Monday 11 March 2013

A cluster of theatres

Bangalore has several distinctions and some of them are on the road. We pass by them everyday and yet, we seem to care very little about them.
There cannot be a single Bangalorean who has not traveled on Kempe Gowda Road and Majestic to either board a bus or a train. Yet, the only memory a majority of these people have is the high traffic volume on the road and in the surroundings of Majestic.
With the Subashnagar bus stand being taken over by Namma Metro, the entire Majestic area resembles a huge melting pot.
Very few today dare to take the Majestic route to Rajajinagar and Magadi Road. The roads are full of parked buses and with thousands of people wriggling in and out of  the buses, driving can at best be called a nightmare.
But what the thousands of motorists miss when they drive on the busy Kempe Gowda Road is not the real history but reel history. The Kempe Gowda Road and Majestic were and even now are the places where the maximum number of cinema houses and drama theatres flourished.
This is perhaps the only place in India where so movie houses stood cheek by jowl with hotels and restaurants. Himalaya, Majestic, Kempe Gowda, Sagar, States, Geetha, Jai Hind, Alankar and Kalpana theatres and many more were always houseful when they screened films.
The “huge” clusters of theatres started from Mysore Bank Circle at the junction of Post Office Road, Avenue Road an Kempe Gowda Road and it continued all the way to the bus stand.
Many Hindi, Kannada and regional language movies were screened in these theatres and scores of them completed silver jubilees.
The bus coming to and going to Majestic disgorged people by hundreds on Kempe Gowda Road. People had to get down at Mysore Bank Circle as there was no stop in between till the bus reached Majestic.
When the Subashnagar busstand was yet to come up, the empty space between Majestic Bus Stop and Railway Station was called Subashnagar Grounds. It was used for politial rallies, processions and speeches.  Jawaharlal Nehru, Patel and Ram Manohar Lohia have given their speeches here.
It was also in this ground that Master Hirannaiyya first staged Lanchavathara which is still going strong today. There was a lake adjacent to the grounds and it was called Doddakere.
Well, neither the lake nor the grounds survive. Both made way for the Subashnagar Bus stand which today has been taken over by Namma Metro for the metro rail project. As far as the cinemas go, many of them have given way to shopping malls and complexes. The only survivor of the good old times are the roads. But even they have become victim of urbanization” Kempe Gowda Road and many surrounding roads have become one ways.

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