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Metro Cinema Hall - Legend of The Lost
1859    Dibyendu Banerjee    11/09/2019

Located at 5 Jawaharlal Nehru Road, next to the palatial Metropolitan Building, Metro Cinema was opened by Metro Goldwyn-Mayer, an American Production Company, based in Beverly Hills, USA in the year 1934 to promote their films in the city of Calcutta, which had a large English-speaking people of the British Isles during that period. Built in 1934, the uniplex cinema hall was designed by Thomas W Lamb, a Scottish born New York based theatre architect, who also designed the Metro Cinema in Bombay, later in 1938 and many other renowned theathres around the world.

metro cinema hall
During its glorious days

Since inaugurated with the film ‘Way out West’ in 1935, the Metro cinema had become a favourite entertaining centre among the cinema buffs in Calcutta, especially the European and the Anglo Indian communities based in the city.

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In fact, Western movies were very popular among the young people of the city, at least until the first half of 1970s and Metro was the most modern of the cinemas in Calcutta until the appearance of the Light House Cinema in the show business in Calcutta in the early 1940s. Yet, equipped with a grand palatial stairway and a plush lounge Bar, the distinctive art deco of the Metro Cinema has over the years defined the culture of the city and was regarded as an iconic landmark of Calcutta. In fact, with its grand cloakroom, a plush lounge, mirror-panelled walls, graphic portraits and rare photographs of Hollywood stars, like Marilyn Monroe and Ingrid Bergman, it epitomized entertainment in colonial Calcutta.

metro cinema hall

The scenario changed with the changing audience tastes, as well as the prevailing unrest political situation of the city during the 1970s, which had disastrous effect on the booking office. The continuous losses in the business adversely affected condition of the glorious building. Ultimately, the fatal blow to the business came during the late 2000s, in the form of rising new multiplexes and the theater had no other way but to shut the doors in 2011.

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In 2012, the heritage commission of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation decided to auction the building, with the condition of preserving the unique façade and the grand stairway of the heritage building. The property was bought by a Mumbai-based realtor, who accepted the condition and expressed their plan to renovate the theater into a six storey multiplex along with retail and food courts. The story of the gracefully dignified Metro Cinema ended there.

metro cinema hall
metro cinema hall
The beginning of the end of a legend

Recently, the heritage building of Metro Cinema reopened on 15 February 2019, as Metro Central Emporium, a new mall of branded items in the city, sprawling across 80,000 square feet over four floors.

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It has been reported that, Inox is expected to open a multiplex on the top floor of the property in a few months. Nevertheless, till the time a full-fledged theatre is opened on the premises, the mall will have giant screens both inside and outside that will showcase films screened once shown at Metro Cinema.

metro cinema hall
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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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