Friday, September 29, 2006
Navarathri(nine auspicious nights) has arrived.On the first day after Amavasya(new moon) with the completion of the Pitrupaksha(sraddha for ancestors) period,starts the festival of nine nights.Eagerly awaited by children and women. And men too. The festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil. The killing of the buffalo-headed demon Mahisasura by Durga(Shakthi). Hence Shakthi is worshipped during this period. Not Durga alone but Saraswati and Laksmi as well.Lakshmi on the first three days,Durga on the next three days and Saraswati on the last three days. This reminds me of the Mahalakshmi Temple at Mumbai where in the main sanctum sanctorum there are three idols.Mahalakshmi in the centre flanked by Parvati on one side and Saraswati on the other. These three are not different Devis but one Devi worshipped in three different forms or aspects. In the famous Mookambikai Temple in Kerala,the same idol is dressed up differently every eight hours throughout the year as Saraswati,Lakshmi and Parvati.The triumvirate so to say,the consorts of Brahma,Vishnu and Siva. On the ninth day,Ayudha(weapons) Pooja is performed. Saraswati is worshipped and it is also the day when tools and instruments are placed before the Goddess and allowed to remain so till the next day which is Vijaya Dasami.The tenth day is a very auspicious day for commencement of all good activities.
Referred to as Navarathri and Dassera throughout India,it is one of the most popular festivals combining worship with fun and social interaction .In Bengal these nine nights resound with devotion and dedication to Goddess Durga. In the 16th century a well-to-do landlord Kans Narayan initiated the performance of Durga Puja in Bengal.The various forms of Durga are worshipped with their respective yantras.Barley is sown in homes as a symbol of the creative power of the mother Goddess.Traditionally,little girls are symbolically worshipped on the ashtami(eighth) day,in recognition of the importance of of Shakthi or feminine force. In Mysore,Dussehra celebrations are huge and supported by the Maharaja .In the North it is celebrated with enactments of Ramleela and the burning of the effigy of Ravan on the 10th day symbolising the triumph of good over evil.The Lav-Kush Ramlila committee which has organised Ramlila at the Ramlila grounds all these years will show live 30 minutes clip on the internet for all the ten days.There are more than 350 Ramlilas organised in delhi alone.They cost anywhere between a few lakhs to a crore. The idols of the Goddess Shakthi are immersed in water on the 10th day. In Gujerat it is the very colourful garbha and dandiya that dominate the festival period till the wee hours of the morning.In Maharashtra women form a circle and sing songs around the drawing of an elephant.This traditional folk dance called 'Bhondala' is also known as 'Hadga'.
In Tamil Nadu, there is a 500 years tradition of celebrating the display or "kolu"(also spelt golu) festival.This can be traced back to the Vijayanagar kings and the royal families of Thanjavur and Pudukottai. In this festival,in every home, dolls are arranged on steps in the form of a staircase.These steps or "padis" are odd in number-7 or 9 or 11.Stacked up in 'trunk pottis' and put aside in the loft,these fascinating dolls emerge once a year to the glee of all agegroups alike.They are carefully dusted,cleaned and in some cases even painted. Passed on from generation to generation,these dolls become alive for these nine nights.The children put in a lot of efforts to make some special sets.Waterfalls or fountain. (Starting from a kalasa(pot) in the centre on the first step,dolls of gods and goddesses are arranged.These are made of wood.stone,paper mache or ceramic. There are sets or themes which are also arranged.The traditional lamp(kuthivilakku) is lit and rangoli(kolam) is drawn on the floor. In our younger days,the sets were those of a brahmotsavam or garudotsavam(special annual festivals) in a vishnu temple,the crowning of lord rama,the potbellied smiling chettiar and even the laughing buddha,the marriage of meenakshi to sundreshwar(meenakshi kalyanam)the message of the gita or some such religious/mythological background.Also,a pair of wooden dolls(a boy and a girl) called marapaachi is gifted by the parents to the daughter at the time of marriage and she is expected to continue the tradition of kolu with this "joda".As times changed,the subjects of these sets also underwent transformation.Marriage preocessions,parks,cricket match,,zoos etc gained popularity. Like in Bihar where Lalu dolls are a hit,in the South this year President Kalam has become a craze.The 'missile man' is shown surrounded by missiles.Or firing missiles and igniting the minds of the youth. And it costs Rs 450/set.Though costlier than the Lalu set,Kalam has ignited the minds of the kolu buffs and their response is immense.Not very far behind in popularity is Chief Minister Karunanidhi.The people are happy with him because he is keeping his election promises.Rice at rs 2/kg and free colour tv sets for the poor.Sets of Karunanidhi are flying off the shelves.
