Located on S C Road in Gandhinagar, Kino Theatre died a slow death and breathed its last on Sunday. Demolition works began more than two months ago, but the theatre had stopped screening films since 2001 due to issues related to the land it stood on.
Vijay, a Rajasthani, works in the pawnbroker shop opposite Kino opened by his father S Nemi Chand in 1956. The history of Kino, which began operations in early 1968, could not be told better than Vijay. He says, “Initially it screened English and Hindi films. I remember ‘Victoria No. 203’ ran in Kino for almost a year.”
Later, due to cultural and demographic changes in the ‘developing’ Bangalore City, Kino’s location was more a curse than a boon. With the cinema hall located in an area populated by Tamil-speaking residents , their demands became Kino’s profits.
Vijay recollects, “Tamil fans of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan queued outside the theatre from 3 am. There was always a festive mood during major Tamil film releases.”
Kino screened very few Kannada films and even fewer Telugu films.
K C M Chandrashekar, eminent Kannada film producer, comments: “Kino happened to be neither in Majestic nor in Malleswaram. Many theatre owners nearby did not allow Kino to screen Kannada or Hindi films. Over time, people slowly lost interest in Kino.”
Kino was unique architecturally. It was the first cinema house to have the turnstile ticket counter gates in Karnataka.
According to former president of Film Federation of India, M Bhaktavatsala, “It was single floored and there was no balcony. Instead there was a gradation in floor levels. This was also not common in those days.” Kino had roughly 1,000 seats.
The theatre was designed by a person who was brought specially from Mumbai to design the exteriors and interiors of thetheatre. Bhaktavatsala recalls that his name was Godbole.
A special mural was also painted on the outer walls of Kino which depicted the coastal regions. “Godbole was responsible for all the design attached to the theatre. The idea of the coastal region had nothing to do with Kino. It was simply Godbole’s thinking and ideas,” he added.
Kino was placed on 4,700 square feet of land and was built at a cost of Rs 18 lakh. C B Desai, M Desai and Narayan were partners in starting the theatre.
Attempts to contact C B Desai went futile. But Sanjay Desai, a close relative, said: “Kino faced many troubles and the family has not been attached with Kino for several years. It only remains in memory.”
Kino, which means ‘cinema’ in German, now surely will remain only in memory.