Marius Sestier and the Lumière cinématographe in India

The first projected motion pictures shown in India

When the Lumières1 saw how immensely popular their cinématographe shows were after the first public (and paying) exhibitions in Paris from 28 December 1895 on, they fully realised the commercial potential and determined to spread the moving image. Over the following months, they trained several operators in the use of their cinématographe and their business procedures. These operators were not only tasked with showing motion pictures but also with taking them, so that the Lumières' stock of scenes of life in foreign places would continue to grow.

One such operator was Marius Sestier, who had trained as and had been a pharmacist; he was commissioned, presumably having volunteered, to exhibit the cinématographe in India and Australia. Having on 3 June 1896 bought their return tickets to Australia, at a cost of 1000 French francs each,2 he and his wife left Marseille, France on 14 June 1896 on board the steamer Yarra of the Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes, and arrived at Bombay [Mumbai], India early on the morning of Tuesday, 30 June.3 They had with them a Lumière cinématographe and a collection of films to be shown therewith.

There is no obvious indication that the Sestiers had any person with whom to get in contact on their arrival in India. However, one of their fellow passengers was the French consul at Bombay, Joseph Pilinski,3 and there is little reason to believe that they didn't meet on the ship on the journey out. If nothing else Pilinski could have provided the Sestiers with entrées to the diplomatic or French communities in the city at the time.4 But by whatever means local connections were established Sestier quickly made known his and the cinématographe's presence in Bombay, having an article published in The Advocate of India5 two days after their arrival. Within a week, he had secured a venue to demonstrate the new techno­logical invention, and the first advertisements for exhibitions appeared in the Bombay press on the day of the first screening: billed as "THE MARVEL OF THE CENTURY!" and "THE WONDER OF THE WORLD!!",6 the cinématographe was shown publicly for the first time in India on Tuesday, 7 July 1896 at the Esplanade Hotel,7 Bombay. There were four showings, at 6, 7, 9, and 10 pm, of six films, and the price of admission at each screening was 1 rupee.

First advertisement

The first advertisement:
The Bombay Gazette, 7 July 1896, p.2a

Image courtesy of the
British Library Oriental and India Office Collections
The Esplanade Hotel, Bombay, c. 1895

The Esplanade Hotel aka Watson's Hotel, Bombay, c. 1895
(looking roughly towards the south-east)

Image courtesy of the National Library of Australia
The following day there was a long review in The Advocate of India8 that gives considerable detail of the content of the films shown. No mention of the show or the cinématographe appears in The Bombay Gazette of the same date, possibly because there is a long report of the Bombay Millowners' Association's annual general meeting plus two long reports of criminal trials, which took up available column space.

It was on 9 July that The Bombay Gazette published a review of the first screening.9 There was criticism of the room at Watson's Hotel where the films were shown, it being too small to enable the images to appear life-size, as was promised in the advertisements. Nonetheless, the response to the films was enthusiastic. Interestingly, Sestier's name is not mentioned: the article states: "Messrs. Lumiere Brothers, who are on their way to Australia, are the exhibitors of this truly marvellous discovery, [...]". In fact, it was some time before The Bombay Gazette published the true name of the exhibitor of the cinématographe. Possibly Sestier did not communicate directly with the journalists, who used the name (Messrs. Lumiere Brothers) from the advertisements.

Further showings of the same 6 films were advertised for 9 July, again at Watson's Hotel, at the times 7, 9, and 10 pm.10

On the next night, the programme was changed, with six different films being shown,11 once more at Watson's Hotel, and with the same session times as on 9 July. This programme was repeated on 11 July.12

Sestier had managed to secure a bigger and more appropriate venue, the Novelty Theatre – as early as 7 July he had paid for its hire for 3 evenings13 – and immediately below The Bombay Gazette advertisement for the sessions on 11 July is a notice for three nights there, on 14, 16, and 17 July.12 There were to be two shows each night, at 6:30 and 9:30 pm, with 12 films at each show, and there would be three ticket prices: 2 rupees for the orchestra stall and dress circle; 1 rupee for "second" seats; and half a rupee (8 annas) for back seats. There is a short article14 about the new venue that says that the cinématographe will be shown better there. Again, Sestier is not named in The Bombay Gazette; "Messrs. Lumiere Brothers" made the decision to move.

On Monday, 13 July there were shows at Watson's Hotel.15,16 Also on this day The Bombay Gazette published a technical note17 explaining (to some degree) how the cinématographe functioned. A picture would be worth several hundred words here!

But the first exhibitions at the Novelty Theatre were abandoned when there were (what appear to have been) problems with the electricity supply and it was not possible to generate sufficient light for acceptable projection.18,19 (Perhaps ironically, this occurred on France's national day!) So the cinématographe returned to Watson's Hotel. Sestier was only able to get to the Novelty Theatre for a successful show on 21 July.20,21 During that week screenings took place at both Watson's Hotel and the Novelty Theatre, with 3 nights at the latter on the same days of the week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday) as had been arranged for the previous week, as these had been paid for.

The cinématographe proved to be so popular that Sestier obtained a further lease of the Novelty Theatre "for a few more nights" – which turned out to be 3 weeks – from 27 July.22 There were no further advertised, public showings at Watson's Hotel.

At the end of July, "Mr. Seister, who is showing the cinematographe each evening", allowed the children of the Scottish Orphanage free admission to the shows.23 Someone on the Gazette's staff almost had the name correct. And on 30 and 31 July and 1 and 2 August "Professor Lumiere" allowed the boys of the J. N. Petit Parsi Orphanage free admission to the exhibitions.24 Why did The Bombay Gazette, for all their enthusiasm for Sestier's exhibitions, not yet know his name?

Early in August Sestier had 4 advertising sandwich boards made up, with Gujarati and Marathi texts, and had them carried around in the streets to promote his shows.25 There is a manuscript note in his collection of newspaper clippings that might be (the English version of) the text for the sandwich boards:

Novelty Theatre - Every evening
Animated Photographic pictures
The greatest scientific marvel
So wonderful it should be seen by everybody
Admission R - 2 - 1 - 0,8 - 0 426

Following suggestions,27 at the later (9:00 pm) sessions on 11, 13, and 14 August, there were special exhibitions at which there was "suitable music", under the direction of Mr. F. Seymour Dove.28 The Bombay Gazette considered the first of these shows to be "the best M. Sestier has yet given in Bombay".29 We can only imagine how the piano music, played during the showing of the films, "added [...] to the realistic character of the spectacle presented on the canvas"! And at last Marius Sestier was acknowledged by his true name.

