Demolition of the large Agastya cinema in Tondiarpet began on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM
Work began this week to demolish the Agastya Cinema in Tondiarpet, once a landmark in north Chennai. In September 2020, the hall, where cinemas were frequented for five decades, was closed.
The cinema, with a capacity of around 1,000, began operating in 1967 with a film Bama Vijayam directed by K. Balachander. Over the years, several MG Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan, Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan films have been seen, and it was popular in the locality.
The cinema had a distinctive high ceiling and a 70 mm screen. Residents of the area recall several films being screened with much fanfare and even recalled how scenes from Kamal Haasan’s 1986 film Vikram were shot there.
R. Boopalan, a resident of the area, said that the cinema had a wide open space around it for parking, which became a kind of gathering place for the community. “It was common for the working class residents of the area to finish work and come to the cinema hall with dinner. We would all sit there, finish dinner and then catch a late night,” he said.
He remembers how the cinema supported good films and offered patrons subsidized tickets to see the film. Veedu directed by Balu Mahendra in 1988. “It was really a landmark for this place. For residents, it meant we didn’t have to travel to Mount Road to watch movies,” he added.