Downtown

End of the road for Safire

Iconic films such as Cleopatra and My Fair Lady were screened at Safire.

Iconic films such as Cleopatra and My Fair Lady were screened at Safire.   | Photo Credit: THE HINDU ARCHIVES/S_THANTHONI

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The cinema, which was demolished in 2003, introduced Madras film goers to the concept of continuous screening

Safire’s celluloid journey began in 1964 when Cleopatra was screened on its widescreen.

This spectacular screening was followed by other other exciting ones, which included The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and Lawrence of Arabia.

As long as it lasted, the Safire threatre complex was a landmark. The building became dilapidated and was finally demolished in 2003.

The complex is said to have been the first multiplex cinema hall in the country.

The widescreen Safire seated around 1,000, the medium-sized Emerald screened Hindi and Tamil films, and the 200-seater Blue Diamond showed ‘oldies’ and second runs.

Blue Diamond also introduced a new concept in Indian cinemas — continuous screening, which was a feature of cinemas abroad.

Purchase of a Rs. 2.50 ticket allowed a visitor to stay on for a whole day, if he wanted to.

The names of the theatres were in line with the family’s main lapidary business.

This business was also reflected in the name of another enterprise at the Safire complex — Nine Gems, which served North Indian snacks and chaats, later, meals. Nine Gems was later succeeded by Navaratna.

After ruling the world of cinema-goers in Chennai, Safire began to show signs of cracking up, by the 1980s.

With Cable TV keeping viewers at home, the crowds dwindled to almost nothing and the Veecumsees closed down the complex.

In 1994, they sold it.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2018 11:20:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/downtown/end-of-the-road-for-safire/article6710926.ece

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