Delhi's Roshanara Club where cricket met cinema via 'Gandhi'

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 02-10-2023 16:12 IST | Created: 02-10-2023 14:57 IST
Delhi's Roshanara Club where cricket met cinema via 'Gandhi'
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The century-old Roshanara Club in Delhi besides serving as a cradle of Indian cricket, has a place in world cinema history as it featured in Richard Attenborough's Oscar-winning film on Mahatma Gandhi.

''Gandhi'', Attenborough's 1982 film which won multiple Academy Awards, continues to hold its magic for the audience, even more than 40 years since it hit the theatres.

The biopic was shot on different locations in India, in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Patna, among others.

In Delhi, Attenborough, known for his attention to details, used original locations, such as the Birla House, the Rashtrapati Bhavan (earlier Viceroy House) and Rajpath (now Kartavya Path), as much as possible to recreate key events including Gandhi's assassination and the funeral march of 1948, for which an army of extras were hired.

At Roshanara Club, a cricket match sequence was shot, with its lush green ground and British-era pavilion adding a layer of authenticity to the scene that was set in the early 20th century when Gandhi had visited Bihar, particularly Champaran district which would later serve as his 'karmaboomi'.

In the scene, the cricket match can be seen interrupted by the arrival of a car, carrying two police personnel in uniform and one of them informing club guests about some disturbance in Motihari, the then district headquarters of Champaran, and an epicentre of Gandhi's movement for peasants.

The historic club in north Delhi was established on August 15, 1922, and had turned 100 last year. However, in a dramatic turn of events, the famed club on September 29 was sealed by the Delhi Development Authority, which also took possession of the sprawling property.

The action came nearly six months after an ''eviction notice'' was served on the Club by the DDA as its lease had expired earlier, a senior official said, hours after it was sealed last week.

Rajan Manchanda, general secretary of the Club and joint secretary of the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA), has appealed to the authorities to ''extend the lease period'', given the historicity of the club.

''This is a historic club where cricket greats like Lala Amarnath, Nawab Pataudi, Bishan Singh Bedi, and even many current players have cut their teeth. It has hosted many international matches and Ranji Trophy matches,'' he told PTI.

Roshanara Club featured in Oscar-winning ''Gandhi'' and ''we have all heard anecdotes attached'' to the shooting of the classic movie, he said.

''Roshanara Club got immortalised in the film about a man who too has been immortalised in the epic film,'' Manchanda added.

Roshanara Club Ltd. was granted two premium free leases by the Secretary of State for India in Council during the British-era on annual rent basis for 30 years, which was extendable by further two periods of 30 years each, i.e. up to a maximum period of 90 years, the DDA said in statement on September 29.

''The first lease commenced on 01.09.1922 while the second, on 01.01.1928. The total area given on lease to the Club was 23.29 acres. The lease deeds did not have any provision for renewal or extension beyond 90 years. Thus, both the leases expired on 31.08.2012 and 31.12.2017, respectively,'' the urban body said.

Manchanda said the Roshanara Club since its inception has served as a cradle of Indian cricket, and ''one of our founding members, R E Grant Govan later became the first president of the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) which was established in 1928.

In Patna, Attenborough had recreated some of the key scenes set in Champaran, at the historic Patna Collectorate, which was demolished last year by the Bihar government to make way for a new collectorate complex.

The demolition of the century-old landmark which consisted of a cluster of old buildings from Dutch era and British period, began phase-wise from May 2022, shortly after INTACH's plea to preserve the Collectorate was rejected by the Supreme Court.

While the Dutch-era Record Room was used as Motihari Jail, the British-era DM Office Building of the Patna Collectorate was dressed as a local court where the trial of Gandhi, played by actor Ben Kingsley, takes place.

Kingsley's performance as Gandhi had won him the Academy Award for best actor, while the film won eight Oscars altogether including best picture and best director.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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