The Minerva cinema

The Minerva cinema

Nowadays people prefer to see movies at home and eat outside.

Back to Minerva, there was only one class without distinction of front stalls or balcony. The two seaters there were much sought after by courting couples. As soon as a line formed outside the solitary counter, the manager, a gentleman sporting a spotless dhoti and a silk jibba would appear and begin a head count. Once he reached the number equivalent to the tickets that can be issued, he will politely inform the person next in the line not to waste the time  standing, as his movie house will not be able to seat  him/her inside the auditorium.
Once a friend of mine grudgingly chose my company for a movie in Minerva as his girl friend had stood him up. Though his heart was heavy, his belly was empty and so we visited an eatery opposite the Madras High Court first and were consequently delayed. When we reached the foyer it was empty but for the ubiquitous manager.

We asked him if the movie had started. “Yes, gentleman.” he said. “Though  tickets are available, I would not sell you any as you should see this movie from the beginning. I suggest you sit in my room, if you have nothing else to do and wait for the matinee show to be over. You can watch the evening show later.” He also gave us a fresh copy of the ‘Illustrated Weekly of India’, a  magazine  which drew us quickly to the page of glossy wedding photographs, for pairing the couples off differently according to our taste, as opposed to what fate had ordained.

Nowadays there are multiplex theatres; tickets can be printed off one’s computer. People prefer to see movies at home and eat outside; whereas it was the reverse in those days. And so theatre managers of Minerva calibre can exist only in memories.

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