Tag Archives: Opera House

A lane that depicts corruption by auto spare parts shops & cops

This is the lane which leads to the Wadi where I live, in many ways still has old world charm. In many ways it is a dinosaur land with average people living are mostly old. Many of us in this neighbourhood are adults who live with our parents, while some families keep getting bigger, many like mine are shrinking. But the number of Vehicles in this neighbourhood can easily outnumber the normal rational types. In fact I haven’t yet uploaded the Cross Lane photos which will show how there is a quiet, serene feel to this whole picture. A childhood friend and Me have adopted a small patch and converted it into a green zone with pink and yellow flowers that flowers that are a welcoming a sight.

Once you are way inside my building, it is quiet and soothing. However, to get in here, it is one challenging task. This lane has a very Dr Jekyll Mr. Hyde schizophrenic look, it is a horror living during the day. As one can see, right at the entry with Cafe De La Paix to one’s left there is a No Parking board. And you bet, a BMW is parked right at the mouth of the eatery on the turning. So already the driver/owner has flouted three traffic rules.

Now I haven’t mentioned few crucial elements of this lane, where I live. It is a one way lane, the head quarters of auto spare parts market and most of all the haftas to traffic police and I am sure even Mumbai police amount to few lakhs per day. The spare parts shopkeepers live with an air of arrogance, which is basically – go and complaint to the police, let us see which policeman has the balls to tow our cars parked on the wrong side.

Now the films that were banned would be strewn along the pavement, most rip apart the cars parked in the second lane, which is breaking traffic rule, but all of this is about adhering to laws as compared to the amount of money made on a daily basis and the bribes sent to the Mumbai traffic police for ensuring NO action is taken.

Till now I have fought, and you have no idea when I mean fights except for getting violent, they ventured on anger, explicit and eventually one uncle shopkeeper telling me to take it easy else one of the shopkeepers may bump me off. That was years ago. Then another uncle told me “How many people you will tell? Now people living in your own neighbourhood are flouting the rules and breaking the one-way law.” It was a like a slap in my face and actually one night when my sister, mother and I were returning from a dinner later night, our next door neighbour had the gall to look at us while we tried to veer away his on coming car, that was in the wrong direction! Shameless is to say the least. Since that day I look down on him and treat him like a second class citizen. Interestingly, his son studied in US and doesn’t prevent his father from breaking law.

Sadly, owning a vehicle is a huge status symbol in India since many years now. So according to this belief I am a loser and highly unsuccessful. I dreamt of being chauffeur driven and thanks to Uber and Ola, this cream is a reality. Firstly, our family has been staunch supporter of public transport and I still continue holding that flag. Secondly, I am staunchly against multi tasking, especially when demanded by employers, because it basically means they are short changing you for cheap wages. Moreover, I also believe not all are born to do all things or should even waste their time doing so. Like cooking everyday, driving, so on and so forth. There is more to life and there are people with those skills who should be doing that and are paid accordingly. Lastly, when parking is free, nobody should even murmur or fight about spaces as if its their birth right. Come and see how my neighbours like cheapskates over some person taking over their parking space. Wow, when all of it is free. In fact one even tresspasses into another’s compound with a fleet of cars, but all has been tolerated.

So over a period of time the neighbours who realised they want to benefit from this situation have begun not protesting. They don’t argue with the shopkeepers or bring it to their notice that the cars parked along the wrong side is a violation of a Road Transport Act. They do not foresee it being a problem for anyone. Now even in the cross lane at our building gate, one arrogant young man has fought with me when I have demanded he shift his two-wheeler from the gate, as it obstructs my way. I am baffled at the way the officials turn a blind eye to all these violations.

Once the traffic police would come to our lane and tow away cars. Now somehow the police have conveniently made a policy of towing away only scooters or motorcycles, NOT cars. I have had issues with traffic police who come to my lane stand mutely and when I have brought the wrong parking or breaking of one-way rules, they have snapped at me and demanded a written complaint from me. This has become a joke in my life. So all these years it was write a letter, go and complaint to the seniors were the rude replies by cops. While spare parts shop keepers could not be bothered since their defence is our own neighbourhood residents break traffic laws.

As a result, I began using the social media platforms. First on Facebook, Sandeep Ohri started mumbaitrafficviolations page and i would upload pics with addresses. Later, I began using Twitter, then the WA number of Mumbai Traffic. All of it has failed. I get mandatory robotic replies. TO begin with – please give/share exact location and address. If I say Awantikabai Gokhale Lane, in town, they don’t take the effort to find or google it! Joke because the maps show it. Funnily, the Uber app and most maps do NOT show it as a one way, which invariably creates an issue for me to take uber from inside my lane.

After every complaint with photo and write up on WA, I am given a formal reply that says my complaint has been forwarded to a police station, a day later that station acknowledges, but I have NOT seen any concrete action of clean-up drive. My lane is still congested and difficult to pass through at normal working hours. No amount of influence, my experience as a senior journalist has helped in making life easy to live here, this I see as the biggest failure of my profession. An absolute indicator that if rules are being allowed to be broken then there is little hope we are offering the world.

