Sterling is dead, Long live Sterling
I heard it first on the radio on the way to work yesterday. The radio jockey was asking people to call in and talk about their favourite memories of Sterling. For yesterday was the last day of Sterling cinema. It will be converted into a three-screen multiplex.
What memory do I share? My first movie in Mumbai, when during summer internship, we spent all our money on rent and thus, at the end of the first month, felt like Kings going for the movie? Do I talk about that night two years back, when we were singing the soundtrack at the top of our voices at the staircase, surrounded by frowning Parsi gentry? Do I share the memory of those taxi-cabs, with white, purple and green flourouscent lights, flooding into the narrow valley right after the last show? During the same internship, we waited on the stairs outside, observing the lights and the illuminated occupants until the last one went out. Then, walked home. Do I share the memory of those inclusive stairs themselves? We used to spend a good half hour on those stairs before they let us in.
The last movie that I saw in Sterling was Munich a couple of weeks back. So, I thought of paying homage by watching whatever film was playing. However, I was apprehensive that other film-lovers would have thought the same and that I won't get any tickets. Such fears were unfounded.
There was no movie playing. Thursday was the last day any movie played. Instead, there were trucks waiting outside. And a large packing box looking ominously at us.
A couple of workers were carrying out large rectangles of cardboard from upstairs. The cardboard looked like pieces of the wall inside. There was a large dump of rods and beams just outside the balcony tickets stall.I decided to go in to take the last few photographs. I was wearing a business suit, so clearly was conspicuous. That didn't deter me. Alas, my first photograph inside was terrible, with the flash on, filling in the shadows (I forgot to turn it down), and terrible focus. My emotions came in the way of the photograph, I guess!
I tried to take another one, when the mustachioed guard (who can be seen in the corner of the first photo) spotted me. Told me to go out. He shouted at me when I asked for a few more moments. I complied. So, I went out and decided to shoot the last vestiges of the hall - the manual tickets availability information board itself. It said that Tuesday was full, while every other slot was available. Somebody's idea of a cruel joke?
As I was leaving, I thought I would take one last photo. Ironic how somebody had taken away the SOON from the COMING SOON!
Read about how sudden it was here. Have covered this in Mumbai Metblogs as well.
(Click on photos to enlarge)