The last showing of the cinématographe in Bombay was on the night of Saturday, 15 August 1896 at the Novelty Theatre, at 6:30 pm.30 Again, F. Seymour Dove provided musical selections with the films.

On 26 August, the Sestiers left Bombay aboard the steamer Calédonien.31 They were the only passengers listed for Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, though they had to change ship at Colombo, Ceylon [Sri Lanka], where they arrived on 29 August32 and departed on 31 August aboard the steamer Polynésien.33 They reached Sydney on 16 September 1896 (having called at Albany, Western Australia; Adelaide, South Australia; and Melbourne, Victoria). During the trip from Colombo, Sestier gave exhibitions of the cinématographe as evening entertainment on the ship.33

In the week and a half between the last public exhibition of the cinématographe and the departure of the Sestiers from Bombay, little is known of their movements. An entry in Sestier's Indian accounts book reads "Voyage Poona", at a cost of 60 rupees,34 so presumably at least one of them paid a visit to Poona [Pune]. They may have gone there simply for a rest and some sight-seeing; if they exhibited films there, presumably this would be noted in local newspapers. And if they went to escape the dismal weather of Bombay they were out of luck, as there was plenty of rain in the hill town – as well as an outbreak of cholera.35

The following table shows when and where the cinématographe was (publicly) exhibited in Bombay in July and August 1896. All times are pm. Times marked with an asterisk indicate sessions at which music was included in the programme. Note that this was compiled from advertise­ments and reports and may not accurately reflect what in fact took place. The bottom line of each cell notes the total receipts in rupees for the respective date, as reported by Sestier; these are discussed below.

July and August 1896
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Watson's Hotel Watson's Hotel Watson's Hotel Watson's Hotel
6:00, 7:00, 9:00, 10:00 7:00, 9:00, 10:00 7:00, 9:00, 10:00 7:00, 9:00, 10:00
Rs 37 Rs 53 Rs 64 Rs 62
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Watson's Hotel Novelty Theatre Watson's Hotel Watson's Hotel Watson's Hotel
7:00, 9:00, 10:00 6:30, 9:30 7:00, 9:15, 10:00 7:00, 9:15, 10:00 7:00a
Rs 66 Rs 48 Rs 22
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
Watson's Hotel Novelty Theatre Watson's Hotel Novelty Theatre Novelty Theatre Watson's Hotel
7:00, 9:15, 10:00 6:30, 9:30 7:00, 9:15, 10:00 6:30, 9:30 6:30, 9:30 7:00a
Rs 24 Rs 88 Rs 0 Rs 137 Rs 221 Rs 0
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
Novelty Theatre Novelty Theatre Novelty Theatre Novelty Theatre Novelty Theatre Novelty Theatre
6:30, 9:30 6:30, 9:30 6:30 6:30, 9:30 6:30, 9:30 6:30
Rs 93 Rs 70 Rs 120 Rs 0
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Novelty Theatre Novelty Theatre Novelty Theatre Novelty Theatre Novelty Theatre Novelty Theatre
6:30, 9:30 6:30, 9:30 6:30 6:30, 9:30 6:30, 9:30 6:30
Rs 101 Rs 83 Rs 124 Rs 132 Rs 251 Rs 129
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Novelty Theatre Novelty Theatre Novelty Theatre Novelty Theatre Novelty Theatre Novelty Theatre
6:30, 9:30 6:30, 9:00* 6:30 6:30, 9:00* 6:30, 9:00* 6:30*
Rs 81 Rs 315 Rs 79 Rs 327 Rs 345 Rs 290

[a] There was only one cinématographe exhibition at Watson's Hotel on each of the nights of 18 and 25 July because Carl S. Gunnery put on his shows there at 9:30 pm.

Films shown in India

For the films listed below the French titles and the numbers in parentheses are those in the original Lumière catalogue.36

For his first exhibitions at Watson's Hotel, on 7 and 9 July, Sestier advertised the following films:6,10

Entry of CinematographeEntrée du cinématographe (250) [Empire Theatre, Leicester Square, London]
Arrival of a TrainArrivée d’un train en gare (8) or Arrivée du train à Perrache (127)
The Sea BathBaignade en mer (11)
A DemolitionDémolition d'un mur (40)
Leaving the FactorySortie d'usine (91, 2nd version (or 1st version))
Ladies and Soldiers on Wheels?

On the next two nights, 10 and 11 July, an "ENTIRE CHANGE OF PROGRAMME" was listed:11,12

Baby's DinnerRepas de bébé (88)
Rejoicing in the Market place, Paris? Paris: La foule sur la place de l'Opéra (167)
The Street Dance of LondonDanseuses des rues (249) or Nègres dansant dans la rue (252)
The DiverScaphandrier (92)
Turning the Soup-plate by TreweyAssiettes tournantes (1)
A Match at CardsPartie d'écarté (73)

The first shows that were to be held at the Novelty Theatre were to have 12 films, which were possibly all those listed above.

Another "entire change of programme" was advertised for 16 July.37 Other titles mentioned in The Bombay Gazette articles on the cinématographe are:

Old Harbour at MarseillesVieux port (137)
A Match at Trick TrackPartie de tric-trac (74) [a form of backgammon]
Burning the RubbishMauvaises herbes (64)
Watering the GardenArroseur et arrosé (99)
A Foggy Day in London? [Filmed near Holborn Viaduct, London] (not catalogued)
The SerpentSerpent (90)
London Girl DancersDanseuses des rues (249)
The PhotographerPhotographe (118)
Champs Elysees, ParisChamps-Elysées (151 or 152)
Cyclists and Equestrians, Hyde Park?
Sea and RocksGros temps en mer (52)
The Cologne ExpressArrivée de l'express (226) [at Cologne]
Parade of the GuardGarde montante au palais de Buckingham (257) [It is in fact Saint James's Palace]
Practical Joke? Un prêté pour un rendu (120)
Transformation HatsChapeaux à transformation (105)
Babies' QuarrelsQuerelle enfantine (82)
The Vaulting LessonVoltige (194)
The Robber Clown?
The Landing Stage? Débarquement (37)

There is no indication that Sestier received more films from Lyon prior to about 3 months after his arrival in Australia (on 16 September 1896) so further titles shown at his early exhibitions there that were quite probably also shown in Bombay include:

French Cuirassiers[Cuirassiers à cheval] (189) or Cuirassiers: en fourrageurs (charge) (184)
96th Regiment, French Infantry96e de ligne en marche (191)
Battle of rosesBataille de fleurs à Nice (not catalogued)
Boxing contestBoxeurs (16)
Boat leaving portBarque sortant du port (9)
Unter den Linden, BerlinSous les tilleuls (218) [at Berlin]

What films did Sestier shoot in India?

