Smelly, dank cinema paradiso (Hindu)

the piece here is almost a year old but of course still very relevant..


The Wellington theatre in Chennai screening the 1960s ‘ Tamil film Parthiban Kanavu

“In Madras, says a colleague, there was the Star Theatre in Triplicane where women would sit in a small section. Once the lights came on, a black curtain would be drawn so that the females were segregated. You could, of course, refuse to sit in that section and argue with the doorman to allow you in the general section. He would reluctantly oblige, with a stern and disapproving look on his face.

Knowing an usher was a status symbol because he could always get you in for a price. In fact, some ushers in some theatres in Delhi would let in half a dozen people without tickets and then collect the money halfway through the film.

Then there were the Services cinemas, at least in Delhi. They were simply large sheds with asbestos roofs and iron benches. In the Delhi heat, you got roasted, from the top and the bottom.

Yet we went because the movies made up for the theatre experience, including one where you had to carry your own chair in from the lot lying outside. That was for the better tickets. For the Janata Class, there were bricks — which had to be put back on the way out.”


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