Photo by Patricia Esteve
Shankar Rashnani is betting Bollywood will fill the Malda's new seat
After three years of silence and closed doors, the cinema that once had as its slogan, ‘Every movie deserves a second chance’, is back. The second half of this month is scheduled to see the Maldà cinema reopen its doors to the public. The much-anticipated resurrection of this repertory cinema, where for many years two films were available for the price of one, and the selection frequently changed, could surprise those who were faithful Maldà-goers before its closure.
This time around, the Maldà’s administration will be dedicating its repertoire to Bollywood movies. Known for its lengthy fascinating sagas full of vibrant colours, captivating music and bold fashion statements, Bollywood has been a trendsetter not only in its native land, but also in Western countries. Its international appeal is large and growing, and Bollywood films ring up impressive box office numbers in countries around the globe.
The Maldà has been through genre-lifts before. From Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush to art house films and anime, it finally established itself as a repertory cinema, with a faithful and devoted clientele. Then, on October 28th, 2003, after some 60 years of offering films to the Barcelona public, the Maldà was served a closing order from the city council, because it did not meet security regulations. “I will never forget that day,” said Xavi Escrivà, the Maldà’s programming director.
As the cinema did not meet the legal criteria for remaining open, Escrivà and his partners began the painstaking task of determining how to correct the situation and obtaining permits from the city council to make the necessary renovations. “A year ago, when we finally succeeded in getting all the permits, we ran out of money,” said Escrivà. “That’s when Shankar Rashnani came in.”
Shankar Rashnani Lel, an Indian businessman who owns several hotels in Barcelona, is providing a sizeable portion of the €500,000 it has cost to renovate the cinema and furnish it with new seats, a new projector and an elevator. It is Shankar who came up with the Bollywood theme, according to Escrivà.
“The market will dictate the evolution of the cinema,” he said. “We’re thinking of keeping the repertory films for the first show and then screening a Bollywood film. Our proposal has elicited high expectations on the part of the Indian and Pakistani community and that’s what we put our faith in.”
Escrivà plans to show a new Bollywood movie every two or three weeks. “This will depend on the popularity of the movie, if it’s very successful we could leave it for a month or so, but if no one likes it, it might just last a week.”
The movies will come directly from India, and plans are to show films here that are also having their first runs there. And, what about the snacks? Will the omnipresent popcorn still rule over the snack food kingdom, or will the new administration also sell tasty samosas? “We’ll have to see if we can get a permit for that,” laughed Escrivà.
Located in the Barri Gòtic, in what used to be the palace of the Baron of Maldà and is now a shopping complex with a variety of stores, the cinema can be accessed via Carrer Portaferrissa, or the Carrer del Pi, just off the plaça of the same name. Price of admission is the same as any other city cinema, and all films will be screened in their original version with Spanish subtitles.
Let us hope that this time around the Maldà will remain open. After all, doesn’t every good cinema deserve a second chance?
• More information can be found at www.cinemalda.com.