A campaign, remembering pioneer in the cinema field, seeks to revive bond

At a time when people have more options when it comes to watching a film and theatres are facing losses, a group of city-based folks are seeking to revive the age-old bond between the people and theatres by remembering Samikannu Vincent, a pioneer in the field.

Cinema Theatre Day, to be observed on April 18, is the 120 birth anniversary of Samikannu, who first established Variety Hall Talkies in 1914 in Coimbatore.

“Our objective is to revive the bond with cinema theatres. There is nothing like watching a movie in a theatre, sitting among people from all sections of the society,” said K. Thirunavukarasu, a creative director, who has directed one movie.

At one point in time, there were around 2,500 theatres in Tamil Nadu and today, only 1,200 of them have survived, he pointed out.

Mr. Thirnavukarasu has already roped in poet Puviyarasu, artist Jeeva, who is an expert in drawing cinema cut-outs, actor Sivakumar and Abirami Ramanthan.

“They are really interested in the initiative and want to organise the event every year,” added Mr. Thirnavukarasu.

Samikannu was an employee of South Indian Railways and acquired his interest in cinema after watching French-film exhibitor Du Pont, who went around places with his touring cinema set. Samikannu bought the set from the Frenchman.

After resigning his Rs. 25-per month job in the Railways, he toured Lahore, Peshawar, Myanmar and Afganistan, erecting tents for people to watch films. In 1914, he built the Variety Hall Talkies in Coimbatore, his hometown.

He also produced films; his Valli Thirumanam was a huge success.

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