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Tale of four talkies

A view of Majestic cinema hall Photo Sushil Kumar Verma

A view of Majestic cinema hall Photo Sushil Kumar Verma   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

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Once upon a time Chandni Chowk offered a soothing walk on moonlit nights and its cinema halls provided a window to celluloid dreams

The secularists cannot stop raving about Chandni Chowk. With its Digamber Jain temple, Gauri Shanker Mandir, Sisganj Gurdwara, Fatehpuri Masjid and a church they find it a microcosm of India. Those inclined to history refer to Lal Quila, scores of havelis and sarais. The city planners talk of its kuchas and katras. Then there are those who tell you about the Moonlit Street’s tryst with cine dreams, its four halls, each as majestic as the other. The old-timers talk of Moti and its special shows of Hollywood films. Some recall cinema of Guru Dutt and Bimal Roy; the middle aged men go nostalgic talking of Amitabh Bachchan’s films ranging from Desh Premi to Coolie. The old timers scoff at this bout of nostalgia, reserving this wistfulness for Raj Kapoor’s visits to Moti

Today though Moti is a shadow of the past. Indeed with its Bhojpuri staple diet it stays in shadows of mainstream cinema.

Next door to Moti has stood Kumar. For years the favourite hang out for working class men, helpers at shops in the area, daily wage earners, etc. They filled the stalls of Kumar, night show was a particular favourite. Their patronage meant films like Qaidi, Himmatwala and Hoshiyar had a great run here. Kumar fell silent more than a decade ago only to come back as Abhishek cineplex.

A few steps from here stood Majestic, stylish and royal. Many watched ‘Chhabees Janvary ki parade’ from here. Others queued up to see films like Dus Numbari and Deewar. When the Amitabh Bachchan-Shashi Kapoor starrer had run its course elsewhere, it still played here. Young men would say, “Tumhare paas maa hai. Mere paas maa aur Majestic hai.”

A little removed from Phawwara was Jubilee, first a family entertainer, then like Kumar it catered to bachelors and their cine fantasies.

One by one Kumar, Majestic and Jubilee fell silent, denying Chandni Chowk of its tryst with cinema. Moti? Robbed of its sheen, its the last cry of an era long gone.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 10:29:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/tale-of-four-talkies/article8189015.ece

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