Lost in time and soaked from its leakages, the Edward theatre of Mumbai (India), stands as a remembrance of a landscape in decadence; a city of colonial architecture, walking neighbourhoods where cars are rare, and fantasy-like films screened on Saturday afternoons.
On the year India celebrates Bollywood’s 100th anniversary, it seems clear the film industry, together with their temples, have greatly changed.
Since Raja Harishchandra (1913), was released, not only the mythology and aesthetics on the screen have shifted; from the Mughal Empire, portrayed in Anarkali (1953), to the contemporary story about a gym-fit looking cop fighting the bad guys (Dabang, 2010). Also the physical space of cinemas (like in many other countries) have experienced a radical change.
The Edward Theatre, once a dream space for performing theatre, then shifting to cinema, has been replaced today by the mirage of the shopping mall, where multiplex cinemas reign from the top of their infinite luminescence of brands and effortless escalators.
That’s why, today, places like the Edward are only sustainable by the magic of old cinema and the creativity of their owners. Impossible to acquire new films due to its prohibitive fees, the combination of lowest prices and not so cheap European screenings have saved this single screen from fading away under real estate slaughter.
The majority of its audience are the humble, otherwise condemned to watch TV, and the others, the young local and educated, who most of them acknowledge the importance of keeping spaces like the Edward, which help the art Deco theatre breath today.
But only until the façade falls apart, or the Municipal Corporation awakens and acknowledges this sanctuary as a living piece of its city heritage and history, the Edward will keep it’s screening of films like Anarkali (1953), which was recently commemorated in a 20 foot mural in Bandra, Mumbai, by a group of young local artists. The same ones that seem to understand what is all about, while the municipality is constantly striving to pocket quick rupees for building the next temple of the ethereal, embodied in another shiny mall.
Film edited by Kiko.