Indo Cinema Paradiso

Plaza movie cinema on M.G.Road

It was the late 80s/early to mid 90s in Bangalore and it seemed like the cinema halls played whatever movie they liked. There was no studio system, star system, or even a language.system. They would play a new movie or one from forty years ago. Anything went. From Jackie Chan Hong Kong fare to 70s softcore adult films to 80s Action flicks, it was all gravy.  The very first time that I went to the movies without my parents, it was me and some friends from the layout, we somehow scrounged up some cash, walked to M.G road, just chopping it up.  And we walked into a hall not knowing that this was about to change our lives.

Remo changes lives. I think it was Plaza but I can’t say for sure.

There was Rex, Plaza, Blue Moon, Blue Diamond, Symphony and Galaxy. All within a holler of each other. My memories of the movies I saw there are as follows.

Rex– The best theater in town. The balcony seats were my Mecca where I saw Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Maverick, In the Line of Fire, Lion King, Batman Returns, The Gods Must Be Crazy, Batman Forever, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Day of the Jackal, Demolition Man, Cliffhanger several times (It played for an entire calendar year) and Goldeneye four or five times (during my board exam study holidays no less)

Plaza– Mrs Doubtfire, Indecent Proposal,  Casino

Galaxy–  Speed, Braveheart, A Walk in the Clouds, Kiss of Death, Jackie Chan movies (Rumble in the Bronx, Operation Condor)

Symphony – Streetfighter, I know I am forgetting a lot of movies that played here…

Blu Moon – Basic Instinct, Fists of Fury

I’m trying to remember more but I can’t.  However, I did find this amazing interview in the Hindu. This Premchand is incredible. I never thought one man could tell you so much about a place and it’s films but he seems to be that man for Bangalore. In fact, according to him, my memories are all wrong.

For reasons unknown, there is a unique relationship between film and India. We produce more movies than any other country. Musical scenes give rise to spontaneous dancing in cinema halls. When our matinée idols pass away, even at old ages and of natural causes,  people mourn and congregate, they even kill themselves. It’s unbelievable.

Many know the legendary Imperial Cinema in Bangalore,  it provided the unique combination of a restaurant selling arguably the best chicken in town as well as what was undoubtedly the seediest cinema in town, specializing in movies like The Tutor amongst other “blue movies”. One day, three classmates and I left the Odyssey litfest at Baldwin’s and went there. We were savoring some chicken when one friend suggested we go see the movie, almost as a joke.  Before I could say anything, one of the other guys freaked out and almost started crying. Obviously, the 3 of us now had to force  the nervous party into the hall and we watched that movie laughing hysterically (one of the laughing fits of my life). Nervous guy sank as low into his seat as he could, trying to cover his face in the dark theater as we shouted things throughout the movie, things like “Dude, it’s your pop! He quit his job? Dude, your dad’s calling you.”


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