This is a woman's only function.Invitations are sent both by word of mouth as well as by invitation cards saying Mrs So and So invites Mrs So and So for 'Haldi Kumkum' between 7pm and 9 pm. At the end of the evening,an aarti is done and "sundal" specially made for the occasion is distributed and as the lady guest bids goodbye she is given a "taamboolam". consisting of a blousepiece,betel-leaves and supari,a comb,a mirror and two small dabbas containing haldi and kumkum both known for their auspiciousness. On the ninth night after the pooja and distribution of sweets,the dolls are put to sleep.The next morning they go back to their abode- the trunk potti. Awaiting to be woken up before the next navarathri.
Interestingly, the tradition of the festival of dolls is prevalent in Sri Lanka and Japan as well.The Japanese call it "Hina Matsuri"(the doll festival").It is a girl's festival celebrated on 3rd March every year .The girls have a party when sweet mild rice wine and rice cakes are distributed.The dolls are figures of Japanese court personages.Starting with the Emperor and the Empress.
Like in Ganeshotsav in Maharashtra where sarvajanik(common) pandals are quite popular, "community kolus" have become very common in Tamil Nadu among those who are interested but do not have the wherewithal.They come together cutting across caste and community and economically manage the "kolu festival". Even Muslims participate in "kolu" and dandiya/garbha.
Our family has a temple worship every year on the third night at the Sri Varadarajaswamy Temple at Kancheepuram. We have been sponsoring this festival for the last thirty years and enjoy the permanent rights of doing so. I have attended the function every year from its inception save on one or two occasions. We used to celebrate the kolu every year for many years at our home.This year, I happened to be in Bangalore on the fourth day and enjoyed the kolu organised by s's sister. I took some pictures on this occasion which I have featured in this blogposting. Kolu brings with it many happy memories.The mix of devotion and fellowship has its unique charm. Needless to say,besides the excitement of watching the individual dolls and other sets,the 'sundal' and sweets prepared every evening can make even the diehard's mouth salivate.
The great goal of life according to Vedanta is the attainment of bliss by knowing the self.This spiritual emancipation is known as God realisation or moksha. Our ancient sages have suggested various techniques to achieve this goal. To put it simply, it is worship for obtaining divine grace.
An interesting topic came up for discussion the other day. It is a woman's festival,the female embodiment of the Supreme is worshipped .But then lot of injustices are done to the girl child,dowry and other pernicious practices are rampant and even 'sati' in some places. Isn't this an anachronism,someone asked. Well he is right. We have many contradictions in our religion, nay way of life .But the best part of it is that inspite of these socalled aberrations we pursue our goal because of our strong faith in our 'sanatana dharma'.May Mother goddess bestow us with wealth,prosperity and knowledge and protect us from all evil.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
early last week,i was in delhi for two days.on the second day, i found some spare time and utilised it to travel in the metro about which i had heard a lot of praise. i must admit that i was very impressed with everything. the stations were spic and span(no eatables are allowed),the security very alert,the ticketing all done electronically, very user- friendly and fast. the compartments were absolutely clean.each train has four coaches with a seating capacity of 240 seats and 300 passengers can stand in.all the four coaches are interconnected. a temperature of about 27 deg celsius was maintained.the acceleration and deceleration was high, the doors closed automatically. there is no place for keeping any luggage though.there is a talk-back speaker system for security.
i learnt that about 63 km or so has now been covered by the delhi metro,which includes underground,groundlevel as well as elevated railtravel. the running speed is about 50mph. the stations are very spacious and security guards are helpful.tickets are not very expensive.there are escalators in the stations for fast and convenient entry and exit.there are no graffitis on the walls anywhere! stations have carparking lots and shopping complexes. atms,food outlets,coffee shops etc. with 2 million commuters travelling every day, this 2 billion euro project has become viable after about four years.
