At a time when single screen cinema halls are vanishing after the arrival of the multiplex in Bangalore, here is the story of an iconic single screen theatre which managed to get back on its feet after undergoing a facelift in decor and cinema technology.
Shankarnag Chitramandira on MG Road, which is named after the late Kannada actor-director Shankar Nag, is reopening after it was shut down two years ago. The theatre owned by the Bangalore’s civic body—Bruhath Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP)— had shut down in 2005 and was later reopened by Fame Cinemas, but in 2017, Fame decided not to renew its lease. Since then BBMP has been trying to find another exhibitor.
Shankarnag Chitramandira is the last standing single-screen theatre in the Bangalore’s prime area. The MG Road and Brigade road in the Central Business District previously had single screen theatres like Rex, Plaza and Galaxy.
Earlier the Shankarnag Chitramandira was leased to INOX and now after the gap of two years in the third tender, the theatre is leased out to the Swagath Group. Samsung has provided the digital screen, called Onyx Cinema LED, and the company’s subsidiary, Harman, provided sound technology.
Shankarnag Chitramandira is now equipped with the 14-metre screen which is the largest Onyx Cinema LED screen format in the world after two other 14-metre Onyx Cinema LED screens installed by Samsung to date, in Malaysia and China.
“At 618 seats, Shankarnag Chitramandira now also called as Swagath Onyx theatre is also the world’s largest theatre that is equipped with an Onyx Cinema LED screen. Acoustics in the theatre have been dramatically upgraded with JBL Professional cinema loudspeakers from HARMAN,” Samsung said in a press release.
On Thursday, the renovated theatre was unveiled by popular composer and musician A R Rahman. Speaking to indianexpress.com, G.M. Ravindra, BBMP Joint Commissioner (East division) said, “The Shankarnag theatre is an iconic cinema hall owned by a government authority, BBMP. As per the lease agreement, the BBMP will get Rs 14 lakh per month as the rent. It was only after the civic body called for tenders for the third time that we managed to get a bidder.”
“Apart from the bidder, the corporation has spent Rs 3 lakh for the renovation and maintenance of the theatre when it was closed for two years,” he added.