Facades: Alfred Talkies
Junction of Grant Road and Falkland Road.
Alfred was a real second run house, screening pictures that had their first run at cinemas on Lamington Road but were far from done. At Alfred they would show for another few weeks, before being shifted to another talkie in a different part of the city. That way, pictures were available to Bombay’s public for over twenty weeks, so if you missed the premier at Imperial at Lamington Road, you only had to stroll down to Alfred at the corner of Grant Road.
i. Ladies Of Pleasure
Alfred like Edward had a long history, starting off as Ripon Theatre in the 1890s and turning into Alfred Theatre in the 1920s and Alfred Talkies by the 1930s. Notice how Ripon Theatre still holds court on the stained-glass panel of the building’s façade.
The building stood in the heart of Bombay’s theatre district, that attracted talent from across the globe. Talent of another kind also arrived and the area soon emerged as an international red- light district with Ripon Theatre selling tickets specially priced for prostitutes at 1 Rupee.
ii.. Noodles, Teeth, And Noodles Stuck In Teeth
Attending to the dramatis personae of the area were a string of Chinese dentists providing painless extractions, permanent fillings in silver, cement or gold, and magic tooth drops. Dr. Hsiao Y. Ting and Dr. (Miss) Stephie Chen’s daat ka davakhanas can still be found dotting the area. Dr. Hsiao’s father had migrated to Bombay in the 1940s, opening his clinic in this mini- Chinatown. Nearby on Sukhlaji Street you can still find a China Compound and China Building, with only one family (of expert noodle-makers) left.
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