delhi metro corporation limited was specifically formed to setup and run the metro. in dec 2002,the first phase became operational. for phase 2 covering 77 kms,work is in progress and is expected to be completed by 2010.hyundai motor is in the race for supplying 400 trains for a value of about rs 2300 crores.on completion,air travellers can reach the indira gandhi international airport in 16 minutes from new delhi station.
the metro in delhi is operational between 6am and 10 pm and at a frequency of 4 minutes at peak time.the stoppage time at each station is about 20 seconds.i travelled patel chowk to kashmere gate and from there to indralok and returned by the same route.the system map,ticket and fare information are prominently displayed.there are special lifts for senior citizens and the disabled.just like in london you have the red line,blue line and yellow lines. shahdara-rithala(22km) is the red line. vishvavidyalaya-central secretariat(11kms) is the yellow line and indraprastha- dwarkasubcity(29km) is the blue line.public announcements are clear and easy to understand. for cities like chennai,kolkata,bangalore, mumbai and delhi having huge populations, a metro is a must and must be factored into public tranportation systems and land-use planning. it is energy-efficient,non-polluting and definitely more reliable than land-based transport and can complement it for mass rapid transport.
dmrc has done a great job.by adopting world-class technologies in construction,erection and maintenance of a mass transport system, they have made the delhi metro as good as anywhere else in the world.the delhiites are justifiably proud of their metro. for them it is a dream come true.it saves time,is comfortable and is safe. and one can see that in the efforts they make to keep it clean .
e.sreedharan,73,the grand old man of indian railways,and the architect of konkan railways, has again proved that we are capable of creating engineering marvels.sometime back united states' engineering news featured him and branded him as the person who can 'knock down' any hurdle. prince charles visited the delhi metro in october 2003 and was full of praise for the magnificent work done by the indian engineers.
metros are generally financially unviable propositions.highly capital intensive,this mass transport system takes many years to break even if at all.most international metros do not turn in any profits.but if the overall economic benefit to society is considered,the returns will start happening from 4 to 5 years as shown by dmrc. extensive real estate developments if undertaken as part of the project on surplus government and semi-government lands can help in metros becoming viable.also goverment should extend concessions such as remission of import duty,vat exemption etc. to reduce capital costs.dmrc have by their unique and innovative management practices already made the delhi metro viable.this is no mean an achievement.
they may even soon offer you a room to stay.dmrc is earmarking some of its land for the hospitality sector. plans for budget and star-rated properties are on the anvil. with commonwealth games slated for 2010, delhi will have to do some quick catching up as it is having a shortage of about 60,000 rooms annually.
recently dmrc invited suggestions from the public to improve the functioning and services of the metro.this is perhaps the first time in india that a public transport system has invited suggestions from the public.
next time you are in delhi, don't miss travelling by the metro.it is as good as anywhere else in the world. if not better.
Friday, September 22, 2006
a us airline flight was on its way to india from schipol airport,amsterdam on a wednesday a month ago when the crew saw and reported some suspicious activities on board. several passengers were behaving in a strange manner. twenty minutes after the filght was airborne with 149 passengers on board,the pilot radioed for permission to return and asked for a military escort.two f16 fighter jets were sent by the royal netherlands airforce to meet the plane which was in german airspace and to escort it back to schipol.the pilot had "security concerns".the plane landed safely and immediately the 12 passengers were detained for questioning and later arrested.
50 year old man mohammad farooq hasham was flying for the first time.he hailed from navi mumbai.he attended a garments exhibition in trinidad and tobago for about a month.and alongwith other trader friends from the same community they were flying back to their beloved mumbai to recount to their kith and kin the wonderful sights and sounds of the calypso country famous also for its cricket.the west indies.on the aircraft, like a card playing group of 12 persons whom we often see on mumbai locals,they got boisterous,unruly,discourteous and started behaving rudely and insolently. the twelve of them had 50 to 60 cellphones bulging out of their carry-on bags. they switched them on while the plane was climbing, passed them around,violated the 'fasten seatbelt' rules despite repeated announcements to get back to their seats and fasten their seatbelts and were disgustingly loud and boorish. one of them was calling home to ask his wife to prepare chicken biryani and some falooda too .according to the crew,they were creating a "ruckus" in the plane and probably were a little drunk.they even rushed to the business class in protest.the dutch would have no more of this nonsense from the garment exporters of oshiwara,navin mumbai. they may have seemingly overreacted but they were decisive.
