Friday, September 21, 2012

PALLADIUM CINEMA OF KASHMIR

“Come Near . Put your one ear close to the door . Close the other ear with your hand . Listen . Can you hear Dharmendra ‘s voice ?” said my friend kuldeep Machama


“Yes ” I said .
That is how during our college days we would listen to the Dialogues of actors from the road side gate of Palladium cinema lal chowk. Later in my service career, I came to know the proprietors as well. They were possibly from Jalandhar ( Punjab ). They were liberal in giving passes for the Gallery when demanded .They would visit the bank to purchase bank drafts generally favouring ELORA FILMS , possibly a distribution house for north India .The cinema was in the heart of the city or one could say privy to many events that shaped the History of kashmir since early forties . I have seen a photograph of 1945 wherein Sheikh Mohd Abdullah and Bakshi Ghulam Mohd are shown addressing a public meeting at lal Chowk exactly in front of this cinema hall.
                                                         

Mun tu shudam tu mun shudi,mun tun shudam tu jaan shudi
Taakas na guyad baad azeen, mun deegaram tu deegari

( Amir Khusro )

I have become you, and you me,
I am the body, you soul;
So that no one can say hereafter,
That you are are someone, and me someone else.

This is the Persian couplet with which late sheikh Mohd Abdullah welcomed Pandit Jawahar lal Nehru in a mammoth gathering at lal Chowk srinagar in 1947.Those who came to listen to these leaders say that the dais for this gathering was just opposite Palladium cinema in lal Chowk .
                                                                            

     ( Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah shaking hands  in a rally in front of Palladium Cinema in Lal Chiowk,  Srinagar ,Kashmir )


With No parking facility , the doors of the main hall opened straight on the Road. You had to go up the gallery or box seats through the road only.The tickets for the third class( as it used to be called ) were required to be purchased by lining up in a queue totally covered by Iron bars . Once in this queue , you had no option to come out except after reaching the ticket window . Men selling tickets in black , Onlookers , Pedestrian crowd, Fish frying mobile shops , Pen sellers , Chaurasia’s Pan shop and other small time traders on the road gave a total roadside aura to this cinema hall. .Once a show was over , crowds would pour out choking the narrow roads on both sides of the hall.
                                                                           
                                        ( Ariel view of  Palladium cinema Amira kadal )
I have seen late night shows with Men throwing burning cigarette bits to the screen like missiles . Some times some one would cry “ Soruf ! Soruf! ” Snake! Snake! ”. Some times some one would put his hand or head or whole body against the Projector’s beam creating silhouettes on the screen . Watch any show ,the hall was always full of smoke . None could escape the headache that usually visited cinema goers in srinagar city cinema Halls purely on account of smoke created by large scale smoking . Cigarettes were brought by boys who would sell tea and snacks inside the hall moving from one seat to another in total darkness. The gates would keep opening with people entering as late as one hour after the start of the movie. Lo ! you had to listen to other soundtrack going on in the lower stall. Men drunk( Liquor ) or otherwise would pass loud comments on actions of Hero or the villain . Sometimes clapping in applause and at times cursing the villain loudly. Having said so , it also remains a fact that the proprietors brought new and very good movies for screening . I saw some popular Dustin Hoffman movies in this cinema hall only. We saw Saturday Night Fever twice in this cinema hall.

                                                                                      
                ( Present condition of the cinema Hall .Even this structure is being demolished )


A shopping mall is reportedly coming up on the ruins of this cinema hall. Local traders are demanding that a parking place be built after clearing the ruins . Both options give some pain to those who have seen glory of this cinema Hall . But what can one do except express helplessness . Time has to move forward . It can not stop for sentiments . Sentiments are of no value in this market driven and utility oriented society.
                           
I conclude this post with  a poem of Parveen Shakir . I have already said in my write ups that Romanticism also runs through her poetry. For instance, “ yeh Haseen shaam Apni ” is a love poem of exceptional beauty . It continues to remain a favourite of mine . The poem has been rendered to excellent English from original urdu by C M Naim. .

This melting evening of ours,
Where everything dissolves,
The scent of your clothes,
The blossoming sprouts of my dreams,
A deferred vision, this is
In a little while,
A star will emerge on the horizon
To gaze at you meaningfully…
Your heart shall then reminisce
The echo of a memory,
The tale of a separation,
Of an unfinished moment,
Of un-blossomed dreams, things unsaid,
We ought to have met
In times, considerate
In pursuit of attainable dreams,
On a different sky
On a different earth,
We ought to have met
( Parveen Shakir )
(Autar Mota . )
(21st  September 2012. Time  1.10 PM .)                                                            
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