Friday, January 6, 2012

The ITI theater and Auditorium

Deep within the ITI complex is an edifice the sign and thought of which fills me with glee and some anguish of some special kind...the ITI theater or Auditorium or what ever it may be called. Glee because I saw many a movie in this theater and anguish because the "HOUSE FULL" board greeted me at times...nevertheless this theater was to ITI and to its surroundings what the Arena was to Rome.

I was associated with this theater as a child or may be even as a baby....Malayalam and Tamil movies were screened at this theater in the early 1970's only to be discontinued for some reason soon after. English , kannada and Hindi movies were the main stay ever since and the people in the surroundings had a surfeit of them all.

What is this theater all about...It basically skirts the Vidya Mandir school and is a rectangular structure with a ground floor and a balcony with an elevated projector room which had metal stairs to it ; The balcony had slightly more than 300 seats and the ground loor had a total of roughly 1000 seats divided between first class and a lower class. In 1975 the fare for the balcony was Rs. 2/25 ; the first class Rs. 1/60 and the second class Rs0.90 a very moderate standard even by the rates of the day. It had a 35mm screen covered with a curtain used to raise with a specially designated signature tune which was specifically entertaining and amusing. The staff who worked at the theater were employees of the ITI factory who volunteered their services and were paid for their service.

There is no movie in the history of moviedom that did not find its place to be screened at this theater..every single movie in the the english, kannada and hindi found its way into this theater. You could reserve your tickets for the balcony in the mornings between 10:00 Am and 12:00 am and first show and second show was screened every day at 6:15 and 9:30 respectively and a matinee show at 2:15 on holidays.

Why did I choose to write about a common place object like the ITI theater..I was witness to many a battle that was fought at and near the box office for tickets for many a movie - the scrambling - the hurry - the resentment- the satisfaction - the many scrambles and altercations-the restlessness and uncertainty.........all to see a movie at the ITI theater. I was a witness to all this as a boy especially the long queues that diminished rather slowly and not to mention the sudden emergence of the "House Full" board and the last minute rush of many through the dark inside the hall to find their seats sometimes sitting on some one already perched on a seat leading to pandamoneiun and confusion of sorts only to be sorted in a hurry by the many around who were feeling disturbed and the light of the long torch of the supervisors trying to help many a family find their trusted spot....this was the frenzy at the theater and how could some on forget it and not to mention the accidental stamping of somebody's foot in the dark and the shreiks of pain.

Each movie for me is a case study. I went to reserve tickets for "SHOLAY" and the house full board greeted me after a long wait in the queue and I made an entry into the first class after spending time in another queue...For the movie "Daari Tappida Maga" I had to go twice or thrice for the ticket.

This is the ITI theater and let me thank the Managements of ITI at various periods of time for organizing and maintaining such an enterprise and above all running it well and also showing the most ultimate altruistic gesture of throwing the gates of the theater open for the wide public irrespective of being directly or indirectly linked with this great institution called ITI.

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