Having long lived under shadows of the more popular Victorian Gothic buildings built by the British, the Art Deco buildings of Mumbai are finally gaining recognition, thanks to UNESCO for granting them a World Heritage site status. By Shubhanjana Das
The southern part of the bay, on either side of the iconic Oval Maidan, where aspiring cricketers flock to practices, is the side of Mumbai boasting its architectural richness with the 19th-century Gothic and Art deco buildings. Let’s take you on a tour of a few of these Art Deco buildings, which despite having originated in France, have been artistically Indianised. We can guarantee these buildings are sure to give you a whole new perspective of Aamchi Mumbai.
1. New India Assurance Building, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort
The New India Assurance Building, even though now used for commercial purposes, has a history going back to 1936. Featuring signature Art Deco vertical lines and imposing figurines, the design draws inspiration from Egyptian aesthetics while the carvings depict Indian agriculture and much more, imparting a distinct Indian-ness to the Art Deco building.
2. Eros Cinema, Churchgate
Perhaps one of the most-easily recognisable Art Deco wonders of Mumbai, Eros Cinema at Churchgate has been around since 1938. It has a seating capacity of 1,200 and houses a ballroom, restaurant, and shops. With its large porthole-like ceiling, the Eros Cinema is a marker of the distinct Mumbai Art Deco designs. Made from a mix of red sandstone from Agra and cream paint, Eros Cinema stands proud till date in the heart of Mumbai.
3. Liberty Cinema, Marine Lines
This single-screen theatre, founded way back in 1947 by Habib Hoosein, is an impressive testimonial to the Art Deco scene of Mumbai. The name is an ode to the independence of India. Liberty Cinema, with its golden-light, filled red interiors, grandly decorated with teak furniture houses an old-school charm and is favoured by all those who would give the high-tech, modern multiplexes a pass for an evening of Bollywood glamour and glitz in a quaint setup.
4. Empress Court, Dinshaw Vacha Road
It may take a while for the layman to place the Empress Court on the Art Deco map of Mumbai, so let us point out its signature details for you — traditional motif carvings on the metal entrance gate and the window grills with easily identifiable vertical-line design along with the balconies. Your Art Deco exploration of Mumbai is incomplete without visiting this landmark building.