then the socalled hell started for these gujjus from mumbai.they were handcuffed,detained and interrogated for suspected terrorist activities.all their newly purchased belongings-mobile phones,laptops,etc etc were confiscated.all the twelve happened to be muslims from the bohra community. our media hyped the whole issue out of proportion. our government demanded an apology from the dutch for their highhandedness. wasn't that a major overreaction?
what does one learn from this episode.for all of us indians and not one community alone.it is high time that we understand airline etiquette.we must get away from this "chalta hai" attitude and learn to behave in a responsible manner concerned about air safety rules and the convenience of copassengers. a little discipline and respect for rule of law.
none of these 12 when they returned to a triumphant welcome would say anything about their own despicable behaviour.our media too kept quiet on this aspect and only highlighted how "severe" the dutch authorities were in treating "innocent" passengers. would the dutch have done the same thing if they were 'white ' asked a columnist?
the dutch minister for foreign trade karien von gennip expressed regret over the incident and hoped that it would have no negative impact over the bilateral relations between netherlands and india. she praised india and referred to it as a "geopolitical powerhouse",back office of the world and waxed eloquence on the combination of traditional values and modern thinking in its people. in india there is mystique in everything she said. and indulged in some gandhigiri too. mahatma gandhi has inspired millions of indians all over the world, she added.
black or white, you jolly well follow the law of the land. you do not have any license to indulge in outrageous behaviour.and if you insist to do so, then face the music. let us hope this incident will teach a good lesson to all of us who mend the rules to suit our own whims and fancies.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
I am referring to the movie Lage Raho Munnabhai(LRM). Rajkumar Hirani has managed to pull off the near impossible. A perfect sequel or episode (whatever you would like to call it) to Munnabhai MBBS. Probably he had no clue that the timing of the release would be so perfect.The centenary of Mahatma Gandhi's satyagraha. An unnecessary fracas over Vande Mataram. What a laugh-a-second bambaiyya riot.' Bande Main Tha Dum' (the guy had guts) is the opening line of a song saluting the Father of the Nation.The outcome is a super-duper hit resulting in Gandhi being reinvented and everyone humming Vande Mataram on the way out of the cinemahouses.
It is the victory of Gandhigiri over Dadagiri. In Delhi young men have stuck bumper stickers over their cars captioned "Gandhigiri wins over Dadagiri". BPO employeees at Mumbai,75000 in all,have decided to follow in Gandhiji's footsteps.Keep mum when faced with racial slurs from overseas callers. LRM is just what today's generation needs. A revival of values and ideals without our kids telling us 'papa don't preach'.The impact on all sections of people is huge. Eight months back 'Rang De Basanti' moved young men and women to stage candlelit vigils in the Jessica Lal murder case and speak out boldly against a corrupt and rotten system. And LRM has achieved the same result. In this case spreading Gandhiji's message.
So what is the story all about? Munnabhai(Sanjay Dutt) is back in tow with Circuit(Arshad Warsi).This time though, he is in love with the voice of Jhanvi(Vidya Balan) a RJ. To meet her, he cracks a quiz on Mahatma Gandhi and pretends to be a history professor and a follower of MG's ideologies. The Mahatma actually appears in front of Munnabhai and coaxes him to meet difficulties with the Gandhian philosophy.So he is led on the path of Gandhigiri by Gandhi himself. When Jahnvi stands to lose her second innings home (senior citizens' home) to a crooked builder Lucky Singh (Bomman Irani), Munna follows the Gandhian philosophy and fights the bad guys using ahimsa as his powerful tool. He makes Lucky's life miserable with his 'good wishes'. Dia Mirza as Lucky's daughter shows that given a good role she can act well.
