Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hymns for the Weekend : Part 1 - The Imperial Cinema

As I feel the fur of my cat rub against my arm, I am back to my keyboard, keeping a promise of penning down my experiences rather than forget about them and let time give me a distorted description. The weekend that has passed was one of two very drastic days. One day I was alone, walking the streets of an unknown metropolis and yet speaking to myself while the other day had me in the company of many and yet I chose to be as quiet as a mouse. Carefully judging the characteristics, the mannerisms, the idiosyncrasies of the human kind.

I will choose to skip out the parts that would seem too mundane to write about and would rather hand the responsibility to somebody on Facebook who is probably high on the sugar in his Baileys. However, the morning began with some food that need not be talked of followed by a local train ride to a destination I had no clue of. Grant road was decided as that was the place where all my adventures usually began. This time the destination was Lamington road. The well acclaimed den of the taxidermists and surgeons of electronic products. As I descended on to the road, I expected to see a bulging cesspool of piracy and illegal consumption creeping up my legs, however I found no such sight. Maybe I had chosen to not dig deeper, maybe I did not want to know. I walked on down the road, hoping to find an adventure stuck between my toes.

As I was scavenging through my maps to find some interesting place to scurry off to, I lifted my head and to my left I laid my eyes upon what seemed to be an anomaly. Hidden behind some trees against the blazing sun stood a small theatre with a movie poster that was larger than the theatre itself. 'Imperial Cinema' read out the bright red letters with the chipped off paint and the movie that was playing was no recent blockbuster but one that had managed to survive the pages of time hidden in the secret compartments of cupboards and the hidden folders of our desktops. The film was called Tarzan but the main attraction of the movie was Lady Jane played by the evergreen Bo Derek with a wet shirt that had the right amount of visibility to clear the censors and attract the attention of wandering nobodys such as yours truly.

Usually I would rid my eyes off such profanities as I was too intellectual to stoop down to the underbelly of the society but that day, I was inclined for a reason nowhere close to Bo Derek or her assets. The name 'Imperial' got me interested as I had a slight feeling that there would be more to this place than just the sleaze painted over its walls.

As I crossed the road, I could see Bo Derek's shirt even more clearly now and I was wondering what in the world had being single brought me down to. If the world were to know about me visiting some B Grade movie theatre as a way to pass time during the weekends, I would surely have had a rough time explaining myself. But the mind had been made up, there was nothing more to be thought of as I approached the ticket counter and bought myself a 35 rupee ticket into a place which would welcome the lecherous eyes and the hollow hearts. But I was not too keen to enter into the dark abyss of the hall before doing some snooping around myself. As I walked past the hall, I noticed a staircase heading up on to a second floor. At first I was sceptical of being caught as I never liked being the one who would fall into trouble and have their parents come and bail them out of prison (For climbing up some stairs?!) but then I slowly managed to climb up only to find a urinal which had been built into a colonial structure that seemed to have been forgotten with the passing time. Heaps and heaps of garbage, beer bottles and what-not was all that I could see and I realised that negligence is a simple word to say but a much harder thing to clean up.

I realised that there was nothing much that I could do apart from walking into the hall and be at one with the scum of the society. As I pulled back a curtain which was followed by another curtain, I came face to face with the darkness and a stench that made me feel that I was now in a world where only few had taken up the courage to linger into. At first I found the first wooden (clean) chair that I could get my hands on and sat on it. The movie had just started and as my eyes got used to the darkness, I realised that there were only 5 to 6 more in the hall, scattered to different corners, having their own privacy to indulge into their desires. Bo Derek had just set foot on this mysterious land of tribals and had already made her appearance felt by slipping into the water and getting all wet. I decided to walk further ahead into the hall and get a better view of the entire space.

I noticed the balcony at the top and the louver windows by the sides and as my head arched towards the screen I realised this looked just like a stage that I had seen in the halls of Europe. I imagined a play being enacted where the screen stood today and the entire hall thriving with men in custom tailored suits and women in their gowns, excited to see their favourite actors perform under the lights. However, today it was just us few, in our second hand outfits and unkept beards. The ceiling fans up above me made me realise that I had not sat in a hall with fans ever before, it made me realise that I was in an unknown place, it was time to get back to my world.

On exiting the hall, I walked to an alternative entrance to this cinema which once might have been the only entrance. A majestic gate with the word 'Welcome' with two grand elephants guarding on both sides. The initials TMN inscribed which remain a mystery to me even today. I clicked a photograph of the entrance and as I write this, I come to find out 3 fun facts of this very place which I leave you with:

1. It is a 111 year old site that used to host orchestras at one point.
2. This Cinema was featured in the latest video of Coldplay - Hymn for the weekend
3. Today it's a very popular joint for Gays to get lucky.

More hymns for the weekend, coming soon!