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Take a walk down memory lane with 7 of India’s oldest cinemas

Way before Netflix, YouTube, and even multiplex theatres, single-screen cinema halls and talkies ruled, some dating back to the ‘30s. These oldest cinema theatres in India now serve as vanguards of the bygone days. Tucked in bustling cities which now boast state-of-the-art multiplexes, they are a reminder of how cinema theatres were once an important cultural landmark in every city for bringing people together under one roof.

Read on for the list of the oldest cinema theatres in India

Capitol Cinema, Mumbai

 

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The oldest theatre in the city established way back in 1879 at the then Victoria Terminus (now CST), Capitol Cinema hosted several plays during the British era. The very first show here was for a British film, The Flag Lieutenant, which the then Governor and his wife attended. With the growth of cinema, the theatre evolved into a single-screen theatre. Despite its dilapidated shape, the theatre continues to be a memoir of Gothic construction in Bombay.

Poorna Theatre, Vizag

What started as Sri Krishna Touring talkies in 1925 was, in 1930, converted to the Poorna Theatre by Sri GK Mangaraju right after electrification services were available in Vizag. The theatre initially screened silent movies like Bheeshma Pratijna, Nandanaar, and Gajendra Moksham. In 1949, the classic Laila Majnu premiered in the refurbished theatre. Soon after, the cinema-scope facility was installed in 1955, making Poorna Theatre the first such establishment in the entire Andhra region. It is currently the longest-running movie theatre in all of South India.

Ritz Cinema and PVR Rivoli, Delhi

While it is debatable as to which is Delhi’s oldest cinema theatre, Ritz and Rivoli are two top contenders. Approximately 80 years old, Ritz is located on Lothian Road and boasts of a single screen to date. On the other hand, Rivoli, which is now run by PVR, was established in 1934 and is the smallest cinema hall in Connaught Place. Both of these theatres continue to enjoy a loyal clientele.

Chaplin Cinema, Kolkata

Established in 1907 and better known as Elphinstone Picture Palace, Chaplin Cinema is the first cinema hall in India. Founded by Jamshedji Framji Madan, not only was it the first of his chain of cinemas in British India, but also the first permanent movie theatre in Calcutta. The Palace later was renamed Minerva and soon started screening Hollywood movies for the fast-emerging audience in Calcutta. The local authorities took over when business slacked during the 1970s due to political unrest and renovated and renamed it, Chaplin.

Saffire Theatre, Chennai

Built in 1964, Sapphire Theatre in Chennai was the first 70mm theatre in India and the country’s first largest multi-theatre complex along with Blue Diamond and Emerald. It functioned from 1964 to 1994 and screened Hollywood movies. This landmark cinema theatre started its celluloid journey with the screening of Cleopatra followed by classics like The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and Lawrence of Arabia.

Everest Talkies, Bengaluru

 

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Dating back more than 80 years, the oldest cinema theatre in Bengaluru is a landmark in the Frazer Town area. Everest was originally built in 1932 and continues to screen documentaries, still luring old-school loyalists. In 2008, after a renovation, Everest Talkies now screens Hindi, English and Kannada movies.

Sangeet Theatre, Hyderabad

Established in 1969, Sangeet Theatre in Hyderabad, was the first cinema hall that brought Hollywood movies to the city. It also boasted of the latest technologies like a Digital Theatre System, Ultra Stereo Optical Sound, and Xenon Lamp Project with Platter System, which is normcore now, but in the late 90s were a big deal. The first movies to screen here was the Hollywood classic Camelot as well as Hindi blockbuster Hum Aapke Hain Koun!

This story first appeared on Travel+Leisure India.