Of old forgotten talkies

In the 40s and 50s, grandpa said, he watched English movies in Gayathri Talkies.

My mother and I, basically Mysureans and currently living in Bengaluru, told my grandparents that my sister and my father were watching an English movie in Mysuru.

“Which theatre? Gayathri Talkies?” asked my 81-year-old grandpa, innocently with a smile. My mother and I giggled in sync and he looked at us with arched eyebrows, still smiling.

“No, ajja. People hardly go to the theatres in the City these days,” I said. ‘City’ for old Mysoreans means areas around the palace, maybe within a three-kilometre radius. “Sure, for Kannada and sometimes Hindi movies, they do; but a major chunk of movie enthusiasts can be seen in the two thriving multiplexes nowadays,” I added.

Amused and confused, my grandpa went on to say how he would watch English movies in Gayathri Talkies in the 40s and 50s. He said English movies played in Gayathri those days while Kannada films played in Lakshmi Talkies, located bang opposite the former.

Little did I know that he knows of, and has been to, every talkies in old Mysore. He recalled watching a movie with my grandmother in Prabha Talkies in the 60s after savouring masala dose in a restaurant close to K R Hospital. She was, in fact, admitted there after a surgery and the doctor had permitted her to venture out for a few hours instead of rotting in boredom inside the ward.

He spoke about Opera, Olympia, Ranjith (where he watched Junglee), Rajkamal, Woodlands and Lido theatres. He even said he remembers Sangam theatre from the time it was being constructed, even though he hadn’t watched a movie there. He missed out Shantala and Sterling theatres though; the latter probably because it is not located within the areas I call ‘City’.

As I was telling my grandpa that not many of those old theatres played English movies anymore due to the growth of multiplexes, except maybe Rajkamal and Sangam, I realised I had lost track of the theatres in my hometown. I reali-sed I had watched most of the Harry Po-tter movies, the Pirates of the Caribbean series and many more English films, and numerous Hindi and Kannada ones, in the theatres my grandpa listed because multiplexes didn’t exist in Mysore during my school and early college days.

I also realised that from the time multiplexes opened, I started going there. I realised I had forgotten to go to the old theatres. I realised I had moulded myself to adapt to the evolving digital world. Even though I ride my scooty by those roads, never do I turn to check what is playing. I realised how lakhs of youngsters would be facing the same changes as me and how, as a result, theatres in Old Mysore would be forgotten in the generations to come.
While I would certainly hope not, the change seems inevitable in the future.

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