These Theatres Were Hot Hangouts Once

City Express takes a look at some theatres that the previous generation grew up with, laughed at, cried at, brought dates to and eventually watched, as they faded into oblivion

Published: 05th March 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th March 2015 03:43 AM   |  A+A-

These Theatres

CHENNAI: Before the advent of the big plexes, Chennai boasted of a reasonable contingent of standalone single screens. Beginning from the pre Independence era, these theatres that ran to packed houses have off late been shutting shop.

Now adding to the long list is the five-decade-old Shanti theatre located on Anna Salai. Gradually these theatres, which people used to throng in huge numbers once, will soon be added to the pages of History books.

One of the main reasons for the single screens closing down today is economic viability. If you compare the cost involved in running a multiplex and a single screen theatre there is marked difference. While multiplexes get additional income from food stalls, advertisements and parking, single screens have to solely depend on the sale of tickets.

Apart from the cost involved, people today are drawn closer to mall culture as it provides an all-in-one facility.  “I love going to multiplexes as I can find nice food outlets and watch a movie and then go shopping if I want to, in the same building. It saves a lot of time,” said Saikat Ghosh, an IT employee at Olympia TechPark.

Single Screens we’ve Bid

Farewell to

New Eliphinstone theatre 1916 – 1979

It was set up on Mount Road to raise funds for World War 1, and has now been converted into a shopping complex.

Gaiety theatre 1914 – 2009

Set up in Anna Salai, this space has now been turned into a shopping complex-cum-office.

Safire 1964 – mid 90’s

India’s first multiplex, now functions as a s shopping complex.

Star theatre 1914 – 2012

Set up in Triplicane, this theatre was well known for screening the first Tamil Talkies film ‘Kalidas’.

Kamadhenu theatre 1943 – 2008

Most sought after since the pre-independence era in Mylapore, it is now a wedding hall.

Nagesh theatre - Demolished in 2008

Owned by late veteran actor Nagesh, it was shut down due to financial problems. Now it functions as a wedding hall.

(Lakshmi, Casino and Thyagaraja cinema hall are the only three remaining out of the 13 theatres that used to function between the Anna Salai and Mount Road stretch.)



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