It's curtains for Kapali theatre; to make way for a multiplex

It's curtains for Kapali theatre; to make way for a multiplex

Kapali theatre, the country’s first and the only cinerama theatre, located on Subedar Chatram Road in Gandhinagar will soon be a history. The owners of the theatre have sold the building.

“The sale of Kapali theatre has been finalised. The owners — sons of H Dasappa— have sold it to a person from Belagavi. The two parties are finalising the sale deed. Advance payment has been made,” a source close to Dasappa’s family told DH.

Probably, Kapali, the landmark in Indian film history, will end movie screening by May end. The new owner has plans to demolish the theatre and construct a commercial complex with six-screen multiplex, added the source.

Jayanna, a film distributor, has obtained the theatre on lease for five years about 15 months ago. As per the lease agreement, the lease period expires the moment the theatre is sold by owners. Ravi Dasappa, one of the owners, was not available for comment.

The history

Built on 44,184 sq ft of land by Gopal Films and H Dasappa and Sons Private Limited, Kapali theatre was inaugurated on February 16, 1968, by the then Union Finance minister, Morarji Desai.

Gopal Enterprises owned Gopal theatre in Yeshwantpur. The Railways proposed to acquire the theatre land and allotted an alternative site to Gopal Enterprises in Gandhingar, where Kapali theatre was constructed. The current market value of the land where Kapali stands is estimated to be over 150 crore.

The first movie

Movie screening began in Kapali with thespian late Rajkumar’s blockbuster ‘Mannina Maga,’ directed by Geethapriya. Incidentally, ‘Mannina Maga’ became the first Kannada movie to complete 100 days in theatre. In the beginning, theatre had seating capacity of 1,465 which was later reduced to 1,112. English and Hindi movies were screened at the theatre for sometime. However, the management again switched to Kannada films with Rajakumar’s ‘Haalu Jenu’ in 1982.

Dr Rajkumar’s biggest cut-out ever made (58-foot tall) was installed outside the theatre for resuming screening of Kannada movies. Kapali has the credit of screening maximum movies of Rajkumar.

After Rajkumar, Ravichandran’s big cut-outs were regularly placed outside the theatre whenever his movies were released. Getting Kapali theatre for a movie was a matter of pride in those days.

Ups and downs

Like any other iconic structure, Kapali, too, has seen ups and downs in its 49 years of existence.

Two people were killed and many others were injured when a wall of the theatre collapsed after the adjacent Gangaram Building came crashing down on September 12, 1983. The theatre was shutdown temporarily due to the failure of sound system when Rajakumar’s  ‘Shabdavedi’ (2000) was being screened. Many people were injured when the police caned the audience to control the situation after Upendra’s ‘H2o’ (2002) was released.

The only movie which was released at Kapali for a record 30 times is Shivarajakumar’s ‘Om’ directed by Upendra.

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