Millennium Post

A lost era of cinema halls through eyes of lensmen

A lost era of cinema halls through eyes of lensmen

Kolkata: Two eminent photographers have come together to showcase human emotions attached to watching cinema in single-screen theatres, in most of which the curtains have been drawn forever.

'Curtain Closes', an ongoing exhibition of 29 photographs clicked by photojournalist Amit Dhar and commercial cameraperson Satyaki Ghosh, captures various cinema halls, their ambience, now faded-away analog projectors and the viewpoint of the audience.

Photographs range from cine-goers' rush to buy tickets at the counters, standing up for the National Anthem to close-ups of elderly women watching films together and a tired daily wager taking a puff from his 'bidi' during intermission.

The exhibition in Ballygunge area of Kolkata was inaugurated by auteur Satyajit Ray's filmmaker son Sandip on May 15 and it will conclude on May 29.

Dhar's colour photographs, clicked over a period of time, are mostly of now shut single-screen theatres such as Rupbani, Bhabani, Mitra, Chaya names associated with icons such as Rabindranath Tagore, Abanindranath Tagore and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose among others.

Ghosh's black-and-white photographs revolve around one particular cinema hall New Roshan Talkies in Kamathipura red-light area of Mumbai.

He has captured the various moods of cine-goers, the ambience of the projection room, rejected film spools, old film prints among other aspects.

"With the onset of digital projectors, the analog system has faded away. Analog projection was still used in New Roshan Talkies but the single-screen theatre has now shut down," Ghosh, son of Satyajit Ray's photo-biographer Padma Shri Nemai Ghosh, told PTI.

"Nowadays, one can watch a movie on a mobile phone. All the multiplexes and most of the single-screens that are still functional have digital projection systems. Some of my photographs document analog equipment which is no longer in vogue today. The exhibition takes people, especially the youngsters, back in time," he said.

While several shut single-screen cinema halls have been demolished, others have been converted into shops, restaurants or marts.

Single-screen theatres such as Tiger and Lighthouse are now shopping malls, while Chaplin, where Ray's 'Sonar Kella' movie was premiered, has been brought down, he added.

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