Situated at Charni Road opposite Opera House junction, Roxy was the preferred cinema of three Bollywood superstars from different era – Ashok Kumar, Dilip Kumar and Rajesh Khanna. Here is a theatre which is hundred years old and thankfully, still going strong.
Started in 1920’s, Roxy Cinema initially screened English films in its first decade. In 1934, Roxy was purchased by Kapurchand Mehta and his brothers who also owned buildings (Keval, Kapur and Zaver Mahal) in Marine Drive. The first Hindi film it showed was Naughty Girl (1934) of Ranjit Studios. The brothers then teamed up with Bombay Talkies and later Filmistaan Studios and almost all their films were released at Roxy. Devika Rani starrers like Acchut Kanya (1936), Jeevan Prabhat (1937), Vachan (1938), etc were super hits at Roxy.
The theatre became a top favourite of Ashok Kumar as his ten films, including the blockbuster Kismet (1943) celebrated jubilee run here. Films like Achhut Kanya, Kangan (1939), Bandhan (1940), Jhoola (1941), Mahal (1949), Sangram (1950), etc. were released here to a stupendous response. In fact, Kismet created a record at Roxy that may never be broken again. The film first released at Roxy in January 1943 and ran for sixty one weeks celebrating diamond jubilee. Then six months later in August 1944, it was re-released at Roxy and celebrated silver jubilee with twenty six weeks run. Again in April 1945, Kismet came to Roxy and ran for twenty nine weeks. This is a unique record of the same film celebrating jubilee thrice at the same cinema.
Later, Roxy premiered many Dilip Kumar movies like Shaheed (1948), Nadiya Ke Paar (1948), Shabnam (1949) and Madhumati (1958 ). Roxy was considered top most cinema hall for Hindi films in the ‘40’s and 50’s. In 1969, superstar Rajesh Khanna phenomenon was created here with Aradhana celebrating diamond jubilee (60 weeks) run. Roxy then became Rajesh Khanna’s preferred theatre with films like Kati Patang (1971), Amar Prem (1972), Anurodh (1977), Red Rose (1980), Phir Wohi Raat (1980), Agar Tum Na Hote (1983) and Nasihat (1986) releasing here and most of these turned out to be hits.
Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981) was Roxy’s biggest hit in early ’80s completing a golden jubilee. Later, Manmohan Desai’s last hit film Mard (1985) premiered at Roxy and was highly successful. In 1989, Rajiv Rai’s multistarrer Tridev came to Roxy after its initial run at Regal and Minerva Cinema. The theatre was specially decked up for this occasion. The film became a blockbuster hit primarily riding on the ‘Oye Oye’ wave and celebrated a golden jubilee at Roxy.
Apart from the Bollywood blockbusters, Roxy has also screened two biggest hits of Marathi cinema – Vijay Kondke’s Maherchi Saadi (1991) and Mahesh Kothare’s Zapatlela (1993). Both the films enjoyed a silver jubilee at this cinema.
Roxy had a successful innings till early ‘90s with Dharmendra- Govinda starrer Zulm Ki Hukumat (1992) being the last hit film it screened. The theatre shut down sometime in late 1993 with the Ayesha Jhulka starrer Kohra.
The old theatre was demolished to make way for a commercial building with a smaller screen audi retaining its name ‘Roxy’ which opened in 2005 with Akshay Kumar- John Abraham comedy Garam Masala. Adding a tagline ‘Cool and Cozy’ to Roxy, the cinema was back in business. Screening the latest Hindi, Marathi as well as Gujarati releases, Roxy Cinema continues its rich legacy till date.
P.S. Some of the notable releases at Roxy Cinema over the decades are Baiju Bawra (1952), Aasha (1957), Junglee (1961), Aadmi (1968), Ek Phool Do Mali (1969), Saudagar (1973), Kunwara Baap (1974), Julie (1975), Kasme Vaade (1978), Vidhaata (1982), Woh 7 Din (1983), Anubhav (1985), Hatya (1988) and Rihaee (1988).
All images courtesy Internet