The End! Kudlada Iconic JYOTHI TALKIES Going..Going..Gone Making Way for Commercial Complex

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The End! Kudla’s Iconic JYOTHI TALKIES located near Dr Ambedkar Circle/Jyothi Circle in the City Going..Going..Gone Making Way for Commercial & Apartments Complex to be constructed by Mumbai builders.

Mangaluru: Following the closure of Platinum Theatre on Falnir Road in the City in January 2017, which is now converted into a supermarket and eatery shack; and one of the oldest theatres City New Chitra Talkies in Car Street also shut down in September 2017 and now turned into a furniture showroom, and earlier to that the Central Talkies which was closed down for years, was demolished to make way for a commercial complex in August 2020. Now the City’s iconic JYOTHI TALKIES located near Jyothi Circle/Dr Ambedkar Circle is being demolished to make way for a mega Commercial and Apartments complex, undertaken by a Mumbai builder.

BEFORE….

Mangaluru was once a place where there were many movie theatres, but when digital and movies could be seen on the internet, these movie theatres couldn’t survive with low patronage. Only a couple of such movie theatres still exist in the City, like the Prabhath Talkies, Suchitra talkies, Ramakanthi Talkies. Amrith talkies in Pandeshwar was closed down long ago.

AT PRESENT….

And now Jyothi Talkies, which had remained a landmark of Kudla in the heart of the City near Dr Ambedkar Circle/Jyothi Circle for the past 50 plus years, will now remain only a Memory for keepsake. Jyothi Talkies which was always screening the first-day release of many Tulu films has now left many Tulu film fans heartbroken. Even though I wasn’t a patron of this Talkies in recent years, I remember bunking degree classes while studying at St Aloysius College, just a few minutes walk from Jyothi talkies- when I used a date a girl from St Agnes College, Mangaluru, who was a hardcore fan of Kannada actors -Dr Rajkumar and Vishnuvardhan, and even though I wasn’t a Kannada movie lover, I had no option than to go for Kannada movies with my GF-but guess what, 3/4 of the time during the show, I used to sleep? And to balance between us, when I decided to force my GF to watch Western movies at New Chitra Talkies, she used to sleep during the English shows- that’s how our True Romance relationship was!

Oh well, that was the story of our college days bunking and going to movies. Once upon a time watching movies at your favourite movie theatre was fun and a pastime. But gone are those days, where now you can watch your favourite blockbuster either on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or other Internet movie channels- and this has hurt the business owners of single-screen theatres. In the year 2017, we saw two movie theatres shut down- and the main reason a low audience and less revenue at these single-screen theatres was due to the few multiplex theatres that have sprung in the City malls. A few of the older cinema theatres that have remained in business in Mangaluru are – Balaji Talkies, Ramakanthi Talkies, Prabhath Talkies, Suchitra Talkies etc. Later, even Central Talkies stopped showing movies, and the structure was sitting idle until August 2020, after they started demolishing, but looks like nothing is progressing there. .

Those were fun years during our college days in the ’70s, ’80s and 90’s spending our pastime watching movies at the single screen theatres. But now, something we so rarely do these days because, well, life. It’s an experience that is overall becoming rare for basically all but the biggest blockbusters. And it was great. Magnificent, really. But while watching movies during those years, I was acutely aware that part of what was so wonderful about it was the increasing novelty of seeing movies like Sholay, Deewar, Gandada Gudi, etc in theatres. But at present, there is almost no chance that old movies like these get a wide release in the cinema. Instead, it will be on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, or the like. And that’s fine! Netflix etc are great! But there is something we’re all losing, of our movie-going spree during our younger days.

And regarding the closure of Jyothi Talkies, it is learnt that Karnataka theatres Limited which had made a deal with a Mumbai-based builder to construct a commercial cum apartments complex as a joint venture, when an agreement was made a few years ago but the project was delayed due to certain circumstances, have now straightened up the drawbacks and are going ahead with the planned project of a mega commercial complex, at an ideal place in the heart of the City. Sources reveal that the building construction work may start soon once the building is demolished and the debris is cleared. The demolition work is undertaken by K M Bawa Traders, (a well known and experienced firm in handling old building demolitions and all kinds of scrap) at a cost of Rs 15 lakhs, and the theatre will be razed down and the area cleared in a few days, as per Mr Bawa of the said firm.

Sources also reveal that the area was named “Jyothi Circle”, prior to the present ‘Dr Ambedkar Circle’, due to the existence of Jyothi Talkies. And something unique of this Talkies was, when a movie is released and ready to be screened, a bunch of hoardings, mega cutouts of actors/actresses, banners would adorn the premises., added to that there will be a huge queue sometimes a mile long. Gone are those days now, where now you will see the remains of the theatre. Jyothi Talkies for Tulu movie fans was a home away from home, to watch the new releases of Tulu films, which were screened week after week- and two familiar faces that would always appear on the movie hoardings/banners were that of Devdas Kapikad and comedian Aravind Bolar.

