Puttanna Theatre in Jayanagar, the iconic landmark of Bangalore, which according to the mayor D.Venkatesh Murthy, was scheduled to be demolished on July 28, is already getting razed to facilitate a puja ritual for a multi-storey building with multi-level car parking facilities, two theatres and commercial shops. The puja will be held on July 28 in the presence of the chief minister, according to the mayor.
The theatre, which takes us down memory lane, was earlier known as Poonam theatre. It was rechristened after the legendary Kannada film director Puttanna Kanagal.
It was once a hub for theatre, film personalities and movie lovers, but later became a centre for drunkards and gamblers. The theatre, which celebrated film festivals in the city and many film related photo exhibitions, has been in a dilapidated condition for many years. Damaged walls, leaking water during monsoons, breeding place for bandicoots - the theatre today stands as a testimony to the apathy by authorities as opposed to what it stood for — a testimony to Kannada cinema’s years of glory.
The sorry state of many single screen theatres in the city came into limelight with arrival of mall culture in the city. This led to many single screen theatres getting converted to multiplexes.
When City Express interacted with the Kannada film folk, they regretted over the shabby state of this historical place. Shivaram, actor and a close associate of Puttanna Kanagal states that the maintenance charge was given to a youth congress leader some time back, but he failed. Speaking about the theatre, Shivaram said, “When the theatre stopped screening movies, leading actors of Kannada film industry, Ambareesh and late Vishnuvardhan came forward to renovate and refurnish the theatre (between 1983 and 1994). Though the then government gave the authorisation to take up the project, the tenure given was just five years, which was less. Hence the project was cancelled.”
The theatre was earlier also home to many film related photo exhibitions. T S Nagabharana, film maker and director had also held a photo exhibition entitled ‘Bharana 50’ in 2004, which portrayed his journey in theatre and film industry. Recalling some of his memories spent in the theatre, he said, “It was not just a theatre but a cultural hub for many prominent theatre personalities, especially in South Bangalore. We gathered for the premiere shows of many films. But today there is no such place for theatre personalities to gather in the city.” He added, “The revamping of the theatre will lead to a shopping complex. Memories are gradually demolished with the destruction of this theatre. We require a place which can bring all theatre personalities together so that we can reconstruct the lost memories.”
Jayanagar residents also said that many memories associated with the theatre will be lost. “The scenario has completely changed today. The cultural importance the place held is no more seen. With development taking place, we are losing cultural values,” said Yashasvi S, a resident.