By José Lourenço
Radio, turntables, and cinema were the only available audio-visual entertainment before the arrival of TV, tape cassettes, and DVD players, which came in during the 1980s and 90s. The costs of cinema came in a good range for the pocket-conscious cine-goer. Back in the 70s, typical cinema ticket rates were 80 paise for the Lower Circle (simple benches right up in front, where you squinted up at the towering screen), Rs.1.30 for Middle Circle, Rs.1.80 for Upper Circle, and Rs.2.20 for the Balcony upstairs. Millennials have perhaps never heard of a matinee (3 pm), first show (6 pm), and the late night second show, although the present generation may not consider 9 pm as ‘late night’.
Snacks were cheap. With current samosa prices in multiplexes hovering around the three figure mark, in the 80’s you could get four samosas for one rupee (Rupya chaar, rupiya chaar, as the vendor would yell).
Some theatres like Cine Metropole in Margao, also had ‘Boxes’, meant for couples, where more than just film-watching could occur. Today apps and online bookings are the norm, but back then tickets were bought only at the counter and ‘house full’ could end up with tickets being sold in ‘black’ − Aamir Khan plays a black marketer in Rangeela (1995), a gem of a film. ‘Do ka chaar’ meant they were sold at double the price. Late night shows at theatres would often get cancelled for lack of audiences. This occasionally happens today for some shows even in multiplexes.
In recent years new films are released simultaneously all over India and even worldwide. Interestingly, the last two Bond films premiered in India a week before its release in North America. But in the seventies, Bollywood movies had different release dates across the country, often several months apart, and Goa was a very low priority for distributors.
As viewership in theatres declined, their owners had to resort to viable adaptive reuse. Cine Metrople in Margao is now a swanky reception hall, with its high ceiling inspiring awe in dining guests. Cine Prashant in Curchorem turned into an industrial unit. Cine Niagara, Curchorem has also transformed into a party hall. But most of the ageing theatre buildings like Cine Aisha in Ponda, El-Capitan in Mapusa, and others were torn down to make place for multi-storied structures. El-Dorado located near the Panjim Market, that screened some top notch Hindi and English films, was felled in 1996 to build a tower of shops and offices. The theatre’s legacy ended with an apt film, Anth, which means ‘the end’.
The three popular cinema theatres of Margao were built in the sixties and bear influences of the Art Deco and Art Moderne period. Cine Vishant on the Aquem road has a flamboyant asymmetrical form where sensuous curves and linear elements coexist quite happily. Vishant was a regular haunt during our college days, where the first day’s first show of English films was a sacred ritual.
Cine Lata is the oldest running theatre in Margao, located near the Municipal Square. The water cascade motif at its apex as well as the pulvinated triple bands are Art Deco elements. I recall watching a movie on the frontmost bench (Lower Stall) just for the heck of it, during my college years, for just one rupee! The theatre now offers Dolby sound and is owned by the Zantye family who own several theatres in Goa, including Samrat and Ashok in Panjim. These twin theatres have also been used as an IFFI venue in the past.
Panjim also had Cine National. Its dilapidated structure still stands, but the theatre which was once the crowning glory of Panjim, had an unceremonious end, after it started screening B and C grade films, more than a decade ago. Interestingly, the land on which the theatre stands belongs to the Corporation of Panjim and the future of the place is still uncertain.
Cine Agasaim, Cine Gulmarg (Ribandar), Jai Mahalasa (Curti-Ponda), Cine Kamala (Tisk, Usgao), Cine Alankar (Mapusa), Victory Talkies (Siolim), Cine Vasco, Hira Talkies (Bicholim), Shivam (Vasco), Cine Paradise (Cuncolim), Cine Radhakrishna (Sanquelim), and Nandi (Pernem) also belong to the hall of famed theatres, some of which are still bravely running.
And then there are the halls that existed even earlier, in the 1930s and 1940s, some of which were simple tents or marquees: Cine Eden (Panjim), Cine Central, Cine Dashrata (Mapusa), Cine Mhalsa, Cine Rex, Cine Olympia (Margao), Cine Shamin (Bicholim), Cine Shanta Durga (Calangute), Janata Talkies (Quepem), and Cine Raj Hans (Assonora).
(Acknowledgements: 50 Years of Konkani Cinema by Andrew Greno Viegas, and JoeGoaUK.)
Let’s say you have a dream and you’re young
and there’s a chance it could come true. Let’s say
you have the courage of a gambler and the spine of
a quarterback. So, you move to the city. There’s only
one city. There’s a hundred ways this could go. Only
one way it will probably go. For argument’s sake, let’s
say nothing bad happens. You dodge the bogeymen.
You never sleep roofless in the dark. Say you even find
a sliver of fame, a coin to call your own. I want to know
what you do with something small. Where you go from
there. I bet the whole damn world would like to know.
Publisher: Dr Tariq Thomas for the Entertainment Society of Goa
Editors: José Lourenço, Sachin Chatte, Impana Kulkarni, Vivek Menezes
Cover Art: Bhisaji Gadekar
Columnists: Damodar Mauzo, Lina Vincent, Fernando Velho, Nadia De Souza
Editorial: Patricia Ann Alvares, Urvashi Bahuguna, Karishma D’Mello, Nomita Saldanha, Riza Noronha, Keziah Pereira Illustration: Govit Morajkar, Chloe Cordeiro
Lead Photographer: Assavri Kulkarni
Photo team: Siddhartha Lall, Michael Praveen
Distribution: Nachiket Shetty