I’ve just returned after watching the 1975 classic – One flew over the cuckoo’s nest on a 70mm screen.
Matterden Carnival Cinemas (also Deepak Talkies), a single screen theatre in Mumbai’s Parel area is a place of gathering for movie buffs. Every Sunday they play a vintage film at a matinee show time. These are classics from around the world. Think Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, Roshomon, Roman Holiday, Annie Hall, Citizen Kane, Pather Panchali, Appu and more.
For those who know me close enough, I’m a big movie buff. If I’m not travelling or sitting in front of my office desk, I’m probably watching a film. So discovering Matterden has been one of the best things ever.
Matterden Carnival Cinemas
I watched my first film at Matterden in 2017 with a friend. It was David Fincher’s Fight Club. I was truly mesmerised by the whole experience – watching a yesteryear classic on the big screen 18 years after it had originally released in 1999. Later we got into a nerdy post screening discussion on the blink-and-miss dick pic in the end credits of the film.
I’ve grown so fond of Matterden since 2017 that I keep coming back. I’ve watched some of the best films ever made right here, from Bicycle Thieves to Cinema Paradiso, All about Eve, Passion of the Christ, All that Jazz, On the Waterfront, and now, One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest.
A piece of history
In 1926, Deepak Talkies screened their first film – an American silent comedy ‘The General’. Back then, they operated by the name Saraswati Talkies. In the 90s, Deepak Talkies screened the best of Hindi feature films including the blockbuster ‘Hum aapke hai kaun’ in 1994, which ran here for 30 weeks.
But with the economic boom and increase in spending power, the audiences’ preferences shifted to multiplexes, leaving single screens to die a slow and painful death. One has to admire Deepak Talkies’ spirit who held their ground and refused to alter their recognition.
Did you know, there’s a law in Maharashtra where cinema owners cannot redevelop their properties without including a movie theatre on the premises. This essentially means once a cinema hall, always a cinema hall. The owners of Deepak Talkies have had little choice but to operate the premises as a theatre all their life. They’ve had their share of survival stories too. For a brief while, Deepak Talkies screened Bhojpuri and Telugu films, which attracted the lower working class like mill workers, taxi drivers and vegetable vendors.
Then in 2014, Deepak Talkies got a makeover, and although they are still a single screen at heart, the rickety chairs made way for cushioned seats and the ceiling fans for air condition. They raised the prices of their tickets, offered more value add-ons and released the latest English and Hindi films. They also collaborated with Mattterden CFC to showcase old classics every Sunday, creating a niche among cinephiles and movie geeks. For me, the best part about Matterden is that the matinee shows are screened without an interval, although I’ll admit, I sometimes miss the samosas and they need to add this on their menu because no movie viewing experience is complete without samosas.
Matterden (Deepak Talkies) is like a living piece of heritage in the heart of Mumbai. They’ve retained most of the architecture and still look like a gated family bungalow with a huge courtyard that has two white elephants and a Balinese style walk-away. The venue often doubles up as a center for immersive experiences like creative workshops and film discussions. They also run a ‘Take a book, leave a book’ initiative in association with the Book Exchange Club of Mumbai. I’m currently reading Nandan Nilekani’s ‘Imagining India’ which I picked up from the book shelf at Matterden.
In a digital era, where films are easily available on our smart phones, Matterden gets people to walk out of their house and watch films on a big screen in the company of fellow movie nerds. So many visitors at Matterden are regulars, who’ve purchased a yearly membership to catch up on their favourite films. Go get yours. I’ll see you at the movies!
Matterden Carnival Cinemas, 38, NM Joshi Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400013
Planning to stay in Mumbai? Some hotels nearby…
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