Archives: Liberty Cinema’s Foundation Laying Ceremony (1947)
New Marine Lines.
Art Deco was undoubtedly Bombay’s national architectural style, flourishing in the 1930s and 40s and openly challenging with its bright colours and muscular motifs, the sombre colonial styles of Neo-Gothic and Indo-Saracenic.
But it was with the building of Liberty cinema, that we see a culmination of Art Deco’s engagement with Indian nationalism. The cinema’s foundation laying ceremony was held in 1947, its name reflecting the state of the new nation, and it opened in 1949, as a space where only Hindi films would be screened.
New Marine Lines came to house the city’s most powerful expression of its modernity, cosmopolitanism and nationalism.
Photo courtesy Mr. Nazir Hoosein.
Motifs: Lakshmi Building (1938)
Pherozeshah Mehta Road, Fort.
Monkeys weren’t the only ones enjoying a spot in the sun in the 1930s, elephants too were making their mark in the emerging and exciting landscape of Art Deco in Bombay.
Formerly, in Bombay’s grand Neo-Gothic buildings animals featured amid a host of plants, as densely ornamented flora and fauna. One had to strain and train the eye to locate each individual specimen.
With the coming of Art Deco in the 1930s, animals were freed and enjoyed a life of their own. They appeared muscular yet playful, echoing the current aesthetic, yet on their own terms, trunks and tails.
Photo by Rahul Patel.
Staircases: Liberty (1949)
New Marine Lines.
The opening of the great cinemas Regal in 1933 and Liberty in 1949, can neatly mark the age of Art Deco in Bombay.
During this period, Art Deco transformed the cityscape with its streamlined forms, colourful facades and iconography of speed and travel.
Hashim Badani gives Liberty a good dekho.
Motifs: New India Assurance Building (1936)
Esplanade Road, Fort (presently Mahatma Gandhi Road).
Move over the pale, frail labourers depicted on the marble reliefs of Bombay’s Neo-Gothic structures.
Feast on the fearful symmetry of the human form, framed in the city’s Art Deco buildings.
Hashim Badani captures a lean, mean Indian man and his machine.
Boundary: Resham Bhavan
Church Gate Street (presently Veer Nariman Road).
With the emergence of residential and commercial buildings in the Art Deco style in Bombay in the 1930s and 1940s, the practices of naming them took a curious turn.
The well established formula for naming- a cosmopolitan mix of a native proper name (Bandukwala) with a word in English that suggests a type of structure (Building) was revised to a local mix of a native proper/ name (Resham, Kapoor) with a native name that suggests a type of structure (Bhavan, Mahal).
Here, the name Resham (silk), was chosen since the building was owned by and housed the offices of the Synthetic & Art Silk Mills’ Research Association (Sasmira).
Boundary walls like these, designed in the style of the structures they surround, have recently been demolished in the Art Deco precinct of Marine Drive.