There are some amazing emotional moments between Sanjay and Arshad .The script jointly written by Hirani and Abhijit Joshi is superb. Dollops of humour and laughs galore. "Bole to,kyon?" " Woheech jiska janam din par dry day hota hain". "Eh choti si dhoti mein akka country ghoom kar aya". "Tension kayko lene ka?" And words like "vaat lagana(get jacked) and "laffa"(slap). "yeda"(crackpot) and "chemical locha"(imbalance). Hirani,backed by an innovative script displays his class in the fine sketching of the characters. Actually the best scenes in the film are the ones when Munnabhai and Mahatma talk to each other.Gandhi appears each time Munna sings "Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram"."Mujhe apne dil me rakho",says Gandhi. Some of the songs are very hummable like 'pal pal pal'. Boman Irani as the unscrupulous Sardarji builder acts in his characteristic manner-brilliant. Also the scene where a pensioner protesting against non-receipt of his pension by stripping himself and forcing the bureaucrat to clear his file is hilarious.There are some minuses no doubt like the Jimmy Shergill-Parikshit Sahni scenes(son-father) which could have been avoided.The son squanders all of dad's money in gambling and is scared to tell his dad the truth. And wants to commit suicide. Munnabhai advises him to face his dad and reveal all and beg for his forgiveness. Or a drunken Munnabhai taking over the radio station and going live.The cinematography is ordinary .
Sunita Lyn Williams,the world's first woman space tourist, will be part of NASA's 14th expedition as a flight engineer to the International Space station(ISS).She will be joining the expedition in mid-december. She said she is greatly inspired by Mahatma Gandhi who is one of her pillars of srength.She says that he has shown her how things can be achieved by putting your mind to it. Besides firing up this spacewoman to become the second astronaut of Indian origin to go on a space flight,Gandhigiri was at work behind her modesty too."I am an average person.I am humbled by the way people back in India admire my work. I have realised that you just need to have the will and fortune to succeeed".
And Munnabhai is exPM Deve Gowda's new alibi,in the battle of CDs being fought in Karnataka.His son and Karnataka CM Kumaraswamy has come under the scanner following recent releases of Bellary mining bribe CDs.Referring to Boman Irani's role of Lucky Singh in LRM,Deve Gowda said, "The sardar uses technology to place himself next to George Bush in a photograph. Like the sardar some persons here too have used technology to produce photographs of Chennigappa(Minister in the karnataka state cabinet) with currency notes. I am not going to be bothered about CD politics".
Even PM Manmohan Singh in the recent meeting of Non Aligned Movement leaders sold Gandhigiri.He spread the word of the Mahatma,the apostle of peace, making a pitch for a united front against terror."Our voice must be one of moderation,reason and harmony.If such is the voice of more than half of the people of the world then it will prevail" said Manmohan Singh.
To sum up LRM is a must-see. It has made box office records. Made on a budget of Rs 12 crores,it has earned already that much from Mumbai alone.Producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra gives us one more great family entertainer.
A MAGNIFICENT CINEMA DELIVERING A CREDIBLE MESSAGE OF PEACE.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Having seen 'Superman Returns' and 'Krish', I couldn't resist the temptation of watching Uma Thurman as a Superwoman.In this Ivan Reitman comedy written by Don Payne,Matt Saunders(Luke Wilson),an ordinary doofus guy, thinks he has zeroed in on his perfect girlfriend.The beautiful Jenny Johnson(Uma Thurman).He goes out of his way to help her.Matt,doesn't know what is in store for him.Jenny is a nerd librarian with superpowers.And the G-Girl becomes extremely possessive.She latches on to him like a drowning person holding on to a straw.When troubled by her weird behaviour,Matt wants to call it quits,she shows that hell hath no fury than a woman scorned.She sets out on a no-holds-barred mission to demolish Mattt's budding romance with his co-worker Hannah(Anna Faris).The outrage of this woman and her uncensored and unabashed expression of everything she feels without holding anything back has been brought out beautifully by director Ivan Reitman.Finally Jenny is united with her boyfriend of schooldays,Professor Bedlam(Eddie Izzard),a supervillain though no Lex Luthor,who scorned in love worships her and at the same time tries to win her over even by force.And a relieved Matt and a grateful Hannah are reunited.
