Extreme Makeover of ‘New Chitra’ from ‘Movie Theatre’ to ‘Furniture Theatre’?
Mangaluru: The owners of ‘New Chitra Talkies” have finally made a decision to convert the 91 years old “Movie Theatre” into a “Furniture Theatre”- and the restructuring work is in the final stages, and the new business will open for public in the nearest future. New Chitra stopped screening movies on June 29, after entertaining movie buffs for 91 years, the First theatre in DK and the only single-screen theatre to show English movies.
The theatre started as “Hindustan Cinema” in 1926 and later the name was changed to “New Chitra Talkies” in 1973 after renovation-but unfortunately in the recent years the theatre failed to introduce new technology and also couldn’t compete with multiplex cinemas that mushroomed in the City. And to survive, the theatre also screened B-grade movies in mid-2000. Some of the movies which stayed longer were “Titanic” (100 days); “The Sound of Music (50 days); “Enter the Dragon ( 50 days); “Ram Teri Ganga Maili” (50 days); and “Jurassic park (50 days).
I still remember those days in the 80’s/90’s bunking classes while at St Aloysius College-Mangaluru and going to “New Chitra” talkies to watch Hollywood movies, because it was the only movie theatre screening English films then. I still remember seeing Charles Bronson’s “The Red Sun”; “Five Man Army”; “The Poseidon Adventure”; “Towering Inferno”; Bruce Lee’s “Enter The Dragon” and “Abba-The Movie” and many others, twice or three times. During then, since Hollywood movies were censored too much, some of the English film were not longer than a hour or so-there were times, the main movie started after the break time-prior to break time a bunch of advertisements and movie trailers were shown- and one of the famous ad was that of Vicco Vajradanthi toothpaste-people of my age would remember this ad if they had patronized ‘New Chitra” during the 80’s and 90’s.
Also this theatre had the best stereophonic sound system, playing top Western/Rock/Pop hits, among the popular ones were “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor or “The Sound Of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel. According to the Pai Brothers who are the present partners of New Chitra said that they used to get LP’s directly from USA through their sister who lives in Florida-USA. Amazing quality and superb sound from these Long Play Records during those days. ‘New Chitra’ having a seating capacity of around 600 seats ran full houses during popular movies- and the queue to buy the tickets used to spread on to the “New Chitra Junction”, which was named after this theatre for its popularity in that vicinity. The movie ticket prices were around Rs 20-Rs 50 during those days.
K Devadas Pai and K Shanker Pai – Managing Partners
Presently, “New Chitra” is managed by Pai Brothers namely K Devadas Pai and Shankar Pai brothers, third in the generation of K Vittaldas Pai. Shankar Pai attributed the decision for stopping operation as crashing of the market, adding that a decision about the theatre would be taken soon.Speaking to Team Mangalorean, the Pai brothers said, ” With the invasion of multiplex cinemas in town, it was hard for us to upgrade to multiplex due to heavy cost. Plus demonetization also hit us hard, which we couldn’t recover. With multiplexes shelling out big bucks as asked for by the distributors to procure a movie, we lagged in the race and ended up getting the leftovers-the B grade movies and started screening them, which didn’t click well”.
“When we realized that we were not getting quality movies, we decided to quit our business, with the last movie being shown was that of Salman Khan’s ‘Tubelight’. We didn’t wanted further to dent our image of Chitra talkies by screening cheap class movies. Even though B-grade movies did well, like 1997-98 movie ‘Chinese Kama Sutra’ ran for 250 days, but the advent of mobile phones and Internet dented the prospects of such movies. And finally, since we couldn’t compete with multiplexes, we decided to convert our theatre into a Furniture outlet, which will open shortly” added the Pai brothers.
Yet another theatre in the City that was closed couple of months ago was “Platinum Theatre” on Falnir Road-Mangaluru. With all these multiplex cinemas coming up at the malls in the City, moviegoers have been very reluctant in patronizing vintage movie theatres- and being that, with no revenue coming in, the owners of New Chitra Talkies had no other option than to shut down the movie business and opt for this new furniture business in that premises.