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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Another landmark falls down - Star Talkies is no more

No.40 Triplicane High Road has been a quite landmark  !! – serving the people of Triplicane and nearby areas..

India, South India, Tamilnadu and Chennai – all follow a distinct culture – that of following the silver screen – people are addicted to Cinemas and film heroes had risen to various levels, especially political leaders and few went on to become rulers of the State.  Theatres have been the landmarks and places most sought after and visited by people. Those days, viewers would whistle their joy when curtains would go up.. curtains would come down at the end of every show. 

Triplicane, for long boasted of some theatres – in the nearest vicinity was the Mount Road dotting theatres like Casino, Anna, Chitra, Santhi, Devi complex, Alankar, Odeon, Plaza, Wellingdon, Pilot, Anand, Saffire, Satyam complex  and more  - the ones were in Triplicane were the Childrens Theatre, Paragon and Star Theatre.  Paragon became a big residential complex close to a decade ago ! – Kalaivanar Arangam aka Childrens Theatre was hosting drama shows, magic shows and like and once the expansion of the proposed Secretariat complex came in place, it was demolished.  Star Theatre remained – one thought
The place which once was Paragon Theatre

Alas, No longer  -  the Theatre has closed down and soon probably would be demolished giving way to a ‘Mall or Residential Complex’.

It was originally ‘Cinema Popular’ built in 1916 on the land of Venkatramanuja Naidu.  In earlier days, it was silent movies and then slowly transitioned to ‘movies with voice’, which was a great novelty – when such movies became popular, in 1936, it became the Star Talkies – it reportedly screened ‘Kalidasa’.  The theatre in its earlier days was managed by a Parsi family and then by TA Rangachari, subsequently till mid 1990s  by TA Padmanabhan, as Managing Partner.

It continued to be a very popular movie house, though it catered predominantly to Hindi movie goers.  Till 1970, the theatre reportedly had secluded area for muslim women with purdah.  It was one of the first cinema halls to be airconditioned and  that happened in 1970.  The film Yaadon Ki Baraat ran for nearly 400 days continuously – another one that kept running  was  the Aamir khan starrer - Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.

The famous playback singer PB Srinivas was a frequent visitor to this place and the theatre boasts of the visits of Andhra Kesari Sri Prakasa, Governor Sri Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, KK Shah & Prabhudas Patwari.  The Talkies had changed with times and switched to cinemascope in its early days.  I have heard that fans damaged the screen and seats when there was the news of MGR being shot by MR Radha – but the theatre management quickly repaired things and ensured that there was no stoppage in shows.

The ticket counter with MGR film sticker

Sadly the place would be buzz with bulldozers and hammers bringing down the century old building and sooner, you would find a complex springing up.  The future may never understand the ‘standing in long queues much before the release of films, booking a ticket, and perhaps enjoying the show on First day – First Show’ which was a trophy for the beholder of those days.

                        On my recent visit, found the board in the counter showing the price of the ticket as a mere Rs.30/-  - perhaps that had drawn crowds all along – perhaps that is also the reason why the Management chose to close down as it was not sustainable

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

PS : ‘old order changeth yielding place to ..’ – many good things have fallen apart – this particular landmark should soon be celebrating its centenary. Sad, it is no longer there. 

Today, [29th Sept 2015]  observe the comments of two respected persons associated with the theatre.  A couple of very interesting facts which am posting in the post-script are :

·        The theatre moved with modern times becoming an A.C theatre – yet not a single show was cancelled during the renovation work.
·        It was so employee friendly that its employees worked till their demise or retirement and had the policy of providing employment for the family members too !
·        Naturally, the owner was fondly remembered by many and Triplicane High Road grieved his passing away in 1995.
·        Another interesting tidbit is the final show was Rajni starrer ‘Basha’ – and was shown free to all auto drivers [remember – ‘naan auto kaaran’song]

Thanks Madam Rukmani Sampathkumar & Nayaki for your valuable feedback.


  1. Nice place to see movie and eat samosa and tea in stall opposite - Ibrahim

  2. It is indeed sad to see an iconic cinema like Star Talkies being put down. I grew watching movies of Amitabh Bachchan . Remember how hard it was once to get a ticket and those unforgettable long waits in the queue, the disappointment when reaching near the counter to find out the movie was sold out. Those days i remember the ticket was Rs 6.50 and it was a big thing at that time. As mentioned above the future will never understand how movies were once watched. Anyways movies these days are a whole lot of crap and a waste of time & money.

  3. Your write up on Star made very interesting reading. I am particularly happy that you have placed the facts correctly. I am indeed very happy to note that you empathize with us on the demolition of Star. My brother T. A, Rajagopal who took over the management of the theatre after the demise of my father, tried his best to keep the bull dozer away against all odds, but much as he tried things did not work in his favour or rather in favour of a few fans like us who loved the ambience of Star. It was certainly not a posh theatre, but definitely it was very homely where even women coming alone felt safe. But the best part which probably you over looked was when the theatre made the transition form non-A.C. to A.C. not a single show was cancelled for the renovation work. Second a very rare feature in todays Cinema Exhibition houses, was that Star had thirty five employees who worked there till their demise or retirement and their wards were also given employment when there was a vacancy. No other theatre in Madras can boast of this. That speaks volumes for the relationship my father had with his emplyees.
    Rukmani Sampath Kumar

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  5. naayakiSeptember 29, 2015 at 9:38 AM
    Adding to what my sister wrote about my father, would like to state that my my father was affectionately called ANNA by all family members and everyone he knew on Triplcane High Rd. When he passed away in 1995 the whole of Triplicane Hihg Rd, had posters bidding him a Tearful farewell. Even his employees call him Anna Sir. That was the kind of rapport he had with everyone there. Even today, in any family function, some of his surviving employees are present with us. My brother T. A. Rajagopal, had a Farewell in the theatre a day before it was closed. The final show was Rajinikanth's Basha which was free for all auto drivers. Naayaki Raghavan


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