#TheatreLove: Theatres will continue to entertain people, says Halitha Shameem

Even as the central government has announced that movie theatres can be opened from October 15 with 50 per cent occupancy, there is still uncertainty over how audience would embrace the new theatre experience. In this column, celebrities reminisce about catching their fave films at theatres and the magic of the movie hall…

Being brought up in a conservative family, it took a while for me to get attracted to the world of cinema. I don’t remember having watched several movies in theatres as a child, but somehow I got to watch most of Mani sir’s films.

Anjali was the first movie I watched in a movie hall; it was at the Thinnappa theatre in Karur. I was almost the same age as Baby Shamili then and people used to say that I cried like her. Uyire, which I watched at a theatre near my home, made a huge impact on me. I was in Class VII. It was pure magic. It was after watching Alaipayuthey at Devi theatre that I decided to do cinema.

Padayappa at Albert, FDFS of a few Vijay films, including Ghilli, 7/G Rainbow Colony, and Kadhal were some of the films I enjoyed watching with audience. Devi theatre used to be my regular place. A few people there used to recognise me. Later, Oram Po, the first movie I worked for, had a scene shot in Devi. When my debut film Poovarasam Peepee was released, I was informed by Devi theatre that they would extend screening of the film for a week. At Sathyam theatre, too, people used to look at me in wonder when I bought tickets at the counter as early as 7am, for movies like Anniyan.

However, the most surprising movie experience was watching Paruthiveeran at a multiplex in the city. Many had come to watch it without knowing what to expect from the movie. But as time passed by, it became like a thiruvizha in the theatre. I watched it again at Udhayam. I was an AD, and after seeing the overwhelming reaction from the audience, I realised that I have chosen the right profession.

For my last film Sillu Karupatti, it was gratifying to see people clapping after each segment at Palazzo. People gathering at one place and relating to the emotions in a dark room — that’s the magic of cinema. People may watch films on OTT and mobile phones. But theatres will continue to entertain people, no matter what. And I know I will be able to make movies only till theatres exist.