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   It is several years that I have stepped into a cinema... (September 14, 1990)

It is several years that I have stepped into a cinema. But I have fond memories of giving to the cinema.

My favourite was metro, where Leo the Lion roared, and Esther Williams swam through 13 weeks of Bathing Beauty (at that time a recors), and the main features were generally proceded by Tom and Jerry cartoons and Fitzpatrick's travelogues. On Sunday s they used to have morning shows, and on Saturday mornings' they had the Metro Club, attended by young Salman Rushdie among other privileged children.

You could book your seats on the telephone, and Sunday evening, 6.30, the entire auditorium, except for the pits, was reserved for Metro's prmanent cusomers. A cousin of mine, Feroz Marzban, had this permanent facility, four stall seats every Sunday evening. He used to wear a double-breasted suit and go, and once, when he took me, though I did not have a suit and so could not wear one, he made me specially stitch a pair of black trousers.

Regal was my other favourite. It used to specialise in British films, as opposed to Hollywood: Margaret Lockwood, who recently passed away, Anna Neagle, Micheal Wilding, James Mason, a young Richard Attenborogh, Stewart Granger. But it also screened all the now classic humphery Bogart Lauren Bacall films, and the James Cagney, Richard Wildmark gangster films. Stanley's video shop has most of them; these days I borrow from there and view them.

Regal was the first cinema to be air-conditioned (probably) the first building in Bombay), the first to have an underground car-park, at a time when it was not compulsory for cinemas to have one. Now it is compulsory but most cinemas do not bother.

Eros had a screen curtain made of French lace and in the interval they used to project coloured lights into the auditorium. It had one restaurant, one soda-fountain, tall chocolate shakes in silver glasses, and Harry James and Betty Grable on the screen.

Both Excelsior and Empire had the cheap seats in the galleries - among the gods. You had to climb four floors to reach them, then you cat on rows of planks, like in a football stadium. But it did not matter, because the films were good: George Raft slouching under a felt, pirates in the Carribean ("Clear the decks for action, Captain Cook is coming to town," said one advertisement), Forever Amber, Duel In The Sun.

I must not forget Strand, though it came much later. And Sterling is practically brand new, the first part of the Tata Palace to be sold out. Now the rest of it has gone-to a German bank.

It was good going to the cinemas in those days. Partly because the cinemas were much better kept, partly because the films were good, but mainly because there was no video.

 
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