Beside the lawn at the entrance of the office premises of The New Indian Express at Ramanathapuram, stands a tall electric transformer. But over two decades ago, there ran the narrow cinema ticket counters, as the building, for many years, quenched the artistic thirst of the people, functioning as the movie hall ‘Krishna Theatre’. Though Express celebrated its silver jubilee on Saturday commemorating the completion of 25 years of its Coimbatore centre, to many elders in the surrounding areas like Puliyakulam, Sowripalayam and Ammankulam, the building is still the same ‘Krishna Theatre’!
Even today, when you tell any of them that you are working in the office of Express or Dinamani, the person would recognize it thus:“Oh it is Krishna Theatre. Isn’t it?”
And it is true that the people’s unfading memory about the building is all due to their vivid experiences of film watching in the movie hall.
Krishna, like its other (closed) counterparts including Maniam, Sripathy, Rainbow, Swamy and Murugan, did not screen new releases. Nonetheless, it provided a feast by showing the super hits of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan like ‘Alibabavum 40 Thirudarkalum’, ‘Sivakamiyin Selvan’ (a remake of Rajesh Kanna’s Aradhana), Koondukili (the only MGR-Sivajiganesan starrer) and so on.
Before the advent of multiplex cinema halls beginning with KG Complex (now KG big cinemas) comprising the four movie halls Ragam, Thanam, Pallavi and Anupallavi in the early 1980s, the cinemas that ruled the roost in the heart of the city were Royal, Irudhaya, Carnatic, Raja, Naaz, Delite, Central, Arul, Geethalaya and so on. These movie halls screened only new releases of those days.
While the Kamalhassan starrer ‘Guru’ was showing at Royal, Rajinikanth’s ‘Priya’ hit the screens of Raja. With film watching being a celebration those days, it is unbelievable to recall that T Rajender’s debut movie ‘Oruthalai Ragam’ and Sivaji Ganesan’s ‘Thirisoolum’ ran to a packed house for 365 days in Geethalaya!
A person, who had watched movies in Krishna, visited the premises of Express even today, he or she could not help taking a trip down memory lane - the crowded ticket counters for the denominations 65 paise and 95 paise, the cycle stand and the canteen, which sold hot samosas, egg bondas, murukku and coffee in the interval.
The big screen of Krishna, for a long time, contained a stitch mark on its corner. A boy, who wanted to know what it was, once asked his father who explained it thus: “ In a fight scene from a film, the villain continuously whipped the hero MGR. And unable to bear this, a diehard fan of the matinee idol, suddenly ran to the screen and ‘stabbed’ the villain, saying ‘how dare you beat my Thalaivar!“
B Meenakshi Sundaram
Source: Krishna Theatre
Ninaivugal - T Jayaprakash