Liberty Cinema, Mumbai

Showplace of the nation

Watercolour illustration of Liberty Cinema (2018-04/2018-04)Art Deco Mumbai

This magnificent Art Deco cinema sits within the Marine Lines neighbourhood, next to West End, South Mumbai’s Art Deco hotel.

Front view of Liberty Cinema (1949-03/1949-03)Art Deco Mumbai

With its foundation laid in 1947, Liberty Cinema was named to celebrate India’s independence on 15th August 1947. It was built as a single screen theatre that showcased only Hindi cinema, popularly known as "Bollywood" today.

Ground breaking ceremony of Liberty Cinema Group Photograph taken at the ground breaking ceremony of Liberty Cinema (1947/1947)Art Deco Mumbai

Hoosein Family, land owner Manu Subedar & project architect Riddley Abbott with his wife were in attendance at the ground breaking ceremony of Liberty Cinema in 1947.

Ground breaking ceremony of Liberty Cinema Habib Hoosein (1947/1947)Art Deco Mumbai

Habib Hoosein built Liberty.

To meet the need for entertainment of troops of the Allied Forces that were based in Bombay, Habib constructed 45 cinemas all over Bombay, including Liberty. This lead to the construction boom of cinema theatres.

Ground breaking ceremony of Liberty Cinema Manu Subedar (1947/1947)Art Deco Mumbai

Manu Subedar, eminent economist

The land where Liberty Cinema was built was acquired from him.

Ground breaking ceremony of Liberty Cinema Mr and Mrs Riddley Abbott (1947/1947)Art Deco Mumbai

Mr and Mrs Riddley Abbott

Riddley Abbott was the Architect of Liberty Cinema. After his untimely death in an air crash when he went on a vacation, it was J.B. Fernandes who was appointed the supervising architect. The stunning interiors were designed by W.M. Namjoshi

Ground breaking ceremony of Liberty Cinema Nazir Hoosein (1947/1947)Art Deco Mumbai

Nazir Hoosein, son of Habib Hoosein, owner of Liberty.

By passion and profession a race car driver and F-1 aficionado

Poster of AndaazArt Deco Mumbai

The theatre opened with the iconic Hindi film Andaz - starring superstars Raj Kapoor, Nargis and Dilip Kumar - on 21 March 1949.

Poster of Awaara (2018-06/2018-06)Art Deco Mumbai

Since 1949, every major Hindi blockbuster has been showcased at Liberty.

Poster of Mother IndiaArt Deco Mumbai

Awara and Mother India were blockbusters that had a long run here.

Eminent Actors of the Golden Era of Indian cinema (2018-06/2018-06)Art Deco Mumbai

Mini Theatre for private screening

Habib Hoosein hosted cinema personalities for social evenings (mehfil) in the Liberty ‘mini’ theatre - his private screening room. Raj Kapoor, a regular, would play the lilting tunes of Awara on the theatre’s piano.

Watch as the mini theatre comes alive with an incredible display of light and colour. The floral motifs on the ceiling are made with luminous paint, designed to glow during the light show.

Hum Aapke Hain KounArt Deco Mumbai

In 1994 Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! starring Madhuri Dixit and Salman Khan, opened at Liberty.

At 125 weeks it was the longest running Hindi film at Liberty. It ran house full for 44 consecutive weeks (3 times a day). Well over 2 million people saw it at Liberty. 

Mr. Hoosein recalls how legendary artist and painter M F Hussain saw the film over 60 times and danced barefoot in the aisles of the Stalls everytime Madhuri Dixit danced on the screen.

The façades of Liberty Cinema in 2018 and 1952. (2018-07/2018-07)Art Deco Mumbai

Liberty Cinema as a Cultural Venue

The Liberty has always been a labour of love, with a lifetime of loyalty, care and affinity shown to it by its owners, long-standing staff and patrons. May its curtains never come down.

Credits: Story

Image courtesy for film Hum Aapke Hain Koun: Ultra Media & Entertainment

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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