Timeline

1800s.
1856 – J F Madan is born in Navsari, Gujarat on 27th April.
1864 – Pirojbai Minwala (J F Madan’s future wife) is born in Karachi.
1868 – J F Madan begins his career first as a curtain-puller, then as an actor in Parsi theatre, part of the Elphinstone Dramatic Club. His father had lost substantial sums in a scheme to reclaim land between the Seven Islands of Bombay, meaning J F needed to seek employment for himself at a young age.
1875 – J F Madan enters into a trading business as a partner with Dr N N Parekh, Mr Sakloth and a Mr D M Wacha
1885 – J F Madan sets up his own business as wine merchant and general provisions supplier under the banner of “J F Madan”. It would become a very substantial business in its day, noted for securing lucrative contracts with the British Indian Army, particularly in the north of the country.
1890 – Burjor Jamshedji Madan (son of J F Madan) is born. Burjor was a company director for the business in later life.
1896 – Jehangir Jamshedji Madan (son of J F Madan) is born. He would later manage the company and direct 22 of its films.

1900s.
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.
1903-1904 – J F Madan supplies British Indian Army (3,000 frontline with 7,000 supporting troops) during the “expedition to Tibet”, a temporary invasion of the country.
1904 – Records indicate hundreds of beggars gather weekly on a Sunday outside the Corinthian Theatre and each receive around 4 annas from J F Madan.
1904 – Elphinstone Bioscope produces its first film.
1904 – Further early recordings of the Corinthian Theatre Chorus.
1907 – Elphinstone Picture Palace is built in Calcutta – India’s first purpose-built cinema.
1907 – J F Madan starts project to build second Tower of Silence in Kolkata, donating Rs 20,000 himself, building a subscription from other Parsees and gaining a local grant.
1908 – Madan becomes an agent for Pathe, with exclusive rights to showcase their films across South Asia, giving the firm a huge advantage over its rivals.
1908 – Bioscope films royal visit to Calcutta.

1910s.
1912 – J F Madan and the Elphinstone Bioscope Company films and then exhibits at the Delhi Durbar. J F is given the command of a bioscope show outside Government House, watched by the royal family
1912 – J F Madan funds the construction of a residential building for priests attached to the Fire Temple in Kolkata as well as items for the temple itself.
1914-1918 – First World War: J F Madan is a supplier of provisions to the British Indian Army. A letterhead from 1914 describes the J F Madan company as a “general merchant, dealer in oil-man stores, wines and gymkhana goods”. The company is also “appointment purveyor to the Right Honourable The Baron Hardinge of Penshurst – Viceroy & Governor General of India” and “by special warrant of appointment to His Excellency Lord Carmichael of Skirling – Governor of Bengal”.
1915-1916 – Madan and Maurice Bandmann enter a bidding war to distribute British wartime propaganda films.
1916 – New Elphinstone Theatre in Madras is inaugurated by the Governor-General. Noted for having an amateur boxing ring and being one of the first in India to raise funds for WWI efforts through ticket sales.
1918 – J F Madan receives his OBE. He is described in the London Gazette as “Supplier to Supply and Transport Corps, 8th (Lucknow) Division, Bengal.” This section of the Northern Army remained in India during the war, tasked with internal security duties for the most part.
1919 – Madan Theatres merges with Elphinstone Bioscope and is registered as a limited business on 27th September.
1919 – Bilwamangal – first Bengali feature film is produced and premieres at the Cornwallis Theatre on 11th November.
1919 – Madan purchases the rights to produce films of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay novels for ₹30,000.

