Melody Theatre has been pulled down, causing heartache to generations of cinema goers, says Liffy Thomas
Melody Theatre on General Patter’s Road is history now. Over two years ago, the theatre screened its last film. Over two weeks ago, it was pulled down.
A torn poster of the Telugu film Dhammu, starring Jr. NTR, Trisha and Karthika, pasted on the compound wall was the only poster that could be spotted on the site.
Perhaps, it was the last movie screened at the cinema before it was shut down.
What is coming up on the site remains a mystery.
One of the oldest theatres in the neighbourhood, Melody was earlier known as Odeon Cinema and before that as Sagar Talkies. Along with theatres such as Wellington, Midland and Star, Odeon was famous in the 50s for the English films it screened.
For instance, Ten Commandments had an impressive run at Odeon, becoming the “first English picture to run for 100 days at a single theatre in the city”, as an advertisement published in The Hindu put it.
Irdya Raj, who worked as a canteen supervisor for nearly 20 years with the theatre, is the only employee who has stayed on. “Most of the employees were sent away gradually and we knew the demolition was coming,” said Raj confirming that Dhammu was the last movie to be screened at the theatre.
The single screen theatre had a seating capacity of 952. “I was in SSLC then and the movies screened at Odeon were always houseful. I remember Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur that ran for many months. The starting price for a ticket was 66 paise and the maximum Rs. 2.50,” says M.S. Bakthavatsalam, who runs a watch repair shop on the same road.
He says that during the Odeon period, the management come down heavily on black-marketing of tickets.
The influx of multiplexes is one of the reasons Melody theatre had to close down, especially with Express Avenue becoming its neighbour. But, the theatre did renovate to match strides with the changing times. When Odeon Cinema was taken over by the Sahni Brothers, the proprietors of the theatre, it was remodelled and provided with good seating arrangements and other amenities.
Later, digital technology was also introduced. For many youngsters, Melody was famous for the many Hindi cinemas it screened.