wiki:Plaza (Bangalore)

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Plaza (Bangalore)

Plaza Theatre located on M.G.Road, Bangalore was a premier movie theatre that started operations in 1936 and had its last screening on March 17, 2005. It now serves as the central station for the Bangalore Metro

Arcot Narrain Swamy Mudaliar was born at Arcot on 14 May 1827, After his father Muniappa Mudaliar paased away when Narrainsawmy was ten years old, the youngster had to support his widowed mother and two younger brothers. He never had an opportunity to study English, but was well versed in his mother tongue - Tamil. During his formative years he studied and acquired a deep knowledge of ancient Tamil literature, which moulded his character and inspired his thoughts and outlook throughout his life. Mudaliar married Govindammal in 1850 when he was 23.

Mudaliar commenced his commercial activity initially as a travelling salesman transporting vegetables which were available at a low price in Bangalore, and selling them at Madras, where they were in great demand. After gaining considerable profit and experience from this trade, he started transporting salt from Madras and selling it in Bangalore. Mudaliar's self reliance, resourcefulness and perseverance enabled him to earn considerable profit from this two-way trade. With this capital, he opened a grocery shop on Cavalry road and later a branch in the Infantry Barracks.

In the year 1859, he was granted the Royal patronage of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, the Maharaja of Mysore. As a token of gratitude to his Royal Patron, Mudaliar named his Emporium on Cavalry road as ‘Mysore Hall’. Later, Mudaliar ventured into a new line of business with Messrs. Wallace & Co. in partnership with Rai Bahadur Bansilal-Ramrathan, who had secured from Col.Sankey, Chief Engineer to the Government of Mysore, the contract for the construction of the New Public Offices or the 'Athara Cutcherry' or the high court.

From the money he earned out of it, he purchased a number of properties on M. G. Road including a 17,000 sq ft (1,600 m2) property on No. 18, South Parade (the original name for MG Road) in 1873 which he set up a furniture store “Bangalore Furniture Mart” over which the Plaza theatre was eventually built.

An important philanthropist Narrain Swamy set up a number of schools for the poor and on 1st January 1877 Lord Lytton, the Viceroy of India, conferred on Mudaliar the title of 'Rai Bahadur' in recognition of his spirited acts of charity . Bipin Chandrapal served as the first headmaster of the now-renamed Arcot Sri Narrainswamy Mudaliar Free English High School during 1891-92.

After the Arcot family settlement of 1923 the family property was split between two brothers. Arcot Krishnamurthy and his brother Rajamanickam Velu were the grandsons of ANSM set up Plaza.

Arcot Krishnamurthy got married and his wife passes away after giving birth to their first son. He goes into a depression and his family decide to send him to England to help him recover in 1930. He travels from Bangalore to Madras to Aden and then to London where he falls in love with movies and decides to come back and set up a theatre in Bangalore. After retuning he buys a lorry and sets up a 16 MM cinema projection on it which he travels with to the cantonment areas to show short films to the British soldiers in the military camps in the Cantonment . After Plaza was set up the same lorry was used to show advertise the films that were being shown in Plaza He then mortgaged the property on MG Road to Asiatic Mortgage Company to raise money to build the theatre

The architect of Plaza was Richardson and Cruddas of Bombay who were given instructions to model the Plaza on the Plaza Theater in Picaddily Circus. The equipment for the new theatre was obtained from Century Film. There was also a ballroom and a Bar “Silver Screen Specials” in the balcony which conducted dances for the British soldiers with a live orchestra . On the first floor of the theatre was a 50-foot-square wooden dance floor, used for the annual Christmas Ball and New Year Ball, and for balls held to herald major motion pictures releases.

Plaza was inaugurated on March 10, 1936. There were two shows, and 433 seats were filled up on the first day. Two films were screened every week, with three shows each day. The first film Broadway Melody to be show was in 1936. In 1936, tickets were priced between 9 annas and Rs 2 and 8 annas — from Gandhi Class to Dress Circle. In 1960, the rates went up to 75 paise and Rs 2.75. By 2005, the balcony tickets were selling at Rs 70 .

For the first show everything had been set up but when they started the projection of the film, they found that the film was being projected slightly above the screen because of the height of where the projector was and they had to tilt the angle of the projector and the projector was tilted ever since.

At Plaza's opening ceremony, to seat the chief guest in style, a sofa was borrowed from the house next door, in which lived Mr. Jose Mariano Dias and his family. This house was demolished and, decades later, made way for the Blu Moon theatre complex, which was demolished to make way for a shopping complex. Mr. Dias, one of the earliest Goans to migrate to Bangalore, ran Dias Music Salon, a stone's throw from his house. He opened the shop, which sold musical instruments, in 1927, and was a violinist who played for silent movies at Globe (before the talkies arrived, every cinema had an orchestra in the pit which provided background music). After his death the shop was run by his daughter, Irene, and her husband, John Lemos, until it was sold and turned into a Zodiac tie showroom, which morphed into a snack shop. Irene who, along with her sister, used to hop across next door to see movies for free because the kindly ushers would sneak the girls in after the paying crowd had entered.

Cinema Theatres