Gone are the days of Talkies and Bioscope. Amidst the bubbling Multiplexes and multi-screen movie viewing experience, we might have forgotten about the old and rustic cinema halls that used to be most visited places.
Today's generation living in metro cities may have even not seen a single screen cinema hall. In many cities the old cinema theatres are demolished, on that land commercial complexes are built. In this blog I look into the journey of cinema halls in India.
Elphinstone Picture Palace, and later called Chaplin Cinema, this is the first ever Cinema Hall in India. Founded by Jamshedji Framji Madan in 1907, Elphinstone was one of the most sought after place. Later when it became a full-fledged movie theatre as Chaplin, the popularity rose to ten-fold. The site is now demolished and used by Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
Royal Talkies, Grant Road Bombay started in 1911, Royal theatre was known to show small documentaries shot and stage plays during Old Mumbai days. With a seating capacity of 600 people, hardly any heads are seen now. Located at Royal Cinematography, M Shaukat Ali Road, Mumbai Central, this is one of those beautiful memories of old talkies still in shape to be watched when along the way.
Gaiety Cinema Madras Raghupathy Venkiah Naidu, a successful photographer of the south, took over the equipment after the exhibition and set up a tent cinema near the Madras High Court. R. Venkiah, flush with funds, built in 1912 a permanent cinema in the Mount Road area named Gaiety Theatre. It was the first in Madras to screen films on a full-time basis. The theatre later closed for commercial developments
Mr Raghupathy Venkatesh set up a chain of theatres across South India. After Gaiety, he constructed Crown Theatre on Mint Street followed by Globe on Purasawalkam High Road and then the Imperial Theatre in Madurai
Caapitol Cinema, CST : Exactly opposite our Monument CST station is this old small white looking theatre called ‘Capitol’ since 1879, Once the Gothic movie playhouse of residents around fort area which played some British dramas is now the B Grade Hindi movie show theatre. The very first show at Capitol cinema was attended by Governor and his wife, which features a premiere of ‘The Flag Lieutenant’ which was a British film.
Alfred Cinema Hall, Grant Road Alfred is one of those oldest talkies started in 1880 with name ‘Rippon’ then renamed to ‘Alfred’ in 1932
Minerva Cinema Calcutta The Minerva Theatre was a theatre in Calcutta, built in 1893. It was erected at the site on Beadon Street where the Great National Theatre stood before. The maiden play held on this stage was 'Macbeth'. It was initially owned by Nagendra Bhusan Mukhopaddhaya. In course of time, it witnessed several transfers of ownership."Minerva" was burnt down in a fire in 1922. However, it was renovated and in 1925, it regained its old status and play acting was resumed. The Minerva, along with the Star and The Classic Theatre, was also one of the places where the first motion pictures in Bengal, made by Hiralal Sen, were screened.
It was the first cinema hall to be constructed in Connaught Place. It was constructed in 1932 and has a seating capacity of 694. Now this cinema theatre is closed and converted into Madam Tussaud Museum
Plaza Cinema Delhi The Plaza Cinema opened in 1933 and was designed by architect Robert Tor Russell as part of the Connaught Place development. The facade had a classical style with columns that matched adjoining buildings.
The facade was covered over in 1967 by a plain stone slab, while the inside the auditorium has been modernised by a covering of pegboard sound insulation tiles which give a bland appearance. Seating is provided in stalls and balcony levels. The cinema was equipped to screen 70mm film and underwent a renovation, re-opening in May 2004 by the popular multiplex chain PVR Cinemas. T
his is one of the standalone single screen theatres which plays potboilers to documentaries. The theatre was constructed by Maistry Chowriappa in the 1930s and has been in operation since then. For a while, for revamping purposes the place remained closed for a year but has opened up with a bang.
By the year 1921, there were 150 cinema halls in India. Bombay and Calcutta had the maximum.
Rajmandir Cinema Jaipur Raj Mandir Cinema holds a unique position in the heart of all visitors and locals of Jaipur. Though it's not that old it is iconic because it is the best cinema hall in Asia.
In 1966, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Shri Mohanlal Sukhadia, laid the foundation stone for this amazing theatre. RajMandir was more of a dream Project. It was his dream to build a grand beautiful entertainment spot which can be the best example of Modern and Stylish Jaipur. It took around ten years to construct this grand piece of entertainment.