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Curtain to fall on century-old theatre

Curtains will soon come down on the oldest single-screen theatre in the city,Vijayanand theatre.

Written by SiddharthKelkar | Pune |
April 27, 2009 2:55:12 am

Curtains will soon come down on the oldest single-screen theatre in the city,Vijayanand theatre. The theatre,that had been closed since 2003 after it made losses,will be demolished,bringing to an end a golden era of Marathi musicals and cinema.

The theatre is located in Budhawar Peth area.

Built in 1890,Vijayanand was well known for showing Marathi musicals in the initial stages. Its first owners,the Shelars,had built it to stage Marathi plays. Theatre companies like Lalit Kaladarsha and Gandharva Natak Company staged their famous musicals here. Famous Marathi actor-singer,the late Chhota Gandharva,had started his career at Vijayanand in a play,Sashtang Namaskar,written by the legendary Acharya Atre. The theatre was also famous for tamasha shows.

It was also a venue for political and social public meetings. “In the first decade of the 20th century,besides Vijayanand there were famous theatres like Purnanand,Anadodbhav,Aryabhushan,Aryan,Minerva,Paramount and Globe in the central part of the city. They were famous for Marathi musicals. With the end of Vijayanand,the last witness to the golden age has come to an end,” said Mandar Lawate,a researcher on Pune’s history.

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Lawate said after 1950,the era of Marathi musicals almost ended and Vijayanand started showing Marathi films instead.

The theatre was renovated in 1934. Bhausaheb Pawar,who erected the famous buildings like S P College and Congress House,gave Vijayanand an eye-catching touch up.

Multi-starrer Marathi film Sangatye Aika,featuring Jayashree Gadkar,ran for 30 weeks in the theatre,a record of sorts. Film enthusiasts interested in English movies used to visit the theatre,as it was famous for showing English classics. At one-time,a matinee in Vijayanand meant English movies.

And morning shows on Sundays in Vijayanand meant children films. Children used to come to watch films like Devbappa and Mayabazar that ran for 25 Sundays in a row.

The theatre began to lose fame after 1995,as viewers started getting entertainment at home through different TV channels. As multiplexes started to grow,single-screen theatres in the central part of the city began losing viewers. Vijayanand was no exception. Moreover,as the place is near the red light area,people stopped visiting the theatre.

At present,the Badwe family owns the theatre. But no one came forward to explain how the land will be used after the demolition. It is being said that a well-known city builder would use it to erect a commercial complex.

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