Quite an enjoyable 95 minutes romantic comedy.The movie though is not super.Uma is sexy,Luke is funny and the script is hilarious.So,what are you waiting for? Check it out.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
last sunday i went to metroadlabs to watch 'the break-up'.i parked my car at the bombay gymkhana and walked the short distance to metro cinema.i was forewarned of the shortage of parking space at metro and i thought this would be the best bet.a safe parking place,a muchneeded walk and a quick look-in at the shops which extend from the vsnl trafficsignal all the way to metro cinema.they are about 200 of them all linearly arranged of the same size and selling good quality,infashion and cheap. shorts,t-shirts,kurtas,knock-offs et al. the place is called 'fashion street' and is a very popular shopping centre with locals as well as tourists. located between azad maidan and cross maidan, the line of shops also known as FS also sell shoes,handbags and jewellery.
for students looking for hip styles at low prices FS is a great attraction.the shops sell imitations of branded products like DKNY,Tommy Hilfliger,Gucci etc . the market is always flooded with export surpluses or export seconds which sell at a fraction of the orignal price .when you shop here you must keep sufficient time for this experience.you can bargain heavily and buy good stuff at really very low prices.i had no plans to buy any t-shirts or kurtas. and i didn't have much time at my disposal either. an open stall where a youngster from UP named paramanad was writing names on rice grains caught my attention i asked him how many letters he could write in one grain of rice, pat came his reply. 120 letters. i got our names written on rice grains and paramanand nicely placed them in a thin plastic bottle with a key chain. two of these for rs15 each.
being ganapati season, the stallowners had put up a sarvajanic ganesh pandal too, which was attracting a large number of shoppers.
mumbai was once the textile capital of the world.also the first cotton exchange was setup in the then bombay.and it was a leading exporter of cotton to uk and europe.mumbai has a chequered history of textile s production and marketing.
FS is a place worth visiting.even if you do not buy anything,the experience of walking on the FS pavement with a riot of colours around you ,sugarcane juice and bhelpuri vendors jostling to catch your attention and the occasional visit of a bollywood celebrity is an experience that one would loathe to miss.
happy bargaining and happy shopping! happy ganapathi!
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
i had read reviews about this movie. they ranged from good to bad to indifferent.it was therefore a tough decision to take. i went by my gut feeling and i wasn't disappointed. the movie is directed by peyton reed.
the best part of the movie is the opening credits still sequence. the couple kiss and cuddle and they are inseparable.that was during the romancing and wooing period.they get married and then the incompatibility comes out.the chasm between them widens every passing day.
brooke meyers(jennifer aniston) works for an art dealer. and he gary grobowski(vince vaughn) along with his brothers runs a tour guide business. he is the star attraction with his good looks,gift of the gab and a high sense of humour. brooke invites her family home for dinner and sweats throughout the day to make it a great success. she had asked gary to get twelve lemons and he had bought only three. she asks him to go and get the remaining.he is he says too tired after a hard day's work and puts his feet up in front of the tv and is engrossed in watching the sports channel. there are many such incidents which show that they are not really made for each other.
they share a duplex condo in chicago and live a great lifestyle.but then they are drifting away as they keep on disagreeing on so many issues.brooke feels that gary is insensitive and has no empathy with what she does.he doesn't have a good word for her.she is at her histrionic best when she breaks down towards the end when gary refuses to turn up for a music concert for which he bought the tickets.
he feels that she is too nagging and says so and that he would be happier if left alone. he also is clever enough to know where he is wrong but too proud to accept it and he tries to bury the problems under the carpet.the on-screen chemistry between vince and jennifer is brilliant. after several fights finally they decide to part ways. they put their condo apartment on the block. meanwhile her family and his brothers and friends try and suggest many remedies and tactics to sort out the issues.but instead of solving the problem they boomerang. such as when brooke's date (planned to make gary jealous) ends up joining gary to play a computer game and they become buddies.
she goes on a holiday to italy and he goes his own way. by accident they meet again on a chicago street and the old flame of love does not seem to have been totally extinguished. they exchange pleasantries and inquire about each other. it is obvious that they love each other deep down. but are they ultimately compatible? it is left to the viewer to draw his/her own conclusions.
a romantic comedy bringing out a realistic relationship problem. sharp dialogue and sharper observations makes it enjoyable to watch. there are moments when you burst out laughing. more smiles and less tears.
