Tuesday, March 6, 2012


At one point in time Bangalore could have been easily labelled as the Theater or Cinema Hall capital of the world. It was a thriving activity to the entertainment strapped populace of the city.This phenomenon must have existed all over the country and the world and the period in question is the 1970's.....and note that televisions were non-existent for the common man and cricket matches and cinema were the only entertainers.

Note that Bangalore city was unique in one way..films in four languages held a sway over the city; KANNADA , Hindi, Tamil and English. An average movie goer of these times had seen movies in all these languages though he could not fully interpret the language.

During this era let me make a list of the films that I possibly saw at these theaters....Benhur in Sangam theater in Majestic or Subash nagar ; Bobby in Triveni ;Enter the Dragon in Galaxy; Bemisaal in Alankar; Ten Commandments in Plaza to name a few. Movies were thriving in this place and had a strangle hold on the common man and at most of the times the house was full and the theaters and their surroundings wore a chaotic look many times and the persistence to get a ticket was some times too overwhelming and people even purchasing tickets in black from the thriving black market segment. The Black market segment would purchase a large bulk of ticket en-mass by deputing their cronies at the box office very well early in the morning and thereafter sell them in the nick of time for a fortune...thanks to movies this activity thrived in some form at all theaters.

There is a road in Bangalore that probably entered the Guinness book of world records for housing the largest number of theaters and that is Kempe Gowda road also called K G Road. I think the number of theaters ran well over 20. The movie Sholay ran in the Santosh theater for more than a year and this theater being a prominent one on this road.

English movies were screened in the cantonment area; Kannada movies almost in every part of the city , Tamil movies in the Ulsoor area, Hindi movies in the Majestic area and very rarely these zones were violated.

From a movie stand point the Bangalore of today is a far cry from what it used to be. Most if not all of these theaters have collapsed. With the advent of Television sets in 1980'S and the exponential multiplication of channels entertainment comes into the home and few ventured out to see a movie a trend that has caught up like a wild fire in merely a decade and many of these points in the town which wore a festive look on the release of a movie is today deprived of that electrifying feel and anxiety which is now a matter of the past and with the rapid growth of the internet the fate of these large theaters is sealed as an monument of the past and the fact that there was a time when cinema tickets were black marketed may not seem credulous for many.

However there are still some such theaters abound in the outskirts of the city and any one who would like to have a feel of the past couls slip into one of these which would be most probably a 35mm screen and with the lights off slip into a world of the past for the ensuing two hours or so engrossed in some story half realistic and the other half fantastic and return entertained by a contrivance that once was the preoccupation and mainstay of this fine city.

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