Liberty Cinema - An Icon
In a time where multiplexes are the dominant choice for audiences, an iconic theatre is at the forefront of the single-screen renaissance.
Liberty Cinema opened its doors in 1949. The name was aptly selected by the founder, Habib Hoosein, a cotton tradesman, due to the recent culmination of our national freedom struggle.
The Art Deco structure, now a heritage site, was commissioned to British architect Ridley Abbott. This cinema hall is one of the symbols of our film industry’s prosperous past, having been host to gala’s, premieres and the glitterati of years gone by. It’s striking façade and red, carpeted interiors echo with the legacy of Bollywood’s biggest blockbusters. The soft lighting and grand staircase that lead up to the balcony have the ability to transport any movie-buff to the Golden Age of Indian Cinema. Yet, it hasn’t always been appreciated and admired the way it should have.
Like many single-screen theatre’s in Mumbai, Liberty went through its own phase of being made obsolete by multiplexes and malls, and was considered a theatre ‘for the masses’. Not anymore.
When it reopened with the screening of ‘Dangal’ in 2016, Liberty Cinema made an unspoken statement. There was an audience that still wanted to go to the movies specifically to watch a film. Liberty made it it’s mission to ensure that years of legacy were reinvigorated. It was back with a vengeance, to remind us, the film-fanatics of Mumbai, just what a cinematic experience going to a movie used to be.
This rebirth and reaffirmation, combined with its storied past and beautiful design is why we saw Liberty Cinema as the ideal location for EDIDA 2018 (the 17th edition), and the announcement of ELLE Décor’s own coming of age - the 18th anniversary issue.
Here are a few interesting facts about Liberty:
- Liberty hosted the premiere of the first international film to be screened in India in 1950. It was the Italian film, Bicycle Thieves, which won an Academy Honorary Award, a BAFTA Award for Best Film, and a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.
- Hum Aapke Hain Koun premiered here in 1994. The ticket lines went all the way till Marine Lines station, and tickets were pre-booked till 1996!
- Liberty was one of the first Indian theatres with reclining seats, originally shipped from the United States of America. The walls inside the hall are lined with wooden panels made from Canadian cedar and Burma teak, shipped from Canada and Myanmar respectively.