There is no mention in The Bombay Gazette newspaper of the hope to take a film, or the intention or plan to take one, let alone a report of actual filming in or around Bombay. (One would assume that as this was something that had never been done before, it would merit reporting – had anyone known.) Nor is there a newspaper clipping noting such an event in Sestier's scrapbook of cuttings from his time in Bombay.38 There is also no mention of a film taken in India in any newspaper advertisement or report of Sestier's exhibitions in Australia. And today, no film that could have been shot by him in India is known to exist.39

But on 24 September 1896, by which date Sestier was in Sydney, he received a cablegram from the Lumières (in reply to one he sent on 21 September) that read "Impossible empecher Négatif ouvert Douane Soignez Emballage Lumière"40 ("Can't be prevented. Negative opened [by] Customs. Take care with packaging. Lumière"). It thus appears that he had sent at least one film from India back to Lyon for processing but that it had been inappropriately handled by Customs agents and, presumably, was thus rendered of no use.41

In Sestier's accounts book there is an entry42 dated 30 July which reads (in French) "Serpents (pose)", with an associated cost of 2 rupees; and later, in a summary in which he lists expenses associated solely with the cinématographe, we find "Charmeurs 2 Seances" ("Charmers 2 Sittings") (for 6 rupees).43 These seem to indicate that he filmed snake charmers in action. There is also an entry in the summary section which is "fete Cocos Dep" ("Dep" for "Dépenses"?) (with a cost of 8 rupees):43 in all probability this makes reference to the Coconut holiday, the Hindu festival of Narali Purnima, which took place in Bombay on Saturday, 22 August 1896.44 A film of the crowds of people out and about in native dress, going to the seashore to attend to their devotions, and participating in the numerous entertainments, would have shown an aspect of Indian life most likely unknown to Europeans.

But was that all?! We know the weather was very bad most of the time the Sestiers were in Bombay (see below) but one would think Marius could have found other Oriental sights to record on film. (We do not know how many reels of film stock he had with him.) Even if an event occurred during which there was little or no rain, perhaps because of the cloud cover there was not enough light for successful filming. Considering the amount of free time he had (as is evident from the above table of cinématographe exhibitions) it is extraordinary that there is no mention of other films being shot over the period of 8 weeks that he was in India.

One event that would have been worthy of filming (if permitted) was the funeral of the late Sirdar Diler Jung, which took place on 2 July 1896, 2 days after the Sestiers arrived.45 Sirdar Diler Jung, who died on 21 May at London, had been the owner of the Esplanade Hotel. In the afternoon an immense crowd attended the procession from the Prince's Dock through streets not far from the hotel to a mosque and then to the Victoria Terminus railway station.

Further comments

Sestier's exhibitions of the Lumière cinématographe were not the first time that photographic motion pictures were seen in India: Edison's kinetoscope had been put on display by the electrician Henry A. Grahame at 65 Esplanade Road, Bombay in early December 1895. And prior to this, if we are to believe Grahame's advertisements, a private display was given at Hyderabad to Lord and Lady Elgin (the Viceroy of India and his wife) and it is possible that even earlier public shows were also made. Grahame's exhibitions in Bombay appear to have lasted for only about three days – it is not apparent how many kinetoscopes he had on display, but considering that a single machine was set up to show only one film, and that changing the film would have been a time-consuming process, he would have needed several kinetoscopes to give value for money for the entry fee of one rupee. There appears to have been very little public interest in the device.46

We don't know at which hotel the Sestiers stayed in Bombay – there are only mentions of the non-specific "hotel" in the accounts book. As the early cinématographe shows were at the Esplanade Hotel it would be reasonable to assume that this is where they stayed; or possibly at the Annexe to this hotel, about 600 m closer to Bombay Harbour to the east, and where the rates were reduced during the monsoon season.47

Why did it take a week to start public exhibitions of the cinématographe? There is no advertisement for any show of whatever nature at either the Esplanade Hotel or the Novelty Theatre in the first week of July, though there were shows at the Tivoli Theatre on 2, 3, and 4 July, and possibly these might have been thought to attract the same audience as would otherwise have gone to watch "living pictures". And considering that on 7 July Sestier hired the Novelty Theatre for 3 nights, why was it a week later before he tried to show there?

On the day of the first screening The Times of India published an article48 that is considerably confusing because it appears to be a translation of (parts of) a French piece that the writer has only partially understood and has thus had to make good use of a French-to-English dictionary. The original article may be "Le Cinématographe de MM. Lumière, de Lyon" in L'Écho des mines et de la métallurgie (Paris) of 15 March 1896, pp.344,345, or (more likely) another text which is the source for this.

Sestier engaged two interpreters, one named Pochou, who was paid by the week, including for dates after Sestier finished his shows; the other named Colonello, who is only mentioned twice, just after the start of screenings and just after the shows finished.49 Pochou may have been employed to explain the subjects seen in the films, or to help with the Sestiers' daily activities. Salvadore Colonello, whose father ran the Italian Stores in Bombay, is recorded as having been able to understand French,50 so is probably the person mentioned in Sestier's accounts. He is almost certainly the S. Colonello who opened a cinema show at Bombay a couple of years after the Sestiers were there,51 and a decade or so later was a co-proprietor of the Excelsior Cinematograph Co.52

The Sestiers were in India during the monsoon, and the weather for most of their time there was very wet.53 In spite of this after a month of showing films The Bombay Gazette thought they were still doing good business54 – even though on 22 July (3 shows) and 25 July (one show, all at Watson's Hotel), and 1 August (one show at the Novelty Theatre), "rien" (nothing) was recorded for the receipts.55 Sestier even noted a couple of significant (to him) weather events: "pluie" (rain) on 17 July, and "cyclone" on the 28th, though neither prevented attendances at the screenings on those dates. But the cyclonic weather prevailed for several days and may well have been the reason for the zero receipts recorded for 25 July and the blank entries (not even "rien" is noted) for the 27th and 29th.55 7·45 inches (189 mm) of rain fell between 6 pm on 28 July and 6 pm on the 29th:56 this wouldn't have given people confidence to go out on the latter night.

