Founded by Jamshedji Framji Madan CBE, Madan Theatres grew to become the largest filmmaker, distributor and theatre business in India. Madan and his companies were responsible for a number of firsts in Indian cinema, including the country’s first purpose-built cinema, first Bengali feature and first Bengali talkie.
This website is still under construction but the aim is to establish a useful resource for people looking to find out more about J F Madan and his work in film, theatre, business and philanthropy. The site is maintained by relatives of J F Madan, Ashley Coates, Gool Madan Ardeshir and Anjali Dhar.
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1856 – J F Madan is born
1868 – J F Madan begins his career first as a curtain-puller, then as an actor in Parsi theatre
1902 – J F Madan establishes the Elphinstone Bioscope Company, predecessor to Madan Theatres, to exhibit films in Calcutta
1902 – Madan-owned Corinthian Theatre records some of the earliest known recordings in India
1904 – Elphinstone Bioscope produces its first film
1907 – Elphinstone Picture Palace is built in Calcutta – India’s first purpose-built cinema
1908 – Madan becomes an agent for Pathe
1918 – J F Madan receives his OBE “for meritorious services during the Kabul war”
1912 – J F Madan exhibits at the Delhi Durbar
1919 – Madan Theatres Ltd. is founded on 27th September
1919 – Bilwamangal – first Bengali feature film is produced and shown at the Cornwallis Theatre
1923 – J F Madan awarded CBE
1923 – J F Madan dies, J J Madan takes over management of the company
1925 – Fire destroys much of the Madan Theatres film collection
1927 – Madan Theatres is employing roughly 2,500 individuals.
1927 – J J Madan’s trip to New York, discussion with Universal on buying the firm
1929 – Elphinstone Picture Palace in Calcutta becomes first Asian cinema with permanent sound facilities
1929 – Madan Theatres exhibits the first talkie in India – Universal’s Melody of Love – at the Elphinstone Picture Palace in Calcutta
1931 – Jamai Shashthi – first Bengali talkie film
1931 – Madan Theatres owns or controls 126 theatres
1932 – Indrasabhi – this Hindi film had 71 songs
1937 – Madan Theatres produces its last film
2013 – Chaplin Theatre (formerly Elphinstone Picture Palace) is demolished
2018 – Empire Theatre (built as Palace of Varieties) closes
2020 – National Film Archive of India has acquired parts of Madhabi Kankan, a silent-era film produced by Madan Theatres in 1930