JOSEPH LING, slim and with a hairline that has receded too fast, leant over the balcony of this once elegant edifice in Kolkata’s Tiretta Bazar, shouting above the din. “Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, they all came here!” Joseph waved. “They waved like this! To big crowds where you’re standing.”
I tried to imagine being part of a mob of swooning fans on this lane, faces craned upwards at filmstars. If Joseph didn’t quite fit my mental picture of a star, the scene on the street didn’t quite fit my mental picture of a crowd of fans.
Joseph and friends had described this place to me as it must have been circa the late 1950s. Consider then the reality of 2012: this dusty crimson shell of a building, stripped to the bone inside, stained glass panes chipped and cracked, intricately carved decorations stolen or broken.