a special four-month long Indo-Australian cultural festival.

First Published: Oct 07, 2012 00:48 IST