Though Indian film industry is the largest in the world in terms of the number of films produced the country accounts for a very small number of cinema theatres compared to other developed and developing countries. There are only around 12000 cinema theatres spread across the country with Greater Bombay accounting for a mere 150 for 18 million people. With the advent of film based television programme; real estate boom that has usurped many neighbourhood theatres, mostly illegally; and the opening of overseas market for Hindi cinema the number of functioning theatres is shrinking further.
Yet the people in the fringes always manage to curve out customized spaces that can be called entertainment outlets.
Cities are known to be divided by its degrees of gentrification. But it can also be marked by slum cinemas in the shacks that cater to working class migrants. Tucked behind the bus stops or under the flyovers or sharing the wall with a kiosk selling lottery tickets these unauthorized / illegal structures pose an uncanny ability to remain invisible to the eyes of those who are not its primary clients. These video theatres show films made in the regional languages that are avoided by the single screen cinemas and multiplexes.
Photo Credit: Sameer Tawde
Traveling tent cinema is a legacy from the earlier version of public entertainment – circus. But in India it has also had another dimension – the religiosity of the iconic. Though in all other parts of the country and most probably even in the world, the traveling tent cinema, as a phenomenon, had died long back but in Maharashtra it is still going strong. There are about 40 registered Tent Cinema Companies in Maharashtra. One reason behind it could be that the companies have aligned themselves with the local socio-religious jatras that are immensely popular. The decked up vehicle of the deity or the saint lead the procession of devotees, knick knack shops and eateries from village to village closely followed by the cinema truck with a giant Boer projector perched on the top.
Photo Credit: Amit Madhesiya
One of the documentation processes in this project have been to map the appearance and disappearance of cinema theatres in Bombay through the 20th century. The maps resulting from this not only reveal the growth of the city, but also indicate the high points and the lull periods of cinema as an entertainment form that is consumed in this city.