Saudagar (Ghai) at Bombay’s fabled Metro cinema

another great example of Bombay’s art deco..
LINK to ‘widescreen’

click to enlarge

30 Responses to “Saudagar (Ghai) at Bombay’s fabled Metro cinema”

  1. Once upon a time this was Bombay’s most prestigious theater…

    In the age of Wake Up Sid this history needs to be reasserted again and again!


    • I really miss my childhood as my most my childhood i ve spend in Metro after my school and weekend show late night show and on top of it the huge Premiers of all most all the movie. cos my dad was Manager of Metro. he had served metro group for more 25+ years. in his first and last job.

      Still i can remember day when it started for renovation my dad was stun still as most life he had spent over there in front of his it was getting broken. felt as if like some has demolished is own house where he had spent his most of time.

      the furniture which was used in the cinema hall were all Burma Teak Wood

      The Jummor which was there in the corridor was sold for many many lakhs.

      and most of the article were of antic Master Pice,

      Thank God Now Metro Cinema is Under Our National Heritage.


      • Kiran, this is a precious note.. thanks so much for posting..


      • Thanks so much for sharing your memories Kiran, this was a really moving note.


        • These cinemas are not just places, but “sites” — of memory, of the passing of a world that was represented in the cinema, and, quite frankly, of meaning (the last has for the most part been replaced in cinema by consumption and stimulation; I should say the consumption of stimulation)…


          • “I should say the consumption of stimulation”

            very very well said..


          • and in a way this is even more true of Hollywood than Bollywood: I mean the big summer movies, the blockbuster season, has all become focused on sensation and stimulation. It wasn’t always this way, and now H’wood’s malaise is quite frankly terminal. It’s gotten to the point where if I forget to watch big films in the cinema, I don’t miss them, as long as something else suitably substitutable comes along later that I can watch. Don’t feel the need to go back and watch. Something like Avatar is of course a rare exception. But will anyone care in 3 months if they missed clash of the titans?! Leaving aside the big blockbusters, even romantic comedies and other comedies are following the same pattern of easy consumability.

            It is fitting that so many of the recent scorsese films have been period pieces: he and his style of film-making increasingly seem like anachronisms, out of joint with the times.


          • yes which is why TDK or Avatar or Titanic showed the kind of longevity that no other blockbuster does. In the latter instance it’s simply about checking off all the boxes on the formula check list and even the relative failure makes a lot of money.


          • astute point on Scorsese.. GONY, Aviator, Shutter Island.. all period pieces..


  2. Yes, this along with Regal were amongst the most prestigious theaters of Bombay. Built in the 30s it was an MGM exclusive in its early years (Metro coming from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, obviously). Even later it still remained exclusive to Hollywood movies till late 50s or 60s I think. The 80s saw a real slump for it as with the other major cinema halls in the city. It was then refurbished before Saudagar’s release and that was a major event at that time. It also I think was the first theater in India to be equipped with Dolby sound for 1942 – A Love Story. It also used to be the most favored venue for Premieres and those used to be grand events, having been to a few myself. The samosas, as with most cinema halls in the city, used to be from Guru Kripa in Sion and they had their own distinctive smell and taste that I miss these days. Now of course its just the external structure that remains (small mercies) . The huge screen is gone and replaced by multiple screens, the seats may be more plush but that exclusivity is definitely missing.

    Anyway, interesting you brought up WUS here. Incidentally, the “Bombay” dialogue happens right outside Metro. I am pretty sure it was definitely not casual (I saw the movie last night before all the drama) and very definitely not a “mistake” as KJo would now have us believe. I am sure the director was making a point, albeit subtly.

    For some perspective, from the Metro you cross the street and walk a little further to the left you reach Xavier’s College, a little further and yes, the Victoria Terminus or Bori Bunder or the CST or whatever that doesn’t hurt your sentiments. If you chose not to turn towards Xavier’s College but keep going straight a couple of blocks ahead and you will reach Crawford Market, once upon a time the wholesale market for fruits and vegetable and some more. A block further down you reach Mohamed Ali Road. Okay you don’t want to go down that path, bang opposite Metro is the Jehangir Cowasji Hall. Also out here you will find more Irani restaurants (a dwindling breed themselves)per square mile than I guess anywhere even in Iran. A couple of ancient Parsi agyaris or fire temples and the wholesale textile markets that have a large part in making the city what it is. Also, in the neighbouring alley is the Liberty Cinema, one with a history of its own. I can keep going on (and I haven’t even scratched the surface), but the point I want to make is that if there was ever a place called Bombay that existed on this earth, this had to be it. I am sure Ayman Mukherjee didn’t just casually chose this place and dialogue.

    I think I am going a bit off topic here, sorry for the long post.


    • Decan, this was a very welcome and truly fantastic comment. Hope you treat us to more of these. I certainly can never get enough of this kind of cultural history when it comes to Bombay cinema. I will have Regal up at some point also. Thanks so much..


