Liberty Cinema, Mumbai

Let’s walk through this Art Deco gem.

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

Habib Hoosein built Liberty

Habib constructed 45 cinemas, including Liberty,  as a means to entertain the Allied troops who were based in and around Bombay during World War II.

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 original architect of Liberty Cinema. After his untimely death in an air crash, J.B. Fernandes stepped in as the supervising architect. The stunning interiors were designed by W.M. Namjoshi, with close involvement by Habib himself.

Welcome to the Showplace of the Nation - built to evoke luxury and glamour. This Art Deco cinema palace showcased Hindi films since its inauguration in 1949. This is the entrance lobby and stairway that leads to the stall, dress circle and balcony seats of the main auditorium.

Main staircase in the interiors of Liberty Cinema (2018-06/2018-06)Art Deco Mumbai

The breathtaking interiors are a fine example of Canadian cedar and Burma teak wood coming together to create exquisite wooden panelling, which embellishes almost the entire theatre.

Along with the woodwork, the interiors throughout the cinema also host fine examples of plaster work and lighting systems.

With a capacity of 1200 seats, this Art Deco cinema house is in immaculate condition, and is one of the finest examples of preservation.

Moulding details above the proscenium and lighting details on either side of the original curtain drawn our the screen of the main auditorium of Liberty Cinema (2018-06/2018-06)Art Deco Mumbai

Highlighted here is the golden curtain that unveils the grand theatre screen. On either sides are the frozen fountain features which come to life with the play of light and shadow.

Lighting fixtures on either sides of the screen curtain.

Moulding detail on the proscenium.

A panoramic view of the cinema's interiors, taken from the balcony.

The stunning panelling work and lighting system uses wave-like patterns to create a sense of movement in the design.

Circular and recessed lighting systems on the ceiling illuminate the interiors and create a uniquely soft ambience.

The cinema houses a magical 28-seat private theatre. It hosted soirées and special film screenings for the who's who of Bombay's film industry. In focus here is the original curtain, decorated with piano keys and stars, symbolic of the music carrying on, whether night or day.

The opulent seats were designed with a drink holder, and a folding flap to make notes during a screening. The stunning floral motifs on the ceiling are created with a special incandescent paint, which glows bright to this day when the theatre is blacked out.

Frozen fountain motifs as architectural details at Liberty Cinema Frozen fountain motifs as architectural details at Liberty CinemaArt Deco Mumbai

The Liberty is an ode to the frozen fountain feature, an iconic Art Deco design element which represents eternal life.

The Liberty is an ode to the frozen fountain feature, an iconic Art Deco design element which represents eternal life.

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

Can you spot the difference on the facade?  Having seen Liberty virtually, make sure you experience this beauty in person.

Credits: Story

Art Deco Mumbai showcases Mumbai’s Art Deco, advocates its conservation, chronicles its history, documents neighbourhoods and has created the only online repository dedicated to Mumbai’s Deco buildings. Credits for archival photographs to Nazir Hoosein's family archive. All the remaining images are from Art Deco Mumbai’s archive.

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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