Curtains come down on Pallavi theatre

Multiplex effect

Another Bangalore landmark is set to vanish. The 36-year-old Pallavi theatre, located across the street from the Kanteerava Indoor Stadium, will be torn down soon.

Since 1976, the theatre has long regaled Telugu moviegoers and will have its last screening on December 26. The building will make way for a 10-storey superspeciality hospital.

Hari Kumar, a staff member at the theatre, cited financial problems and a change in the taste of cinema audience as the reason for the closure. “The cinema-viewing culture in urban areas has undergone a drastic change. People are overawed by luxury theatres housed in shopping malls, which offer more than just movies. It has become difficult to fill all the 1,211 seats in our theatre. While we get viewers in the first week of any release, the number dwindles in the following weeks. Because of this, the management has decided to close down the theatre,” he said.

‘Reinvent’

With the rise of multiplexes, standalone theatre owners have had to reinvent themselves or face extinction. Although several iconic theatres - Lido, Rex, Majestic and Kalpana, to name a few -  still remain, by and large many of the old theatres have faded into history. Many standalone theatres have transformed into multiplexes to keep pace with the competition. Other theatres like Santosh, Nartaki and Sapna on KG Road whose land lease expires in 2013 are set to become multiplexes.

“This has been the new phenomenon in the last decade. The new concept of shopping and entertainment under one roof and the weekend culture has taken us by storm. Even people from Ramnagar and other semi-urban areas spend time at shopping malls and watch movies. We have to see this in the larger context of the development model and the ethos that it evokes in our society,” says B Suresh, director of Kannada films.
 “One of the best things that the multiplex has done to films is that it has killed the hero and has given space for experimentation.”

K V Chandrashekar, owner of Veeresh Cinemas, said multiplexes have democratised film exhibition in the City. “Earlier theatres were concentrated in the Majestic area. They were only a few which we used to call suburban theatres, but now there are some 198 screens in the City, with films now being screened in Vijaynagar, Jayanagar, Banashankari, Jalahalli, Marathalli, Koramangala – areas which never had theatres earlier. Those standalone cinemas that stood regally in the central business district are facing a shortage of audiences as cinephiles now have access to a screen closer home,” he said.

Subsidised tickets

Many cinegoers, however, complain about the high ticket prices at multiplexes and feel that such theatres will never be accessible to low-income groups. The average ticket price at a standalone cinema house is Rs 50, while it is at least Rs 150 at a multiplex. One way to redress these odds is to look at Tamil Nadu as an example, explained B Suresh.

“The Tamil Nadu government has decreed that 25 per cent of the seats at these multiplexes must be available at subsidised rates. Everyone would go to multiplexes if the same rule is followed in Karnataka,” Suresh said.
Recently, the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce tried to control the rate of entrance prices at multiplexes, stating that it should be no more than Rs 20. Resistance from the multiplex lobby, however, resulted in a stay order on the proposal from the Competition Commission of India.

Comments (+)