This Tondiarpet cinema corridor may seat 1, 000 individuals, and has seen all landmark Tamil cinema releases over the previous couple of a long time
Agastya Theatre in Tondiarpet has seen all of it. Since 1967, this cinema corridor has been screening a number of MGR superhits, Sivaji Ganesan classics, Rajinikanth’s début outing Aboorva Raagangal and Vijay and Ajith releases.
However the final three years haven’t been type to this North Chennai landmark. The previous few months have been particularly onerous, following the Authorities’s determination to shut theatres as a consequence of COVID-19. With an unclear street forward, the homeowners of Agastya Theatre known as it quits this week.
This 70 mm non-AC theatre, which may seat 1,004 individuals, was among the many common film halls for residents of North Chennai, catering to each household audiences and the working class. “We couldn’t sustain with present enterprise tendencies and competitors,” admits P Natarajan, who has been managing it since its inception, “We additionally didn’t get many new releases of late, and needed to make do with previous releases that didn’t make a lot cash.”
Let’s go to the flicks
The theatre was the brainchild of his uncle, Okay Nanjappa Chettiar, an advocate from Salem who was additionally enthusiastic about engineering. His household was within the yarn enterprise and arrange the TNK Group, which was concerned within the stainless-steel and metals enterprise.
Additionally they ventured into the movie trade underneath a manufacturing home named Devi Movies; they produced the Gemini Ganesan-starrer Konjam Salangai, well-known for being the primary Technicolor function movie of South India, apart from movies like Azhiyatha Kolangal and Suhasini’s début flick, Nenjathai Killathe.
“Since we have been into the manufacturing and distribution of movies, we considered venturing into theatres too,” he recollects. Agastya was thus constructed in 1967 on Tiruvottiyur Excessive Highway, on land that belonged to the household. A couple of years later, the household would arrange one other theatre on Mount Highway; Devi, a cineplex that turned 50 lately and remains to be going robust.
Agastya opened with a lot fanfare in 1967, with the Okay Balachander-directed Bama Vijayam.
Since then, it has seen a number of cinematic blockbusters of all of the main heroes of Tamil cinema, amongst which Kaavalkaran stays memorable.
“It was MGR’s ‘comeback’ movie after the well-known gunfire incident (referring to actor MR Radha taking pictures MGR). There was loads of buzz surrounding it, and it was the primary movie that ran for 100 days at Agastya,” provides Natarajan.
Agastya ran to packed homes within the ‘90s and early 2000s too. Their golden interval was when the Jayalalithaa-run Authorities as soon as introduced that theatres may repair their very own charges of admission for a movie’s preliminary two-week run (a fee that was no more than 75% of the prescribed ticket fee). “Fortunately, there was additionally loads of good content material coming in.”
Agastya additionally superior with the occasions — they went in for the Dolby Digital sound system and digital projection. However that they have been nonetheless a non-AC theatre didn’t assist issues a lot.
“We explored the AC possibility at one level of time. However that may imply bringing down the peak of the ceiling, thus ruining the fantastic thing about the magnificent display screen,” he explains.
The way forward for Agastya Theatre premises remains to be unclear, nevertheless it did have a great run within the 5 a long time that it survived. Curiously, the final movie screened simply earlier than lockdown was an MGR movie titled Ragasiya Police 115. When this movie was first launched on this very display screen, means again in 1967, it ran for 100 days. In early 2020, throughout its re-release, about 30 individuals got here for the reveals. “Occasions have modified, and so have we,” indicators off Natarajan.