From Pushpanjali to PVR

After a long hiatus, I had gone out with friends to watch the Aamir Khan produced movie ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na’ at Lido Mall recently. It was first time I stepped into the new Lido. Just like the movie which had a lot of fresh faces, the theatre looked mint fresh too. Who could have visualized that the land that housed the old Lido was so vast? The colourful and innovative plastic moulded chairs at the food court, the Noodle Bar lounge, the new Cinemas with comfortable chairs that have cola holders – the only downside to this is the insufficient parking space. We waited for a good 15 minutes on the road, trailing a long line of cars waiting for parking space.

As we waited in the car, I mulled over the last time I had come here. It had been on a weekend to watch a hilarious spoof on Hindi Cinema, ‘Bollywood Calling’ by Nagesh Kukunoor. The movie was so hilarious and the script so absorbing that the old seats with wooden seat handles and not-so-clean loo did not bother me at all. Best of all had been the parking, because Lido had so much empty space around the theatre.

That the theatre would undergo a makeover was a no-brainer, but I had feverently wished that they would retain some characteristics of the old Lido. Maybe some photographs or famous personalities who came here for a show, maybe some facts and figures like when Lido started, the first movie ever screened there – you get the drift. Lido has a history, don’t bury it – squeaked a tiny, nostalgic voice inside me.

Lido is not the only one though. Many of the old theatres have been taken down. I shudder to think of what monstrosity will replace Plaza on MG Road. Lido has at least retained its name. Galaxy is under litigation. Rex is still braving the odds. Theatres like Cauvery, Navarang, Uma, and Nataraj still exist, though lucrative offers from real estate hawkers hang around them.

Seriously, there’s nothing wrong with modernity and new multiplexes. I prefer to watch movies in the clean and plush Inox or PVR rather than the dusty and grimy theatres in Majestic area. It’s just that while providing comforts to the customer (albeit at a highly inflated price) they lose character and acquire a homogenous look. If one can retain the old world charm and aesthetic look of the old theatre while providing us all the required comforts it would be an ideal world. But in a city with spiralling land value, it is probably natural to count land in terms of square feet rather than retain its identity for a few hopelessly nostalgic people like me


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