Monday, January 21, 2008

Art Deco glam at Margao's cine-theatres

The three cinema theatres of Margao were built in the sixties and bear influences of the Art Deco period. Cine Vishant on the Aquem road has a flamboyant asymmetrical form where abstract curves and linear elements coexist quite happily. A pity the building is not well maintained. Some restoration work needs to be done keeping its bold Moderne spirit in mind. Vishant was a regular haunt of our college days where the first day's first show of English films was a craze.

Cine Metropole on the Hospicio Hospital road is a run down ruin today. A swanky modern hotel Nanutel stands next to it. I found a 'Metropole Bar and Restaurant' sign near the main entrance of the famed theatre that used to run to jampacked crowds in its heyday. But what is interesting is this massive decorative concrete fin that sticks out at the left corner of the building. Perhaps Led Zeppelin had this in mind when they sang Stairway to Heaven!

And we now come to Cine Lata, closer to the Margao Municipal Square. The cascade motif at the top as well as the pulvinated triple bands are clearly Art Deco stuff. Cine Lata was the poorer cousin back in the eighties and I remember watching a movie there for just one rupee! Today it is owned by the Zantye clan who also own Samrat and Ashok theatres in Panjim, and offers Dolby sound and better viewing pleasure.

I looked around for pics of the cascade motif and I found this Art Deco embroidery. The energy of cascading water was perhaps a strong symbol for the Art Deco artisans who shunned the past
and looked towards modernity.

Check out this building in Kansas USA. The Dream Theatre originally opened in 1923 and was renovated in 1945 The cascade of bubbling water gets stylized into a frozen stepped facade.

And finally this building on Selegie Road in Singapore, built in the 1950s. An auto parts shop ran there until its new owner opened a bar and gallery hangout in recent years. The motif at the top is very similiar to our very own Cine Lata.

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