Thursday, October 22, 2020

MY Touring Talkies Days.

   Six decades ago,cinema shows were largely confined to tents erected on a vast ground, with thatched roofing. Later,light roofing replaced thatched roofing.The front portion of these tents,would be marked for floor tickets.There wont't be any cement flooring.The floor ticket area would be filled with sand. Most of the viewers would prefer the floor ticket area,not only because they were cheaper and closer to the screen,but also because people could sit together,jostling one another,while watching the films either in awe,or in admiration.

   The remaining space would be meant for'back benchers'.The benches which were a long line of seats with a back rest,were made of bamboos,ringals and sometimes even of cheap wooden planks.The greatest advantage of these benches was that they could accommodate more number of viewers,than independent chairs which would occupy more space and hence the number of viewers would have to be restricted.Such theatres were called Touring Talkies,because they were all made up of a mobile frame work and could easily be shifted from place to place,once their leasing periods were over.

   Morning shows and matinee shows were rarer in the Touring Talkies,because penetration of sun light through the marginal gaps of the thatched roofs,would be a stumbling block for screening films in maximum darkness,which alone would facilitate a clearer viewing of films.However, if any new MGR or Sivaji Ganesan films were released, the touring talkieses would be compelled to increase the number of shows,so as to go in for morning and matinee shows.I remember watching MGR films like Nallavan Vaazhvaan and Rani Samyuktha and Sivaji Ganesan films like Ambikapadhi and Rajabakthi,in their morning shows,on their days of release.

   I watched a huge lot of films in those talkieses and some of the films that frequently haunt my memories even now are,P.U.Chinnapa's Manomani and Jagadhala  Pradhaban,T.R.Mahalingam's Vedhala Ulagam and Abalai Anjugam,N.T.Rama Rao's Padhala Bhairavi,MGR's Marmayohi,Jenoa,Mandhiri Kumari, Mahadevi,Malaikallan and Alibabavum Naarpadhu Thirudarkalum,Sivaji Ganesan's Parasakthi, Manohara, Padhi Bhakthi,Pennin Perumai,Makkalai Petra Maharasi, Mangaiyar Thilakam and Punar Jenamam,Gemini Ganesan's Guna Sundari, Sowbagyawathi,Sadharam,Pathini Dheivam, Thirumanam and Kanavane Kankanda Dheivam {besides Padhi Bhakthi and Pennin Perumai} and other notable films like Naga Dhevadhai,Aaravalli,Aayiram Thalai Vaangiya Abhoorva Sindhamani,Thilakam,  Vanjam,Mandhiravadhi,Chandralekha, Yanai Valartha Vanambadi,Naan Valartha Thangai,Kaithi Kannayiram,Devaki,Kula Dheivam,Adutha Veetu Penn,Vannakkili, Mudhalali,Thai Pirandhaal Vazhi Pirakkum, Vijayapuri Veeran,Thaayaipola Pillai Noolaipola Selai and many more.

   Slowly,permanently built,non-airconditioned theatres came into existence,reducing the expansion of Touring Talkieses.But my memories of the touring talkies have become an eternal part of my thoughtwaves,on account of the potential reminiscences of my childhood and boyhood days.The last film I saw in a touring talkies was En Kelvikenna Badhil{1979} starring Rajinikanth and Sripriya.I saw the film in a remote village {Thirumullai Vasal}in Sirkazhi taluk of Tamil Nadu.

  The pleasures of watching a movie in a touring talkies were irreplaceable.With a single projector and with frequent small intervals and the substantially longer,notified interval, touring talkieses gave us immense freedom to move out and frequently ease ourselves from the physical pressures of the huge crowd,lowly named as groundlings. During the longer interval,songs from other films would be played through gramaphone records.

   Popcorns were unheard of those days.But sugar candies,peanuts,locally made biscuits, sticky treacle toffees and other kinds of snacks made of ground nut oil,were the delicious treasures,enriching the bonanza of a touring talkies experience.Once a way,we could also hear alarming cries from the crowd about its inability in the darness,to trace the presence of a rat or snake,that would peep into the talkies,thanks to the multi avenues open for reptiles and rats,to make their free entries into the talkies.

    Advertisements about the on going,or upcoming films,would be in the form of handbills distributed to the localites,through covered bullock carts with posters of films,pasted on both sides of the cart. Catchy points about the film would be loudly announced,using a hand held funnel like speaker and one could see children running after the carts to collect the handbills.Gramaphone records from other films would also be played from the bullock carts.

    It is all gone now.Technology has taken us far away,from these unadulterated happenings of a society,that had no idea about the nuances awaiting for its posterity. Cinema killed the stage,though it benefitted a lot from the stage.Television,computer and smartphone,have deprived us of the epic like events of a movie watching experience. When there was no scope for booking one's ticket through a reservation programme,the thrills of joining a long line of queues,restlessly anticipating the probability of getting a ticket and moving into the theatres with the enormous excitement of looking for a comfortable seat,constituted the historic moment of the cinema watching event.

   Today just sit at home,download the movie of your interest and view it with your vagaries of mood and time. Piracy has become part and parcel of a paramount industry,whose objectives are soley meant for entertaining people.Cyber crimes and a corona free,social distancing mindset,have ostracised those objectives,thereby pulling down the curtains,even before the movie is cast on the big screen.But the truth is,there is a genesis behind every destruction.Like it or not,learn to live with the changing trends,lest your purpose of life should get stifled by your own reluctance to be a part of the changing trends.    



  1. மாறிவரும் போக்குகளுடன் வாழ கற்றுக்கொள்ளுங்கள், மாறிவரும் போக்குகளின் ஒரு பகுதியாக இருக்க உங்கள் சொந்த தயக்கத்தால் உங்கள் வாழ்க்கையின் நோக்கம் திணறக்கூடாது. Timely response Sr. Thank U very much Sr