Sterling Cineplex opened officially on May 4, 2007 to Spiderman 3 and Gautam Ghose’s Yatra but unfortunately with technical problems. There was a power failure and some friends told me that they had to go without seeing the movie they came for at one of the shows on the first day. Someone also told me that, the premiere of Spiderman on the earlier day which was being simultaneously screened on all three screens was a disaster as they had only one reel which kept getting relayed from one screen to the other. Thus the audiences of Screen 2 and 3 had to wait till the audience of Screen 1 had finished seeing the first reel.
A little history of Sterling is that it opened in 1969 and though it was not as old as some of the other theatres like Regal and Eros, it was still one of the few theatres in those days that showed only English movies. The 10:45 late night show was also very popular and created a niche slot for itself.
I went to the new Sterling Cineplex yesterday to see Paris, Je t’aime. It is a French film with a collection of 18 short stories made by renowned directors and an impressive cast. The theme revolves around the romantic city Paris and love. Check the NY Times review here.
When you approach the booking counters, you remember the old Sterling’s ticket windows which were separate for Balcony/Dress circle & Stalls and also for Current & Advance booking. They have now been replaced by a big glass window with BOX OFFICE written on top. The white marble steps which everyone used to sit on before the movie either waiting for the person accompanying them or for just whiling away their time, have been replaced by fewer black steps. I wonder if Raju the stray who died in June 2006 and who used to love sitting on them would have liked them now.
The tickets are now not checked at the entrance of the theater but inside on the steps which lead you upstairs. The lobby has been converted into a restaurant which was packed with people eating from the Blue Foods outlets of Bombay Blue & Noodle Bar, Subway, Gelato and Wraps and Rolls.
Do double check the correct stairs that will take you to your Screen. We took the right hand side stairs showed the tickets for screen 3 and went up to the second floor only to realize that Screen 3 was on the left hand side. The erstwhile Balcony/Dress Circle has been converted into Screen 2 and 3 and the Stalls into Screen 1.
The cafeteria on top has been handed over to Coffee Day. I ran into a friend who was debating with the CCD guy on how her Cold Coffee glass was only half filled. He claimed it was 220 ml in a glass of capacity 250 ml. No amount of principles of volume or physics could convince him that he was wrong. Anyway moral of the story is that now you won’t get that cup of ordinary chai anymore.
The Screen 2 and 3 have obviously smaller capacities but were not that small. Screen one should be better with a larger capacity and the management claims that the size of that screen is as big as the old one. Unfortunately, all single screen theatres would go the Sterling way some day due to the financial non-viability due to low occupancy.
Of course the Jai Jawan stall opposite is still the same and must be very happy that Sterling has finally opened as he must have taken a beating on his 'dhanda'.
So don’t go by my not liking the new Sterling as I am biased against multiplexes for various reasons.
1) The size of a multiplex theatre is smaller compared to the single screen ones. The whole charm in seeing a movie on the ‘big screen’ is gone. There are some multiplexes in Bandra that can accommodate only fifty people. See a movie at Eros and then go and see the same one at Gem in Bandra and you will know what I mean. It would be better to be at home and watch a movie on the DVD.
2) The good old colored and manually stamped cinema tickets are gone. Gone will be the days when you can collect the blue, yellow, green and pink colored tickets, write down the name of the girl who you went with and save it for posterity. The new machine generated tickets on facsimile paper will fade away in some time.
3) The prices have gone up drastically. All Sterling tickets are priced at Rs 120. Earlier, they used to start from Rs 60 for Lower stalls, Rs 80 for Upper stalls, Rs 100 for Balcony and Rs 120 for Dress Circle. Sterling might be the cheapest of the multiplexes in South Mumbai. If you go to INOX, you will have to shell out a minimum of Rs 180 going up to Rs 240. (Unless you want to see a movie at ten in the morning at Rs 130). Even a theatre like Kohinoor at Dadar which catered to the common man in the area has become a mall and the theatre in it called Fame Nakshtara prices tickets at Rs 80 onwards. (Kohinoor had rates of Rs 20 and Rs 40)
4) Prices of stuff that you would like to eat during the interval would also go up. So forget the Rs 15 wala Punjabi samosa or the Rs 15 popcorn. Of course, you can convert your movie expedition into a supper theatre experience by going early and having dinner at the various ‘outlets’ serving various cuisines at the multiplex.
5) Nostalgia and heritage: You always love what you have been doing when you were a kid. The various times you went to Regal, New Empire, Eros, Citylight, Opera House, and Hindmata with that special someone be it family, friend or sweetheart. Just the support that you would give to something old in the city, a landmark which has been around for years.
6) You will have to adhere to multiplex manners (whatever that means). A columnist wrote a whole article recently in the HT on multiplex manners.
Sterling photo courtesy: CNN IBN