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Invites tenders to get the cinema — the only one owned by it — running again
It has been over six months since big posters caught the eyes of films buffs passing through M.G. Road. Ever since the lease period for the previous bidder ended in June 2017, there hasn’t been a single screening at Shankarnag Chitramandira — one of the last iconic single-screen theatres still standing in the city’s central business district (CBD).
Most of the single-screen theatres in the area have disappeared and are remembered only by long-time residents. Shankarnag Chitramandira (earlier called Symphony) and Rex are among the last standing single-screen theatres in this prime area, which has lost others such as Plaza and Galaxy. And the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has been in no hurry to get the theatre — the only one it owns now — up and running.
Shankarnag Chitramandira was earlier leased to INOX.
It is only in the first week of January that the palike called for tenders to run the theatre. The reason for the delay was transfer of the theatre from one BBMP department to another, said an official. “It was under the palike’s Revenue Department, and it had to be transferred to the Projects Department. This took time,” said the official.
He added that around the same time, the State government’s cap on film tickets (₹200) was brought in, which also played a role. “The monthly rent they had to pay was around ₹18 lakh. Who would have come?” he asked.
However, the BBMP finally called for tenders inviting bids to lease out the theatre for a 10-year period for ₹22.5 lakh a month.
But the delay in getting the theatre running, which also screens Kannada films, has not gone down too well with film exhibitors. K.V. Chandrashekar, founder of the Karnataka Exhibitors’ Association, said single-screen theatres were the affordable entertainment options for the public.
“Shankarnag Chitramandira not being open is a loss for the film industry as a whole. As it is, there are not enough cinemas to cater to the huge population of Bengaluru now. The location of the theatre is ideal for many film-goers and single screens have larger seating capacity as well,” he said.
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