Monday, October 19, 2009

Cinema Hall of Kashmir

The mini-van entered city limit, someone inside mentioned Khayyam. Soon they were off rattling mesmerizing names and old tales of visiting this of that theater of Kashmir. They mentioned:

Broadway near the Army cantonment area,
Neelam at the back of the Civil Secretariat,
Shiraaz at Khanyaar,
Palladium and Regal at Lal Chowk, 
Naaz near Iqbal Park,
Shah in Qamarwari,
Firdaus in Hamwal,
Khayyam near the chowk of same name.
Then there was:
Heaven/Hewaan in Anantnag,
Thimaya in Baramula,
and Samad/Summer Talkies in Sopore.

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Kapra in Sopore
Amrish/Regal Talkies at Residency Road:
Regina cinema of Baramulla
Marazi cinema in Kupwara
Heemal at Handwara
Nishat at Anantnag
Zorawar Theater on Srinagar-Baramulla Highway near Pattan,
run by army

These thanks to commenters (see below). Now the total is about 19.
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Image: Remains of Palladium Cinema Hall, Lal Chowk, Srinagar. June, 2008. Burnt down in 1992.

12 comments:

  1. Barring the cinema halls in Anantnag, Baramulla and Sopore, I've seen movies in every hall listed by you :P
    An interesting feature in some cinema theatres was that the 7 'o clock show was usually reserved for a Hollywood film. I remember seeing "Superman" in Regal, and "Coma" in Palladium! The best thing about Regal was that you could pick up snacks at Ahdoo's and carry them in :)
    Broadway was located oppsite Indira Nagar, not far from my school in BB Cantt. The ticket-seller would chase us away if he saw us in school uniforms. Once, the owner actually frog-marched some boys to our school Principal for playing truant! My folks and I made a huge commute from across town (we lived in Barzula) and stood in the queue for almost an hour for the tickets of Umrao Jaan....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes 7-9 used to be Hollywood movies except on Fridays. On Fridays the Hollywood used be at 11-1 during the day

      Delete
  2. I tasted the awesomeness of Ahdoos during my Kashmir trip last year.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The theater in Sopore was called Samad Talkies (not Summer), after the owning family's patriarch Samad Pandith (reportedly, Obama's Administrations Special Rep on Muslims belongs to the same family).

    Sopore later had another cinema hall called Kapra.

    Baramulla had Thimayya, which was an Army cinema (open to civilians), but there was a civilian cinema too -- I don't remember the name. I remember watching "Yaraana" there in the winter of 1982.

    Any idea which of the theaters listed in this post are currently active?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Kaul, Thanks for sharing some more names and the correction!
    I found these names in an old Tribune article.
    Also, it turn out 'Hewaan' is actually Heaven. (its a very Kashmiri thing)
    At one time there were about 15 film theaters in Kashmir. Only 12 are listed here. Still searching for the name of other three.

    About the status:

    Heaven, Samad Talkies, Shiraz, and Firdous became Security camp sites.

    In the mid-1990s, ‘Regal’, ‘Broadway’ and ‘Neelam’ did open for some time but soon closed after threats and attacks. But Neelam in a high-security zone of Karan Nagar did open again.

    Broadway downed shutter completely in 2005 because of financial losses in running the show. It even became a bar for some time. Now a hotel stands in its place.

    Khayyam (at Nowpora in downtown city) became a hospital.

    At last count only Neelam remained operational, but things didn't look too good for it. 'Om Shanti Om' couldn't bring people to the theater. Kashmiris seem to have given up on 'Big-Screen-Movie-Experience'.

    Read more about these theaters in this article from Daily Excelsior.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Vinayak, thanks for your response, here and on my blog.

    You have all 9 cinemas from Srinagar, and 3 from Sopore, Baramulla, Anantnag. Add Kapra from Sopore, and the yet un-recallable one from Baramulla. That leaves one in your target of 15. Where would that be? There were no cinemas in any other town.

    BTW, Heevan is Heevan (हीवन or हिय-वन), and not Heaven, IMO. Heemaal, Heevan, Hiy-dyed, are common Kashmiri names. Hiy or Hee may refer to a flower found in Kashmir, but I am not sure.

    (arini rang gom shravini hiye - Arinmal says her color has become like the hiy of shravan)


    You are doing a great job documenting the tit-bits from Kashmir, which evoke great nostalgia.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks again, Kaul!

    I think you are right about 'Heevan', it's just that I read a couple of articles in which it had been changed to Heaven. Also, it is equally possible that some people stated calling it 'Heaven'.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Got this comment via email, it talks about Amrish Talkies and Regal of Residency Road:

    "After 'Moi-e-muqadas' [incident of 1963] Amrish [and Regal in December of that year] was burnt burnt down. After 1963 Regal was renovated fully. Both Regal & Amrish (and Hotel Pamposh which was also burnt down) belonged to Bakhshi family [Bakhshi Majid, a younger brother of Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad, who minted money during his brother's rule]. Present Regal is actually Amrish."

    ReplyDelete
  8. Mr Koul
    there were not only 15 cinemas in kashmir but more.You know Regina cinema of Baramulla,Marazi cinema in Kupwara,Heemal at Handwara,Nishat at anantnag.Heemal was complete in 1989 but could not bo thrown open for public because of situation in valley after january 1990.Nishat cinama at anantnag was gutted earlier in a fire incident,And of course there was one more cinema at Pattan ZORAWAR THEATER on Srinagar Baramulla highway operated by army.Civilians also used to go to watch movies there.

    ReplyDelete
  9. ^^
    Thanks for the additional info.
    This would be a definitive list now.

    ReplyDelete
  10. hey. to tell u he truth. i ws very young to go to any of these cinemas while my family ws ther.. cnt explain wat a great job u hv done by getting me closer to my roots .thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Actually i too was a kid at the time. But i do have a faint memory of watching some mithun movie (my first ever movie in a theatre) in...some theatre which i like to assume was - Palladium.

    ReplyDelete

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