The Maratha Mandir is mostly known today for having screened Bollywood blockbuster Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, for 20 years straight from its release in 1995 to 2015. But, this iconic theater has more legendary feats to its history of over 50 years. The Bollywood classic Mughal-E-Azam premiered here in 1960 and ran continuously for six years. And as any film buff from that era will excitedly recall, actor Dilip Kumar rode on a horse to the theater at its premiere! Even a bunch of elephants and horses were brought to the cinema to celebrate the premiere. However, the first film to have premiered here was Sadhna, starring Sunil Dutt and Vyjayanthimala in 1958.
Founded in 1914, this cinema house is named after King Edward, who had visited the city the same year. This independent theater with old yet striking architecture screens everything from current releases, reruns of 80s and 90s bollywood hits to foreign cinema classics from Wolfgang Becker to Jean Luc Godard. However, the theater’s most famous show is said to have been its 1974 screenings of Jai Santoshi Maa, a low-budget devotional film which became one of the biggest blockbusters of the year.
This Art Deco movie theater is considered to have been the first air-conditioned theater of India. The theater opened in 1933 with The Devil’s Brother starring Laurel and Hardy. The cinema house was where the country’s coveted Filmfare Awards function was first introduced in 1954, and is still relevant today, having served as one of the lead theaters hosting the 2015 Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) Film Festival. Regal was designed by famous architect Charles Stevens with interior work by Czech artist Karl Schara.
Imperial Cinema House
This cinema house started in 1905 as an orchestra theater. Today, this single-screen theater continues to serve a narrow yet loyal patron base with cheap ticket prices and obscure Bhojpuri movies. It still gets quite crowded during evening shows, mostly with migrant workers from nearby neighborhoods. Tickets run as cheap as Rs. 30 – 50, which is quite remarkable in the age of multiplexes.
This iconic cinema house is almost as relevant today as it was back when it opened in 1938. With a seating capacity of 1,204, it has managed to retain a loyal patron base over decades. Its historic significance notwithstanding, the cinema house’s efforts to stay updated, including installing new sound systems and digital projectors used by multiplexes have definitely helped it to stay popular. The cream building, partially faced with red Agra sandstone and blending Victorian Gothic and Art Deco styles is a striking reminder of the grandeur of yesteryear’s Bombay.