As the nineteenth century came to a close, cinema was the latest developing art form in the global stage. In India however, the route to moving images was taking longer.
In the midst of the raging tropical monsoon, on July 7, 1896, the same day as today, motion pictures or “living photographic pictures” marked its presence for the first time in India, at Watson’s Hotel, a vision of opulence in the heart of erstwhile Bombay.
The screening was held by Maurice Sestier, the Lumière Brother’s cameraman. This was only a few weeks after the first moving picture was screened at the India Salon at the Grand Café in Paris by the Lumière Brothers.
Also an agent of the luminary Lumières Louis and August Lumiere, Sestier charged one rupee per admission and held four screenings at the famous Watson Hotel.Arrivee d’un Train en Gare, The Sea Bath, A Demolition, and La Sortie des UsinesLumiere were shown primarily to British officials whogaped at the moving wonder. The six short films were of an hour’s duration put together and became extremely popular.
The regular shows, however, started at the Novelty Theatre from July 14, 1896. On public demand the films were screened to packed houses for as long as two months.
This show advertisement chronicling the ‘marvel of the century’appeared in the ‘Times of India’, carrying details of a film show to be held for the first time in the Indian Subcontinent.