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LEGEND OF THE LOST – Lighthouse Cinema

Lighthouse Cinema, Calcutta

Designed by W.M. Dudok, Lighthouse Cinema was established in 1934 for screening exclusively Hollywood films. There was a time when Light House, with its huge sitting arrangement for 1396 persons, was considered as one of the largest cinema halls in India. However, later the capacity was reduced to 600. For a long period of seventy years, Light House was one of the most popular cinema halls in Calcutta and it served its purpose successfully.

Lighthouse - Grand Opening Poster
Lighthouse – Grand Opening Poster

But, during the later part of 1960, most of the Anglo-Indian middle class families left Calcutta for England or Australia and as a result the number of audience for Hollywood films dropped drastically. It was further affected by the prevailing turbulent political condition of Calcutta during 1970s. Under the changed circumstances with changing audience tastes, Lighthouse started screening Hindi, as well as English films and after a period of time they focused only on Bollywood for a while. Yet, the hall was incurring heavy losses in the booking counter due to the unfair competition with the new multiplexes with all the modern facilities. The final blow came from the big Hollywood banners like Warner Brothers, 20th century fox and Paramount Pictures, who refused to release their pictures in Lighthouse from January 2002, since the hall never gets full, even in the first weekend after the new release of major films, which is a bad publicity for them. In view of the changed circumstances, Humayun properties, the management of Light House and the adjacent New Empire Hall, was forced to close the counters of Lighthouse permanently In February 2002.

In the mean time, to partly solve the financial problem, the ground floor of the hall was rented to “Citimart” in 2002. Two years after closing the hall, in 2004, the theatre’s license was seized by the authority and a suit was filed against them for unauthorized alteration in the premises related to the portion of Citimart. Finally, the entire cinema hall was rented to the Citimart. Today the renowned cinema hall has completely become Citimart, selling clothes, food and interior decorating items. The entrance is flanked by a baggage deposit counter on the left side, which was once used as the booking office while the other side is packed with numerous food kiosks selling ice-cream, pastries and snacks. Every trace of a movie landmark is lost forever in the hustle and bustle of a busy shopping area

Lighthouse cinema now shopping centre
Lighthouse cinema now shopping centre
Dibyendu Banerjee
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.

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