The details of the 'box office' receipts as written up by Sestier in his accounts book require further consideration. The two pages that contain the record of the takings for the first 2½ weeks57 look as though they were written at one sitting, rather than each amount being noted on or soon after the respective day. The same is true for the record of expenses, and for further pages. Presumably temporary records (and memory) were used to fill in the book. The "Debut a Watson" [sic] is given the date 8 July, when it was in fact on 7 July (according to The Advocate of India8). There is no record of receipts for the 3 shows at Watson's Hotel on 13 July, nor (as noted above) for those at the Novelty Theatre on the 27th and 29th. A leaf has been removed from the book at one point, though there is no gap in the sequence of entries. These irregularities don't inspire confidence in the accuracy of the recorded details.

The running totals on each page of receipts are correct, as is the final total of 3362 rupees, but there are small errors in the additions of the expenses with a total of 5723¼ Rs. So at the end of his exhibition time in Bombay Sestier had run up expenses 70 % above his earnings! At the end of the accounts a summary58 of expenses and receipts for both India and Australia is given, with the Indian expenses broken down into major components: hire of venues; advertising and personnel; electricity costs; hotel charges; and sundries. Values are also converted from rupees and British pounds to French francs. What is extraordinary is the cost for advertising and personnel, 1771 Rs, almost a third of the total and more than half of the earnings. Electricity also appears to be have been expensive: 1186 Rs, being 1126 Rs to "Crawford" (and this after a discount of 64 Rs was given), plus a mere 60 rupees for electricity at Watson's Hotel. If "Crawford" was responsible for the electricity at the Novelty Theatre then it is very curious why the cost was so high in comparison with that for the hotel.

The figures for the Watson's Hotel shows indicate the total numbers of paying customers on the respective nights, because there was only one ticket price (of 1 rupee); but the Novelty Theatre totals give little idea of audience numbers because there were 3 or 4 different ticket prices at each session. From the table above it can be seen that Fridays were the best-paying days. Also note the considerable increase in takings in the last 2 weeks; Sestier may have moved on too soon, especially considering that the monsoon was about to finish.

So why did he stop his exhibitions when he did? To start with, the four-weekly Messageries Maritimes steamer that would take him and his wife towards Australia was scheduled to leave Bombay late in August (though there is nothing to indicate that they had to be on this ship). But this departure date was a week and a half after the last cinémato­graphe show. At some time after 15 August he noted in his accounts book: "Exploit. Bombay arrètée par suite du retrait de la Locomobile par le Port Trust"59 which can be translated as: "Exploitation [of the cinématographe] in Bombay stopped following the withdrawal of the locomobile by the [Bombay] Port Trust". A locomobile is a (steam) powered mobile machine or, alternatively, a steam engine that can be moved about to provide power where needed. There is no other mention of a locomobile or the Bombay Port Trust anywhere in Sestier's books, so it is not known how this machine and this organisation were connected with his shows. The Bombay Port Trust held meetings each Tuesday (though possibly there were occasional exceptions) and these were usually reported on in The Bombay Gazette. No report has been found of a meeting on Tuesday, 11 August 1896 so it is not known if one took place; but Sestier's last show was first advertised in The Bombay Gazette on 13 August, so possibly he received the news about the locomobile on the 12th.

Was there no alternative source for a locomobile or whatever function it provided? And whether he considered the option, or whether it was even available, of resuming exhibitions at Watson's Hotel is also not known, but obviously this didn't occur. So the imminent ship departure, lack of a locomobile, and the fact that the cinématographe exhibitions were costing more than they were earning would all have contributed to the decision to quit. And no doubt he and his wife were thoroughly fed up with monsoon weather (even though it was about to break) and simply wanted to get away from it.

Who was the "well-known Bombay resident" mentioned in the first Bombay Gazette review of Sestier's exhibitions?9 In all likelihood it was Arthur Francis Soundy.60 At the time the Sestiers were in Bombay Soundy was head of Soundy & Company, music dealers and piano importers, as well as proprietor of the Bombay Skating Rink. He was interested in and promoted various entertainments and amusements – e.g. skating, fireworks, wrestling matches – so it is reasonable to assume that he took an interest in the advent of the cinématographe. He may well also have been instrumental in obtaining the use of the Novelty Theatre for exhibitions there: the 15 July issues of The Bombay Gazette and The Advocate of India18 specifically mention his explaining the opening night problems at that venue. And the seating plans for the shows at the Novelty Theatre were advertised as being available at Soundy & Co.'s premises. There is an item in Sestier's accounts book recording an expenses payment to Soundy, dated 17 August, shortly after the Bombay exhibitions finished.61

Who were the people who would be expected to go to see the cinématographe? How did the price of 1 rupee relate to that of other amuse­ments and to commodity prices? Who could afford to pay this for entertainment? From 27 July the advertisements for Sestier's exhibitions included the line: "NOTICE.—Reserved Boxes for PURDAH LADIES and their Families.", so, whatever the sources and content of the films, non-European people in Bombay were also encouraged to attend. As noted above sandwich boards with text in Gujarati and Marathi were paraded in the streets to advertise the cinématographe shows.

What of the two venues in Bombay where Sestier showed the cinématographe? Watson's Esplanade Hotel was situated on Esplanade Road (now Mahatma Gandhi Road); the building still stands in a much dilapidated state, and long ago ceased to be a hotel. It is not known where in the hotel Sestier showed his films: the largest room referred to in newspaper articles describing the hotel was its dining room, though this couldn't have been used in the evenings; there are also early mentions of a ballroom, though whether this was still in existence following major modifications in 1888 is not knowm. But two contemporary accounts9,14 state that the room was small and not suited to showing life-size motion images.

The Novelty Theatre (in its first incarnation) was opened on Saturday, 21 May 1887 on a site to the west of the Victoria Terminus (of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway). However, in 1891, when new Municipal Offices were being constructed on an adjacent plot of land, the Novelty was considered to be too great a fire risk to the new buildings and it was ordered that it be removed; so the theatre was dismantled and re-erected about 300 m to the south on a site on Hornby Road. This location is about 1100 m north of the Esplanade Hotel and closer to the native residential area of Bombay. The reconstructed theatre was opened on Saturday, 3 October 1891 and although much the same building some improvements were made; but as it was still made of wood it no doubt continued to be a fire risk! It was not until Tuesday, 16 November 1909 that a stone building also called the Novelty Theatre was opened on the same site on Hornby Road. The first (wooden) theatres had about 1400 seats in various sections – far more than were used at Sestier's exhibitions.

Research on the first motion pictures in India is far from complete. In particular other newspapers need to be studied in detail: The Times of India and The Advocate of India both have articles about the exhibitions of the cinématographe, and papers from other parts of India may also mention them. Indian languages newspapers such as Kaiser-i-Hind and Gujerati from Bombay and elsewhere also likely have reports on Sestier's shows. There may be relevant information in Government records; and business and private documents with useful historical material might exist.