Rumours are that along with the commercial complex, there would also be a multiplex coming up, true or false, will be known when it happens. The theatre had a chequered history and dates back to pre-Independence days. Known to screen Kannada, Coastalwood and once in a while other language movies, it brings back fond memories of the last five decades. It is learnt that Directors and distributors used to compete among themselves in order to screen Kannada, Tulu, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu films at Jyothi Talkies, considered as an important theatre after Central talkies. The theatre has not done much renovation since its inception and still has a very old vintage look.

The problem is that Old theatres never bothered to upgrade their sound system, nor the interior for comfort. Same old antique style chairs and other facilities. If these vintage cinema halls had looked into upgrading old sound systems to the latest version of Dolby Atmos and had provided better seats and technology like multiplexes, they would have been patronized by many fans, and these theatres could have remained. Even the snacks are of olden days like Samosas, Kadle, Charmuri, etc- only if they had switched to nachos & cheese, popcorn, etc, the fans would have appreciated it”.

Sad news for Mangaloreans, especially for the young boys and girls of nearby St Aloysius College, and Government Junior College for Women-where this theatre was a meeting point for dating, chatting etc and living with fun and frolic. Earlier we used to buy tickets outside the gate from black marketer’s who used to sell for double or thrice the price of the ticket, for Dr Rajkumar and Vishnuvardhan blockbusters. No doubt that many have made a living out of it during those olden days. Jyothi Talkies was indeed a Landmark of Balmatta and Jyothi, it’s Sad that it’s going to vanish since for the last 50 plus years or so, Good Old memories have been lying in this area.

Jyothi talkies will be sadly missed since it was a landmark destination for Meet, Greet, Drop Point, Catch a Bus and much more-seems like these days there is no value for old structures, old trees, old people, finally which are replaced by commercial complexes or apartments. Hope they will keep the name as it is ‘JYOYHI Commercial complex/centre since Jyothi means LIGHT. Jyothi meaning lamp which sheds light is an apt name. It will be a legacy to the Talkies. No need to change its name after anyone. Keep politics aside. Jai Tulunadu”.

It was all about a thousand intangible things — some big, some small, many imperceptible. That’s what made going to the movies an experience. And yet, I’m still realistic. This model is broken in a way that will never be fixed again for the vast majority of movies (or other types of content as the lines increasingly blur). And while I was watching one of my favourite movie theatres of the past, being closed for good and now demolished does bring back memories of college days, when we took a bunch of St Agnes College girls to this iconic cinema hall. Goodbye! Adious – Jyothi Talkies you will be missed by movie fans of Tulu, Kannada and others.

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4 Comments

  1. Times change. But there are somethings that don’t change with time. Whatever changes comes to that place.. it will always be remembered as Jyothi circle. For atleast two more generations to come. My heart longs for those bygone days..

  2. Very true narration of our College days Alfie
    Looks like you have taken a leaf out of our lives and projected it Lively
    I’m from Fisheries college Mangalore at one end on the West Coast Highway and Jyothi talkies iin mid town which we used to frequent.
    I think we spent more times watching Hollywood movies in Newchitra than in Jyothi talkies. It’s with heavy heart came to know through your article about the demolition of New chitra and Jyothi. I wish to share some nice memories about Jyothi talkies

    As hostelers, food served in the hostel was atrocious and in order to improve the food served a
    Best Menu competition was organised for hostellers and the winners were given first class tickets to watch “Sholay” at Jyothi talkies. It worked such was the craze we got the best Menu award and watched Sholay
    Unfortunately we weren’t lucky, we weren’t bold to approach or have GF’s from St. Agnes or from Roshni nilaya. We remained Jaleel ‘s of Nagarahaavu kannada movie. These disappointments would adequately be quenched in the dim lit Hollywood bar (Kankanadi) with chilled beer and walking all the way back to hostel singing aloud “Ye Dosti hum nahi Chodengey”
    Miss you Mangalore
    Adieu Jyothi talkies

  3. Oh, it is heart-wrenching! Why can’t we retain the old glorious times as it is? For us, Jyothi was our dear Bhamauty taking us children to children’s movies and other must-see movies, during our childhood days and then to Rayan’s at ಹಂಪನಕಟ್ಟೆ for the delicious Almond Ice cream! At the Glenview Nursing Home, a building apart, lying on my bed after delivery, I would listen to the Kannada songs and music coming from the Theatre. Glen View, such a homely Nursing Home also disappeared years ago and the ground remains vacant even now, besides Dr Saldanha’s unoccupied home. Ramesh Anna was always there to let us in, at the gate of the Theatre. Yes, hope the name Jyothi will atleast remain, whatever building comes up there.

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