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Published: May 06, 2019, 07:00 IST | Fiona Fernandez | Mumbai

The sale of RK Studios in Chembur signals the loss of another important landmark of the city's cinematic legacy

Fiona FernandezWhat's with the plastic bag, Pheroze? Wait a second, you do know that you will be fined if you are caught carrying one of those," exclaimed Lady Flora. She was a bit taken aback. Never before had she spotted her friend with a bag that he was now holding on closely to. Her curiosity was piqued even further when she couldn't figure out the contents of the bag.

Sir PM was a tad rattled with her questioning. Somehow, despite her inquisitory habit that he was familiar with for nearly a century of their friendship, nothing prepared him for every new verbal volley.

"Lady Flora, you noticed. I was actually on my way back from my friend's home. His family had once owned the city's oldest and most popular video cassette lending library, Shemaroo. Look at these treasures that they've kept aside for me from their collection, all classics from RK Studios."

He proudly removed a stash that included hits like Awaara, Shree 420 and Mera Naam Joker. Lady Flora was intrigued. After all, she loved catching a few shows when Hollywood and Hindi films did the rounds at her fave haunt Edward in Kalbadevi. Gregory Peck and Dev Anand were her absolute numero unos.

"Why the sudden urge to watch these films?" she asked. "Well, Lady, I read some unfortunate news the other day. RK Studios will cease to be. A big builder has bought the land and it will be converted into a fancy residential complex, I hear. My heart went numb when I read about it. If Raj saab was alive, it would have broken his heart," he said, softly stating the obvious.

"I am shocked but not entirely surprised. Look at how many single-screen cinemas have gone this way. Or even beautiful cine locations that made Bombay the envy of others," Lady Flora exclaimed. She was clearly upset by the news.

"But Lady, I am really disappointed with the city's custodians of cinema. Shouldn't some attempt have been made at least to save some part of this invaluable footnote of its legacy?" questioned Sir PM. "If the nucleus of Indian cinema cannot protect this rich footnote, pray, who will?"

"You are so right, Pheroze. There seems to be no dearth of funding. Going by these big budget films and fancy overseas locales, not to forget unimaginable things that can be done where I have seen men fly in the air and whatnot, I am amazed that such a site could not be rescued. It's an important chapter of our film history, and in one stroke it's gone forever," Lady Flora tried her best to hold back her tears. In fact, Sir PM had never seen this side to her. She truly loves the movies, he thought.

"Come on, Lady. Let's celebrate what we have at least. Let us watch some of these movies at our friend Viegas's home. He has one of those machines that make these pictures come to life on a small screen," he said.

"After all, 'yeah hai Bambai meri jaan'…" Sir PM whistled as they headed towards their friend's home not before taking a small detour to give a salaam to Lady Flora's Edward.

mid-day's Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city's sights, sounds, smells and stones...wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana
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