Kahaani laaparwaahi ki: A delightful visual tryst with Kolkata and it’s filthy end! March 11, 2012

As I watched the superbly skilled Vidya Balan in ‘Kahaani’ tonight (film highly recommended), I could not stop admiring the way Sujoy Ghosh has romanced Kolkata in the film. Portrayed in a suitably old world tint, every frame captured the worst of Kolkata and converted it into an endearing visual. Poverty, entangled wires, hand riksha pullers, the jerky motion of the tram, the roadside tea stalls, the winding alleys, the decaying buildings, the traffic and ceaseless mass of humanity. Faces creased with worry, faces that smiled, faces that wore indescribably expressions. I wanted to go there immediately and lose myself in this great city, all by myself, with a sketchpad and camera. Kolkata has been hitting me for the past few months through books, articles and visits by friends and family; it’s beckoning for sure!

Mind still filled with images of lovely Kolkata, what a shock it was for us to step out of the exit into a stairwell that had a ceiling not even 6 feet high! As we walked down the exit stairs, we were met with the most extraordinary amount of filth and litter. One landing had rotting vegetables, presumably supplies that the banquet hall on that floor hadn’t consumed for the wedding dinner they were hosting. Another landing had piles of rubbish. Another had spit stains, yet another had used, discarded plates with wasted food spilling out, another had mattresses piled in it! The stairway was barely lit (anyone could have slipped and fallen), the exits back into the mall were locked, so no one could leave the smelly stairwell even if they wanted to.

Nearing the end of this horrendous journey, I started to take pictures; believe me, these tell only a small bit of the tale (i was unable to go against the flow of traffic to capture the real gems!). Perhaps the romantic street scenes of Kolkata, when met in the flesh, may not seem so beautiful, I realized, as I filled with rage at the irresponsibility of SRS Cinema and Omaxe (this was in the Omaxe Celebration Mall on Sohna Road, Gurgaon). How could they let an entire movie hall full of audiences, who paid hard earned money for tickets to be subjected to such a humiliating experience. The least I could do was document this and here are the pictures to tell the story.






About ramblinginthecity

I am an architect and urban planner, a writer and an aspiring artist. I love expressing myself and feel strongly that cities should have spaces for everyone--rich, poor, young, old, healthy and sick, happy or depressed--we all need to work towards making our cities liveable and lovable communities.

Posted on March 11, 2012, in Travel & Experiences and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Doesn’t every cinema hall exit and fire escape stairwells have the same story to tell?
    On another note, Kolkata chalein? :))

  2. The ‘running hot water’ was the scene stealer – a lovely cameo!
    The hall has some other interesting elements that we discovered – we took the lift from the basement to 3rd floor (it did not go to 4th floor) and came out of the lift thro a flowered archway (it services the banquet hall; there is no signage to suggest this), to walk around and find an escalator to the 4th floor, to be told that the tickets are available only in the GF level, took another lift down (to reach it you have to cross 10-15m of open terrace – pity those going in the rains or even on summer afternoons) bought the tickets and took this lift up again. We also were ejected thro the same exit, but decided to not walk all the way down!! But, i agree with Nupur – there is something with cinema exits!!

  3. Forget cleanliness and hygiene. Are they even safe as exits? When I got out of PVR at phoenix mills compound in mumbai, it was almost a stampede. 3 movies ended at the same time. We took 20 mins to go down 3 flights of stairs. All we needed was one person tripping on those winding stairs and a pack of atleast 250 to 300 people would have brought the house down like cards. But then the first law of optimisation is not to plan for the worse case scenario. Do these guys follow building bylaws?

    • Building bye laws follow karte hain to bhi, who says movie goers have to be ejected through the fire escape? they have so many people manning every gate. if they are worried about people sneaking into another movie, just post someone at the entry to the other hall! have failed to understand this ‘eject them into space’ business!

  4. There are some cities which are an assault on all senses!

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