References and notes

I published the first edition of this article late in January 2010 and it was based almost exclusively on material in issues of relevant dates of the newspaper The Bombay Gazette. Subsequent revisions have included corrections, elaboration of details, further information, and copies of the text of the newspaper articles.

In mid 2018 I was able to gain access to copies of the books of Marius Sestier which have been kept by his descendants and which contain information on his time in India (and Australia). The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) had borrowed these books and taken digital images of their pages; the NFSA details for the three books which contain information on the India visit are:

I am greatly indebted to Mme. Dominique Petitbois and M. Robert Sestier, great-grandchildren of Marius Sestier, for allowing me to consult the copies of these invaluable documents.

Unfortunately, the way the NFSA has produced and named the files of the images of the pages of these documents is, in some cases, disorganised, and this, coupled with the fact that the pages are not numbered, makes it necessary to use the names of image files rather than page numbers in the references below.

[1] "Lumières" will be used to refer to any one or more of the brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumière, their father, Antoine Lumière, any of their employees or business associates, or their companies.

[2] NFSA, title number 1467275, note02.tif.

[3] Le Petit Marseillais (Marseille, France), 12 June 1896, p.4efg, Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes: advertisement with dates and times of departures of ships from Marseille.

Le Petit Marseillais, 14 June 1896, p.2a.

Nouvelles Maritimes.
Le Yarra, courrier de Chine et du Japon, quittera notre port aujourd'hui, avec près de 50 passagers, dont M. Pillinski, [sic] consul de France à Bombay.

The Bombay Gazette, 30 June 1896, p.3a.

M.M. Company's s.s. Yara [sic] due to arrive, 4 a.m.

The Bombay Gazette, 1 July 1896, p.3f.

THE Messageries Maritimes Co's s s Yarra, 2084 tons, Captain LeCoispellier, arrived in harbour yesterday from Marseilles (11th [sic] June), with a general cargo and the following passangers:– [sic] Mr J Pilinski, [...], Mr and Mrs Cestier, [sic] [...].

[4] French nationals would have been employed on the staffs of the French Consulate and offices of French companies, in particular the banks and the Messageries Maritimes company. Also in Bombay there was the Cercle Littéraire Bibliothèque Dinshaw Petit which had been formed in mid 1886 to promote the appreciation and understanding of the French language and culture. This organisation had held its ninth annual general meeting on 17 June 1896, just 2 weeks before the Sestiers arrived; it was reported that there were 161 members at that time. (Bombay Gazette, 19 June 1896, p.3d.)

[5] The Advocate of India, 2 July 1896, p.[not known]. (NFSA, title number 799531, 0043.tif.)

Monsieur Sestier, who arrived by the s.s Yarra has brought to our city the Cinemetograph, [sic] the wonderful invention of Messrs August and Louis Limiere [sic] of Lyons. This instrument is a wonderful improvement on the Edison Kinetoscope. We can see before it a moving panorama with living life size people.
The instrument is so perfect that it can both photograph as well as project scenes. A railway train arrives, the station master is moving about, the passengers hurry on, the carriage doors open, the passengers get in or alight, etc, etc. The sea waves, the smoke that comes from a cigar or from some herbs that are burning, all this is faithfully reproduced to life and unlike the kinetoscope, is visible to as large an audience as required.
A public exhibition will shortly be given and we in India will be able to see in work the instrument which gave a vivid life size realization of the Prince of Wales' Derby in one of the London Music Halls the same night as the historic event was run. Monsieur Sestier is open to private engagements.

[6] The Bombay Gazette, 7 July 1896, p.2a, New Advertisements.

A few Exhibitions will be given
Will be as under:-
1 Entry of Cinematographe.
   Arrival of a Train.
3 The Sea Bath.
4 A Demolition.
5 Leaving the Factory.
6 Ladies and Soldiers on Wheels.
The Entertainments will take place at 6, 7, 9 and 10 P.M.

The advertisement of the same date in The Times of India is almost exactly the same.

(What was the source of the text of these advertisements? Had it been given to Sestier before he left France, or was it created in Bombay?)

[7] The hotel was named "Esplanade Hotel" but because it had been built for John Watson in the late 1860s was popularly known as "Watson's Hotel", and this name continued to be used long after Watson had died (in May 1871). (For very interesting details of the construction of the hotel see Jonathan Clarke, Like a huge birdcage exhaled from the earth: Watson's Esplanade Hotel, Mumbai (1867-71), and its place in structural history; Construction History, vol.18 (2002), pp.37-77.)

[8] The Advocate of India, 8 July 1896, p.[not known]. (NFSA, title number 799531, 0049.tif.)

"Wonders never cease," was the trite remark that was expressed last night by one of the audience that had assembled at Watson's Hotel to see the "Cinematographe" exhibition which Mons. Sestier was giving. [...], but the "Cinematographe" projects the scenes on to a screen life-size, the pictures having living, moving action. [...]

[9] The Bombay Gazette, 9 July 1896, p.5b.

OWING to the good offices of a well-known Bombay resident, the public in this city are now having an opportunity given them to see the very latest photographic discovery utilised by the cinematographe. Messrs. Lumiere Brothers, who are on their way to Australia, are the exhibitors of this truly marvellous discovery, which enables a reproduction of human action to the life to be reproduced on canvas. The exhibition is held at Watson's Hotel, but owing to the smallness of the room, the operator is unable to have the instrument sufficiently removed from the canvas to make the figures life-size, and this has the further disadvantage that it makes the actors in each of the scenes move about rather too quickly. The views include the arrival of a crowded train at a railway station with all the animation and bustle that such an event presents; and the demolition of a wall - a work so realistic that the dust is seen to ascend in volumes when the wall finally totters and falls. "The Sea Bath" is another very good scene, the dashing of the waves upon the beach and the antics of the boy bathers both being very realistic. But this is beaten by "Leaving the Factory," which brings a whole crowd of moving humanity on the canvas, and is without doubt the most realistic scene of all. "Ladies and Soldiers on Wheels" is a very vivid representation of the cycling craze, as it can be seen any day in Hyde Park. No one who takes an interest in the march of science should allow to pass by the opportunity that now presents itself to see the cinematographe, an invention which is attracting a great deal of attention at Home.

So Sestier did not have a projection lens with a sufficiently short focal length to enable him to produce large images in a small room. (What lens or lenses did he have?) That "the actors in each of the scenes move about rather too quickly" would have been due to his turning the handle of the cinématographe too fast, and not because the projected images were small.

