As two carbon rods ignited a spark inside the Bauer Arc lamp projector, the smoke of charcoal not only filled the vintage projection room of Jaipur's historic 'The Gem cinema' but also brought life to the wrinkled hands of 83-year-old Bhawani Singh, the master projection technician who fired it up. The cinema, as well as its analogue projection room, has reopened after 13 years for Jaipur International Film Festival (JIFF).
While doing the test projection of Bollywood blockbuster Mughal-e-Azam, ahead of its screening on January 20, Singh who got nostalgic as he aligned german analogue masterpieces spoke to DH, "I have spent four decades in this projection room and lived every moment. From last 13 years after the cinema was shut, I had lost all the hopes to roll these technical marvels once again. But nothing has changed. The Bauer Projector, Klangfilm Audio Processor, Isco Gottingen lenses are working as they used to a few decades ago". The projector room has two 35mm and 70 mm working projectors.
Journey of 'The Gem Cinema'
Designed by its founder Late Lakshmi Kumar Kasliwal and engineer PK Lauria 'The Gem Cinema' was inaugurated on July 4, 1964 by the then Chief Minister of Rajasthan Mohan Lal Sukhadia and senior Congress leader Ramniwas Mirdha.
Sharing the journey of the most loved cinema hall of Jaipur, Sudhir Kasliwal, the current owner told DH, "It's a very emotional moment for me to reopen by father's pet project. I have been a witness to the precision and involvement my father did since its construction days. It attained its hay days in the 80s and 90s. But unfortunately 13 years ago we had to close its doors to the public. But since we retained most of the staff, which is why the theatre, as well as the projection room, is in working conditions".
Known for its unique and Art Deco architecture, the cinema hall has a capacity of 1145 pax. "On the demand of the public, we have decided to reopen the cinema hall for academic as well as art promotion purpose for educational, theatre and music events. To begin with, JIFF is one of its kind of events. In the times of multiplexes, the vintage projection room will also serve an educational purpose to those studying and practising cinema. Moreover, since it is located in the heart of the walled city, tourists can also visit to get a feeling of vintage cinema hall", Kasliwal, Jaipur's noted Jeweller and photographer added.
Some of the blockbusters screened here include Pooja Ke Phool, Aarzu, Shaan, Muqaddar Ka Sikkandar etc.
The 11th edition of JIFF
The 11th edition of JIFF, which has 'The Gem Cinema' as one of its main venues will screen 232 films from 64 countries along with some workshops, seminars and chat sessions. Rajasthan's Art & Culture Minister Dr BD Kalla along with 25 Filmmakers from 25 different nations will inaugurate the 11th Aryan Jaipur International Film Festival - JIFF 2019 on Friday.
Rajendra Bora, the spokesperson of JIFF, said, "Famous Bollywood screenplay writer Robin Bhatt will be presented the Life Time Achievement Award. Robin Bhatt has written almost 77 films like Baazigar, Krrish, Krrish 3, Chennai Express, Golmaal 2, Omkara etc to name a few to his credit".
Marilyn Lights by Jaipur' based filmmaker
Apart from national and international entries, Marilyn Lights, an international award-winning film directed by Tanmay Singh will be screened from the host state Rajasthan.
"Marilyn Lights is a cigarette brand that is smoked by ‘cool people’ who are not quitters. The film explores accidental meeting between two ex-lovers, who chance across one another in a cafe, six years after their breakup. A lot has changed since then. The guy finds her just as charming as before, while the girl has become a mother. He has also changed his cigarette brand from Marilyn Lights to Radux. They reminisce about the past, and seek closure", filmmaker Tanmay Singh who is excited to screen the film in his hometown shared the synopsis of Marilyn lights with DH.