COVID casualty: What movie theatres taught us about loving and living life

Cinema, theatre, film
For a regular movie goer, visiting a cinema hall is like being in a dream, where reality is forgotten and imagination is brought to life | Image - Prathap Ravishankar

A village bustling with people, its streets decked up with balloons and bunting. While folk artistes play traditional instruments and dance along, a song by noted Carnatic vocalist Sirkazhi Govindarajan hums in the background.

Amid the flurry of activities, a group of villagers honour an old man with a garland of flowers. And then the man speaks. “I built a temple but no one came to worship. I built a school, no one came to study. I dug a pond, no one came to bathe. But I built a cinema theatre, and you all welcome me with so much respect.”

This is the opening shot of Aan Paavam, a 1985 Tamil classic directed by Pandiarajan which went on to become one of the biggest blockbusters that year. The old man is Ramasamy (played by VK Ramasamy), the owner of Ramasamy Touring Talkies. And his matter-of-fact words set the tone of the film, aptly accompanied by music maestro Ilayaraja’s songs.

Thirty years back, the scene in Aan Paavam captured the importance of cinema in the lives of common man in Tamil Nadu. Going to see a film in a theatre was more like a festival, albeit with its cultural limitations.

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