Back to childhood

Last Updated 18 May 2015, 15:10 IST

Having been a Bengalurean since birth, I have seen the City change over the decades. My grandfather came here in 1955 and my father who is now 85 years, worked as a state government officer. It may sound cliched, but boy! the City has changed a lot from being the ‘Pensioners’ Paradise’ in the sixties.

There were no fans then and my relatives from North Karnataka used to ask for blankets throughout the year! My schooling and PUC happened in and around Rajajinagar and Malleswaram. The photograph taken in the mid-sixties shows me in my primary school uniform with Chord Road in the background. This was the first bypass of its kind connecting the Tumakuru and Mysuru Road and hence the name. It was a mud road and the entire western part was wilderness.

As kids we were scared to look beyond the road after dark. The entire West of Chord Road extension came up in the late seventies and developed further in the early eighties.
I studied architecture in the oldest engineering college of Bengaluru, UVCE, which was at the KR Circle. This was when the movie bug bit me and we saw movies almost every other day. I hold the record amongst my friends of seeing three movies in a day and seven movies in a week.

The entire stretch of Kempegowda Road was our walking route from college to the Subhashnagar bus stand. The walk was never boring and we never felt the distance as the road was lined with movie posters on either side.

 The movie theatres competed with each other in exhibiting movies of all languages. Starting from Pallavi Theatre near Corporation Circle till Movieland (airing Telugu movies till date) near Anand Rao Circle, the two-kms stretch, housed more than 25 cinema halls, in the 70s and till the late 80s. States, Prabhat, Menaka and Kempegowda showcased Kannada movies and Sagar, Kalpana, Alankar, Triveni, Aparna, Sangam and Kapali showed Hindi movies to packed houses.

Those were the days of movie complexes, replaced by the multiplexes today, with Santhosh, Narthaki and Sapna in one large compound. Also, Trubhuvan (the  first one to have a lift) and Kailash (a mini theatre), were in the opposite street. Abhinay was the first one to have an escalator in those days and the building even had a revolving restaurant on its roof top.

There were other theatres around the famous Kempegowda circle like Himalaya, Geetha and Majestic. Sadly today, most of them are literally no more and a few of them are in their final stages of existence. The whole culture of movie watching has changed with the advent of television, VCDs, DVDs, computers, internet and mobile phones.

The fun and excitement of watching a movie in a large hall is lost. We Bengalureans were always large-hearted when it came to watching films in other languages and most of my generation have grown up watching Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam movies alongside Kannada, Hindi and English ones. And that is how we learnt to speak these languages after watching almost all the movies of Kamal Haasan and Rajanikanth.

It really feels sad and also nostalgic to note that many theatres have made way for malls and commercial complexes. Going for a movie was one big fun trip and we never returned without watching one, even though it was a first day first show movie.

Tickets were some how purchased even after a house full board by approaching the manager or the gatekeeper or even a cycle stand owner on some occasions. The films came in reels and with very few prints to be shared between many theatres.

Many a time, people had to wait for a reel to come from the previous theatre. The fun can never be same in today’s multiplexes or on DVDs. I am sure the folks of my age will agree to this.

Shreedhar K Morab (Architect and Interior Designer)

(Published 18 May 2015, 15:10 IST)

Follow us on