Kodagu Connect Exclusive
When there was no internet, no Netflix and no 200 plus entertainment channels on television, cinemas were the main source of entertainment for residents of Kodagu. In the 80s and 90s, movie going was merriment and an experience by itself. Many of us remember the joy of watching popular Kannada, Hindi and Tamil flicks at Kaveri Mahal and Basappa theatres in Madikeri.
However, it is sad to know that in 2018 only three cinema halls are functional in Kodagu. Kaveri Mahal in Madikeri, Woodland in Siddapur and Cineplex in Kushalnagar are the only existing theatres. Also, for company there is a cinema tent in Shanivarsanthe called Yashaswini.
All thanks to technology, many of the happening and popular cinema halls in Kodagu have shut down over the years. With the new generation keener on movie content consumption via Internet, the fall has been swift. While some theatres have succumbed to the real estate roar to be converted to commercial structures, many couldn’t not sustain the yawning gap between maintenance cost and revenue.
It is estimated around 12 to 15 theatres were operational in 80s across Kodagu with Anjaneya cinema hall in Kushalnagar being the one to be established in the district. It was touring talkies with shows all over the district. A popular writer from Kanive, Bharadhwaj K Anandatheertha says in those days new movies were rarely released, so the collection of films selected for screening were of good quality. Another theatre in Kushalnagar was Venkateshwara which shutdown 15 years back. Sri Krishna theatre in Hebbale was converted as a rice mill after 15 years of operations.
Nayana and Mamatha Picture Palace in Gonikoppal; Basappa theatre (now Friendly Motors) and Kaveri Mahal in Madikeri; Shanta and Rajarajeshwari theatres in Virajpet; Shanthala in Shanivarsanthe; Jai Hind, a very old cinema hall (started in 1940s before independence) and Manaswini in Somwarpet; and Sri Ganesh Picture Hall in Suntikoppa were the popular theatres of Kodagu in 80s. During the time many cinema tents opened in Somwarpet and Shanivarsanthe but couldn’t sustain for long.
In 1962, Prahlad Shivaprakash started a video parlour in Virajpet but it closed down after screening movies for five years. Even in Madapura, a theatre existed. In Murnad, an attempt was made to start a mini theatre, but it didn’t take off. Few cinema tents came up in Kakkabe, Napoklu, Kodlipet and Ponnampet. But all of them are part of history now.
As mentioned earlier, as the technology provided other entertainment options, people deserted cinema theatres. With low revenue and high maintenance cost, theatres owners didn’t have much choice other than winding up their operations.
True moviegoers have fond memories of theatres in Kodagu. They will miss them forever.
(Text and photos: Hareesh K G)