Imperial Cinema, Lamington Rd. 

15 November, 2018
Share Button

Facades: Imperial Cinema (1917)

Lamington Road, Near the Police Station. 

Imperial called the shots in the era of silent cinema so much so that when it opened on 7th April 1917, the seat of the cinema industry itself shifted to Lamington Road! Till then the adjacent Sandhurst Road held sway, with Bombay’s earliest cinemas appearing on the stretch. With the opening of Imperial, the action shifted to Lamington Road. Cinemas soon mushroomed in the area, our dynamic duo M. B. Bilimoria & B. D. Bharucha shifted their offices there, and reel and real life permeated so thoroughly that the scene on the street and on the screen were remarkably alike!

i. The Elephant Trail  

Imperial is built on the estate of elephants. First, at the side entrance a pair of adolescent elephants, learning to carry the weight of the world, will greet you ‘Welcome’; then at the other end of the plot, an adult elephant excited by your approach will raise his trunk to display his decorative howdah with ‘Wisdom Above Riches’ engraved. Around the corner are a pair of baby elephants guarding a gate, while an adult elephant engraved above is guarding them in turn.

ii. The Mangaldas Family

Elephants are indeed the symbol of the Mangaldas family, who owned the sprawling estate on which Imperial stands as well as the Bhangwadi Theatre not far from Edward Talkies. Headed by Sir Mangaldas Nathubhoy, a cotton mill magnate who belonged to the Kapol Bania community, the Mangaldas’ were one of Bombay’s leading business families.

iii. Laminated with Action 

Other than the genteel Mangaldas’, Lamington Road had all the action of the films showing at Imperial– two Pathans were hotly pursued by a crowd of a thousand people; an Irani tea shop keeper was lying in a pool of blood in his shop opposite the cinema; and pimps were offering ‘good looking European girls’ at Agripada.

It was time for Fearless Nadia a.k.a. Miss Frontier Mail to whip Lamington Road into shape.

A Guidebook to the Talkies of Bombay is a daring collaboration between The Bombay Canteen, Please See and Bombaywalla Historical Works.🍹

We are thrilled that our Guidebook has featured in this month’s
Architectural Digest.

Share Button

Edward Talkies, Dhobi Talao

9 November, 2018
Share Button

Edward Talkies (1933)

Kalbadevi Road, Dhobi Talao

Edward maybe a typical example of a theatre turned talkie, but the transition was anything but straightforward! Edward Theatre was turned into Alcazar Picture Palace and Victoria Cinema. It was briefly taken over by the ambitious Madan Theatres of Calcutta before it was rescued by our dynamic duo M. B. Bilimoria & B. D. Bharucha. Under Bilimoria & Bharucha’s management, it opened as Edward Talkies in July 1933, screening all kinds of ‘ jungle’ movies.

i. Out-Tarzan Tarzan

Edward Talkies opened with Tarzan the Ape Man a ‘giant romance of primitive life and unfettered love’ in which Tarzan lives by the law of the jungle and seizes what he adores. The theme proved so popular that several jungle serials were subsequently screened at Edward, some of which promised to ‘Out-Tarzan Tarzan’. In the thrilling Jungle Mystery two American adventurers find themselves caught in the midst of every conceivable animal from African lions and tigers to elephants, giraffes, leopards, hartebeests and more.

ii. The Elephant Trail

From Edward Talkies adventure north on Kalbadevi Road to hunt down the magnificent elephant of Bhangwadi Theatre. This long defunct theatre (located in an area which once had a host of shops selling the intoxicating beverage, Bhang) has only its striking façade to remind us of its heyday. Notice (and imbibe) the maxim ‘Wisdom Above Riches’ engraved on the elephant’s decorative howdah. Now get ready to meet six more elephants from the same family at our next talkie.

The team at The Bombay Canteen has seized what it adores- Sauza Gold Tequila, Smokey Single Malt, Pineapple, Honey Syrup- and created this concoction.
“Jungle juice poured in a monkey glass.
Disclaimer: Tropical ingredients might induce animal behaviour.”

