Being a lover of movies and its ways, I immediately fell for this one. It’s a charming account of a movie theater located in a freshly independent Indian town. The town is the modern day Trivandrum
I’m putting the piece in this space, exactly the way it was written, with the old gentleman’s permission. Get charmed!
1948: Sreekumar Theatre, Railway Station Road. Inaugurated.
Went with Appuchettan. 1st film MGM Technicolor, Bathing Beauty - Esther Williams . Only English movies. Every 3rd day there was a change. 15 Films a month. Other theatres were thatched sheds. Accommodated viewers on the floor (thara ticket). Then, on foldable wooden chairs. Rattan chairs in upper classes. Lice were carried home after the show.
But Sreekumar was a permanent hall. Viewers sat on numbered chairs fixed in rows. Cushion seat in the balcony classes. Rates stared like this: 4 1/2 annas (28 paise) - 10 annas ( 63 ps ) , Re 1 ( British Rupee ) & Rs 1 1/2 . The next 2 classes were in the balcony (upstairs) Rs 2 & Rs 2 1/2 ( separate cubicles ie Boxes ) . There were 3 boxes with 8 upholstered chairs in each. The middle one - The Royal Box was exclusive for the Maharajah & others from the Kowdiyar Palace. On days when Chithira Thirunal (the local King) came there was no Interval.
For keeping cycles 1/4 anna -1 anna = 6 naya paise (ie 1/100th of a Rupee). Cars were parked outside - no parking fee. 1 or 2 motor cycles / no scooters were seen in the car parking area. No Autos in those days. Till 1957 there was season ticket system for students (above 18). Students were spared from submitting any proof like photo ID or admission form countersigned by the Principal .The theatre people trusted the student community. Girl students were not issued with the concession - only accompanied women & girls were allowed.
1st show at 6:30 pm to 8.30 & the 2nd 9.30 - midnight. No A/C & standby generator. People smoked. Once outside after the show one could smell tobacco smoke in the dress. Tea Coffee & Cigarettes were sold at the stall outside .Fairly long printed synopsis were given free. I had season ticket 1953 -1957 Collected about 700 synopses. Still photographs of coming films were exhibited.
There was a pink curtain which rose slowly to the Spnish Gypsy song played on guitar. Then the famous Tamil song of K B Sunderambal (Njarapazhathe pizhundu) when Lord Subrahmonian’s slide was shown. Then came the Maharajah`s welcome etc. Started with Film Division’s B&W news reel. Ads in still slides during the interval.
Teachers in English encouraged students to read THe Hindu Paper & the films at Srikumar. Student Politics not popular. Today we have the TV & computer. In those days we knew more about the Holywood stars - Ava Gardner, Ingrid Bergmann , Elezabath Taylor . Charlie Chaplin Marlan Brando, Bing Crosby, Kirk Douglas & so on. ShreeKumar theater still stands on Railway Station Road in Trivandrum
ShreeKumar theater still stands on Railway Station Road in Trivandrum
ps: thats the poster of that 1944 musical, Bathing Beauty