Monday, September 04, 2006
there was lot of suspense and excitement in the air.metro cinema in its new multiplex avatar was ready.the newspaper announced bookings for kank.we wanted to see the movie,first day first show in the new metro christened metro adlabs.i wanted to kill two birds with one stone. but alas it was not to be. my driver returned emptyhanded. the much anticipated reopening of metro cinema did not materialise on the given day and the public which had gathered went back very very disappointed.there was some hitch. all the mandatory permissions had not been got. finally amidst lot of drama the last permission arrived at 7.30 pm in true filmy style and the veil was lifted.
the original cinema house was designed and built in true mgm style in 1938.actually the work started in 1930 and it took eight years to complete.even then there was lot of opposition for such a huge cinema-theatre coming up.surprisingly the parsis were most vocal and opposed the construction.mgm weathered the storm and finally the art deco theatre was ready.the media and the public went gaga over it.large foyer,grand mirrored staircase,teakwood columns supporting the ceiling and huge belgian chandeliers.a herringbone patterned glass mirror at the midlanding.about 1500 seating capcity.metro truly and justly became an outstanding landmark of bombay. it was sheer grandeur.the first film to be screened was 'broadway melody'.
when i first came to the then bombay in 1959 the first movie that i saw was in metro.i was struck with the sheer space around,the comfortable seating.the airconditioning and the ease with which one could exit the cinemahouse. when i learnt that metro was to be developed into a multiplex, i had my own serious misgivings. a landmark cinemahouse was gettting transformed. old memories came rushing back. how we would make a beeline from st xavier's college to the metro cinema which was a 5 minutes' walk.the then table-tennis wonder and sensation indira iyengar accompanying us.we would have popcorns in the stalls and head for the movie.special lounges,artistic murals,italian marble flooring.ushers wore suits and a soda fountain made good ice cream.
but then things changed.with the arrival of tv people's movie viewing habits got transformed. and then came along the vcd.and the dvd. more and more people preferred to watch movies from the comforts of their homes. single screen establishments became unviable.in 1970 mgm sold metro to the gupta family.and a few years ago majority ownership again changed hands.bsma ltd.an investment placement firm invested 6 million us dollars in the multiplex business of adlab films ltd.they have plans to build 30 multiplexex totalling 150 screens in the country in the next five years.promoter manmohan shetty has made an investment of about rs 20 crores in the dhobitalo metro.and it has been renamed metro adlabs.
there are two more art deco cinema halls in mumbai. eros and regal.pranav desai the architest of metro adlabs and pooja shetty manmohan shetty's daughter had a major problem on hand.the multiplex had to be modern.and they did not want to throw away the rich heritage that they had bought.a fine balancing had to be done.intermingling the new with the old.to look very modern yet retain its old glamour.after two years of hard work the renovation was completed.chandeliers still hanging. six screens, specially designed seats,ebony lounge with 30 reclining seats.1491 seats in all the screens put together.plasma displays and digital bells and whistles.wood interiors matching beautifully with stainless steeel and veneer fittings.a lot of vibrant red,a key art deco colour. the first function was the release of 'lights,camera,masala' by sheena sippy. a book about movie production in bollywood.it was a star-studded function.and then the much awaited 'kabhi alvida na kehana'.
yesterday afternoon i watched 'the break-up' starring vince vaughn and jennifer aniston.i had read the reviews.they were both good and bad. i wanted to see the new metro and i was keen to see jennifer aniston and the time of one pm suited me admirably. it was a great experience. i was warned that there would be a parking problem.i decided to park my car at the bombay gymkhana and walk all the way down. it was a 7 minutes walk. and it was enjoyable. walking along the colourful 'fashion street'. i then decided to blog on this subject soon. and when i reached metro adlabs, i found the transformation very pleasing. for once "a sequel that is as good as the original". very comfortable seating with ample legroom.sound system modulated and not as high pitched as at inox.i tested the loo out.world class.i was pleasantly surprised to see the screen above where i stood.how in 1947 or thereabouts morarji desai banned a film because actress sulochana was shown making love.it was released after that portion was cut.and how raveena tandon is a model turned actress.it is a live screen.continuously screening cinema titbits. and i tried peeping into the ebony lounge.the girl out there discreetly held me away. after all, the folks in there were stretched on their sofas and enjoying their drinks while watching 'lage raho munnabhai'. for rs 500 per seat and gourmet food and drinks served by wellmannered hostesses serving in silver.the old cigarbar after its makeover is something i don't want to miss.
how near mumbaikars were to saying 'alvida' to metro! for once a developer has shown what good sense and imagination can do.
lage raho manmohanbhai!