Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It's the Talkies!

Alka Talkies, Lakdi Pul, Pune.
This is one of the older movie theatres in Pune. Perhaps about 60-70 years old.  I'm not sure if it actually screened silent movies in the past but it just might have.  Movie theatres used to have just one screen.  They were also defined  by the size of the film they could project, "70mm" or "35mm".  I have last seen a movie in this theatre perhaps around 1982.  It has a lower section and a more expensive upper house ("Balcony").  It was not air conditioned back then. Now it probably is. Below the red section was the bicycle parking. Hundreds of bicycles would be stacked in a shed under there. They would give you a small coupon to find your bicycle after the show.  Almost all patrons used bicycles and there may have been a couple of cars and a handful of motorcycles/scooters during each show.
These theatres themselves came to be called "Talkies" based on what they screened.    Even now you can tell a autorikshaw taxi driver to take you to "Alka Talkies". ( Its pronounced "taakies", I didnt realize where the word came from until many years later.). In the intermission of the movie you could buy greasy spicy crunchy samosas. At your seat. Then throw the scrunched up wrapper at the screen if you didnt like what was happening in the movie.  This kind of behaviour was the purview of the cheap non balcony seated rascals. Enviable.