[10] The Bombay Gazette, 9 July 1896, p.2a, New Advertisements.

[11] The Bombay Gazette, 10 July 1896, p.4a.

[12] The Bombay Gazette, 11 July 1896, p.4b.

[13] NFSA, title number 1467275, note03.tif.

[14] The Bombay Gazette, 11 July 1896, p.5b.

THE evening exhibitions of "living" photographic pictures by means of the cinematographe at Watson's Hotel continue to be so well patronised that Messrs. Lumiere Brothers have decided, in response to numerous requests, to engage the Novelty Theatre for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday next. Each evening there will be two exhibitions, the first at 6-30, and the last at 9-30, and twelve views will be shown each time. The decision is a wise one, for the cinematographe cannot be worked to advantage in a small room. The pictures have been well worth seeing, but the science effect will be greatly enhanced when the exhibition is given in the Novelty Theatre, and the opportunity of seeing one of the latest scientific marvels of the age should not be lost.

[15] The Bombay Gazette, 13 July 1896, p.3a, Bombay; To-day.

[16] The Bombay Gazette, 13 July 1896, p.4b.

[17] The Bombay Gazette, 13 July 1896, p.6b, Scientific Actuality; The "Cinematographe" Explained.
This article is a reasonable translation into English of material from 2 articles in French that were originally published in:
Moniteur de la Photographie [No.13], 1895, pp.200-202; and
La Revue des Revues, 1896-03-01, pp.416-424
(or later copies of these articles).

[18] The Bombay Gazette, 15 July 1896, p.4f.

AFTER braving the heavy rain that swept over the city at sunset, the audience which assembled at the Novelty Theatre, last evening, to see the effects produced by the cinematographe was doomed to disappointment. To those present who had seen the views at Watson's Hotel, it was evident from the first that something was wrong, as the photographs came up very dimly and uncertainly. After two views had been shown, Mr. Soundy came forward and explained that owing to the damp having got into the instrument it was impossible to proceed further with the exhibition that evening. He expressed the regret of the exhibitors, and informed the audience that they could either have the money returned at the door or could come again another evening. Most of those present preferred to take the former course, but everyone left in a good temper, and were ready to condole rather than blame the unfortunate exhibitors in their experience of the effect of the Indian monsoon on scientific instruments.

The Advocate of India, 15 July 1896, p.[not known]. (NFSA, title number 799531, 0046.tif.)

Notwithstanding the stormy state of the elements, a fairly large audience assembled at the Novelty Theatre last evening to witness the first public exhibition of the Cinematographe. Those who have seen the wonderful instrument at work at Watson's Hotel are loud in praise of this marvellous invention and realised how easily it could be manipulated. Yesterday, however, it was at once apparent that something was wrong. After one or two attempts to throw the living pictures on the screen the exhibition was abandoned, and Mr. Soundy informed the audience that owing to some defect in the electric plant the entertainment would have to be given up. The plant is the property of the Novelty Theatre and was found by their engineer to be in a defective state, unhappily too late for remedy before the performance. Owing to this circumstance M. Seister [sic] has been obliged to postpone his exhibitions at the Theatre to the corresponding days next week when the audience may rely on the arrangements being most satisfactory. Meanwhile [exhibitions will continue] at Watson's Hotel at the advertised hours. Mons. Seister has our sympathies, [...].

[19] The Bombay Gazette, 16 July 1896, p.4f.

THE cinematographe, having had so bad a time of it at the Novelty Theatre, owing to the electric light plant being out of order, has returned to its old love. Its operators will show what it is capable of at Watson's Hotel, each evening, at 7, 9-15, and 10 p.m., and an entirely new programme of photographic pictures is to be given. Arrangements are being made to ensure an adequate supply of the electric light, so there is no fear of a repetition of Tuesday evening's failure.

[20] The Bombay Gazette, 17 July 1896, p.4a.

[21] The Bombay Gazette, 24 July 1896, p.6a.

THE difficulties which beset the production of living pictures by the Cinematographe when it was first placed on the stage of the Novelty Theatre, have now been obviated, and the exhibitions that have taken place in the theatre this week have been quite successful. Amongst the more recent of the photographic pictures presented may be mentioned a view of the old harbour at Marseilles, which no doubt people who are leaving by the Caledonia to-day are hoping to see in reality in less than a fortnight; "a Match at Trick Track,"; "Burning the Rubbish," a process which is participated in by a very attractive young lady; and "Watering the Garden." In the latter scene a boy plays the gardener the trick of treading on the hose, and when the man looks at the plug, removes his foot, and the water is squirted on the gardener's face. For this prank the youth is chased round the garden, and caught and punished. The operatives leaving the factory at Berlin walk out in a way that it would not be seen at Manchester or Bolton, where it is not the custom for the men to leave the female operatives to walk home by themselves. "A Foggy Day in London" and "the Cinematographe in London" are both very good views of the many-sided life of the great metropolis. The Cinematographe will be exhibited again to-night, at 6-30 and 9-30 p.m., the programme being different on each occasion.

[22] The Bombay Gazette, 27 July 1896, p.6c.

BY desire of a large number of residents, who, in spite of bad weather, have gone to see the Lumiere cinematographe, the patentee has obtained a fresh lease of the Novelty Theatre for a few more nights, and we strongly recommend our readers to go and see this living photography for themselves. The electric installation at the Novelty Theatre is more than sufficient for the purpose, a powerful arch having been placed at the entrance of the Theatre also. The 24 views which are exhibited every evening (12 at a time) are all highly interesting, and every one of them excites the enthusiasm of the audience. They include the Serpent ; Arrival of a train ; Sea Bathers ; London girl dancers ; Watering the Garden ; Baby's Dinner ; the Photographer ; Champs Elysees ; Paris Cyclists and Equestrians ; Hyde Park sea and rocks ; the Cologne Express ; Parade of the Guard ; Pratical [sic] Joke ; Transformation Hats, etc. We learn that new views are to be added to the programme each evening.
There are a couple of misplaced semicolons in the list of titles.

Did the author really intend "arch", meaning a group of lights in the form of an arch? At the time, electric illumination was provided by incandescent lights and arc lights. (See e.g. The Times of India, 7 September 1894, p.5, Electric Light at the Crawford Markets; and The Times of India, 25 October 1894, p.3, The Lighting of Bombay.) A "powerful arc [light]" at the entrance to the Theatre makes more sense than a "powerful arch [of lights]".

