A few days ago, I was strolling across
MG Road when I happened to pass near the MG Road metro Station.
The Metro station looked neat and clean. The interiors are done up well and there are sufficient facilities for passengers, including physically challenged.
While I was admiring the new technology that makes commuting easier, I happened to glance across the road and found that where the once beautiful Plaza Theatre stood, there was only a mass of construction materials.
I boarded the Metro, remembering the many English cinemas hat were screened at Plaza. When the metro reached the Trinity station, I happened to look out and once again I was transported decades back to an age when the
Lido theatre screened movies.
Both the Plaza and Galaxy are gone, victims of growing urbanization as are several other theatres in the area-Blue Moon and Blue Diamond on MG Road and near Plaza, Opera at the junction of Brigade Road and Residency Road and in front of Rex.
Even as the Metro was moving smoothly, memories of
and its theatres came back. Bangalore
Till the 1990s, cinema goers in
were spoilt for their choice. Films in several languages including Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and even Bengali, apart from English were regularly screened. Bangalore
While viewers in other cities had to depend on film festivals to see films from other languages,
had no such problem. Films of all genre ranging from the regular potboiler Sholay to the intense Deewar and subtle Moondram Pillai were screened for several weeks, drawing huge crowds. Bangalore
Raj Kumar was as much of a draw as was Rajanikanth, Kamalhassan in Tamil, NTR and Nageshwar Rao in Telugu, Mohanlal and Mamothy in Malayalam.
Kempe Gowda Road from Mysore Bank Circle had the highest number of theatres in a square area in the world. The theatres here were chock-a-block with eateries besides them and they drew a large number of floating population that descended into Majestic from all over . India
At one time, this area called Gandhinagar had 24 theatres and it, therefore, emerged as the capital of the Kannada celluloid world. Gandhinagar and its lanes were well-known as the lifeline of the Kannada film industry. The locality became so famous that a film with Rakjkumar called Gandhinagar was made in 1962.
Generally, the morning shows in theatres on
Kempe Gowda Road and BVK Iyengar Road screened Malayalam and Bengali movies. Some of the theatres that I remember on the this road were Prabhat (at the beginning of KG Road coming from Mysore Bank Square), States (opposite to Prabhat), Santosh, Kailash, Aparna, Sagar, Kempe Gowda, Himalaya, Tribhuvan, Geeta, Triveni and Majestic. Movieland was a little further away. (This area is loosely termed Sandalwood as it has many film production, distribution, finance companies)
The first theatre with sophisticated equipments and seating was the Alankar which came up in the late 1950s on
Kempe Gowda Road. Soon others followed suit like Kalpana, Menaka, Abhinay, Kapali and Tribhuvan.
By the early 1970s, there were 14 theatres in and around Majestic area. Today, only two of them- States and Sagar, apart from Nartaki are holding fort.
The Shivaji theatre on
JC Road showed Tamil films. The Minerva, also on JC Road had a circle named after it. Today, the circle survives but not the theatre.
The theatres then were broadly divided into those in the civil area and those in the Cantonment. Theatres in the Cantonment –
MG Road, Brigade Road, Residency Road, Ulsoor and even Shivajinagar-generally catered to English and Tamil speaking audiences. Even in this island of little , New Opera and Empire showed regional language films. England
Cubbon Road and Central Street Junction had stopped screening films and it made way for the Defence canteen. A little down the road ( Central Street) is Sangeeth which screened Tamil and Kannada films. The twin theatres of Bluemoon and Blue Diamond on MG Road was a favourite as it was located amidst shops.
Vijayalakshmi was well-known among the student community as they gave a discount of 50 paise to students, seating them at the back.
The busy City Market had three theatres including Parmount. Jayanagar had theatres like Nanda near South End-this has vanished- and Swagath which has made way for Swagath Mall and Puttanna which has been demolished. Shanti was another theatre off South End and this has disappeared in history but the name still stands.
Chamarajpet, the bastion of the Kannada movement, had Uma and Apsara theatres which came up in the 70s. The Sampige theatre in Malleswaram, Swastik in Seshadripuram and Navarang in Rajajinagar were big draws because of the closeness of the bus stops near them.
Malls and multiplexes have replaced theatres and eve the audience seems to be more inclined towards them than theatres.
High taxes, tight Government control and archaic rules and regulations have driven theatres into a corner. The stiff competition from multiplexes have driven theaters to the wall. Yet, many in
survive, showcasing the majesty of the reel over the real. Bangalore
There are about 140 theatres in