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.🍹
Staircases: David & Company (1953)
1st Floor, Rivendell House, 2nd Dhobi Talao Lane, Dhobi Talao.
The Catholics of Dhobi Talao may have all ‘migrated to the suburbs’, yet David & Company continues to grow, diversifying their business of printing invitation cards to selling wedding gowns, christening outfits and religious goods.
The firm even wanted to buy the premises of the erstwhile Bastani & Co. on the ground floor, but seems to have settled for enclosing their existing balcony and the Art Deco grills that adorned it, on the first floor.
Proprietor: Paris Bakery (1955)
287, Dukargully, Dhobi Talao (presently Dr. C. H. Street).
In the heart of Dukargully (pig lane) is a bakery run by a vegetarian proprietor. Danesh Nejadkay fasts on several days of the week. He sips on rose flavoured water to see him through the bustle at the bakery. A picture of yogi Paramahansa Yogananda is stuck on the fridge. A quote by Swami Vivekananda is placed on the wall.
Indeed if we are to come up with a recipe for the Irani proprietors that run bakeries and cafes in Bombay it is this- one third spiritual- Meher Baba following, fasting, homeopathy taking- and two third gangsta– bike riding, chain wearing, physical fitness undertaking, lady charming.
In our next post we will share Mr. Nejadkay’s wisdom on biscuit eating.
Interiors: S. R. Viegas Pork Shop
Speedy Rosita Gonsalves may be found in bylanes of Dhobi Talao flirting with the proprietors of the pork shops that dominate the locality.
Wearing some lipstick and a sweatshirt, she ignores the other gents on the street- the owners of Irani cafés, the fathers at Sonapur Church- and sashays straight to Mr Viegas for some stock for her sorpotel.
Boundaries: Dhobi Ghat (1890-95)
Dhobiwada Road, Mahaluxmi.
Amongst the various professions in Bombay, dhobis or washermen hold the distinction of having the most city spaces named after them. Not only are the areas in which they operate called Dhobi Ghats, they can also claim Dhobi Talao, Dhobi Street and Dhobiwada Road.
Hersh Acharya masterfully captures a dhobi in the swing of things.