Iconic SoBo theatre to get artistic makeover
Reema Gehi (MUMBAI MIRROR; May 13, 2012)
Sixty-three years ago, Liberty Cinema opened to a glittering first night with a screening of the 1949 Raj Kapoor-starrer Andaz. The 1196-seat theatre went on to become a popular hub for South Mumbai residents as well as Bollywood. But now, the iconic cinema hall, one of last surviving single-screen theatres in South Mumbai, is all set to move in a new direction. Liberty will soon transform into a full-fledged performance arts centre. It will now mainly play host to art shows and cultural performances.
The theatre lost much of its footfall during the onslaught of multiplex revolution in early 2000s. Since it was incurring heavy financial losses, many advised the owner Nazir Hoosein to sell off the property. But he had a better idea. “My late father, Habib Hoosein, created a masterpiece. Why should I destroy it? This theatre is an art deco structure. It will fit in well with concerts, conferences, and cultural performances. This way, we’ll also increase revenue,” says Hoosein.
At the moment, he’s still working on the logistics of changing its avatar. Much of it would remain the same. The stage, however, will be redesigned to accommodate performances. Upcoming events are already planned: An exhibition by photographer Sudharak Olwe which will open today, a French film festival in June, and a show by designer Narendra Kumar Ahmed in July.
The theatre will, however, continue to screen popular Bollywood flicks. “This theatre was built for Hindi Cinema. It was a favourite with Raj Kapoor, V Shantaram, and Mehboob Khan. All of their films were shown here. Liberty still has its few patrons, so we’ll show only those films that appeal to them. Technically we’re still at par with the multiplexes. But we’re expanding our options, ” added Hoosein.
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