For the Love of Eros!
Real Estate

For the Love of Eros!

The iconic Eros theatre, one of Mumbai’s first single screens and among the last of the city’s Art Deco buildings, was recently redeveloped. Commissioned in 1935 and inaugurated in 1938 by Parsi businessman Cawasji Cambata and designed by architect Sohrabji Bhedwar, it enjoys a prime...

The iconic Eros theatre, one of Mumbai’s first single screens and among the last of the city’s Art Deco buildings, was recently redeveloped. Commissioned in 1935 and inaugurated in 1938 by Parsi businessman Cawasji Cambata and designed by architect Sohrabji Bhedwar, it enjoys a prime location just opposite the bustling Churchgate station. Poor ticket sales owing to the multiplex invasion forced it to shut down in 2017. The structure was in poor shape, requiring structural repairs to the beams, roof, chhajjas and parapet walls. Many leakages needed to be plugged and foliage growing out of the walls had to be removed. Plans to resurrect the structure were sanctioned in 2018 but the COVID pandemic played spoilsport, delaying the refurbishment. Today, the city has its jewel back, more resplendent than ever. “Most Mumbaikars and tourists have stories associated with this theatre, from their first cinema experience to their first date, and much more,” says Nishant Gupta, Senior Associate Architect, Architect Hafeez Contractor. “With multiplexes making inroads, single screens across the country saw dwindling ticket sales and perhaps Eros, too, had its share of financial issues. In 2018, Atul Gupta from Metro Realty met Hafeez Contractor with this exciting project and I was asked to lead the project from his side. The project has been ongoing for six years; for civil works, it took almost four years. It had to be made relevant not just in terms of heritage but also financially sustainable.” The inspiration for the project was the Eros itself. “There was so much to pick, from the marvellous stepped wedge-shaped exterior structural formation to the beautifully articulated fluted wooden panels and crafted doors. The grand atrium with the marble staircase and motifs on the walls were all majestic and showed us the design path,” says Gupta. While doing away with some of the old, the team carefully chose what to retain. While the exterior look was properly and delicately restored, the canopy and some fenestrations are new. The foldable MS entrance door has been retained, as have the grand lobby civil structure and staircase. The grand lobby finishes recreated with the original motifs were used on columns above dado. New marble flooring with an Art Deco pattern complementing the existing scheme was introduced with inlay work. The sun motif on the cutout ceiling was recreated with original members. The grand staircase was redone with similar marble work and circular wooden handrails. The octagonal elevator was redone with a similar wooden interior and a glass ceiling but with higher capacity. For the elevators, a modern hoist system, automatic collapsible shutters and mechanical system were provided. The entire theatre side, including balcony, box, etc, was gutted. The 1,200-seater single-screen theatre has now been shifted to the second floor as a 305-seater IMAX theatre. Access to the new Eros theatre will be from the eastern façade of the building with two levels of retail and food courts. “Towards the theatre side, two levels of retail were created with the third level for the modern IMAX theatre,” elaborates Gupta. “Most aspects of the exterior were retained with the existing Red Agra sandstone, plaster and stylised paint. Most of the old crumbling windows were replaced with new ones with similar-looking frames. There are six recessed planes in existing Art Deco elevation. Each layer has multiple flanking patterns forming a Victorian ensemble. We lit each of these; at night, they create a nice play of light and shadows. The old canopy was rusted and unsafe; the new canopy enhances the overall existing theme with multiple planes highlighted by strip lighting.” For her part, heritage consultant Kirtida Unwalla says, “The circulation pattern enables entry into the majestic foyer, which retains all its grandeur and character in the black-and-white marble floor, newly envisaged by Architect Hafeez Contractor while balancing the fine aesthetics of the original. The original sun roof atrium has been maintained in original form and materials as one proceeds to go up the two octagonal flights of staircases or use the refurbished octagonal lifts. The overall sensibility has been retained and enhanced skilfully while restoring the bas relief circular columns in the foyer.” Addressing the interior and exterior highlights, Gupta says, “The external facade was maintained in red sandstone and painted as per the original. In the internal grand entrance lobby, we used marble with intricate inlay work. The chromium handrails were preserved and reused. The wooden lift door was reused with the interior of the lift car in similar wooden panelling and glass ceiling. Customised wallpaper was used in the circular staircase and new marble steps were introduced. Champagne leafing was done on the internal rings of the upper floor parapet and atrium ceiling.” Takeaways from the Metro refurbishment came in use for the Eros project. “When we did the Metro cinema and converted it into an eight-screen multiplex, the learnings were significant,” explains a Metro Realty official. “We perfected the art of adaptive reuse. Such iconic heritage buildings cannot be recreated. Further, the learnings were how to develop in very tight spaces. Nowhere else in the world has an IMAX been fitted into an 88-year-old building.” Indeed, the theatre has incorporated new-age technology while retaining its old-world charm. “We want everyone who visits Eros to travel through the same door, the same grand lobby, the same grand staircase and wooden elevator, yet have a new feeling of theatre, retail and F&B,” says Gupta. Only time will tell, though, how popular it will be in times of OTT.

Related Stories

Gold Stories

Hi There!

Now get regular updates from CW Magazine on WhatsApp!

Click on link below, message us with a simple hi, and SAVE our number

You will have subscribed to our Construction News on Whatsapp! Enjoy

+91 81086 03000

Join us Telegram