Once a north Chennai Landmark, work began this week to demolish Agastya cinema in Tondiarpet. The hall, which has seen five decades of cinema goers, was shut in September 2020.
With a capacity of around 1,000, the cinema began functioning in 1967 with the film Bama Vijayam directed by K. Balachander. Over the years, it saw several films of M.G. Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan, Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, and was popular in the locality.
The cinema had a defining high ceiling and a 70 mm screen. Residents in the area remember several films being released with much celebration, and even recalled how scenes from the 1986 Kamal Haasan film Vikram were shot there.
R. Boopalan, a resident of the area, said the cinema had a sprawling open space around it meant for parking, which became a community meeting spot of sorts. “For the working class residents of the area, it was customary to finish work and come to the cinema grounds with a packed dinner. They would all sit there, finish dinner and then catch the late night show,” he said.
He recalls how the cinema patronised good films, and offered subsidised tickets for movie goers to watch the film Veedu directed by Balu Mahendra in 1988. “It was truly a landmark for this locality. For residents, it meant that we didn’t have to travel to Mount Road to watch films,” he added.