[23] The Bombay Gazette, 29 July 1896, p.4f.

MR. SEISTER, who is showing the cinematographe each evening, at the Novelty Theatre, has kindly consented to allow the children of the Scottish Orphanage to see his moving pictures free of charge.

[24] The Bombay Gazette, 30 July 1896, p.3b.

THE CINEMATOGRAPHE. - Professor Lumiere, of the Cinematographe, has granted pass for free admission of the boys of the J.N. Petit Parsi Orphanage to his exhibitions on the 30th and 31st instant and 1st and 3rd August.

[25] NFSA, title number 1467275, note05a.tif, note06.tif.

[26] NFSA, title number 799531, 0043.tif.
The last line (with admission charges) appears to be in another hand.

[27] The Bombay Gazette, 11 August 1896, p.4f.

IT has often been suggested that the exhibitions of the Cinematographe might be made even more attractive than they are if they were interspersed with some other form of entertainment. This suggestion has not escaped the notice of the proprietor, who has decided to give three special exhibitions this week, to be interspersed with music, under the direction of Mr. F. Seymour Dove. [At 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; 20 views at each. 6-30 p.m. exhibitions each evening as usual.]

[28] The Bombay Gazette, 8 August 1896, p.4b: advertisement for 3 special exhibitions at the Novelty Theatre.

The Times of India?, 8 August 1896, p.[not known]. (NFSA, title number 799531, 0043.tif.)

We are glad to notice that Monsieur Seister, [sic] who is exhibiting the Cinematographe, has decided to give three special performances, at which music will be interspersed with the pictures. This is no doubt a move in the right direction, and we have no doubt it will make the entertainment more attractive than ever. That brilliant pianist, Mr. Dove, will preside at the piano.

[29] The Bombay Gazette, 13 August 1896, p.5e.

THE first of the series of special exhibitions of the Cinematographe at the Novelty Theatre, on Tuesday evening, was a distinct success. The selections of music played under the direction of Mr. F. Seymour Dove were appropriate to the views exhibited, and added not a little to the realistic character of the spectacle presented on the canvas. No less than twenty views were exhibited, and the show must be pronounced the best M. Sestier has yet given in Bombay. The second of the series of special exhibitions will take place this evening, and the last to-morrow. The 6-30 p.m. exhibitions will be given each evening.

[30] The Bombay Gazette, 15 August 1896, p.4b.

[31] The Bombay Gazette, 27 August 1896, p.3f.

THE Messageries Maritimes Co's s s Caledonien, 2,093 tons, Captain L Blanc, sailed yesterday for China and Japan, with a general cargo and the following passengers:- [...]. For Sydney - Mr and Mrs Sistier. [sic] [...]

[32] The Bombay Gazette, 31 August 1896, p.5b.

French mail steamer Caledonien, from Bombay, [and 2 other ships] arrived.

[33] The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 September 1896, p.6h, Arrival of the Polynesien.

[34] NFSA, title number 1467275, note07.tif.

[35] The Bombay Gazette, 17 August 1896, p.5a, Heavy Weather in Poona.
The Bombay Gazette, 18 August 1896, p.7a, Public Health in Poona.

[36] Georges Sadoul, Histoire Générale du Cinéma, volume 1: L'invention du cinéma 1832 - 1897 (Denoël, Paris, 1973 (3rd edition)), pp.413-420;
Georges Sadoul, Louis Lumière (Cinéma d'Aujourd'hui, 29; Editions Seghers, 1964), pp.157-171.
See also Michelle Aubert and Jean-Claude Seguin, La production cinématographique des frères Lumière; la Bibliothèque du Film, Paris, 1996, and the material from this online.

[37] The Bombay Gazette, 16 July 1896, p.4b.

[38] NFSA, title number 799531.

[39] There is, however, a curiosity in this matter. Georges Boivin, who in 1897 and for some years after toured Lumière films in Australia and New Caledonia, and possibly also Fiji, on a couple of occasions advertised a film Negro Street Cleaners, Bombay. (E.g. The Bathurst Daily Free Press & Mining Journal, 16 July 1897, p.3ef, School of Arts) There can be little doubt that this was in fact Negro street cleaners (Nègres en corvée) – number 66 in the Lumière catalogue and filmed in Paris – because he used this (unspecified location) name in advertisements for other screenings, and he also advertised other Lumière films with titles that gave locations that were false. (These false locations were in Australia.)

[40] NFSA, title number 1467275, note08.tif.
The recorded text is manuscript; the original cablegram text would have been in capital letters, without diacriticals.

[41] A version of events which has been much repeated was put forward by Jack Cato in his The Story of the Camera in Australia, and uncritically copied by Eric Reade in Australian Silent Films: A Pictorial History of Silent Films from 1896 to 1929. But Cato supplied no evidence whatso­ever for the story he related. Also, Albert James Perier made a critique (Some comments on Jack Cato's professional photographic "Story of the Camera in Australia") of Cato's book that provides several corrections to Cato's version of Sestier's history.

Cato states that Sestier, while in Bombay, was supposed to have been "very disappointed with the reports on his work from Paris". There is no known evidence of any communication between Sestier and the Lumières while Sestier was in India. (And the Lumières were based at Lyon, not Paris – yet another of Cato's myriad errors.)

For more on Cato's nonsense see The meeting of Marius Sestier and H. Walter Barnett.

[42] NFSA, title number 1467275, note05.tif.

[43] NFSA, title number 1467275, note22.tif.

[44] The Bombay Gazette, 24 August 1896, p.6b.

THE great Hindu festival, known as Narral [sic] Purnima, or Cocoanut holiday, was celebrated on Saturday last. On that day, the stormy vigour of the monsoon is considered by the Hindu astrologers to end; and cocoanuts are offered to the sea to gain its favour towards those who trust themselves or their merchandise to its mercy during the year ensuing. In the early part of the days [sic] the Hindus and their families, young as well as old, dress themselves in their best clothes and pass the day in festivities and friendly greetings. In the afternoon, the children and adults deck themselves with ornaments and other outward imbellishments; and in company of the elder members of the families, with cocoanuts, flowers, and sugarcandy in their hands, proceed to the seashore in Mody Bay, Back Bay, or Chowpatty. [...] Ever [sic] pious Hindu therefore considers it to be a duty to proceed to the seashore, where he engages the services of a Brahmin for a consideration, and after much ceremony throws his cocoanut and flowers into the water. [...]
There was very little rain recorded in Bombay on this festival day, so the weather would not have prevented Sestier from filming. (The Bombay Gazette, 24 August 1896, p.3e, The Weather, Rainfall in Bombay.)


