Queen’s Road, Churchgate (presently Maharshi Karve Road).
Art Deco cinemas like Eros were the beaming symbols of Bombay’s modernity. The experience of arriving in an automobile for a night at the pictures, being seated in Eros’ dark blue Rexine seats, displaced older forms of public entertainment like the theatre, where early audiences were subject to battle scenes with uncooperative horses on stage and ill equipped actors.
At Eros, audiences in 1939, gazed at the suave Ronald Colman, whose ‘love making was as dangerous as his sword play’.
British Hotel Lane, Fort
Bandukwala Building is a wonderful example of a name typical to structures in the city. The most popular formula for naming was a cosmopolitan mix of a native proper name (in this case probably a surname Bandukwala) with a word in English that suggests a type of structure (Building).
The reasons for choosing Building over some of the other terms used to denote structures (Mansion, Villa, Lodge) is unclear, though the trends seem to suggest the favouring of alliterations.
It is a shame that tangles of wires mar the façade of Bandukwala Building.
Signage: Medows Street, Fort
(presently Nagindas Master Road)
Medows Street holds the dubious distinction of the most corrupted street name in the city. Named after General Sir William Medows, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Bombay from 1788-90, the street was locally referred to as the Ingrez or Angrezi Bazaar since it housed a profusion of European shops. By the 1860s ‘Medows’ had been distorted to ‘Medow’ and subsequently ‘Meadow’ and ‘Meadows’.
The correct address can be found on the signboard of the Commercial Watch Company.
Elphinstone Circle (1872)
Fort (presently Horniman Circle).
The Circle was named after Lord Elphinstone, Governor of Bombay from 1853-1860. An initial proposal to name the Circle after Queen Victoria was turned down in favour of the Governor. The Baghdadi Jewish merchant prince David Sassoon, who had donated Rs 50,000 towards the initial proposal, withdrew his funding on the selection of Elphinstone’s name over Victoria’s; giving us a sense of how the politics of naming worked in colonial Bombay.
The Arthur Crawford Municipal Market (1868)
(presently called Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Mandai), Junction of Hornby Road and Carnac Road (presently M. Khana Road).
Arthur Travers Crawford (1835-1911) had a sociable and controversial tenure as a civil servant in various parts of Western India, including as the first Municipal Commissioner of Bombay.
Notice the monogram ‘ATC’ on the clock tower.