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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XVIII No. 27, may 16-31, 2009
Our Readers Write

The cine-theatres of Madras

I go down the memory lane for a couple of decades after 1944, when we did not have the luxury of viewing the movies of our choice sitting in our drawing rooms. It was a totally different experience then, rare and looked forward to by the whole family in holiday mood. We’d get dressed in the best of attire before heading for the theatre. And how many theatres there were!

Padmanaba on Wall Tax Road attracted the local residents of Choolai. Prabhat on Broadway collected the audience from the Harbour area.

Old Round Tana had a lot of theatres. Casino, a favourite for English movies like Samson & Delilah, and next to it, by the Cooum River, Gaiety, for Tamil movies. Chitra in the same area ran morning shows. New Elephinstone was the best of the theatres for English films. On Sunday mornings it hosted English cartoon shows. Next to it was Jaffar’s ice cream parlour.

On Wallajah Road was Paragon. Shanthi theatre on Mount Road came up to show Sivaji Ganesan movies and Hindi pictures like Nagin. The Plaza came up later. At the entrance to General Patter’s Road was Wellington Theatre, where S.S. Vasan’s Chandralekha, Penn, etc. were shown. Down General Patter’s Road was Midland Theatre where MGM English pictures were screened. And further still down was Sagar that became Odeon and is now Melody.

On Triplicane High Road was Star Talkies showing Hindi pictures to see which the local Urdu and Hindi speaking population would stand for hours in the hot sun.

In Mylapore was Kapali on what was then Butt Road and now R.K. Mutt Road, opposite Mandaveli bus stand. Kamadhenu was in Luz and was a favourite of the students of Viveka­nanda College.

Krishnaveni was the source of entertainment for residents of T’Nagar (opposite the T’Nagar main bus depot). On G.N. Chetty Road, near the present Sikh Gurudwara, was Sun theatre where Then Nilavu with Gemini Ganesan and Vyjayanthimala and with Kashmir scenes in the background was screened. In Pondy Bazar near Holy Angels Convent, yesteryears famous actress T.R. Rajakumari built a theatre in her name. My Home with Nagiah and T.R. Rajakumari was a film I remember seeing here. Hindi films were the fare at night shows.

Minerva, small but airconditioned and clean, showed adult movies, MGM production films and Hollywood pictures like Cat On A Hot Tin Roof with Elizabeth Taylor. It was a full carpeted theatre near Broadway.

Other theatres were: Uma in Kelly’s, Anand in Thousand Lights, Saffire on Mount Road, Roxy in Vepery, Bhuvaneshwari in Perambur, Ashok in Periamet (showing Hindi pictures like Anarkali) and Lakshmi in Ayanavaram.

Where have they all gone?

Bharat Hiteshi
L/404, The Atrium
22, Kalakshetra Road
Chennai 600 041

Dedicated humanitarians

I enjoyed reading the two significant articles ‘A simple doctor with a simple prescription’ by Randor Guy and ‘England in changing lives in Madras’ by Susan Ingraham in MM, April 16th. Of the ilk of the dedicated humanitarian, Dr. M.R. Guru­swamy Mudaliar, were two in Vellore where I lived till 2004, Dr. R. Lakshma­nan, who practised till his 95th year, and whose name found a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest medical practice, and Dr. V.S. Jayaram who, living till his 80th year, served Sri Sankara Voluntary Health Service for nearly half a century and in his private practice charged only Rs. 2! As pointed out in the article, Dr. S. Rangachari was a legend in his lifetime and continues to be remembered for the yeoman services rendered by him to thousands of his patients and to the medical field.

The Vellore Citizens’ Welfare Forum, which obtained a landmark judgement in the Supreme Court for enforcement of the ‘Polluter pays’ principle which resulted in the payment of compensation by hazardous industries in Tamil Nadu to the affected people, was awarded the First Prize instituted in the name of late
Dr. Guruswamy Mudaliar by the Tamil Nadu Government’s Ministry of Environment for 2001-2002, but the Tamil Nadu Government did not honour his memory by implementing the directions of the Supreme Court.

I am of view that we need persons like R. Desikan who, for the successful completion of a project, decided to “work in a roadside clinic” established by him in Pammal near Madras.

P.S. Subrahmanian
F4, Kannika Nivas
7, Varadachari Street
Tiruchirapalli 620 006

Life and death of dugongs

The gestation period for dugongs (MM, March 1st) is 12-18 months. The young ones remain with the mother for 3-7 years.

D.B. James
37, Sadasiva Metha Street
Metha Nagar
Chennai 600 029

* * *

KVS Krishna sends this footnote from New Guinea by Christina Dodwell:

“At mid-morning, in the sea ahead of the canoe, we saw a dugong. These creatures are said to have caused the mermaid legends; they belong to the Order Sirenia, named after the mermaids of Greek mythology who lured sailors to their deaths on the rocks. (Actually, dugongs are a distant relative of elephants, having shared an ancestor about 70 million years ago.) This dugong was sunbathing, floating lazily on the water; it was about the length of a human adult, with mammalian body and fishy tail, but it didn’t fit my image of a mermaid. Dugong meat being a delicacy, as soon as the boatman saw the dugong he seized his spear – a 9-ft (3-m) pole with ten sharp harpoon-prongs – and hurled it at the unfortunate beast. The spear hissed through the air, trailing its rope, and splashed into an empty sea: the dugong had already dived to safety. The boatman cursed it as he pulled in the rope and retrieved his harpoon, and I tried not to look glad that he had missed.”

K.V.S. Krishna
2A, Parkland Apartments,
Kamala Bai Street
T Nagar, Chennai 600 017

Working again

Since publication of my letter in Madras Musings recently, the clock on the Pycrofts Road-Whites Road-General Patter’s Road junction clock tower has started working again! This morning I was thrilled to note that the clock was showing the correct time.

R. Janakiraman
14, 3rd Street, Gopalapuram,
Chennai 600 086


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Historic residences...
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Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your Diary


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