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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 4, june 1-15, 2009
Our Readers Write

An election campaign sans money and muscle power

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

Election solution

You would hardly think that elections and electioneering will provide a solution for a longstanding problem of sanitation. But the recent ones did.

The short stretch of pedestrian walkway on Westcott Road, just outside Bhattad Towers, has for long been the favourite ‘de-watering hole’ of auto drivers and sundry passers- by. As a long-suffering resident of the apartment complex next door, I have had to cross this piece of pungent real estate daily with my nostrils tightly closed during my early morning walks. My complaints to the Commissioner of Chennai Corporation and also requests to some of the more prominent commercial occupants of the building to do something about it have proved futile. I had even suggested to the Asst Commissioner, Traffic Police, to ­convert this stretch into a bus stop. No response.

It seems there is some ­dispute among the co-owners of Bhattad Towers over the piece of land just inside the compound wall. Hence no one ‘owns’ the pavement just outside the wall and therefore it is ignored.

Recently, with the announcement of elections, one of the major political parties set up a field office at this location, inside the compound through a break in the wall, with pictures of the leading lights of the party adorning the ‘pandal’. And wonder of wonders! The place has been spruced up and the pavement is clean. No stink, except from the garbage bin of the cleaning contractor. I always thought pictures of gods and goddesses on walls would deter people with loose bladders from discharging their contents in public places. It seems pictures of political leaders will do the trick equally well.

I therefore suggest that, even after the elections, the place be given out on lease/hire to the various political parties by turn (e.g. 4 months each to the main Dravidian parties and remaining 4 months amongst the smaller outfits, to maintain strict political neutrality) to ­ensure cleanliness.

If the experiment succeeds, the Chennai Corporation can even introduce this novel scheme on a wider scale in other malodorous parts of this great city so that, to a small extent, ‘Stink Aagara Chennai’ is really converted into ‘Singara Chennai’.

K. Balakesari
3/1, Kesari Kuteeram
27, Westcott Road, Royapettah,
Chennai 600014

Remembering Madras

I was born in Ennore, near Madras. My father, Wilfred Pereira Sr., bought a home by the river near where it entered the ocean. Our home was an East India Company property, which had once served as the Governor’s retreat. My father bought the house cheap, because the locals believed it was haunted. I believe that whole area is now highly industria­lised.

We later moved to Peram­bur, and then to Kilpauk where we lived in Sri Rao Bahadur Venkatapathy Naidu Street. During World War II, we moved temporarily to Vepery, where I studied at Doveton Corrie Boys’ School.

I remember well those days of ARP sirens, when we had to run into air raid shelters. At school, they told us to duck under our desks. The school was housed in the Vepery Convent temporarily, while Doveton School’s compound was used by the Military as a camp. Later, when the War ended, Major General Rudra restored the Doveton playground.

I was an avid kite flyer, and made manja out of vajram, powdered glass, and other secret ingredients. I remember tying the susthrum, with the formula rendu melai, moono kelai, referring to the finger span used to tie the knot. We often had large cuts on our hands from the glass on the thread.

I attended Christian College, Tambaram, for the Intermediate programme. I later went to the Madras Medical College for a B. Pharm degree, Saugar ­University in Madhya Pradesh for M. Pharm, and then on to the University of California
(Ph. D).

Wilfred E. Pereira Jr.

Still with us

Kalasagaram Rajagopal (MM, May 1st) referred to in the letter ‘Teenage joy’ is hale and hearty and celebrated his 93rd birthday on 17.5.09.

T. Swaminathan
3B, Hari Apartment,
32, Sripuam Ist Street, Royapettah,
Chennai 600 014

Editor’s Note: We regret the use of the past tense ‘was’ when referring to the famous sculptor who did the statue of Rajaji in Delhi. We wish him many more years of healthy and happy life.


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