April Fool Or Reality

An April Fools’ Day prank marking the construction of the Copenhagen Metro in 2001

Just heard on FM that Juhu’s old and iconic Chandan Cinema has shut down after Saturday night show of Kesari that proved to be the last show. Hearing it on the morning of 1st April and given the light banter of RJs, I thought it to be an April Fool’s Day prank, but as the things turned out to be, it was not.

I first visited Chandan in 2001, the year I shifted to Mumbai. We used to stay at Four Bungalows and from there to Chandan by Auto Rickshaw was minimum fare. It was clear that the theatre had seen better days, but I still got enamoured considering it was right in Juhu, home to the who’s who of Bollywood. I was also told that of late, several premiere shows were happening at Chandan in preference to other iconic cinemas Eros, Regal and Liberty that were in town. Seats and air conditioning at Chandan were comfortable, cafeteria served nice pop corns and samosas and gentry included families. All in all a fair cinematic experience. Then I actually shifted my residence to Juhu, a stone’s throw away from Chandan. Chandan in fact, repainted its facade and upgraded its acoustics by switching over to Dolby.

Thereafter, things started happening that were adverse to Chandan’s survival. A huge mall cum multiplex came over next to Chandan. PVR cum Shopper Stop and Cafe Coffee Day in the same premises proved too much for fast deteriorating Chandan. Slowly, old loyalists started giving short change to Chandan by patronising PVR. The last nail in the coffin of Chandan was probably concretisation and widening of the road. The authorities took possession of the sizeable chunk of Chandan’s large land parcel, literally bringing it right on the road! The end was imminent, but unless it happens, the hope for survival should not be given up- be it a person or an institution!

April Fool’s Day also heralds end of two old Banking brands – Dena and Vijaya- which from today onwards form part of Bank of Baroda. Who knows this feeling more than me for I myself went through the experience of demise of my alma mater ( I prefer this word because I learnt my Banking there) State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur that got assimilated into the behemoth, State Bank of India!

April Fool’s Day, origin of which is not very clearly established, has been popular for light hearted pranks. In one famous prank from 1957, the BBC broadcast a film in their Panorama current affairs series purporting to show Swiss farmers picking freshly-grown spaghetti, in what they called the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest. The BBC were later flooded with requests to purchase a spaghetti plant, forcing them to declare the film a hoax on the news the next day. In our childhood, we would indulge in such harmless banter with our friends, but to encounter such brand killing news on this day is probably an indication of things changing, change being the only perpetual constant.

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