‘Blue Lagoon’ – films & Bombay’s old theatres

The last time I recollect reading ‘Blue Lagoon” was in 1980 when i must’ve been in the sixth grade. Brooke Shields & Christopher Atkins. What a siren the leading star was or the hype around her was, although with absolute Bushy eyebrows….urggh. Though she rocked the film.
Now this is kind of over 2 decades ago. The poster says, ‘Return of the Blue lagoon’ a romantic & adventure film. Starring Milla Jovovich. Sorry leading star as insignificant as the name suggests. But don’t miss fine print, in Hindi.
The interesting point is I took a photograph of this poster in a running taxi because of the poster. More so it was put up at Imperial. Now if anyone remembers old Mumbai or the original Bombay, this theatre is a landmark.
Like Imperial there were 18 old theatres in the same lane or around that vicinity. As a kid we would go to these single screen cinema theatres – Shalimar, Novelty, Swastik, Don haathi –because at the entrance of the theatre are 2 elephants!- Majestic, Opera House, Roxy & Imperial cinema halls. 
Ugly smells would emit, scary looking people because tickets were most cheap & disgusting smelling toilets. All members of our family are fillum buffs. We loved to go for films & as kids the ONLY leeway I got for having a ‘party’ was taking paltan to watch films.
Now the story of old theatres is as old as the structures! ‘m total supporter of old heritage, architecture, buildings. Only because they have solid character. They convey certain pattern in architecture, construction & more so each structure is distinct. It is not a mass product. Hence although every multiplex may have a diff name, they more or less look the same. Malls below or within the building & structure that conveys this is a modern theatre.
Single screen the hoardings are definitely Prominent plus they still have hand painted hoardings. And these old theatres, though they are now redundant i believe are worth more than just nostalgia pieces. They are landmark places of the old Bombay, while the new Mumbai IGNORES.
Imagine which multiplex will allow forget hoardings even to screen, ‘andheri rat mein diya tere haath mein’ ‘Khooni atma’ ‘tanha dil’ ‘sharabi yaadein’ and I will not be able to remember the B & C grade films that get adequate screening, space & dekho the way they should.
These cinema halls were first constructed for labour class. By closing them down, removing them we erasing history of our city. Let us not forget this Bombay, urf Mumbai city has been built essentially by the labour class. The migrant workers originally from Konkan came resided & then the cinema halls began etching our city’s horizon for these labourers, working class. Hence the tickets too were less & it still is. Imagine seeing Fanaa for Rs 60/- while most saw it for 280/- minimum.  The working class helped the film industry. Yes because they paid ticket fares from their daily wages & let us remember that the single film theatres still make or break film fortunes. A multiplex doesn’t. Definitely Dhobi Ghat can’t run in single screen…it would have been fun though coz the reactions, CTs are imp.
Now Opera House theatre is one place where i have most good memories. I saw ‘Amar Akbar Anthony,’ on my b’day in my 4th standard. The last film i saw at Opera House theatre Gumnam, Aa Galey lag jaa. Then one fine day we heard the theatre has shut down! It was as sudden as this. Imagine sitting in the boxes instead of balcony. One box for every family or couple could too. My baba though BIG. My happy birthday he allowed me to take building friends to see my favourite movie fm a box!
But due to some internal family issues this theatre ruts now. I really liked the theatre. Wow! I felt soo high when I went to the Opera Theatre in New York, when i saw ‘Phantom of the Opera.’ Yes, Opera House is no match to the American theatres, but hello, we should be proud of the fact that we have one theatre wherein Opera was played live during the British times.
Roxy & i have a special bond. In 1994 when i returned from one of my many trips to Marathwada-Latur & Osmanabad, which was rocked by the earthquake in Marathwada – 1993, my father reminded me to go & get my snap clicked by the govt officials for election I card. On my way back i detoured, went for a walk to chill & suddenly saw NO Roxy building. I stood there open mouthed & gaped. I crossed the road in  a rush & asked nearby strangers, hawkers “what happened to Roxy?” “What is coming here? Who pulled this theatre down?” I didn’t realise that tears were running down my cheeks. One of the oldish hawkers smirked & asked me, “What is it with you? How does Roxy not being here change your life?”
I was upset, “How can you ask me that? I saw films here, it is our theatre, for our locality. Now god knows what will come up here.” Roxy was our landmark. In Bombay-Mumbai usually meeting places have traditionally been bars or theatres. By theatres i mean single screen cinema halls. So Roxy was name for the bus stop on the side of that theatre & Opera House for the opp side. No one calls or knows the bus depot, stop as Pt Paluskar Chowk. It is known as Opera House.
One day in 70s a tall sky scraper was seen rising adjacent to Roxy theatre. How can i forget that ‘Ek Dukhe ke liye’ ran for months on end at this cinema hall. The first few weeks EDKL flopped! Miserably. Therafter suddenly, no one knows what changed the fate of this film, we saw queues from Roxy sprawling till Kennedy Bridge, good 400 odd metres long. Roxy was on top of everyone’s minds. After the spate of suicides more & more people went to see EDKL. I know of people who saw that film over 10 times. The romantic phillum that rocked the nation. If i’m not mistaken some politician had to also send our appeals to public asking them to take this film as fiction. Well may be the name ‘Roxy’ had some role to play in the film’s destiny.
The Theatre after ‘Antarnaad’ a film on Pandurang Shastri Athavle, a baba man. Called himself spiritual but would get the first model of a new car hitting the market & had income or collection (since he was some religious fellow) of rs 900 crore. I’m yet to see 900 lakhs…that apart…te film was made by Shyam Benegal, i don’t know why. I wanted to ask him all my life…that film sealed the fate of Roxy.
Since then many a theatre has shut shop. I live in an area where dance, music, art forms, films thrived & i sure wasn’t deprived. Now every day i walk to office which is on Lamington Road. I pass these theatres & my heart bleeds to see them shut. They are forced to remain open & charge not above a certain amount. Whatever the collections are made to pay up 47% entertainment tax. Multiplexes have it free for rfirst 5 yrs yet they charge a bomb & make up. We need these theatres & Blue films too.