With the demise on Monday February 1st
of Ramanlal Savani comes a sad passing in Kenya of an era of the
Golden Hollywood and Bollywood.
Ramanlal Savani, popularly known as
Ramanbhai, had to his credit bringing the best Bollywood
entertainment first to East Africa and then also to the
other African countries and also to the Middle East,
the United Kingdom and many other overseas countries.
His immense interest in developing the
cinema business he managed Majestic Cinema and then the
family owned Queen’s Cinema (later called Kenya Cinema)
Queen’s Cinema in the early 1952 was
popularly called “the Cinema Deluxe” which was the
first cinema in the entire East Africa to install
wide screens CinemaScope and Stereophonic Sound
Ramanbhai made the Kenya Cinema
(Mombasa) a magnet not only to the Kenya coast
moviegoers but also to the film producers and suppliers
from around the world.
The movies which invited long queues
sometimes overnight queues were for the Hollywood hits
Dr. No, The Towering Inferno, From Russia With Love, The
Rise And The Fall Of Idi Amin, The Ten Commandments,
Ramanlal M Savani.
The bollywood films which ran for
weeks and weeks included the titles Waqt, Mughal E Azam, Ganga
Jamuna, Sholay, Hum Aapke Hai Kaun, Aradhana, Haathi Mere Saathi
, Silsila, Bobby etc.
From most unheard of in those days was
inviting Bollywood celebrities to the Kenya coast. His guests at
the Kenya Cinema were film makers Yash Chopra, K. Asif; stars
Dilip Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Raaj Kumar, Nanda, Jeetendra, Asha
Ramanbhai was the first person to
bring the Italian “Spaghetti Westerns” Django and Johnny Yuma to
the East African audience.
Thereafter the flood of Italian action
titles hit the Kenya cinemas.
The martial art films till the early
1960s were mostly low budget action fares till Ramanbhai went
for better standard Hong Kong products.
Ramanbhai was a man of business
When he realized that for a major hit
film one cinema was not enough for the Nairobi and Mombasa
audience he introduced a system of “simultaneous release” of a
film in three or even four cinemas on the same weekend.
This benefited the film distributors,
the cinemas and most the moviegoers !
With the passing of Ramanbhai the
coast people have lost an illustrious entertainment business
icon of the Hollywood and Bollywood golden age.