1920s.
1920 – Khorshed Madan Mansion built in memory of J F’s daughter, Khorshed Rustomji Maneckji Mehta and subsequently donated to the Anjuman to house poor Parsi families.
1920 – Nala Damayanthi becomes the first Indo-Italian production
1923 – J F Madan OBE is promoted to CBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours
1923 – 28th June – J F Madan dies in Calcutta aged 67. As a mark of respect all cinemas and theatres operated by the company were closed for 24 hours. B J and J J Madan took over management of his business interests and were the executors of his will along with F J Madan.
1923 – 30th June – J F Madan’s funeral takes place at Beliaghatta. B J Madan receives over 5,000 telegrams expressing sympathy including notes from the Viceroy and Governor-General.
1923 – 21 December – ten large “Chinese pandals” were erected in Burma to receive Viceroy Lord Reading and Governor General of India en route to Government House. One of those pandals was paid for by Madan Theatres.
1925 – Fire destroys much of the Madan Theatres film collection
1927 – Madan Theatres is employing roughly 2,500 individuals
1927 – (Approx) It is around this time that the firm is understood to have introduced the first soda fountains to India – three Weber Dispensers in Calcutta and Bombay.
1927 – Ben Hur secures a record-breaking run (four-week, three-times-a-day showings) at the Empire Theatre. Firm claims exclusive rights for India, Burma and Ceylon
1927 – J J Madan’s trip to New York, discussion with Universal on buying the firm
1927 –  Arimardan Singh, (the second-to-last) Maharaja of Charkhari purchases the Corinthian Theatre in Calcutta, along with its theatrical company, having fallen in love with one of the actresses there. The legendary theatre is said to have been in debt at the time.
1928 – First Wurlizter organ in India is installed at the Corinthian Theatre in Calcutta.
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.
1929 – Madan Theatres begins lease of the Royal Opera House in Mumbai. It had been renamed the Pathe Cinema during the previous decade and it was Madan Theatres that returned the opera house to its original name. Built in 1909, today it is the only surviving opera house in India
1929 – Wall Street Crash has major impact on the company.

1930s.
1931 – Jamai Shashthi – first Bengali talkie film
1931 – Madan Theatres owns or controls 126 theatres but a combination of factors led to a rapid sell-off.
1932 – Indrasabha (Indra Sabha) – this film had 70 songs and is understood to still hold the record for the greatest number of songs in one film. Written by Aga Hashr Kashmiri, with songs by Nagardas Nayak, and directed by J J Madan, it had a runtime of 211 minutes. Despite being a success in many parts of the country, it did not stop the demise of the studio.
1932 – Lease on the Royal Opera House (Mumbai) ends. Only the Regal cinema remained in the Madan portfolio.
1934 – Madan Theatres Ltd. vs Babulal Chowkhani on 30 January, 1934 (Calcutta High Court)
1934 – Niladri Nath Mukherjee And Ors. vs Madan Theatres Ltd., And Anr. on 10 January, 1934 (Calcutta High Court)
1937 – Madan Theatres produces its last film.
1938 – Pirojbai Madan (J F Madan’s wife) dies in Kolkata.

1940s
1940 – Mrs Allan M Madan vs Snehalata Bose and Bijoy Chandra Aich. High profile court case in which a nurse and a Madan Theatres accountant are accused of altering the will of the late N J Madan (son of J F Madan, died 15 May 1939). Both were acquitted.
1941 – Madan Theatres Ltd. vs Ramkissen Kapoor And Anr. on 8 December, 1941 (Calcutta High Court)
1945 – Madan Theatres, Limited v Dinshaw and Co., Bankers, Limited (In Liquidation) Through The Official Liquidator (Lucknow): PC 18 Jul 1945. (Calcutta High Court)

1950s
1951 – Sm. Charusila Dassi vs Madan Theatres Ltd. And Ors. on 5 September, 1951 (Calcutta High Court)

2000s.
2013 – Commissioner of Income Tax vs Madan Theatres (Calcutta High Court)
2013 – Chaplin Theatre (formerly Elphinstone Picture Palace and India’s first purpose-built cinema) is demolished.
2017 – National Film Archive of India acquires 28 minutes of Bilwamangal (the first Bengali talkie) from Cinematheque Francaise.
2017 – Royal Opera House receives UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award.
2018 – Empire Theatre (built as Palace of Varieties) closes.
2019 – 27th September marks 100 years of Madan Theatres as a limited company, still filing company reports at the time.
2019 – National Film Archive of India exhibits a section of Bilwamangal at the NFAI Main Theatre in Pune.
2020 – National Film Archive of India acquires parts of Madhabi Kankan, a silent-era film produced by Madan Theatres in 1930 and banned at the time.