Matterden CFC: A Cultural Hub In The Midst Of A Corporate Jungle

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In an age when multiplexes are the order of the day, the folks at Matterden CFC, erstwhile Deepak Cinema are unfazed about their decision to keep the single screen tradition alive. What’s more is that they are doing so by screening World Cinema once every two weeks – Matterden CFC has been hosting ‘French Film Nights’ since May where they have screened some stellar classics in French Cinema such as 400 Blows, The Grand Illusion, Pickpocket, Tomboy among others. The Festival saw an overwhelming response with all the shows going house-full and has prompted the programmers to extend the festival by screening some more films. Matterden CFC, in association with the Institut Français (The French Consulate) screened the films for free in order for more people to be exposed to classics and develop a taste for world cinema. Here’s taking a closer look at the cinema hall and what’s in store. IMG_0868beArthouse Ambience Matterden CFC is the erstwhile Deepak Talkies which once used to screen commercial and Bhojpuri Films. It is said that tickets used to be sold at a price of Rs. 50 or so and hence crowds used to throng there to watch movies. Now, with the complete rebranding of the theatre having taken place, the management is looking at filtering the crowd to ensure that the right kind of people come to the screenings. “Our target audience is movie lovers, connoisseurs of classic cinema, film-makers, film-making students, artists and such. We will be having initiatives for such kind of a crowd as well,” says Punit Shah, Owner, Matterden CFC. IMG_0867beThe ambience of the space speaks volumes in the aforementioned context too. Shah has taken great care to ensure that an arthouse feel is maintained with a garden, wooden furniture in the waiting area, a guitar for those who’d like to play it, a spacious balcony, umbrellas to shield one from the sun, art deco architecture and a stage area in the interiors of the cinema hall. “The point is to make sure that this becomes a space for creation and collaboration than just a movie theatre,” Shah states. IMG_0885beReinforcing the Cinematic Culture Cineplay – a festival where plays were screened got a huge response and saw great attendance and was hosted at Matterden CFC. The event saw playwrights, actors and numerous celebrities – most of whom frequent the theatre. The NGO Gaysi also hosted a discussion on the movie Margarita With A Straw which was attended by the cast and crew of the movie including Kalki Koechlin – a patron of the theatre, claims Shah. “We do not treat celebrities specially – they come, buy their ticket, take their snacks and watch the movie just like anyone else coming to the theater. We are very happy that they are our patrons but we are trying to build a culture for movie watching which will be thwarted if we give them special treatment,” Shah explains. Shah, alongwith Pranav Ashar from the Enlighten Film Society together have been working on designing a discipline for those who come to watch movies at Matterden. “Apart from commercial films, all other movies do not have a break at all. One can take their refreshments beforehand and go to watch the movie. We also do not allow latecomers to buy their ticket and go in while the movie is playing – it disturbs the other patrons. We encourage our patrons to come before the movie starts, or, well in time. They need to respect the film-maker and their fellow movie-goers as well.” guitarEncouraging The Arts Matterden CFC also houses a huge book shelf installed by the Book Exchange Club Of Mumbai where they actively run the ‘Take a book, leave a book’ initiative. Titles range from the Harry Potter series to volumes on film-making and cinema history. Not limiting themselves only to movies, Shah and Ashar have been encouraging artists from all disciplines to showcase their work at Matterden CFC. Shah elucidates, “This is a huge space and we want everyone to come forth and utilize it – be it painters, actors, dancers, writers – we have installed free Wi-Fi so that people can come, work and even have their meetings here for free, we are trying to promote co-working here at zero charge.” He furthers, “The Matterden Café here as baked and organic products at a cost-effective rate. We will soon be expanding it to include a lot of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages as well.” Ashar on the other hand is planning to host a lot more events in the space. He shares, “We plan to have music gigs and concerts as also. For instance, from September 31 to October 6, we will be screening silent films including Raja Harishchandra, A Trip To The Moon and The Joan Of Arc with live musical performances. We will be having an exhibition on cricket with the screening of the movie Beyond All Boundaries which is based on World Cup 2011. In the near future, we will host gaming contests and even fashion shows if and when it is possible.” All photos by Matterden CFC

Divya Naik

Divya Naik
A journalist and social media manager by profession, Divya has been in the media industry for five years and has contributed to a number of publications. Having worked closely as a media consultant for brands she has been rooted in the arts and culture scene of Mumbai and is a supporter of all things BYOB.