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IDBI demolishes iconic Minerva theatre

Mumbai, Apr 27 () : IDBI is left holding an iconic property in South Mumbai, sadly it has no buyers.

Even more bizarre is that it is an icon in Bollywood industry. None of the B town corporate players stepped in and this icon is totally demolished. It is none other than Minerva Theatre which is part of Bollywood’s 100-year old history. The only one who found it worthwhile was Osian’s Connoisseur’s Art and this company is bankrupt and has been ordered to close shop.

Minerva theatre in South Mumbai, known as the Pride of Maharashtra, ran Sholay for five years. IDBI Bank Chairman went to the site to catch a glimpse of the property it could not sell, before it fell to JCB. Probably he too watched Sholay there.

The state-run bank IDBI tried three times to sell the land on Lamington Road, which has 40,000 square feet. With land sharks and underworld dons looking for land in Mumbai, the dearth of buyers is a mystery.

CMD of IDBI, R M Malla says that a Maharashtra law, probably to protect cinema halls going extinct, says that on the land where a theatre once stood, there should be another theatre after demolishing the old one. It can be a mini theatre. Foxed by this, Malla has no clue about getting around this.

IDBI was one of State-owned banks that began flirting with filmdom. It was the first to give finance to movie czars who could come with proper accounts and collaterals. This was the first step to keep Bollywood and lesser brethren from falling into the hands of loan sharks.

Osiana connoisseur Art wanted to bring a theatre with international standards and an exhibition centre, all to be named OSIANAMA. Neville Tuli, man behind this venture got Rs 40 crore from IDBI in 2006. In 2008, the economic crisis put Osiana out of business. The Rs 40 crore loan stood at Rs 84 crore. IDBI put up Minerva for Rs 70 crore and then climbed down to Rs 60 crore. With no takers, IDBI pulled down the theatre.

Osian has been told by SEBI to not access capital markets for money by selling or buying, till the money collected through investment schemes are given back. Many offices in South Mumbai are shifting to suburbs to cut down rents. Builders say that the land cost could be Rs 60 crore and adding the cost of construction to the project makes it very costly.

Getting buyers for property in South Mumbai is getting difficult. Many buildings like Air India are scouting for tenants.

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