|Nataraj Theater (courtesy: Flickr)|
|Plaza (courtesy: Flickr)|
|Brigade Road (courtesy: Flickr)|
|Rex (courtesy: Flickr)|
|Santosh (courtesy: Flickr)|
Bangalore has always been a cosmopolitan city in true sense, and there was always a clamor for good movies, irrespective of the language. So, I never missed out on good Tamil movies. Rajinikanth, Kamalhassan, Captain and a host of others always received a good audience, irrespective of reviews and feedback. Most of the Tamil movies were watched at the intersection of Seshadripuram and Malleswaram, which housed quite a few movie theaters. Any Tamil speaking guy from the Northern part of Bangalore will know Nataraj, Sampige, Central and Kino talkies. Sampige primarily catered to the Kannada cinegoers. Nataraj theater would be the hub of activities during a major release. There were all sorts of fan clubs loitering the area, and the huge posters of Rajini, Kamal, Ajith, Surya and Vijay were garlanded multiple times from head to foot. Watching movies in these theaters was an experience in itself. The tickets were priced at a low point (Rs 30 for a balcony ticket), and the nearby Tamil population, mainly from the local shop owners, and daily wage workers frequented this place. At the time of a big release, sale of tickets in the open market (or to say "tickets in black") was a common fare. I would be warned at home to beware of "moota poochi" (bugs) sticking on to the clothes, and that always meant a quick shower after getting back from late night shows in these theaters. Kino was never a preferred theater, and that was because there was no clear demarcation between the first class and the balcony seats. Central was in shambles during that time itself, so it comes as no surprise that it was shut down a few years ago. Kino, too, is no longer in existence. We also frequented Cauvery at Bashyam circle, and the chaat shop outside the theater was awesome.
Today, a lot of these theaters do exist, but many of them are on the brink of conversion to big shopping malls and multiplexes for obvious financial reasons. The renovation work means a single theater being replaced by several theaters of smaller seating capacities offering improved service and charging higher ticket prices. There is no way one can see a Rajini poster being garlanded outside the multiplex. That will always be an atmosphere impossible to replicate in the multiplexes, and to say the least, a very unique experience.