Bombay Matinee

Sterling, Regal, Eros and Metro where once Bombay's shining beacons of filmdom, Bombays a-list cinemas. Most people who know Bombay might remember the countless film-loving denizens of the city lining up outside the ticket counters, while the closet black-ticketeers desperately peddled their prized commodity in the parking lots.
And On any given Friday these four cinemas turned into Bombay's Colliseums where the faith of films was ultimately decided, a thumbs up or a thumbs down.
They became as much of a part of Bombay as Victoria Terminus or The Gateway of India or Colaba Causeway or Bandra's Bandstand.

Things Change, People Change...
In the modern age of large multiplex cinema, these single screen wonders are but forgotten.
The Maharashtra state goverment has granted Multiplex a three year tax break to promote such ventures. Multiplex give people more choice and therefore their profit depends very little on the films they show and it's possible for them to cycle the films more and the end result being that that films can be shown to larger audience in a shorter time span.

Single screens on the other hand depend very much on the film they show and all thier profits and margins depend on the same.Therefore many of them find it hard to compete with the larger more organised, snazzy multiplexes.

Already The Metro is being and cleared and being turned into a Mulitplex.

Vintage postcard view of the palatial Metro Cinema in Bombay

The Art Deco cinema opened on June 8, 1938, and initially exhibited movies made by MGM. The interior, floors, walls, ceilings as well as the furniture, was in shades of red and pink. The marble foyer and staircases led up to murals executed by students of the J. J. School of Arts, under the director Charles Gerard.
- source Bombay - the City Withen

My dad remembers watching the premiere of Star Wars at Regal, so many years ago and the how unmaginable it all looked.
Cinema in India is more than a roll of celluloid, it's a vicarious passion for the new, colourful, captivating, loud and the bold and these cinema's the medium for this passion.

The Light at the end of the tunnel...

All is not lost, these cinemas still could re-invent themselves. May be they could show art-house or foriegn films or think of new and more inovative ways of attracting people. I remember reading somewhere that Dadar's Plaza served a lunch buffet with their matinee.

But as the trite showbiz phrase goes "The show must go on".

If you want to read some past Bombay post you can get your hands on these-

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