[46] The Times of India, 8 November 1895, p.5, The Kinetoscope and Kinetophone;
The Bombay Gazette, 4 December 1895, p.2a, New Advertisements, The "Kinetoscope";
The Bombay Gazette, 6 December 1895, p.3a, Edison's Kinetoscope;
The Times of India, 7 December 1895, p.2, New Advertisements, The "Kinetoscope";
The Times of India, 7 December 1895, p.5, "Living Pictures" in the Kinetoscope.

[47] The Bombay Gazette, 29 May 1896, p.2a.

For particulars apply
TERMS. - From June 1st to 30th Sept.
and thereafter.

[48] The Times of India, 7 July 1896, p.[not known]. (NFSA, title number 799531.)

It is impossible to deny that the recent invention of Messrs. Lumiere Bros. is almost the greatest scientific discovery [sic] of the age. By its means life-sized photographs are reproduced, every movement of the figure is accurate, and despite the number of changes the accuracy is maintained. The figures are projected upon a screen and can thus be witnessed by a great number of spectators. As the phonograph of Edison reproduces the voices of those speaking on the "Record," so thanks to the wonderful invention under notice, we not only actually see the figure but hear the human voice also. Most of our readers are doubtless aware of the apparatus known as "Bab Ballad", Gilbert's creation, Captain Rheece, the zooetrope, [sic] and the present discovery is after all only a great improvement on it. The movements of the objects are traced upon very near intervals upon a narrow band of paper. This band being placed in a circular box which revolves rapidly before a crevice lighted by a candle by means of which the revolving band is lighted and advancing or jumping figures thus harmoniously illustrated. Owing to the recurrence of the illustration on the retiana [sic] the eye assumes the natural position. By the invention of Messrs. Lumiere Bros. not only the size of the figure on the revolving band is reproduced, but the life-sized figure is given and projected on to a screen. An explanation of how this wonderful result is obtained may not be uninteresting to our readers. The band unrolls vertically in a box hermetically sealed. This box is provided with an object glass which is successively unmasked and obtused at intervals, whilst the band rests or continues to unroll. The pace with which the band unrolls greatly varies. Sometimes the maximum of the speed is found, whilst at others the band is immobile. Whilst in the latter condition, which occupies about two-thirds of the time, the band is lighted. Whilst the band is immobile the reproductions are similar, whilst on the converse when the band revolves the reproductions represent the different movements accomplished. The number of proofs represented are fifteen to the second, and a scene on the projector therefore of one minute represents 900 photographs and occupy a band of 18 metres long and 3 centimetres broad. By means of this wonderful invention the whole of street scenes or public places with the oftimes [sic] occurring accompaniments of foot passengers, carriages, and tramways can be given.
[""Bab Ballad", Gilbert's creation, Captain Rheece," appears to be an erroneous inclusion in the text.]

[49] NFSA, title number 1467275, note03.tif, note04.tif, note05a.tif, note06.tif, note06a.tif, note07.tif.

[50] The Times of India, 23 August 1890, p.3, The Police Courts.

[51] The Times of India, 15 June 1948, p.6, Louis Lumiere.

[52] The Times of India, 12 March 1910, p.10, Excelsior Cinematograph;
The Times of India, 24 May 1910, p.5, Bombay Cinematographs;
The Times of India, 21 June 1948, p.6, M. Pathe.

[53] The Bombay Gazette, 6 August 1896, p.4f:

AFTER many weary days of rain, the sun shone most of yesterday, and scarcely a drop of rain fell. The change was most welcome, for the weather has been excessively gloomy and dispiriting in Bombay for more than a month. Everyone is hoping the break will continue.

Bombay Season Reports: rainfall at Colaba, Bombay: The Bombay Gazette:
3 July 1896, p.3e: week ending 30 June: total of 1·21 inches;
17 July 1896, p.6c: week ending 14 July: total of 8·77 inches;
24 July 1896, p.6d: week ending 21 July: total of 7·34 inches;
31 July 1896, p.3e: week ending 28 July: total of 9·07 inches;
7 August 1896, p.3d: week ending 4 August: total of 10·12 inches;
21 August 1896, p.3e: week ending 18 August: total of 8·60 inches;
28 August 1896, p.7a: week ending 25 August: total of 0·86 inch.
(Reports for weeks ending 7 July and 11 August not seen.)

[54] The Bombay Gazette, 8 August 1896, p.5e.

ALTHOUGH this wonderful invention has been on view in Bombay for some weeks now it continues to draw fairly good audiences night after night at the Novelty Theatre. The exhibitions are at 6-30 and 9-30 each evening, except Saturdays and Wednesdays, when the exhibition is at 6-30 only. Perhaps one of the most lifelike views is that of "Babies' quarrels," in which two very little girls, tied in their chair, cannot see eye to eye in regard to the distribution of the jam supply. The manner in which the changes of the countenance of the youngsters are transferred to the canvas is little short of marvellous. The arrival of the train - one of the few views which are forthcoming a second time when "encore" is cried - is also very cleverly shown, the increase in the size of the train as it gets apparently nearer and nearer to the spectator being especially noticeable. The "Vaulting Lesson" and the "Robber Clown" both bring to mind the circus ring, while "The Landing Stage" is a very accurate representation of the scene of hustle and confusion which can be observed at any of the numerous landing stages on the scene. Paris shares with London a good part of the views, but phases of rural life are by no means ignored. Twelve pictures are shown at each exhibition, and there is a change of programme on each occasion.

[55] NFSA, title number 1467275, note04.tif, note05.tif.

[56] The Bombay Gazette, 30 July 1896, p.4f.

NO less than 7.45 inches of rain fell in Byculla during the 24 hours ending at 6 o'clock, last evening.
Byculla was 3 to 4 km north of the Novelty Theatre.

[57] NFSA, title number 1467275, note03.tif, note04.tif.

[58] NFSA, title number 1467275, note21.tif.

[59] NFSA, title number 1467275, note06.tif.

[60] Arthur Francis Soundy was born on 6 February 1836 at Crayford, Kent (now part of Greater London), and arrived at Bombay on 15 December 1859. He spent most of the rest of his life there, and died on 2 April 1911. He married twice, on both occasions in London, and had several sons and daughters. Information about him is from obituaries published in The Times of India and The Bombay Gazette (both on 4 April 1911), many articles in The Times of India, and genealogical Web sites.

[61] NFSA, title number 1467275, note07.tif.
303 rupees 13 annas for fees and newspapers.

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