A Guidebook to the Talkies of Bombay is a daring collaboration between The Bombay Canteen, Please See and Bombaywalla Historical Works.🍹

Share Button

Palace Talkies, Byculla

2 November, 2018
Share Button

Facades: Palace Talkies (1932)

Parel Road, Near Byculla Railway Station.

Designed as a talking picture palace, constructed at the cost of over a lakh and a half, and inaugurated by the mayor of Bombay on 2nd July 1932, Palace Talkies unabashedly announced that the talkies were here to stay in Bombay. Just the year before, India’s first talkie Alam Ara, had been released by Imperial Movi-tone studios in Bombay. Now with the opening of Palace, both Indian and international ‘All Talking, Singing & Dancing’ pictures could be screened at the state of the art talkie house, located near Byculla Railway Station.

i. Bilimoria & Bharucha

Palace Talkies was owned by the dynamic duo, Messrs. M. B. Bilimoria & B. D. Bharucha. The duo first met at the Parsi well at Churchgate; Bilimoria was an upcoming film distributor, Bharucha a chemist with Kemp & Co., fed-up with his job.

They decided to partner and form the All India Theatres Syndicate Limited, a company that would, in the span of a decade, manage many of the talkie houses across Bombay.

Bharucha lived at Palace Talkies itself, on the first floor of a wing of the spacious premises. Through a small bridge (now missing from the property), Bharucha could walk across to the auditorium equipped with the latest Western Electric Sound System. Musical comedies, with their gorgeous dance ensembles and tinkling musical numbers, drew packed audiences in Palace’s early years, with reruns of the hits showing during the Diwali and Easter holidays.

ii. A Regal Affair

Catering to the Easter audiences with plum and almond cakes was Regal Bakery, located on the ground floor of the Palace premises. Opened in the same year as the talkie house, Regal soon made the news for its fresh bakery products and keen prices. On your next visit to Palace Talkies, relive the ‘all-talking’ 1930s by taking a break at Regal for chai and iced cake.

Drawing on the plum flavours at Regal Bakery and the hit musical comedy “Whoopee”, that was screened at Palace Talkies in the year of its opening, The Bombay Canteen has created this zany cocktail.

Enjoy this post while listening to Makin’ Whoopee.

A Guidebook to the Talkies of Bombay is a daring collaboration between The Bombay Canteen, Please See and Bombaywalla Historical Works.🍹

Share Button

The Talkies of Bombay

24 October, 2018
Share Button

The Talkies of Bombay

“Screening one ‘All-talking dramatic hit’ after another, talkie houses took Bombay by storm in the 1930s. The latest Western Electric Sound Systems let audiences experience the thrills and chills of Frankenstein’s laboratory, as they screamed and squirmed in their rexine tip-up seats. Gone were the days of the silent pictures, where orchestras played in the pit to accompany the plot of a picture. Now every old theatre in Bombay was either shaping up with a sound system or shipping out to obscurity.”

We are thrilled to have collaborated with The Bombay Canteen on the 3rd Edition of their Cocktail Book, which doubles as a Guidebook to the Talkies of Bombay!

Join us for the Gala Launch of the Cocktail Book tonight at The Bombay Canteen or wait expectantly as we deliver a talkie to your inbox every week.

A daring collaboration with The Bombay Canteen and Please See.

Share Button

Karfule completes 80 years!

17 September, 2018
Share Button

Signage: Karfule (1938)

25 Sprott Road, Ballard Estate.

Karfule, Bombay’s most stylish service station, completes 80 years! Join us as we journey through the decades, from the day the foundation stone was laid for the structure to the opening ceremony of the station, right upto Wednesday 3rd October 2018, when the Sequeira family will celebrate 80 years of Karfule, recreating the menu and merriment of the original opening party!

Bombaywalla is proud to partner with Karfule for this special anniversary.

Share Button