    • I have such fond memories of METRO. It was here that I saw Shyam Benegal’s JUNOON. It was perhaps my first memorable experience of the cinema hall. Those were the day of radio programs and advetisement of movies was done majorly there. TV was still a novelty in most homes though it had arrived in Mumbai in 1973. So each Sunday I woud be glued to Vividh Bharati, beginning with 9am I think when Faroukh Shaikh hosted a quiz program called Double-Ya-Quit. By the time it was noon a program called ‘Kohinoor Geet Gunjaar’ would air which was by and large a musica program. It was for serious music afficianados and right after it would begin a series of film promos. For the longest time each Sunday JUNOON was a regular feature. It would always begin with Rafi’s soulful rendition of Vanraj Bhatia’s ‘Ishq Ne Todi, Sar Pe Qayamat’…..and I believe it was Amir Sayani(or Manohar Mahajan, cant remember) that would announce in REALLY sombre tones, about how amidst the sepoy mutiny, a pathan loved and how!!!! I wanted to absolutely see the national swimming champion(i kid you not, it was announced on the radio advert) Nafisa Ali’s debut film. Man did i want to see the movie.

      So I prayed ardently that somehow the stars would align and I woud get to see the movie. I dont believe it was a big release in the sense that I dont remember it playing in theaters in my suburb. however I was visiting ad agencies with my dad in town, and while at Clarion(in Marine Lines) was introduced to a senior Urdu writer. I had the audacity to whisper in my Dad’s ear, could we ask him the meaning of JUNOON, for somehow I had realised it was an urdu word whose meaning I did not know. This gentle old man, who could have been straight from the Mirza Ghalib zamana, explained very patiently and in English that it meant passion!

      And the stars did align, Dad decided we would catch the afternoon show at METRO. We arrived in a taxi to the theater, fortunately just as the movie credits were sort of beginning. The scenes I remembered the most and came away with deep impressions of were the beautiful lit evening time shots, as Javed Khan(Shashi Kapoor) besotten with Ruth Labrador peers from outside their bungalow, deep into her eyes! As the camera zoomed in on him for a closeup one could almost feel his eyes looking into your soul, while the quietly efficient air conditioners of METRO hummed away noiselessly, trying to contain your excitement of the scene.

      Another thing was the battle scenes. Govind Nihalani’s camera work was certainly exquisite. My dad came away and I still remember him saying this movie was no less than a Hollywood film!!!1

      Thanks to METRO I had one of the best cinema watching experiences of my life ;-).


      • truly heart-warming account here Aarkayne.. thanks so much.. I could read this sort of stuff endlessly..


      • aarkayne- I think they were called “Prayojit Karyakaram” ( and were given 15 minute slot for each movie.
        It was pure fun, was a good way to catch the snippets of the songs, dialouges, and as you said heavy commentry like- Barso baad Dileep Kumar aa rahe hai- Hum iss khoon se aasmaan par Inqulaab likh denge- Kranti likh denge,
        Barso baad Manoj Kumar laa rahe hai- agar unke paas angrezi bandooke hain, tau hamare paas hindustani seene hain, KRanti…… LOL !!!


        • The first Trailer on DD that I remember seeing is for Muqaddar Ka Sikandar.
          It was spellbinding !


        • yes indeed. If you have heard Vividh Bharati during those years, do you remember a program aired called INSPECTOR EAGLE? LOL, it was the most pulpish of programs ever and was sponsored by the manufacturers of Eagle Flasks(i think the FC Mehra family ie father of Umesh Mehra had a stake in it). I used to be hazaar kicked by it.


    • this indeed is such a informative and wonderful post. more of such nuggets please.


  3. Now its turn to Fame Metro multiplex …

    i have had priviledge to see it before and after..

    my first movie in fame metro was a wednesday a truly remarkeble movie and nostalgic theater experience… as there was some place were old pics were kept..


  4. masterpraz Says:

    Some amazing comments here guys…


  5. I really miss those single screen days.. Multiplexes have actually ruined to a large extent a movie watching experience.. i remember watching films which failed at teh box office in single screens in delhi and still I had a positive feeling after watching them because the audience was so very participative..

    every song drew wolf whistles, every introduction entry of a star had audience clapping, and even every punch by the hero had audience enjoying the most of it..

    hum, baazigar, 1942 a love story, hum apke hain kaun, ddlj, akele hum akele tum, raja hindustani, tere mere sapne, pardes, kuch kuch hota hai, hum dil de chuke sanam are experienxes I can never forget!


    • True Pranay, and let me add that it isn’t just about times changing. These days there is a rush to “decide” everything about a film — hit/flop, good/bad, disgrace/embarrassment — by mid-day on Friday, and it takes a few days to separate hype from bullshit, propaganda and hysteria from genuine audience experience. But this phenomenon itself conditions the audience response, as many stay away, only to say later “yaar jab dekhi to itnee buree nahin thee” etc. etc. And this impinges on the cinematic experience it never used to, even as recently as 5-7 years ago.

      I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT RAAVAN HERE: I am specifically thinking about Kites: two of my colleagues were too shy to tell me that they saw kites and didn’t think it was that bad. That was obviously because they had lived through the hysteria attending Kites’ release.


      • Yes I commented more than once on the Kites hysteria when it released.. I personally thought it was a very poor film in every sense but hardly the worst one ever made the way the hysteria made it out to be!


    • Pranay check out if you can the chapter I’ve pointed out here…


  6. Simply loved the above two videos !!


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