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Flashback: Mumbai’s Iconic Single Screen Cinemas

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Flashback: Mumbai’s Iconic Single Screen Cinemas

As New Excelsior returns in a new avatar, we look at Mumbai’s old single screen theatres still standing.

Multiplexes are taking over. Films are specifically being made for the multiplex audience. However, there are a bunch of old-school single screen theatres that are still putting up a strong fight and standing tall. Most of them are situated across the lengths and breadths of South Mumbai. And last month, filmmaker Subhash Ghai’s company Mukta A2 Cinemas renovated and reopened New Excelsior for the city’s audience.

Let’s look at some of the most-loved single screen theatres in Mumbai that will take you down the memory lane.

1. New Excelsior, Fort

Three names and several rounds of renovations later, Subhash Ghai’s company Mukta A2 Cinemas finally revamped and reopened the iconic theatre for cinemagoers in the city. Opened in 1887 as Novelty, the movie hall was renamed Excelsior in 1909, followed by another facelift in 1975 (then renamed to New Excelsior). Mukta A2 Cinemas chain took over the project and has now reopened the theatre as New Excelsior Mukta A2 Cinemas.

2. Liberty Cinema, Marine Lines

Built in India’s year of Independence, there could be no more befitting name for this theatre but Liberty. It was established by Habib Hoosein and is now run by his son, Nazir Hoosein. The theatre also stands tall as one of the iconic art-deco buildings in the city. “Back in the ’50s and the ’60s, almost every film used to host its premiere at Liberty. We used to post police barricades. Sometimes, the crowds would reach up to Marine Drive. The crowd would go mad seeing the stars. Police at times would also resort to lathi charges,” says Hoosein. Tickets used to be priced between Rs 1 and Rs 2 back then. They now cost Rs 50 to Rs 100.

3. Eros, Churchgate

It’s almost impossible to miss the imposing façade of this cinema hall as you step outside Churchgate station. It served as a mall back in its heydays. The building, built in 1938, housed the theatre, shops, offices as well as a ballroom. Today, the theatre is still popular among college-goers. Tickets are priced between Rs 100 and Rs 150.

4. Regal, Colaba

Located at Colaba Causeway, this popular art-deco style theatre is still as popular among theatregoers as it was back in its glory days. Built in 1938, it holds two records: it was the first art-deco cinema hall in the city, and was the first air-conditioned theatre in the country. Tickets are priced between Rs 100 and Rs 150.

5. Bharatmata, Parel

Established in 1940, this theatre from the British era serves as one of the most important theatres for Marathi cinema today. Several Marathi productions still host their premiere shows at Bharatmata. “We started digital projection in 2011. Every month, at least a couple of Marathi movies premiere here,” says Kapil Hopatkar, owner of the theatre.

6. Imperial Cinema, Lamington Road

It’s impossible to reach them or contact them for any details. They prefer to stay non-descript. This grand theatre used to once upon a time host live orchestra performances. However, you will only chance upon Bhojpuri flicks now. Tickets are priced between Rs 35 and Rs 40.

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Arundhati Chatterjee is a part-time writer, full-time dreamer. Hoards fountain pens, listens to The Beatles, eats multiple meals and yawns too often. Follow her @TheBongBox

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