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Thread: Evergreen memories...

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    Smile Evergreen memories...

    Recently I had to go to a place in Mount Road (now called Anna Salai ) in Chennai regarding submission of some Forms. This is a high rise building in a by-lane near the Gemini Flyover.

    While waiting I happened to look out through the balcony on the 4th floor at a vast vacant land near the building. I went down memory lane when I realized that this was the place where my favorite theaters stood in the 60s till the 80s. This was a multiplex cinema house where three beautiful theaters catered to the movie buffs in those days. Safire, Emerald and Blue Diamond were the three movie halls where I have watched several movies with my family and friends and thoroughly enjoyed them. The complex was owned by the Veecumsee group.

    Hindi movies were screened in Emerald while Safire was for Hollywood movie lovers. I still remember watching movies like My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins, Charlie Chaplin's The Kid and many of Laurel & Hardy movies at Safire. I still remember the day when my friend and I came from school (in Santhome) to Safire while my mother joined us in the theater from her office and we enjoyed watching "The Kid". When I was in the 5th standard, our class teacher Miss Radha took a bunch of us (boys and girls) to Emerald and we saw Dev Anand's Jewel Thief. These memories are evergreen in my memory and I still cherish those moments.

    Blue Diamond had a unique feature of holding continuous shows from 9AM to midnight. One needed to buy the ticket only once and he could keep watching the movie again and again. Even if you entered in the middle or end of the show, you could continue to sit and watch the movie screened again from the beginning. Once when I was working, I had to attend office in the afternoon shift which began at 1pm. So, in the morning I went with my close friend to Blue Diamond to watch “Abba the movie” from 9AM, then had my lunch and later went to work at 1pm.

    Safire was the first of its kind among multiplex. Other complex theaters like Devi, Devi Paradise, Sathyam etc were all built only later.

    In the 60s and 70s the television had not yet invaded our homes and hence watching movies was our great enjoyable pastime. It was fun to go well ahead of the show timings and stand in the queue to buy our tickets to watch the movie.

    Youngsters born after 80s and 90s will not believe me if I told them that we had watched such excellent movies at the rates of Rs 2 to Rs 3 for a seat in the Balcony or the rear end of the hall. And all this in a comfortable, fully air-conditioned theater and cushioned seating…
    There was a theater called Jayanthi at Indira Nagar ( I think it is still there) where we had watched two different movies (Tamil) back to back at the cost of one movie’s ticket fare.
    Anand theater was a beautiful hall in the heart of the city near Thousand lights at Anna Salai (Then called Mount Road) and it was a joy to watch movies there. Within the same compound was Little Anand which was slightly smaller in size. The Box office hit movie “Aradhana” starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore was shown there for more than two years continuously. It is a pity that these two favorite theaters of mine were also demolished a decade or two ago.

    I still remember having watched a movie as a small girl, on a screen which was circular. It was an English movie shown at the Teynampet Grounds in Madras (now Madras is known as Chennai).

    The unique feature of this show was the audience stood in the centre and the screen formed a circle around us. So we had to keep turning our whole body in a circular motion to watch a car moving forward on the road.

    This show was called Circarama. Circarama, later known as Circle-Vision 360° is a film technique refined by The Walt Disney Company that uses nine cameras for nine huge screens arranged in a circle.
    By using an odd number of screens, and a small space between them, a projector may be placed in each gap, projecting across the space to a screen. The screens and projectors are arranged above head level, and lean rails may be provided for viewers to hold or to lean against while standing and viewing the film. (Courtesy: Wikipedia).
    The advent of televisions, DVDs, Home theaters and video piracy are reasons for the decline in the viewership at theaters and also for the closure of several movie halls. The rates too are quite high that people hesitate to go to theaters with their families. The tickets range from Rs 100 to 200 or Rs300. There is no fixed rate as the theater owners increase the rates of a movie when it is much hyped about or features very popular stars. Unlike those days when a movie ran for weeks or even years in one or more theaters, today the films create history even if they run for a couple of weeks.
    Technologically, cinema might have risen to greater heights but socially and emotionally, it was much better in those days… Hence I go nostalgic when I think about movies of yesteryear…
    Last edited by jayashree s kumar; 12-08-14 at 12:17 PM.

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