BENGALURU: The curtains have fallen on the landmark Nataraj theatre in Seshadripuram, which was set to turn 49 years old this year, following the end of the lease period between the owners and the tenant.
The owners have little interest in renewing or leasing out the theatre to anyone else. Speaking to Express, J C Visweswra, who has a share in the property said, “It is difficult to run the show ourselves due to the high cost in maintenance and functioning of the cinema hall. Hence, we have decided not to keep the theatre operational.”
The theatre, which first opened to movie entusiasts in 1970, has been in the spotlight every time during Cauvery river dispute or any clash with the neighbouring state, Tamil Nadu. The reason being the theatre had drawn flak for mostly screening Tamil movies and fewer Kannada films. The other owner J R Veerabhadra Prasanna, nephew of Visweswra, said the theatre took this route to cater to Tamil populace in Srirampura and Yeswanthpur areas. It was the second largest single screen theatre, with 1,100 seating capacity, when it started.
Veerabhadra Prasanna said, “The 19,000 sqft land where the theatre stands, is divided into three parts. The front and the rear portion belong to Visweswra who wishes to sell the plot. But my father, who owns the middle portion, wants to retain it. With most of the land being sold, we cannot run a theatre or do anything with it. The 40 people working in the theatre have lost their jobs.” The owners will be selling the movable properties which include projectors, screens, chairs, sound systems and others equipment.
Visweswara’s brother JC Rudra Sharma (88), who grew up during the nascent years of the theatre, does not wish to sell the property and says he will rather save the landmark.
In December 2017, the lease period ended and the possession was handed over to the owners. The 100-year-old property, belonging to J Chinnappa, is divided between his children. The estimated value of the land is about `40 crore.
With several single screen theatres in the city either closing down or turning into multiplexes, veteran actor, director and producer Dwarakish said, “It is a big loss to cinema lovers whenever a single screen theatre hall closes. The news is unfortunate.”
Though the property issue is in court, Veerabhadra Prasanna said, “We do not wish to sell our part of the land and want to retain our forefathers’ property.”