As the iconic Kapoor Building on MG Road gets a facelift, ex-owners recall their memories of the structure

The ‘Kapoor Building’ as it has come to be known is all set to make way for a jewellery store

author_img Monika Monalisa Published :  24th March 2022 05:18 PM   |   Published :   |  24th March 2022 05:18 PM
Kapoor Building

Kapoor Building

If you are walking past MG Road, closer to Anil Kumble circle, it is difficult to miss a quaint yellow building in the heart of the central business district. Many remember the structure as Empire Talkies, which was once popular for screening Bollywood movies. But for old Bengalureans, it is a landmark building which houses the fashion studio of designer Paresh Lamba. 

The ‘Kapoor Building’ as it has come to be known is all set to make way for a jewellery store. With only a few old-time structures remaining in Bengaluru, many netizens have raised objections to the demolition after pictures of the razed building made the rounds on social media. In January, the family-owned building was sold to the upcoming store. 

It was an emotional moment for Shakuntala Kapoor, wife of Ravinder Kapoor, one of the ex-owners of the building, when the name of the building was knocked off.  “It had the name ‘Kapoor Building’ stenciled out on the top which was removed. This was hurtful,” says Shakuntala. She recalls that the building was purchased in 1933 by city-based businessman Karamchand Kapoor, for R57,900, and was then mortgaged. Karamchand – grandfather of Ravinder –owned multiple businesses. “We were into the textile business, supplying woollens to the British Army during World War II. Besides, we were distributors of Imperial Tobacco Company, which later became  the Indian Tobacco company,” says Shakuntala. 

Initially the building was leased to Burmese refugee Rosch, who ran Empire Talkies. Shakuntala recalls watching movies like Uran Khatola, Naya Daur etc. “My oldest daughter has watched every movie that has hit that theatre. But what was unique was that the theatre had a section for burkha-clad women in the early ’70s,” says Shakuntala. The Kapoor family later acquired the possession of the theatre in 1971 but had to shut it down in 1984 after the licence was cancelled.  

Shakuntala was quite glad after her second son-in-law, Lamba, started his studio there. “We encouraged Paresh to start his business in the building. It flourished and he became a well-known designer in the building,” says Shakuntala. Agrees Lamba. “When I started my business, it appeared like a corner building on MG Road. But still I went ahead with it. Today, after moving out, I made a name for myself because of my studio in that building,” says Lamba. 

The pain of letting go of the building is still fresh in the minds of the Kapoors’. “I don’t feel like going to MG Road because some parts of the building were razed. For some reason, I thought the facade would be kept and restored, but it was not spared ,” says a disappointed Shakuntala. 

Ravinder, who now likes to keep a low-profile when it comes to speaking about the building, says they also tried to restore it before selling it. “There were also plans of restoring the building on the similar lines of the Opera House. But not everyone was on the same page,” he sighs.