On Monday afternoon only people on the premise of the Mumbai’s iconic twin cinema Ganga Jamuna were two watchmen; who are now clueless about the future of this twin cinema they have protecting so diligently for years. Once bustling with enthusiastic cinema lovers, the structure now stands alone waiting for its final days. Out of the two Ganga was shut in 2000 and Jamuna was shut six years later. Now the structure will only be in records of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) and the owner Gul Achhra, admits he is expecting the building to be demolished within a month.
Achra, a businessman from Ulhasnagar purchased this property in 1988 and the first film screen at Ganga was the Govinda and Neelam Kothari-starrer Ghar Mein Ram Gali Mein Shyam, a remake of the Tollywood film, Intlo Amayya Veedhilo Krishnayya featuring Chiranjeevi. “When I bought the theatres from the original owners, they were both shut. I renovated them, installed air-conditioning, bought new fans, got pushback seats which were a new concept back then and changed the color scheme,” Achhra informs.
In its initial days, the theaters even screened movies of Amiatbh Bachchan namely ‘Kaalia’, ‘Ganga Ki Saugandh’ with full house shows whereas the movie ‘Dulhan Vahi Jo Piya Man Bhaaye’ celebrated record breaking 75 week at that time. TV and internet were still not in the picture which boosted it success all the more.
“But once single screens made way for multiplexes with the government offering tax relief, our business was badly affected,” sighs Achhra, admitting that he too had tried to convert the two cinemas into a four-screen multiplex. “But it was a long-drawn process and didn’t pan out.” Adding more to Achra’s trouble the land on which the theater stood was sold by the landlord to another builder which again Achra tried to buy back. “After some back and forth, the builders approached me in December 2006, offering 50 per cent ownership and a plan to turn the basement and first floor into a shopping mall, the second floor would have two screens and the remaining floors would have offices of multinational companies.
The plan was passed two years later, but after that chaos,” rues the 65-year-old theatre owner. “In 2017, they told me to look for another collaborator but since I am neither a developer nor a property trader, I’m stuck. I’ve been talking to a few developers. Meanwhile, we have got the orders from the BMC to demolish the theatre.” The self-confessed cinephile, Achchra signs off despondently, “The current situation is not a happy one and I’m really hurt.”
Image Source: mumbailive.com
They say the best things in life are free! India’s favourite music channels 9XM, 9X Jalwa, 9X Jhakaas & 9X Tashan are available Free-To-Air. Make a request for these channels from your Cable, DTH or HITS operator.