It’s curtains down for one of the oldest independent cinema houses in Dubai.
Nestled in the heart of Bur Dubai, Golden Cinema, formerly known as Plaza Cinema, finally shuts down, leaving golden memories for lovers of Indian films. On Saturday, May 2 2015, this last independent Indian theatre in Dubai rolled the credits for the final time in 43 years.
A landmark building, with the Al Ghubaiba metro station, bus station, abra station and taxi stand in the same vicinity, the cinema hall has been a crowd puller, giving easy access to people of different walks of life to enjoy their leisure time.
The theatre boasted the largest seating capacity of 1,500 in the region and was also the only theatre in the Middle East to have balcony seating. This is in stark contrast to the way most modern multiplexes feature many screens showing movies to only a few hundred people in each.
Opened in 1972, making it as old as the UAE itself, the theatre has screened thousands of movies — old Hindi films, Bollywood chartbusters, and later on, a majority of the Malayalam and Tamil blockbusters.
In 2013, it hosted a free screening of the Tamil film Aarambam, which was partly shot in Dubai, for 1,500 labourers from the ETA Group in conjunction with the Dubai International Film Festival.
But what many will lament most is that it was the last independent Indian cinema in Dubai. In a world dominated by mainstream cinema of either the Bollywood or Hollywood variety, this class of theatre offered an alternative to the latest blockbusters.
Based on the runaway successes of the film festivals in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, there is clearly an audience that seeks independent art house movies on the big screen. While most people are happy to watch the big-budget releases, there ought to be room for a cinema offering something a little different.