Another theatre goes off screen

Another theatre goes off screen

Opera Talkies in heart of the city razed, mall expected to come up

A landmark heritage building was relegated to the pages of history overnight, leaving a void among cine buffs. It joined the league of single screen theatres that shut doors owing to many discouraging factors in the recent past, mainly multiplex.

Opera Talkies, popularly known as New Opera, on the busy Sri Harsha Road near Statue Square (Chamaraja Wadiyar Circle, opposite the Mysore Palace North gate) was razed between Friday and Saturday early hours.

The theatre that saw its birth during the early 1950s, may have been dealt with damocles sword, to pave way for a mall, the symbol of any city embracing modernity, according to the members of the fraternity. Ranjit theatre, on the busy B N Road, met the same fate a year ago, while Ratna, Vidyaranya, Ganesha, Shalimar and Srinivasa predate it.

According to some of the exhibitors, the demolition of Opera is just the continuation of the pathetic past, with many such theatres demolished, and some more in the line. They said single screen theatres are not so monetarily rewarding, no stringent policy is in place to safeguard the interests of exhibitors against piracy, irrespective of language, and also vapid films hitting the screens.

“Moreover, the differential in tax slabs, especially in Mysore with the Mysore City Corporation (MCC) charging exorbitant rates compared to metropolitan cities like Bangalore, is to be blamed. All was fine till the year 2001, when the self-assessment scheme (SAS) was introduced, bringing theatres, marriage halls and hotels in Mysore, under super commercial sector. 

According to the scheme, there was a considerable hike in the annual tax paid by theatres. The Mysore City Film Exhibitors Association has challenged it in the High Court, bringing a stay order,” sources said.

Following this, in the year 2003, MCC officials brokered truce with exhibitors and pacified the latter to withdraw the case on the promise that they shall pay double the annual rental value (ARV).

Though it was agreeable to exhibitors, who later withdrew the case in the court, the MCC laid a condition that they have to abide by SAS from 2005. The exhibitors moved court again and succeeded in getting an interim order, paying only 50 per cent of the revised tax till the dispute is settled.

According to the same parameter, theatres located in the heart of the city like Opera, Woodlands, Lido and Sangam paid an annual tax in the range of Rs 6 lakh to Rs 9 lakh, while for those in the interiors, it is between Rs 70,000 to Rs 4 lakh.

Following the demolition of Opera, only a few more single screen theatres remain functional like Gayatri, Lakshmi, Shantala, Sterling and Skyline, Saraswati, Lido, Woodlands, Sangam, Sri Nagaraj, Olympia and Thibbadevi.

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