If a city can be defined by its people,culture and historical monuments,then Pune is incomplete without its iconic theatre,Prabhat Talkies,at Appa Balwant Chowk. The place where the theatre is located once used to be a wada owned by Sardar Kibe of Indore. The wada doubled up as the press and office of states oldest newspaper Daily Dnyanprakash.
Even the Hujurpaga School for Girls was housed within the huge premises of the wada. However,on May 25,1926,the wada was reduced to ashes in a fire. In 1934,Sardar Ramchandra Mukundrao Kibe built the Kibe Laxmi Theatre. During the same time,Kolhapur-based Prabhat Film Company shifted to Pune. The Kibe Laxmi Theatre was bought by Prabhat Film Company and its distributior M/s Famous Pictures of Mumbai and renamed Prabhat Talkies. The first show of Prabhat Talkies was held on September 21,1934,with the screening of the English film Love Me Tonight. The iconic theatre enters turns 80 on September 21.
Though the theatre showcased English films for around a month,it screened Amruthmanthan on October 17,incidentally Prabhat Film Companys first talkie film in Pune. The popular Marathi film Maherchi Saadi went on to create history with a consecutive run of over two years. Till date,34 Marathi and nine Hindi films have celebrated silver jubilee at Prabhat, said Vivek Anant Damle,director,Prabhat Talkies,and the grandson of filmmaker Vishnupant Govind Damle.
Damle said the new management did a complete makeover of the theatre. The theatre hall,he said,was divided into different sections,based on tickets price,so that it could cater to all classes of society.
The ground level was divided into two classes and an independent class for ladies. The balcony was also categorised into box,reserve,first class and family circle, he said. Interestingly two cry boxes or glass chambers were created for women where they could sit and watch film with their children who cried.
Over the years,the carbon tubes gave way to xenon bulbs,the sound system became Dolby. Today the entire theatre hall has only ground and balcony class with 894 seats, he said. The theatre also had a massive well-equipped stage where dramas like the musical play of M G Rangekar,Kulvadhu,were staged. Many single screen theatres have succumbed to multiplexes but Prabhat Theatre holds on as we invest in modern technology , Damle said.